Affiliate programs can be a very effective marketing tool in growing your business. And like all decisions you make about your business, the decision you make on which affiliate program to join, must be driven by the goals you’ve set.

Ask yourself these basic questions to establish your goals and criteria and write them down:

  • What do I hope to accomplish through an affiliate program?
  • How will I measure success?
  • What are my short and long term goals?
  • How will the affiliate program fit in with my current business model?
  • How soon to I need to be up and running?
  • Do I have the resources – time, staff, equipment, contacts, investors?
  • What type of investment can I afford to make?
  • How much help do I need? Technical or otherwise.
  • .

As you start to identify your needs, you’ll think of more questions.

The key to making any business decision is to be clear on what you want and need. The bells and whistles offered by the various affiliate programs may raise additional questions and you need to be able to determine whether or not they will fulfill your business goals, objectives, and criteria.

Now you are ready to do some research. Check out a number of affiliate program websites to familiarize yourself with their offerings. Read the “About Us” and the “Terms and Conditions”. Google the company and look for positives and red flags. Ask people in the business their opinions on what to look for.

Jot down all your questions and concerns. Now, armed with your objectives and criteria, contact the ones that you feel may be the best fit based on your research.

Make you sure you receive information, recommendations, and proposals in writing. You’ll want to compare offerings.

Don’t rush into anything – give yourself time to think it over. How did you feel about each contact? Did you get clear answers to all your questions? Did you feel encouraged and welcomed? Did you receive timely responses?

When you take the time to do your “due diligence” you are able to make sound business decisions based on the fit of the affiliate programs offerings as well as on your comfort level with the firm’s representatives.

It’s a partnership after all, so make sure it’s win – win all around.