Beyond the Metrics With Affiliate Programs – By Eric Ewe

by Colleen on November 19, 2012

Cracking the code on working with the right merchant can be a very daunting task for any affiliate when there are many networks to choose from, numerous verticals, and abundant merchants.

This wide selection can be a blessing and a curse. While it’s helpful to compare a wide selection of advertisers, the options can be overwhelming.

Many affiliates can rely on the statistics and policies when identifying new programs to apply to. Commission rate, return days/cookie duration, earnings per click (EPC), average order amount, reversal rate and many other factual statistics are helpful indicators; but there are other elements to consider in your decision making.

Offline Multichannel Presence

You might be missing a great opportunity if you do not take a second to reflect on what you see offline and apply it online –even when you are watching TV. Merchants that maintain a presence on TV, direct mail, radio, magazines or billboards have a broader marketing strategy and invest more in marketing; at the same time, the merchant’s multichannel approach will help lift conversion rate.

The SCOOTER Store was able to identify a strong correlation between their DRTV presence and the lift to their online conversion rate. When comparing between affiliate programs to participate in and if everything remains equal, go with the advertiser with a stronger offline presence.

Networks Highlighting Top Advertisers

Affiliate networks often try to make it easier for affiliates by identifying top advertisers, such as Linkshare’s Premium Advertisers to ShareASale’s Power Rank.

These statuses usually signify that those advertisers have exceeded the basic requirements of a successful affiliate program and have been vetted by the network. At the same time, one should take these labels with a grain of salt. Some of those “successful programs” end up going offline or delinquent.

Homework + Finance

Once you have found what appears to be the ideal advertiser, do your homework on the company. In this tough economic environment, some companies have closed their affiliate program without giving sufficient notice, or paying the bill.

A good safeguard is to Google “Merchant+Name+Financial+Report” and scan for red flags, such SEC investigations, or stock price taking a tumble. If you have not done it yet, setup Google Alerts to email you about each merchant you are promoting.

Selecting and joining affiliate programs can be an overwhelming process, but it does not have to be when you take these steps in advance.

Eric Ewe has been an affiliate manager since 2000 and a Linkshare Golden Link Finalist.

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