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Finding New Merchants – Part One

As a result of a question from John, a new NY Affiliate, I will be writing a couple of posts on how to select new merchants. Every affiliate has a different method of finding and evaluating merchants to promote. I really don’t think there is a right or wrong way, it is just important that you do it. Many new affiliates just sign up and start promoting every merchant program. Although that will work, there are more effective ways to select merchants to promote.

Before you evaluate a merchant you have to decide what is important to you. Everyone has different criteria based on their business model so experiment to find what you are comfortable with. The following are some points you may want to consider.

  • do they accept NY Affiliates
  • what is in the affiliate terms of agreement
  • does the merchant have products you need
  • is the merchant on an ethical network or a network you feel comfortable working with
  • does the merchant have a leak free site
  • does the merchant have a quality site
  • what is the commission rate and is it comparable to similar merchants
  • what is their cookie length – is it comparable to similar merchants
  • what is the return days – is it comparable to similar merchants
  • do they offer a data feed and how often is it updated
  • do they track phone orders
  • do they offer coupons
  • do they allow pay-per-click
  • are they parasite free
  • do they have a dedicated program manager – in house management or do they outsource
  • is the program manager or merchant responsive
  • what is the current industry buzz on the merchant
  • is there questionable history for merchant, program manager or network

The last two points are not included to dissuade you from joining a program that has had or is having problems. There have been several programs that had problems early on but managed to clean up. By the same token there are programs that sour.  I have included these two criteria to remind you of the importance of keeping your eyes and ears open. Always be aware of how your merchants are regarded and use it as a guide but always decide for yourself based on results.

In future posts, I will explain these points in further detail and might even add on to the list. Some steps are so automatic I may have forgotten to list them.

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