How to Choose Affiliate Marketing Products and Programs

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Whether you use affiliate marketing as your main source of income or an extra revenue stream, finding the best programs and products to promote is essential.

There are numerous affiliate marketing opportunities, and choosing what’s best for you and your niche can quickly become overwhelming.

That’s enough reason to follow these 8 steps, which will help you quickly & consistently go through finding out how to choose affiliate marketing products and programs.

How to Choose Affiliate Marketing Products and Programs

Here’s what to look for when choosing affiliate marketing products and programs:


1. Find Your Niche Before Your Affiliate Marketing Product

A common practice for affiliate marketers is to choose an affiliate product first and then research the niche.

Instead, find a profitable niche first before you choose your affiliate products. Whilst doing niche research you should of course have a look at the programs & offers within that niche to assess the profitability.

A suitable niche will usually have a number of quality programs that you can promote. This will allow you to split test and see which ones fit best with your messaging and your audience. And if you are well established and can drive a considerable amount of sales, you could even try negotiating your commission with the merchant.

Sometimes an affiliate campaign will fail for no clear reason, but choosing a profitable niche first allows you to change course and pivot to a winning offer.

Read also: How to Find a Profitable Affiliate Marketing Niches.


2. Assess the Affiliate Product Types in the Niche

Once you know your niche, you can start to assess the products available for that category.

When looking at affiliate programs or products, consider these 3 points:

2.1 How It Fits Within the Niche

Finding products that are related to your niche and what you talk or write about is essential to success. Otherwise, you will loose your audience’s interest.

However, you can think out of the box and be creative. For instance, if you have a blog about dog training, there’s no need to limit yourself to just selling training courses. You could also promote pet insurance, dog products, dog competitions… anything within your niche’s market that makes sense to your target audience.

2.2 Digital vs Physical

Since physical products are more expensive to manufacture and ship, the affiliate commission for this product type is usually lower (10% on average).

In contrast, affiliate marketing for digital products usually offers a higher commission rate (as high as 50%) due to zero to low costs for fulfilment.

Read also: Top 12 Affiliate Marketing Niches with Affiliate Programs – useful to find niche ideas, programs and have a look at the commissions.

2.3 Is It Evergreen?

Some products are popular for a while and then fizzle out. That’s why it’s important to look for evergreen affiliate programs.

Evergreen affiliate marketing programs offer products that have value and demand throughout the year.

These products will sell well for years, regardless of the time of year or the current trends. By promoting evergreen products, you can continue to make money from the work you put in a while ago.


3. Compare the Commission Rates

When looking at your earnings, you should look at:

  • The commission rate.
  • The type of commission.
  • The possibility of an upsell.
  • The price of the product.

3.1 Commission Rate

The commission rate of an affiliate program is the percentage of a sale that the merchant pays the affiliate for promoting their products.

Higher commission rates don’t necessarily translate into higher revenue, especially when the average order value is low (more on AOV later).

Also, there may be several additional factors that shape what commission’s an affiliate marketer receives:

  • The commission rate might increase if you sell more.
  • There may be some promotions for new program joiners.
  • The commission rate can be different for each product within one affiliate program.

Read also: Affiliate Marketing Income – Commissions & Realistic Earnings.

3.2 Type of Commission

Generally, there are 2 types of commissions :

  • A one-time payout.
  • A recurring commission.

3.3 Possibility of an Upsell

Upsells also play a role in your earnings.

After a consumer has purchased an initial product, he or she is in a prime position to be offered various other packages that are only available at the time of purchase. This practice is known as upselling.

If the customers takes advantage of these offers and makes another purchase, the affiliate’s earnings increases.

3.4 Price of the Product

Finally, when comparing commission rates, you should also take into consideration the price of the affiliate product.

For instance, if you want to create $5,000 in affiliate revenue (the sales you make, not your commission), you could sell:

  1. 500 units of a $10 product.
  2. 50 units of a $100 product.
  3. 5 units of a $1,000 product.

It may be tempting to overlook high price products, with the misconception they are harder to promote.

But, most affiliate marketers sell both lower and higher products in order to appeal to a fuller spectrum of people.

When considering high priced items in affiliate marketing, your niche will also determine the availability for these.

Want to know what are the highest paying affiliate programs?

Check the Top 12 Affiliate Marketing Niches with Affiliate Programs blog post.

4. Calculate the Average Order Value (AOV)

Once you know the commission rate of an affiliate product, it’s time to look at the average order value (AOV).

The AOV refers to the average dollar amount spent every time a consumer completes an order.

To calculate AOV: Divide your total revenue by the number of orders.

Basically, you want to know how many units of a particular affiliate product you need to sell to earn X amount.

What you need to bear in mind is this:

High Rates x High Average Order Value = Higher Affiliate Revenue.

Since the number of products you sell will affect your average order value (AOV), a high AOV with a lower commission rate can earn more than a low AOV with a high commission rate.

For example, let’s say you have two products (A and B) and both have the same price. When you sell 20 units of product A at 1% commission, and 1 of product B at 10% commission. Product A will earn you more money.


5. Identify the Earning Method

Find out how you will be paid, the threshold for payment, the frequency, and the payment method.

Usually, merchants pay per sale and on a monthly basis. Also, another condition for a payout is the requirement to reach a certain amount of money (payment threshold). 

