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How to Choose an Affiliate Program

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How to Choose an Affiliate Program

2008-09-11 10:53:05

Before you throw yourself headlong into the marketing activities that will dominate most of your time as an affiliate, it’s critical that you select a good market in which to exercise your marketing skill. Not all products with affiliate programs are profitable and even the best marketing efforts can wasted if the program isn’t attractive to visitors, or doesn’t pay out a good commission.

While you could find a profitable market first and then locate affiliate programs within that market, it’s actually a lot faster to do it the other way around. In this lesson we'll cover Researching Affiliate Programs.

Step 1: Find a suitable program


ClickBank contains many excellent affiliate programs for digital download products.

Generally speaking, there are three things that distinguish a profitable program from a waste of your valuable time.

  1. Commission is 60% or more

    Over the years, we’ve reached the conclusion that it isn’t worth the time and effort to promote a product unless your commission is at least 60%. As the majority of products in ClickBank retail at $30-$70, abiding by this rule means that you earn a minimum of $18 per sale. There are dozens of products in ClickBank that pay out 60% or more - the very best often pay out 75%.

    However, there are a couple of exceptions:

    a) Very high sale price: If the product sells for $155, then a 50% commission isn’t all that bad and will still be worth your time. Even so, we don’t suggest going below a 50% commission.

    b) Recurring billing: Subscription-based ClickBank products often enable you to continue earning a commission every time the customer pays their subscription. In this case, you can lower your base to 40%.

  2. A High Gravity Rating

    The ClickBank gravity rating is based on the number of different affiliates that have made a sale during the week. A high gravity rating means that lots of affiliates are making sales and, in general, you can take this to mean that the product is in hot demand and has a good chance of being profitable for you.

    There is one exception to this rule: Internet marketing products.

    Internet marketing products are frequently purchased by affiliates through their own affiliate link. By doing this they get a big discount on a product; unfortunately it also radically skews the gravity, so when viewing the gravity of internet marketing products, don’t take the gravity of these kinds of products at face value. The category most likely to be affected by this type of activity is Marketing & Ads.

  3. Check out the sales page

    Of course, low gravity is not necessarily unprofitable - after all, every new product has to start somewhere! However, if a product does have low gravity, then you need to dig a bit further to work out whether it will convert well.

    The best way to make learn more is to click through to the sales page and:

    • Check for lengthy sales copy. Short copy doesn’t tend to convert well.
    • Compare the copy with competing products. Is it convincing? If competitors have better looking and better-sounding sales copy, then there is probably a reason why this product isn’t doing well.


Example of Good Affiliate Program

This program has it all: a great gravity, a 75% commission and a high sale price.

Example of Bad Affiliate Program

In contrast, this product has a very low gravity, low commission and low sale price; if you were to view the sales page you'd also see it’s fairly short and not that convincing.

CPA Programs

Cost per acquisition programs pay a commission for each action, rather than each sale. For example, some CPA programs pay a commission on each email address captured, others for a zip code, and others still, for filing out an application form.

Popular cost per acquisition sites include PeerFly and affiliate.com

Good CPA programs are:

  1. Zip code offers. Why? Because they are easy. All you need to get people to do is enter a zip code and you earn a commission. I know of several people earning over a million dollars a year just from zip code CPA offers.
  2. Commissions over $1. Why? Because earning $1 a sale makes your effort worthwhile. Sure, there are plenty of programs paying 0.20 per acquisition, but is it worth the work?
  3. Unrestricted promotion. This isn’t really a "rule" as such, more of a warning. Some programs look great in every way…but only allow you to promote them via email. This is fine if you have a list, but what if you don’t? So make sure you check the terms and conditions before going ahead. You’ll find that some programs have no restrictions, others have a few, and some have a lot! They’ll not doubt have good reasons for these restrictions, just make sure you’re aware of them.

Physical Product Programs

There’s only one rule for choosing a good physical product to promote and that’s:

Make sure you are earning at least $40 per sale.

Physical products have a low markup compared to digital products such as offered by ClickBank, so, instead of applying the "60+% commission" rule, look for at least $40 per sale. This means that for a TV retailing at $2500, you would want to be earning a 2% commission ($50) on each sale.

