How to Spot a Good Merchant – By Kim Salvino

by Colleen on February 7, 2011

With statements of the highest payouts, larger than life conversion rates, and other claims to fame; it can be difficult as an affiliate, to find merchants that are the real deal. Here’s hoping the following list of tips will help you in your quest to embark upon a long term relationship with your next new merchant.

There is No Escaping Permanent Web Ink. If you’ve found a merchant, and you’re considering adding their products to an existing site or dedicating your next niche site to them, be sure to do a bit of research. If other affiliates have experienced payment issues, communication problems, a high reversal rate or other anomalies, a good old-fashioned Google search should reveal these issues. Beyond searching for the merchant’s name, be sure to type in Merchant Name + Affiliate, Merchant Name + Scam and Merchant Name + Fraud. A large amount of complaints for the merchant, either from other affiliates or directly from consumers, is a red flag.

Make a Test Purchase on the Merchant Site. Observe the order process as both an affiliate and a consumer. Is the site difficult to navigate? Does the merchant place roadblocks in the shopping cart that will affect your conversion rate? Do they offer a discount for joining their newsletter, and does signing up then overwrite your affiliate cookie? Does a live chat function exist on the site, and is the telephone number for contact prominently displayed and encouraged for use?

Do you receive credit for orders placed with chat assistance or by phone? Knowing the answers to these questions will require that you contact the advertiser directly, which leads to the next point.

Can You Locate a Direct Point of Contact for the Affiliate Program? Either on the site itself, a dedicated affiliate support page, or on affiliate forums – are you able to find a name, email address and telephone number for the Affiliate Manager? If you have found questionable issues about the program or the merchant, this is also your opportunity to inquire further. If all you hear are crickets, this could be a warning sign that for questions or issues, you will be on your own, with possible wasted effort spent promoting products, and no results.

It’s my hope that the tips above will save you time and money, but in the end – go with your gut. If there are existing issues with the merchant, a test purchase doesn’t run smoothly, and no one answers your emails, start to Google the competition instead.

Kim Salvino is Senior Account Manager & Affiliate Evangelist for the US arm of buy.at.

Download the entire FeedFront issue 13 here – http://www.scribd.com/doc/45332687/FeedFront-Magazine-Issue-13
FeedFront issue 13 articles can be found here as well: http://feedfront.com/archives/article00date/2010/12a>

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