Possibly the best marketing invention yet on the internet, Affiliate (aka Associate), programs are a win win situation for everyone involved.

Internet based merchants, like us, hook up with affiliates to generate traffic to their web sites. Affiliates get paid when the traffic from their site visits the merchant web page.

The smart Internet entrepreneur always does some research and testing to determine the best affiliate programs for her business. Always test for best results. I have spent hundreds of dollars to learn what the two sentences immediately above say.

Where to look for the best affiliate programs for your web site.

Affiliate networks are the, sparkling gold opportunity, middle man between affiliates and web sites with affiliate programs. Look for affiliate networks that provide the complete tools needed to set up and maintain an affiliate program.

AssociatePrograms.com is a popular and quality directory with information about merchants that pay you to sell their wares.

Commission Junction is another good source, free network, that offers access to thousands of the best affiliate programs. Commission Junction efficiently combines all your affiliate earnings (product sales, on-line ads, links) into one monthly check.

What you need to Look for

The very finest affiliate programs will be those that target your customer base. An on line florist would get meager traffic from a pet supply website.

Always think, target markets most closely related to your product. Although there are some fairly universal affiliate programs out there.

For example; translation software that immediately translates information into many different popular languages. This would dramatically increase the pages on your web site.

The above would also let you sell your product in more foreign country markets, all over the world, because more people would be able to understand you.

You always want an affiliate program whose business is similar or comparable to your product so you make sense to your leads. Experience will help both of you. Avoid affiliate programs with low quality products. You will just be embarrassed and waste a lot of time.

Ask to speak to existing affiliates to find out if a company is reputable. Experienced references are a good indicator.

Referral traffic will almost always link to the merchant site, about seven times on average, and not buy initially but return to make a purchase weeks later. Most of you will do this yourselves. This is how our human nature works.

Look for affiliate programs that remember your site was responsible for that customer. The best affiliate programs remember you for 60 days by using cookies to tag the computer of the customer when he visits the merchant site.

Some are very loyal and will hold your information forever once it is submitted by a lead so all commissions will always go to you. Article Marketer is this way. I give them credit. That is a reason they are so highly rated.

The foremost affiliate programs offer reliable support such as ads, logos, and sales advice. Good programs also provide timely updates on click through sales and earnings, and, respond to questions or problems within 24 hours.

Getting Paid

Good programs leave you with no worries about getting your commission checks when they are due.

Finally, improvements and updates will be automatic making your affiliate program smooth and efficient. You will sometimes receive newsletters from them.

James M. Lowe writes original articles about home business opportunities .
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