Step 2: Assessing the Market

Now that you’ve found some likely looking affiliate programs, it’s time to find out what the market's like.

Lots of Competing Affiliates on Primary Search Terms = Healthy Market

As the saying goes: there’s nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition.

Ideally, an Internet search on the primary search term for your market should reveal heavy competition from affiliates in the form of lots of PPC ads. You can take this as a sign that there is money to be made in the market.

For example, a search on "dog training" – a market we know to be highly profitable - reveals dozens of PPC ads, and many are clearly affiliates.

On the other hand, a search on "face painting" brings up only five ads – and only one of these appears to be an affiliate. This suggests that the face painting market is either undiscovered, or unprofitable - almost definitely the latter!

Plenty of Niche Search Terms

Competition on primary terms is good, but there still needs to be room to make a profit.

Using the free WordTracker (or similar tool), your next step is to check up on the number of niche search terms for the market.

A good market has plenty of niche search terms with relatively little competition - for example, the game ‘World of Warcraft’ is very popular over the globe. It’s a market with a lot of affiliates, but there are also literally hundreds of niche search terms:

Similarly, competition is intense in the dog training market for that keyword phrase, yet there are plenty of niche terms with low competition such as:

‘stop pitbull aggression’

It’s not all about PPC ads either - for example, although the niche term "stop fox terrier digging" has a number of competing PPC ads, there seems to be plenty of opportunity for an SEO site for this search term.

Are there multiple products to promote to the market?

While not strictly necessary, it can be handy if there are several quality affiliate programs within the market that you can promote, especially if you wish to build a list.

In a market with multiple affiliate programs, such as the dating market, you could promote "How to Attract the Opposite Sex" for two weeks, and then switch to "How to Gain Self Confidence". A few weeks later and you could offer ‘How to Start Conversations’; you’re offering great value to your list and also continuing to earn money through repeat buys.

Lesson Summary

In this lesson we looked at choosing a suitable affiliate program and some of the pitfalls to watch for; we also looked at assessing the affiliate market:

Some of the things to watch out when choosing a program include:


  • Products should have over 50% commission, preferably over 60% (with certain exceptions)
  • Check the product has a high gravity rating or (if it's a new product) check for a decent sales page

CPA Programs

  • Commissions should be over $1
  • Beware of promotion restrictions (unless those restrictions work to your advantage)

Physical Products

  • Look for commissions over $40

The second step is assessing the market

  • Look for to see if the market has healthy competition (that's a good thing), but still  has room to grow
  • Look to see if there's multiple quality products to promote to the market 


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Questions & Comments + Add a comment

Reply Robyn
word tracker is no longer free . it now has a free trial for 7 days
Reply Jeevandip Singh
So I get that high gravity is better, but one of the earlier training videos says it's better to aim for a gravity of 2-26 if you are a first timer, because they mean higher competition. I have found some products which seem great with commission and re-sale and everything but the gravity is less than 26. Is this still ok?
Gina Broom
Hi Jeevandip,

What is the gravity? If it's closer to 0 it just means that it hasn't been proven to convert well yet. If it's in the lower 20's it should be ok. Basically...

High gravity = High levels of success but also high levels of competition
Low gravity = Less proven success but lower competition

So it's kind of a toss up. Both have positives and negatives. The best thing in my opinion is to find the best product for the specific audience of your website (think of customer first, what are they already looking for? Easier to sell this than to convince them they need something they hadn't thought of yet) - and then just find the highest gravity of that type of product that you can.

As for "I have found some products which seem great with commission and re-sale..." Remember as well that a higher commission doesn't = more money if you make less sales. Better to have a lower commission that converts more times over than a higher commission that comes in on occasion.

Ultimately it's up to you, but I hope this information helps you to make an informed decision. :)

Let me know if you have any other questions,
- Gina
Reply Jeevandip Singh
Thanks for your advice Gina, it really makes me think - I had originally picked out Clickbank products (self-help, holistic type ones) with a gravity of between 2 up to 20, and although it's less gravity I felt I had the drive and passion to just gradually build a larger client base. The key words I researched were coming up as mostly easy on Traffic Travis, long-tail key words especially! So I just saw that as a green light and kept going.

