The 10 Most Important Criteria You Must Meet to Attract Top Affiliates


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As a long time affiliate program manager, I have been faced with the good, the bad and the ugly. In order to manage the customer's expectations, I've come up with 10 benchmarks they must first meet before I take them on. While I'd like to be a miracle worker and help everyone that approaches me, some situations just can't be helped without some fundamental changes in their business model.

If your business meets these criteria you will be able to attract and sign up affiliates.

1. You are able to sell the product nationally or internationally. Localized products do not sell well in affiliate programs. Affiliates come from everywhere. Limiting the affiliate to a local market does not work. This means many kinds of retail product distribution models limited by territories do not work.

2. You are able to sell a unique product. This goes to the competition. When I hear the phrase: “Well… there’s really nothing quite like it on the Internet”, I know the prospective client has not done any online research. There is competition in virtually every segment of every product type on the web. Get used to it. There is competition for every dollar out there regardless of how unique you may think your retail product is.

3. You have a brand name or sell brand name products. Having brand names does make it easier to sell online. Having a branded category name is even easier. Does that mean you have to have a brand name to be successful… no.

4. You will be able to offer an aggressive affiliate payout. Brand names many times prescribe low payouts to affiliates. This makes getting affiliate buy-in difficult. I launched a national brand company with a really low payout after suggesting a much more aggressive customer acquisition number. The program started out well and then fell off dramatically after 60 days as affiliates tested the program and didn’t make enough money to justify their ad spends. They were gone. I was able to keep them by raising the commission, but almost lost them entirely because the program was not priced right coming out of the gate.

5. You know the retailers customer acquisition number when I launch an affiliate program. Hard to imagine, but many retail merchants have no idea what they could or should be paying to acquire customers. If they don’t know and seem to think the number I quote them is too high, I go looking for other opportunities.

6. You will be able to offer a competitively priced retail product. You don’t have to be the cheapest for sure. But if your competition is less expensive and you don’t have a value proposition to support your pricing model, you will have trouble getting affiliate sign ups.

7. You know the average price per sale on the site. Low priced items are not affiliate favorites as they have to drive lots of traffic to earn any money. A retailer with at least a $60 average sale is a bare minimum. Many times it may be a packaging issue, but if the retailer hasn’t figured it out by the time I show up… it can be really heavy lifting to get them to package their products correctly.

8. You know the conversion rate of the visitors to buyers on the site. Depending on the conversion rate and the average sale price I can give the retailer a pretty good idea if he is going to be successful in attracting affiliates. A 1% conversion rate can be good depending on what you sell, and I have some customers that run at 4% as well.

9. You know and understand what kind of ecommerce solution the retailer uses. If your conversion rates are abnormally low for the category you are in, I may pass because this may mean your ecommerce solution or customer service is not up to par.

10. You have a website that is attractive and compelling. So often overlooked as a determining factor, in many ways it is a major factor in the affiliate’s decision on whether to add your site links to his site. While he wants to make money, if he sees poor quality design work he is unlikely to add you. He knows if its ugly to him, it will be ugly to the people he refers to the site.

So how did you do? If you met at least 9 of the 10 you are in good shape. What happens if you are lower than 8? Most of these are fixable so fix them. If it can't be fixed then you may want to get a second opinion or look for alternative ways to drive free traffic to your site. If you scored a perfect 10 you can do well with an affiliate program if you execute it right.

Durk Price is a professional affiliate manager. He has managed large retailers like LimitedToo, Beauty Trends and others. He has launched affiliate programs and had affiliate sales account for 27% of total online sales within 90 days of launch. His primary focus is managing affiliate programs for retail companies. To learn more about his services of putting top level affiliates together with top quality merchants visit or email him at .


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