3 Top Things To Consider Before Getting Started With Affiliate Programs

André Ruud
Updated: 10/25/2023
4 min read

Over the past two decades, we’ve come across many opinions on pinpointing the ultimate affiliate program for earning money. Let’s look at what you shoul take a look at before you start with Affiliate Marketing.

3 Top Things To Consider Before Getting Started With Affiliate Programs
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Some experts advocate for programs with the highest payouts, while others swear by those with the best network earnings per click (EPCs). However, if you’re not directly tapping into the vendor’s traffic, these metrics might be red flags rather than indicators of a top-notch affiliate program. That’s the precise reason we felt compelled to pen this article.

One query that pops up every time we’re on a conference panel, especially those focusing on publishing and SEO, is, “Which affiliate program is the best?” By following this guide, you’re setting yourself up to discover affiliate programs that truly maximize your revenue potential.

The quintessential affiliate tracking test involves:

  • Clicking on your unique affiliate link.
  • Populating the cart with products.
  • Checking out as any customer would.
  • Verifying if the promised commission is reflected in your account.

Avoid veering off track with temptations like cashback, enticing coupons, multiple payment gateways, and distracting ads from other brands. Your prime focus should be to ascertain if the basic tracking mechanism is up and running, not intricate attribution checks.

1. Engaging Managers

Before you even think of joining an affiliate program, shoot an email to the designated affiliate manager using their official contact info. Your email should encapsulate a brief introduction about yourself, the synergy you see with the brand, and the unique value proposition you bring to the table.

Sprinkling in a few well-thought-out queries about the program and its tracking features can also be a game-changer. Not only does this give you insights into their expertise, but it also provides the manager with a compelling reason to revert.

If they leave you hanging for more than 48 hours, it’s a sign to look elsewhere. Ponder over this – if they’re ghosting you when you’re offering them business on a platter, what do you think will happen when the going gets tough or when discrepancies arise?

Tracking hiccups and missing sales aren’t rare in this domain. Now, if they’re giving you the cold shoulder during the good times, it’s a given you’ll be left in the lurch during the rough patches.

The sole exception? If you receive an automated out-of-office reply. In such cases, circle back a couple of days post their scheduled return.

As for the questions, be shrewd in your selection. Some affiliates, for instance, are curious about product samples, bespoke codes, and so forth.

2. The Issue of Live Chat and Traffic Leaks

Something often overlooked in the affiliate world are issues like live chat and traffic leaks. Wondering what a traffic leak is? Let us explain. It’s when you direct your visitors to a retailer, but they inadvertently (or sometimes intentionally) allow that traffic to drift away from their site, or worse, encourage your potential customer to click on a link from another affiliate.

Rewind to a few years ago; remember when some major retailers allowed customers to order online but pick up and pay in-store? This mechanism didn’t track your commissions, thus leading to what we call a ‘leak’.

If you’re evaluating an affiliate program, pay attention to their customer support mechanisms, especially live chat. Start a chat session and casually inquire if they can process your order.

Should the live chat or telephonic support process your order outside of the conventional shopping cart, there’s a high probability your sale won’t be recorded. Occasionally, they might share a link during the chat, which could interfere with your affiliate tracking.

More often, they might wrap up the sale, bypassing your browser or device entirely. The end result? The credit goes to the chat service, and your commission disappears into thin air.

So, the litmus test?

  • Click your affiliate link and initiate a chat session as a curious customer would.
  • If they propose to take your order via chat, go ahead.
  • Patiently wait and monitor the network to see if you’ve earned your commission. Bear in mind, some networks reflect data instantly, while others may need up to 24 hours.
  • Based on the outcome, you’ll have a clear indication if live chat poses a potential leak.

3. The Deceptive-ness of Affiliate Program EPCs

Whenever we see an abnormally high network EPC (Earnings Per Click), my instincts scream ‘red flag!’ Something is likely off-kilter. Run a quick test. Jump onto Google or Bing, search for the brand’s name followed by ‘coupons’. Focus on the PPC ads and organic results.

Chances are, these are affiliates on steroids, unnaturally boosting the numbers. Why? Because clicks during checkout have bizarrely high conversion rates. Such partners can bloat the EPC, and if the attribution isn’t accurate, your hard-earned commissions might be siphoned off.

However, the reverse also raises eyebrows. If the program sports a dismal EPC, there could be tracking or conversion hiccups, though it’s not always a deal-breaker.

Rely on both short-term and long-term EPC data. we’ve witnessed scenarios where our EPC took a nosedive in the short term but remained steady over a more extended period. External factors, like a massive email campaign, can momentarily skew metrics, only to normalize later.

In essence, the only EPC that genuinely matters is yours. Your unique EPCs can guide you in a rigorous testing phase, enabling you to cherry-pick the most lucrative program tailored for your audience. And a heads up: as your platform evolves and your demographic diversifies, EPC trends can fluctuate. Make it a routine, perhaps monthly or quarterly, to compare and recalibrate your strategies.

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