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14 criteria for a perfect affiliate program

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To turn affiliate marketing into an additional revenue stream, or even the main source of income, you need to join the right programs. However, with such a wide range of programs presented on the market, it might be tough to make a choice. In this post, we have collected the main criteria for choosing an affiliate offer that will help you avoid confusion and find the right program.

How to choose an affiliate offer

You might believe that choosing an affiliate marketing program is a hard nut to crack, but in fact, it is not. The ideal program for your business matches its niche, target audience, marketing channels, and so on. In this post, we have collected the best tips on how to choose an affiliate program. After that, you might be interested in exploring the top affiliate programs for bloggers.

The right niche

It is more revenue-effective to choose the niche that you know all about and have expert connections through. Thus, you won’t have to spend time on getting knowledge about how it all works and be able to dive right into campaign promotion. Second, if you already have a website, try to look for affiliate offers in the same niche. It will allow you to naturally place affiliate links in the relevant context.

Products that you believe in

Take a careful look at the product that you want to advertise and make sure that is something you want to be associated with. Trust is the key to successful affiliate marketing, so you need to be 100% sure you can recommend the product.

A golden rule is to offer a product that you actually believe in. So, check it out in advance: read reviews, and test it yourself. This is more than possible especially for affiliate marketing programs in 2020, as more and more advertisers are now trying to provide their affiliates with the best conditions for the promotion.

Test it out with your audience

Affiliate products that you advertise should be interesting and relevant for your target audience. So, try to figure out your customers’ pain points, needs, and solutions they might be looking for online. To see what your audience wants, you can publish surveys and questionnaires, and engage in conversation with readers in the comments to your posts.

Brand reputation

Excellent brand reputation and high product quality will make your customers stay with you for the long term. It’s an important point to consider when thinking about how to choose the right affiliate program. Pay attention to the merchant’s behavior in relation to customers. What is the level of customer satisfaction? Does their customer care work well? What is their number of customers and their revenue scale?

Check reviews

Customer testimonials are proof of the product quality and the merchant’s attitude. Thus, if a product has already garnered a lot of positive feedback, it is more likely to interest your audience than a completely new product or the one without reviews. Likewise, negative comments indicate a poor customer experience. Naturally, some of them might be devoid of the truth, but in general, it is a warning sign. On TAC, you can discover and compare the most popular affiliate programs in the travel niche and leave your reviews as well.

Requirements for affiliates

Don’t forget to check the requirements that programs/offers have for affiliates and their online platforms. This is a highly important factor when you start thinking about how to find affiliate partners. For example, most advertisers don’t accept websites under construction, websites without any content/travel-related posts, websites where the content is incomplete, forums, etc.

Requirements for affiliates are always presented on the affiliate program page. Pay attention to the rules concerning forbidden traffic types, keyword bidding limitations, cookie lifetime, and so on.

Commission and earnings per click

Even though that’s the first thing most affiliates check when choosing an advertiser, you always need to look at the bigger picture. Sometimes, higher commissions are offered for products with low sales, while high selling products may bring a lower reward.

Also, check the program’s commission type:

  • One-time commission. You’ll be paid for each sale once.
  • Recurring commission. You’ll be paid each time the customer referred by you makes a sale.

Naturally, recurring commissions are more beneficial in the long term, but they might also be lower per sale in comparison with one-time commissions and there are fewer recurring affiliate offers in general. The best advice is to have both kinds of products for your affiliate business.

Also take into account metrics such as earnings per click or per call, which is an important factor when looking through the best PPC affiliate networks. Earnings per click are the average revenue you’ll be getting for each click to your affiliate link. This metric matters because it shows how well the product converts clicks into conversions and what kind of earning potential it has. Another factor to pay attention to is conversion. We’ll talk about it below.


It’s a paramount factor for your affiliate campaign’s success. Basically, conversion is the percentage of people who completed the desired action from the total amount of your website visitors. It shows how efficient the offer is and how much you need to invest into promotion to generate sales. For example, a low converting offer with a high commission won’t bring you much income, because you’ll spend a lot on motivating people to click on your links, while getting just a few sales.

Payment method and minimum payout

Pay attention to available payment methods, as you’ll only be able to move money offline through these getaways. The most popular methods are electronic payment systems such as WebMoney, ePayments, and PayPal, and traditional getaways like a wire transfer to your bank account.

Another important factor is a minimum payout. It’s the sum of money you need to reach to be paid. A standard threshold for most programs is $50. It also depends on the payment method. To get a wire transfer, you might need to reach a much higher amount.

Merchant support

It is inevitable that clients will want to get merchant’s support on the product, so make sure that your advertiser is ready to help out customers. Otherwise, the product might get negative reviews pretty fast, and new clients won’t be inclined to check the offer.

Also, check whether the advertiser provides their affiliates with support. Ideally, you’ll get a personal account manager who’ll be helping you tune your campaign and whom you can contact should any question arise. Check the channels through which you can contact the advertiser. Usually, it’s email support or live chat, but some merchants also offer support by phone.