Many merchants and affiliate platforms offer a variety of payment methods like PayPal and Wire Transfer.

A merchant can pay the affiliate in three ways:

  1. Paid per sale (PPS): This is the standard affiliate marketing structure. In this type of agreement, the merchant pays the affiliate a percentage of the sale price of the product after the consumer purchases the product.
  2. Paid per lead (PPL): Affiliate commissions are based on the generating leads for the business (merchant). The affiliate must persuade the consumer to visit the merchant’s website and complete the desired action. This could be filling out a contact form, signing up for a trial, subscribing to a newsletter, downloading a guide, etc.
  3. Paid per click (PPC): This option focuses on incentivizing the affiliate to redirect consumers from their marketing platform (social media channel, blog, etc) to the merchant’s website. This means the affiliate must engage the consumer to the extent that they will move from the affiliate’s site to the merchant’s site. As a result, the affiliate is paid based on the increase in web traffic.

To calculate your expected revenue: Multiply the commission earned per sale by the number of expected sales per month.

When a consumer clicks on your affiliate link, a cookie is generated that contains your affiliate ID.

This cookie is stored on the consumer’s browser for a fixed time period. That period of time is called the cookie duration.

In a nutshell, the cookie duration is the length of time a cookie stays on a consumer’s browser after clicking an affiliate link.

For example, with a 30-day cookie duration affiliate link, a consumer has 30 days to complete the purchase from clicking the affiliate link on their browser.

The standard cookie duration is typically 30 days. However, it varies depending on the affiliate niche and the merchant itself.

Since this cookie is used to track affiliate sales, the longer duration it has, the better chances you have to earn a commission.

Insider Tip: The ultimate goal for high payouts is high AOV and long cookie durations.

7. Consider Your Audience and Ideal Customer

The first step in any business is understanding exactly who your target audience is.

This typically means developing your customer avatar.

Ideally, you would’ve already done your research on who your ideal customer is when you picked your niche.

There are several ways to do this, but it starts by creating an ideal customer profile. Be very specific here and make the person you are selling to as real as possible.

It’s worth revising this profile a couple of times, so you can gain know exactly who your audience and your ideal customer are.

Also, what are they currently buying and most likely to buy?

You can gain deeper insights into your audience’s wants, needs and pain-points using emails, surveys or blog posts.

And if you don’t have a big following yet, you should (especially) study your competition and see what seems to work for them.

If your target audience can’t afford high-priced offers, then you are better off promoting lower-priced offers, even if your revenue per sale is lower.

In the end, you will earn more due to a higher amount of lower-priced products, rather than by promoting expensive products that make no sale at all.

Ultimately, you want to give value to your audience and solve their problems.


8. Pick a Merchant and Join an Affiliate Platform

The final step is about the merchant, i.e., the seller of the product that you want to promote.

There are two things to consider when assessing merchants: their reputation and support system.

8.1 The Merchant’s Reputation

When choosing a program, it’s important to consider the merchant’s reputation. It’s preferable to work with a long-established merchant with a good reputation and high traffic.

At the same time, don’t get put off by new vendors if they are offering an excellent product and a good rate of commission.

Do your research first and see if the merchant is associated with an affiliate marketing platform or network.

Affiliate networks are the bridge connecting bloggers and entrepreneurs (publishers) with companies (merchants) offering affiliate program opportunities for their products or services.

These affiliate marketing platforms provide conversion metrics, which will allow you to see which merchants convert their visitors to sales well.

New vendors will not have any metrics to report, so this may be a reason to wait before committing to them.

There are many affiliate marketplaces out there, so choose wisely.

For an in-depth review of the 5 established marketplaces, read the Affiliate Marketing Platforms and Networks List – Pros & Cons blog post.

  1. ClickBank: A diverse marketplace that mainly offers digital products.
  2. ShareASale: Like ClickBank, ShareASale has been in business for over two decades. Wide product selection, with over 39 consumer categories and over 4,500 merchants listed.
  3. CJ Affiliate: Provides a wide range of niches and both physical and digital products, and more than 3,000 merchants.
  4. MaxBounty: Only a bit newer than the rest, and offers fewer products. Niche strengths include dieting, dating and real estate.
  5. FlexOffers: With over 12,000 merchants, FlexOffers is another huge affiliate marketing network. You can find physical and digital products across all niches.

After you pick your merchant, or whilst comparing companies, you can join a couple of affiliate networks since they provide valuable information for affiliate research.

8.2 The Merchant’s Support and Tools

As an affiliate, working with a merchant that offers good support and tools can make the difference between a good or poor experience.

  • Is the affiliate dashboard well laid out and easy to navigate?
  • Is the program managed by an affiliate network? Is there an affiliate manager who can help you? (Otherwise a live chat or email support).
  • Do they offer marketing materials like banners, landing pages or sales copy?
  • Do they have tutorials (preferably video) to help you get started?

Those are just a few point to consider when making a decision.


Final Thoughts

Once you choose an affiliate product, get to know it! Read about it, use it, and become familiar with it:

  • Have you personally used it? If not, try it out in advance (if feasible).
  • How does the product or service benefit your audience?
  • Does it have a money-back guarantee?
  • Is the checkout procedure smooth and fluid?

In summary, following these criteria when choosing an affiliate product will help you avoid headaches down the road after you have already invested your time and efforts into the program you chose.

Take action and get started now!

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