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* What is hit per sale ratio? (The average number of hits to a banner or text link it takes to generate a sale - based on all affiliate statistics.) This is extremely important, as this number will tell you how much traffic you must generate before you can expect to earn a commission from a sale.
* How are referrals from an affiliate's site tracked, and for how long do they remain in system? You need to be confident in program's ability to track those people your refer from your site. This is only way you'll get credit for a sale. Additionally, how long those people stay in system is also important, as visitor may not buy initially, but may return later to make a purchase. Will you still get credit for sale six months from now?
* What kind of affiliate stats are available? Does program offer detailed stats? Are these online and available in real time? It's important to be able to see your individual stats, so you know how many impressions, hits and sales you have generated from your site. (Impressions are number of times program's banner or text link was viewed by a visitor to your site. A hit is simply someone clicking on a banner or text link - taking visitor from your site to program site.)
* Does program pay just commissions on sales, or do they also pay for hits and/or impressions? Getting paid for impressions and/or hits, in addition to commissions on sales, is important. This is especially true if program has a low sales to hit ratio.
* Who is online retailer? Find out who you are doing business with. Is this a solid company? How do they fill orders? What types of payments do they accept? How long have they been in business? What are their return policies and how do these affect you? What products do they sell and what is their average sale amount? The more you know about retailer offering affiliate program, easier it will be for you to determine if this is program for you and your site.
* Is this a one or two tier program? A single tier program pays you only for business you personally generate. A two tier program pays you for your business, plus it pays you a commission on sales generated by any affiliate you sponsor into their program. Some two tier programs will also pay you a small fee on each new affiliate you sponsor - a recruitment fee.
* Finally, what is amount of commission paid? (And fee for impressions/hits - if available.) 5% - 20% is common for commissions paid on sales. $.01 - $.05 is common for amount paid for each hit (click through). If you find a program that also pays for impressions, don't expect amount paid to be much at all. From these numbers you can see that program's average sale amount and hit to sale ratio are extremely important. This is especially true if yours is a low traffic site to begin with.
These are just a few of main aspects of affiliate programs which you should be familiar with if you plan to incorporate any such program into your web site. I hope this provides reader with additional insight and helps them in selecting right program for their site.
Todd W. Winslow is the co-owner of TADD Marketing Group, L.L.C. He is also the founder of TADD Publishing Group which publishes a variety of e-mail newsletters http://www.taddgroup.com, and is co-creator of The Mystic Beagle - a romance and relationship advice web site http://www.mysticbeagle.com