Among questions most frequently asked about affiliate marketing, queries about “hot niches” and “best affiliate programs” always abound.
There are various ways to reflect an affiliate program’s comparative ‘bestness’. CJ by Conversant utilizes a 5-bar scale, ShareASale places their top advertisers into a Top 100 PowerRank, Affiliate Window scores merchants according to their AWin Index. In some instances we enjoy a fairly clear understanding of the criteria that go into making one affiliate program rank higher than another, in others we do not. There are, however, three key performance indicators that can help us set aside the better-performing affiliate programs from the rest — especially when we use these KPIs in a bouquet. They are: earnings per click, conversion rate, and comparative payout volume.
In an effort to analyze America’s best affiliate programs, I have reached to all major U.S. affiliate networks. In some cases (with CJ Affiliate by Conversant (formerly Commission Junction) and ShareASale) I was able to pull the data myself; in others (with Rakuten Affiliate Network (formerly LinkShare), AvantLink, Affiliate Window, and LinkConnector) the networks kindly provided me with the data on their top affiliate programs. Some networks couldn’t supply me with the data requested, but with a final count of 550 affiliate programs across 6 networks, I believe I have analyzed a representative sample.
Today I begin publishing my observations (and conclusions, where relevant).
One of the things that jumped at me while I was cross-matching data received from different affiliate networks was that fact that out 550 top affiliate programs 486 (or some 88.4%) may be placed into 20 broad categories.
Here they are:
Furthermore, when we analyze just the top 10 categories, we see that they are represented by a total of 391 affiliate programs (or 71.1% of the 550 sample), and the pie chart looks as follows:
For clarity, here are the types of advertisers and niches that were grouped in each of the above ten categories:
- Fashion (apparel, accessories, footwear)
- Sports & Outdoors (recreation, fitness, sports apparel, fan merchandise)
- Health/Wellness & Beauty (supplements, health-related products, weight loss, skincare)
- Travel (air, hotels, car rentals, etc)
- Home & Garden (home furnishings, décor, kitchen, gardening, home improvement)
- Computers & Electronics (computers, peripherals, ink, etc)
- Education & Training (textbook rentals, education-related software)
- Business (supplies, office furniture, marketing tools, etc)
- Financial & Insurance (checks, credit-related services, loans, insurance, ID protection)
- High-End & Luxury Stores
More information from this study will be published in my following blog posts. So, stay tuned for more observations ahead, and enjoy your weekend.