Improving Your Results
Finding the Best Merchant
By Rob Wood
Fri, 9 Sep 2005, 01:23:00

When deciding which Merchant programs to join there are a few things which Affiliates should look out for. This tutorial will take you through a few of the things to look for in a Merchant program.

Firstly you are going to have to be honest with yourself about how you can promote a Merchant's program. If you have a great website about rugby then it is unlikely that you will convert very many sales for a program that sells makeup (for example). As the saying goes, "Horses for courses." The programs that you choose to promote should be in some way related to the website or email list that you plan to promote it with. (Search engine marketers may be able to avoid this problem!).

The next thing you should probably look at is the website of the Merchant and consider potential conversion rates (a conversion rate is the amount of visitors who will actually make a purchase or fill out a lead form when they visit that page). Will the website be able to convert the traffic you send into sales (especially important for sales programs!!). If you are joining a lead program, does the Merchant's website make it easy for the visitor to fill out the form? This will have a large impact on the visitors you are able to convert into a commission! If the website is professional and easy to navigate then it will probably convert well. If it is difficult to navigate and looks unprofessional then you may wish to reconsider even joining the program, as the conversion rates may be quite low.

clixGalore also allows you to use several useful tools to evaluate each Merchant from the search page. The most obvious piece of information that is important for an Affiliate is how much the Merchant is willing to pay (displayed in the "Offered Rate" column of the search page. If the Merchant has a %Sale program you will need to calculate in real terms how much that will equate to in commission. A low ticket item that would sell for $30 or less would require a generous percentage payout to be attractive to most Affiliates. A high ticket item costing over $100 may get away with paying a slightly less generous percentage (but more in real dollar terms). This has to be assessed on a case by case basis. The most popular Merchant Programs are obviously generous in this area.

clixGalore also has a very useful tool for assessing the performance history of Merchants. When you do a search for Merchant programs, you will notice a column that is called "Merchant EPC." This stands for Estimated Payout Per 100 visitors (C is the Roman Numeral for 100). For example, if the Merchant EPC is $10, it means that for every 100 visitors that Affiliates have sent to that Merchant, that Merchant on average has paid Affiliates $10 in commissions. This is a very useful tool in seeing how well that Merchant is performing for other Affiliates.

In the next column of the search area you will see the "Cookie Expiry Period." Cookies are an electronic signature that allows clixGalore to tell if a visitor has been sent to a Merchant's website by an Affiliate. These cookies can be set to expire by the Merchant after a certain amount of time. For example, if a Merchant sets the Cookie Expiry Period for 90 days, it means that if a visitor is sent to a Merchant's website by an Affiliate, that Affiliate will be paid a commission, even if the visitor waits up to 90 days before placing an order on the Merchant's site. From an Affiliate's point of view, a very long Cookie Expiry Period is very attractive.

The next column in the search area shows the "Affiliate Approval Rate." This is the percentage of Affiliates who the Merchant allows to join their program. Some Merchant's insist on particular types of Affiliates, and other just want to see who is joining before they agree to it. Affiliates should not let this be a big factor in who they choose to promote, but be aware that some Merchants will take their time in approving applications. If you wish to get started immediately, then you may want to choose the Merchants with the 100% Affiliate Approval Rate.

The next column displays 2 valuable pieces of information. The first is whether or not the Merchant has a sales bonus program. Merchant programs that offer sales bonuses for Affiliates who are performing well are very attractive. The more you sell, the more you get paid! The second piece of information in this column shows wether the Merchant offers a catalogue data feed for use on Affiliate websites (this can be a very useful tool for savvy Affiliates to promote a Merchant.

While there are certainly other pieces of information that an Affiliate might wish to know about a Merchant Program, those available in the search area should certainly make the task of choosing the best programs much easier.

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