Bearing in mind the great advice you gave, I started looking at other products with higher gravity. The other holistic products (various niches) that I have an interest in working with, range from 20 to 123! If I focus on my research, especially key word research, could a first timer (like me) really do it?
Gina Broom
Hi Jeevandip,

A range of gravity from 20-123 is good! And you can always try products, and if they aren't converting well, you can changing to others. Nothing wrong with a little trial and error.

Basically? You can definitely do it. :) Yes, you will need to find long-tail keywords. Do you use the research here? - https://www.affilorama.com/market-research/doing-keyword-research

More competition does mean that PPC and SEO might be a little more tricky, but not impossible, and there are a lot of other ways to generate interest in your affiliate website.

One of the most important pieces of advice I could give you is to really think about your target audience when you plan your websites content. I actually talked about it in this weeks blog post: https://www.affilorama.com/blog/a-challenge-to-the-status-quo-of-content-strategy

When you get really specific about who your website (and the products you promote on it) are for, and you sculpt your content and offers around the specifics of what they need, the more your site will stand out to those people.

Try choosing the product from that gravity range that resonates most with the core concept of your website.

Hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions. :)

- Gina
Reply Elio Mondello
Hi Gina
I have checked the CPA links and I have to report that are not working or redirecting to different ones like

- Epic Direct Network - http://ryanisabella.com/ - wrong site
- NeverBlue - http://globalwidemedia.com/ - wrong site
- HydraGroup - http://www.hydragroup.com/ - blank page
- Clickbooth - https://www.clickbooth.com/ - working and considered scam and spam by WOT
- ClixGalore - http://www.clixgalore.com/ - OK
Gina Broom
Opps! Thanks for letting me know Elio. :)

Will add this to my list of updates to make and sort it as soon as I get a mo.
Gina Broom
All updated :)
Reply sharon
the CPA links dont work are they ok?
can you give more info on CPA and how to start
Melissa Johnson
Hi, Sharon --

Do you mean the links to Affiliate.com, Peerfly, and Neverblue?

As for CPA resources: If you're curious, you can always reach out to our other affiliates and our support team on the forum to learn more:
Reply matea

it says that we should pick about 50 prodicts to promote on our site? But I have one product that I chose and it is very strict and there are no other simmilar products out there at Clickbank... should I go with that one or find some niche where I can promote several products?

Reply Melissa Johnson
Hi, Matea!

If you prefer to stick with the niche you're in, you can simply look for products on a different affiliate network -- ShareASale or Commission Junction, for example. Even Amazon. Otherwise, you might look for a different niche that has more products.

It's your choice -- we generally recommend that our affiliates have a passion for the niche, because it's easier to maintain your momentum and motivation. So if you're really committed to the niche and product, I would see what the other networks have available. =)
Reply Fiona Wilson
Hello I am interested in getting help with putting up one site with the help of affilorama jetpack system that you offer. When i inquired about it i was told i need five sites I only need 1 why are you giving me 5 sites i am quite confused?
Melissa Johnson
Hi, Fiona!

The AffiloJetpack system lets you choose five niches and gives you all the content and resources you need for each one. That way you can pursue multiple niches using the same tools and same proven system.

If you have questions about the products, reach out to our support team! =)

Reply Lindsey
Hi, I'm interested in direct marketing using Pinterest. Do you have any curriculum or suggestions about how to start and succeed?
Justin Golschneider
Hi Lindsey! To the best of my knowledge, we don't have any lessons on Pinterest just yet and I'm afraid I'm no expert myself. I've passed this suggestion to our content team, though, so keep an eye out for a Pinterest lesson!
Reply Alex Mathew
Thank you So much dude, for this amazing Affiliate Marketing Researching GUIDE~
I just mentioned it in my recent post found here because of the GREAT INFO: https://justpaste.it/affiliate-marketing
Reply Sebastine Apine
Thanks immensely for these great guides. Am a registered Amazon affiliate but do not know how to start. I need help to do so and also for any good CPA program.Thanks.
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