Affiliate marketing has made businesses millions and ordinary people millionaires.

– Bo Bennet

Not all affiliate programs are created equally. In fact, some companies hardly put forth any effort, leaving their affiliates to fend for themselves. Other companies, however, take great initiative to support their affiliates and to motivate them to promote their products.

Here’s how to choose the right affiliate program.

Step #1 Start the search. Search affiliate program directories for top level programs. And research online. Visit websites that provide products and services relevant to your chosen niche and search for ‘affiliate program’ ‘partners’ or other words which might indicate they have an affiliate program. Make a note of the products, services and companies that interest you. It’s time to dig a little deeper.

Step #2 Evaluate commission percentages. This is the first point to evaluate but certainly not the last and it may not be the most important. However, make note of the commission rates each of your potential affiliate programs pay. Consider creating a spreadsheet to compare programs so you can choose the best ones based on all the criteria once you’ve gathered the information.

Step #3 Evaluate cookies. No, not chocolate chip cookies, but those little tracking devices that tell a company where a customer came from. Lifetime cookies are the ideal because then no matter when your visitor decides to make a purchase, you get the credit for it. If the cookie only lasts a week or a month, you may miss out on sales.

Step #4 What does their sales page look like and what is their conversion rate? Your job as an affiliate is to pre-sell. You want to make sure you’re sending people to a sales page that converts. If you visit a potential affiliate program’s sales page and the website or sales page just doesn’t work or has a low conversion rate then you know all your pre-selling efforts are going to be wasting a lot of time and effort.

Step #5 Support and marketing materials. What do you get when you’re an affiliate? Some companies provide an abundance of information and marketing materials, others provide a link and nothing more. The link only programs aren’t necessarily bad. However, it’s nice to have buttons, content, graphics and other materials to help promote a product or service.

Step #6 Review their customer service. You not only want to have a good customer service experience as an affiliate with top notch affiliate support. You also want to know that the customers you send to this company are going to be treated well and appreciated.

Step #7 How often do they pay? Some affiliate programs pay quarterly, some pay as soon as you earn a commission. Slow payers aren’t necessarily bad programs. It just helps to know when you can expect your money.

As more and more companies realize the benefits of having an affiliate team, they’re not only creating affiliate programs, they’re improving their programs too. This means there are many good affiliate programs for you to choose from.

“Affiliate marketing is not easy. Its also not hard. It does take planning. And work. And persistence. And with the right programs and support it can be very, very profitable. “

Heidi Richards Mooney

Happy selling!

ps. Check out our list of Affiliate Marketing Resources to help you get started.