Another thing to check is promotional tools of the advertiser. They’ll help you attract the attention of potential customers and present the offer in the best way. For example, with a search form widget, readers can look for tickets right on your website, which enormously increases the chances of making a sale.

Cookie lifetime

Many customers won’t complete a purchase on their first visit, but they’ll come back a few days later. In this case, programs with cookies allow affiliates to get paid for referred customers who won’t buy on the first website visit, but will later.

Basically, a cookie is a tiny bit of data saved by your browser when you visit a website and stored on your computer. Cookies allow advertisers to identify first-time visitors and those who come again. Thus, pay attention to cookie lifetime. It is the amount of time visitor’s purchases will be attributed to you. The longer the cookie lifetime, the more you can earn.


Upselling is one more way to increase your commission. These are special promotions that customers are offered at the checkout before completing their purchase.

Upselling is an efficient way to incentivize customers to buy more. If the advertiser offers commission on upselling products, it’s one more advantage of the affiliate program.

Check the brand’s competitors

Sometimes it is beneficial to provide your audience with a few different products within the same category, leaving it to them to decide. Thus, when choosing an affiliate program, check if there are other good offers in the niche.

Don’t overlook costly products

Some affiliates wrongly overlook high-price products, which they consider hard to promote. But, let’s look at this another way: You need to make one sale of a $1,000 product to get a $100 commission, and ten sales of a $100 worth product to earn the same money.

Naturally, high-end offers have a special target audience and require special promotion strategies, but they also bring in more money per sale.

How to test the efficacy of your offer

After launching the campaign, it makes sense to check how efficient it turns out to be and compare it to other offers that can bring you more value with the same traffic. Thus, you’ll ensure higher profits in the long term. This step is important to not only right upon a new program launch, but also for programs that you have already been promoting—it is never late to boost your profits.

These are the metrics to pay attention to:

  • Money spent and your return on investment. Naturally, it will take time to compare these metrics, but it’s also the main indicator of the campaign’s success. Also, it is not always possible to calculate these values for a particular offer.
  • Conversion rates. Try to calculate how many people make a purchase from the total amount of website visitors. Conversion rates depend on different factors such as tools placement. For example, if they are easy to spot, they’ll naturally generate more clicks.
  • Average purchase value.
  • Average income from one purchase.

Define these indicators and compare them with the historical data. If the new offer has increased your metrics, it makes sense to keep promoting it. Otherwise, it’s reasonable to explore other programs.

How to choose an affiliate offer: Examples

Below, you can find two examples of Aviasales/Jetradar and affiliate program analyses using the above-mentioned criteria.

Criterion Skyscanner
Niche Mostly flights, but also hotels and car rentals. Mostly accommodation, but also flights, car rental, and airport transfer.
Audience Tourists, travellers from all walks of life. Tourists, travellers from all walks of life.
Brand reputation The leading global travel search site with instant online comparisons for flights, car hire, and hotels. #1 travel site in Customer Satisfaction by J. D. Power (available 24/7 in 40 languages), offering more than 900,000+ accommodation options.
Reviews Skyscanner has a high level of customer satisfaction, according to multiple customer reviews. Over 87M customer reviews are available right on the program website.
Requirements for affiliates You need to run a travel blog, website, or portal. An internet website with a good structure, relevant content, and high-quality traffic is required.
Forbidden traffic types
  • SEM bidding
  • Teaser networks
  • Cookie stuffing
  • Disruptive Ad Formats (Pop-ups, etc.)
  • Toolbars and browser extensions
  • Auto-direct sites
  • Domain buying websites
  • Doorways
  • Iframe
  • Type-in
  • Adult-traffic
Commission Affiliates receive a 50% revenue share on commissionable products (flights, hotels, and car rentals). The commission depends on the number of bookings you make: The more of them, the higher the profits. You’ll start with a 25% revenue share.

Only “in-session” transactions are commissionable, hotel Bookings are commissioned on the consumed stay and will be paid out within 90 days after guest check-out dates.

Payment method and minimum payout Depends on the affiliate network. Direct transfer to your bank account or PayPal electronic wallet.

The minimum withdrawal is €100 ($110).

Merchant support Travel search widgets, banners, text links. API and White Label are available for big projects. offers 24/7 customer and affiliate support and has flexible cancellation policies for bookings.

Affiliates can take advantage of multiple promotional tools such as widgets, banners, a search box, etc.

Cookie lifetime 30 days The advertiser does not currently use cookie tracking.
Brand`s competitors Aviasales, Hotellook, Agoda,


How to choose the perfect affiliate program

To find the right program to fit your business, carefully study the existing offers in the niche. Consider product quality, merchant support, and brand reputation from one side and affiliate program features from the other (commission, EPC, conversion, promo tools, etc.). And remember to always monitor the campaign performance to adjust it along the way or switch to more profitable offers to not lose time and money.

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