Affiliate Marketing Program – Choosing Legitimate Affiliate Opportunities
Affiliate marketing programs are one of several types of business opportunities. Before checking the legitimacy of a business opportunity, you should be aware that 26 states in the US enforce business opportunity law. You can learn more from the Federal Trade Commission’s site.
Here is a checklist of other things you should find out before jumping headfirst into the potentially murky and unsafe waters of any affiliate marketing programs that you stumble across.
- Is the scheme a part of a reputable third-party affiliates network like CommissionJunction.com? Such networks screen applicants before they feature them.
- Does the program require any capital? If it does, make sure it is minimal and make other stringent checks before handing over any money. Check, in particular, that it is not actually a pyramid scheme masquerading as an affiliate program. Pyramid selling is illegal in many countries including the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the UK.
- Look at the quality of the products you will be selling on their behalf and getting paid commission for. Obviously you may need to order one of the products in order to do this.
- Check out the website behind the program. In the same way you would check any business for legitimacy, check that there is valid contact information.
- Do they offer good quality of service to their customers?
- Check whether support is available for their affiliates.
- You should be wary if any company offers you an “exclusivity” deal as this can lead you into trouble if the company gets bought up by another less than reputable company who ruins the affiliate program in some way.
- Attend tradeshows and see if you find them there. The cost of exhibiting would be too inhibiting to any low –grade business schemes. Example exhibitions include the National Franchise & Business Opportunities Show, The Business Opportunities Expo and Business Startup in the UK.
- Check that the business entity behind the program exists. E.g. in New York you would do a check on the Department of State website and in California you would check on the California Secretary of State site.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau or the equivalent in your country (e.g. the Office of Fair Trading in the UK). Here you will be able to check the amount of official complaints received against a licensed business.
- Check the U.S. Securities and Exchange commission, in particular their page on Internet Fraud, or the equivalent body in your country.
- Use a reputable online directory with reverse lookup to locate a business e.g Anywho.
- Read reputable business magazines which include sections on business opportunities e.g. Entrepreneur, Small Business Opportunities Magazine and, if you are in the UK, Making Money.
- Read this article on researching a business opportunity as much of the advice will be applicable to affiliate marketing programs.