Top 10 Tips for Choosing the Affiliate Program That Is Right for You
1. You have to identify a product or service for which there is a need. The product should be such that you would love and enjoy promoting it. You could start by searching for “Affiliate Programs” in the Search Engines.
2. The product or service should be relevant to your website.
3. It is always wise to join an affiliate program that is long standing, safe and secure and has a good reputation in the Internet world. This can be easily verified from the newswibe Better Business Bureau or other similar organizations. Visits to Forums and Discussion Groups will also provide you with a lot of useful information.
4. Most affiliate program providers provide a commission of 5% to 50%. The commission you earn for the sale of a product is your main income. So while choosing an affiliate program you should study the commission paid out and decide on a program that pays at least 35% for you to run your business successfully.
5. There should be a proper tracking system in place to record all the clicks and sales made through the text links and banners placed on your website, e-mails and other advertisements.
6. One important factor that is often overlooked is the “hits per sale ratio”. This indicates the number of hits that have to be made to a Text Link or Banner to generate a sale. This will give you an idea as to how much traffic is needed before a sale is made.
7. How often are commissions paid? This is another important matter that should be considered. Most reputed organizations pay their affiliates monthly or when they accumulate a minimum commission of $50 to $ 100 or as indicated by you. You should avoid any program that requires too many sales to reach the minimum amount.
8. Affiliate Programs are generally single tier or two tiers. A single tier program pays you for whatever business you have generated. On the other hand a two tier program pays you for the business you have generated and also a commission for the sales generated by a sub- affiliate, you have sponsored. A two tier program is always advantageous.
9. Long standing reputed organizations provide a whole range of tools and resources such as Banners, Text Links, Brochures, Websites and training for their affiliates. When choosing look out for such organizations because they certainly make life much easier and helps you grow your home based business.
10. Finally, you must read and understand the agreement before you join as an affiliate even if it happens to be the best organization in the world.
Understanding the Affiliate Agreement
The affiliate agreement created by the merchant and agreed by the affiliate, defines all aspects of the affiliate program and typically includes:
– Types of Web sites merchant will accept into the affiliate program
– Types of links allowed and guidelines regarding their use.
– Schedule and payments terms of fees and commissions
– Terms of usage of merchant logo, name and web content
– Technical specification that your web site must meet, if any
– Restrictions on types of content that may appear on affiliate sites
– Requirements for compliance with all government laws, ordinances, rules, and regulations.
Affiliate Tracking Systems
– Allow merchant to control how it credits click-throughs
– Monitor window of time in which affiliate can get credit for a click-through
– Record and store affiliate information
– Provide commission/fee reports
Affiliate management networks
An affiliate management network is a third-party entity that recruits affiliates, manages the registration process, tracks and properly credits all of the fee and commissions and arranges for payment. In return for these services, the affiliate management network collects from the merchant a percentage of each referral transaction’s fee or commission-perhaps as much 30 percent.
Well-established affiliate management networks: Example: Commission Junction, LinkShare 
Affiliate tracking technologies
To achieve this we develop a strategic online relationship with advertisers to improve the creation, management, and analysis of online marketing and sales activities. These activities are supported by a scalable and reliable tracking technology. Keeping track of the click-throughs and properly crediting the affiliates is a complex programming task. Companies such as BeFree and ClickTrade sell software that automatically monitors and credits all followed links resulting in a sale. Note that ClickTrade was acquired by Microsoft and is now co-branded as part of Microsoft bCentral.
Some tracking technologies are following:
– Custom links containing affiliate information or affiliate and merchant information
– Tracking cookies
– Third-party tracking software
– Application service provider tracking service
– Sub Domain tracking
– Database record matching.
Affiliate Marketing Risks and Challenges
Affiliate marketing is not without certain risks and challenges primarily form unethical affiliates and the negative perceptions online consumers have about tracking technologies.
– Cookie stuffing – Multiple cookies placed on visitor’s hard drive during a single visitor affiliate site.
– Spyware – General term used to describe software that has been installed on a personal computer without the owner’s permission, its unknowingly download and install spyware when you download games, screensavers, freeware utilities and so forth.
– Parasiteware – Redirects affiliate links and Replaces content of existing tracking cookies
– Spammers – Merchant is responsible if affiliates use spam to promote sites
– Negative perception of tracking cookies – Many consumers install and use blocking software which includes Block tracking cookies and Delete tracking cookies.