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Choosing the right affiliate products to promote has become a much more difficult task than in the past. Before retailers fully recognized the benefits of using affiliates to market their products, the choices for products to promote were not that extensive. If a marketer ran a website devoted to outdoor activities, there were probably only a handful of affiliate programs that fit that niche.

Today, the situation is much different. There are hundreds (probably thousands) of affiliate programs being marketed today in just about every imaginable product category. The incredible amount of choices has lead to the rise of affiliate program directories to help marketers find these products. The large affiliate networks such as Clickbank, Linkshare, and Commission Junction are as popular as ever and are offering more products to promote. Not everyone with a product to sell can afford to use these affiliate services, however, and many have opted to run their own private affiliate programs.

These private programs make up the majority of the listings in affiliate program directories and can represent excellent opportunities for affiliate marketers. Choosing the right programs and products can be a very tricky process, especially for those that are new to the business. If you are planning on joining a new affiliate program, there are several factors that should be taken into consideration before putting in the effort to promote their products.

One of the first considerations that comes to mind is the amount and type of commission that is paid for referrals. Most programs pay a percentage based on the referred sale price, but there are others that pay a set price per sale and some even pay for signups or other referral types. When selecting any affiliate product, make sure that the offered commission is high enough to justify using your valuable time and marketing capabilities to promote.

Another consideration is the payout threshold and timing. These are different for all affiliate programs and are very important
to pay attention to. Each affiliate program will pay commissions on a payout schedule like the 1st and 15th of each month. Generally speaking, the more often the program pays commissions, the better. You should be very careful of programs that go two or three months between payouts. The payout threshold is often overlooked, but can be very important. The truth is that something like 85% of affiliate sales are referred by around 5% of affiliate marketers. That means that the other 95% are not cranking out sale after sale for any product. If a program has a high payment threshold, it could take a while to reach the required amount to be paid, if you ever do. I would try to target programs that have a threshold that can be met with only 2-3 referrals.

Each affiliate program will also have its own "cookie length". This is the amount of time that your tracking cookie will stay on the computer of those you refer through your affiliate link. These cookie lengths can range from a single session cookie, all the way up to lifetime cookies. I would recommend against joining any program offering a cookie length of less than a few days. Preferably, you want this setting to be at least a month or longer. If the cookie length is too short, you can lose sales if the person goes through your link, but then goes back to buy directly from the vendor website a few days later.

The final and most important consideration when choosing an affiliate program is the quality of the product or products that you would promote. If the product has very little value for the price, it doesn't matter what the commission is because you won't sell any. This is all too often overlooked by marketers. Be sure to focus your efforts on products that you think you will be able to sell easily and stay away from products that are out of your general scope.

Marketing new affiliate products is fun and exciting, but it is important to make sure you are focusing your efforts on the right affiliate programs. By taking all of these factors into consideration before choosing a product to promote, you will be able to make a better choice of affiliate program which will hopefully result in more affiliate revenue for your business.