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Which Affiliate Program Makes You the Most Money?

By Denise Maling
Posted Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Internet is an awesome phenomenon. Think about it. To become an affiliate for a Fortune 500 company can cost thousands of dollars and takes time. The Internet has opened a whole new world of money making opportunities. I should know. I left my consulting business to become a partner with AIS Media.

It seems like just yesterday, but a year has already passed. During this time, I have seen many programs to make money come across my email. I guess I’ve become somewhat immune to these offers, as cynical as it may sound been there done that.

When I was asked to join the company, one of my main responsibilities was to increase the closing ratio of applications to actual set up merchants. In my endeavor, I experienced some disappointment. Certainly not in our closing ratio (it went from .002% to an average of 18%), but what I was finding in the way of competing programs astounded me. Programs offering from $50.00 per account to over $250.00, quite a difference.

Sure I, like everyone else, want to make as much as possible for my efforts. Keeping that in mind, let me tell you how we got here. Fourteen months ago, we launched an affiliate program that offered merchant services (online credit card processing) and we outsourced the leads (a lot of companies do this) to what we thought were several good companies.

Our experience was horrible and within two months, we were in the process of bringing it in-house. What was so bad about outsourcing? The companies to which we were sending leads were closing only .002%! Sure they were offering us $300.00 per sale, however they weren’t paying us on all the sales they made. I am still receiving emails from merchants who signed up with us, yet we were never paid the commission on these merchants!

Okay, so enough about us and our trials and tribulations. Let’s talk about what makes a good program. It is simple; the bottom line is the closing ratio. Look, if someone is offering you $200.00 per referral, you have to consider a couple of things:

1. Will they pay me on each and every completed application?
2. How many applications do I have to send their way in order to receive my commission (what is the closing ratio)?

Then there are those programs offering just $50.00. Consider this: If they are only paying $50.00, how are they competing? The answer: they pay!

If the program is paying high commissions, the customer is going to lose in the end and if you referred him, guess what? You are not the good guy but the bad guy who helped gouge him.

Let’s face it. We walk a fine line. How do you win? You focus on the program that makes it a win/win/win for you, the customer and the company.

The first thing to do when signing up for an affiliate program is to find out what is the closing ratio. Naturally this will depend on the type of leads you send to the company, but it should have a general idea. Once you have that information, calculate what each lead is worth, then make your decision.

Also, if you are willing to send a substantial amount of business their way, find out what other benefits you may receive as an affiliate. A good idea is to submit a news release or article for publication in their ezine and trade links periodically. Publicity for both companies leads to more revenue. Keep in mind, it should be a partnership if you are going to heavily promote their business.

About the Author
Denise Maling, VP of Sales for AIS Media, ( Denise is responsible for achieving AIS Media's sales and customer support objectives. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Marketing and an Associates degree in Merchandising. If you would like to learn more about merchant services, check out ( You can also review an incredible affiliate program, just go to (


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