How to Find Valid Affiliate Program Reviews (by Real People)
Posted on 01/29/2010
Finding your perfect affiliate program is tough: more often than not this is done by plenty of testing. However the only problem with that method is lost time: you can't test each and every affiliate program that seems to be related to your niche because this means that you will spend months in testing before you start accumulating income.
Therefore each affiliate program should be thoroughly considered first, then tested. Start by comparing the offers: What's the promised commission rate? What's the average order (this will help you estimate your income per sale)? What are affiliate policies advertised (for example, do they pay you commission of every recurring payment?). What are the incentives?
When you are done with researching and comparing the basic stats, you can go ahead and check what others have to say about the program. Remember that all the sites are different. What worked with someone else, doesn't necessarily have to work with you. However investigating other people's experience with the affiliate program is essential for many reasons:
- Check if the program is reliable (do they pay in time or pay at all? have they ever been caught on cheating? etc)
- Find out what people say about the affiliate customer service (never rely on the program if they treat affiliates poorly and don't help efficiently)
- Learn how the program generally converts (again, this can be different from site to site but learning general opinion is useful); etc.
The problem with searching affiliate programs reviews is that seldom can you find a really impartial opinion. Most often you come across forum announcements by affiliate managers advertising their programs or sugary blog posts promoting the programs (and obviously earning commissions on new sign-ups).
This article looks at some ways to find impartial and up-to-a-point affiliate program reviews.
1. Use Google Search
Google has a huge database of pages. If someone has ever mentioned the program you are considering, Google should have found and saved the mention.
Marketers focus a great deal of attention on Google search. If anything negative pops up, they do their best to push it lower by publishing fake reviews. Therefore it is not an easy task to find really impartial opinions.
First, you need to try several search queries containing the affiliate program name. Here are a few examples:
- [affiliate program] reviews;
- [affiliate program] experience;
- [affiliate program] scam;
- [affiliate program] opinion, etc
Now that you looked through top results for each of the above search queries, try Google's advanced option that lets you see most recent results. The feature hides behind "Show options" link and allows to see latest results or pages found within the past day, week or year (or you can also specify your own date range):
2. Use Twitter Search
Twitter is buzzing with conversations. Someone might be discussing the affiliate program right now. The only trick is to find that person and his review.
Tweets are too plenty. It is not easy to find something really useful in that clutter.
Here is a fun and not really widely-used Twitter search trick that might turn helpful for finding what you really need:
Sentiment search: use smiling icons to find tweets that reflect negative or positive experience:
e.g. [Weight Watchers affiliate program :(]
3. Use Forum Search
There are many really smart and experienced people contributing to (affiliate marketing)forums. Knowing what these people have to say about the affiliate program you are considering is gold.
Forums reviews can be easily faked. Sometimes it is really hard to tell if the person is highly positive about some program because he really loves it or because he works for the service.
Here are two tools that search through forums and discussion boards:
1. Omgili is the forum search engine (based on Google). It has plenty of forums to search for the related discussions, and besides it offers some fun interface: three sliding bars allow to set:
- Time frame;
- Minimum number of replies;
- Minimum number of users participating in the discussion:
More filtering options (right above the results) allow to filter out questions:
2. Google itself offers to restrict search to forums - the feature hides behind "Show options" link (naturally, like in step 1, you can filter those discussions by time):
4. Check Q&A Sites
Question and answer sites are popular for people who want to hear various opinions on anything (including affiliate programs).
Just like with forums, answers can be faked: smart marketers monitor their affiliate program name mentions and are fast to join and add some positive sentiment.
A few most popular Q&A sites include:
Social Median is a great social media aggregator that lets you search through multiple Q&A with one click:
Step 1: Provide the search term and choose "Questions" from the drop-down:
Step 2: Explore the results (sort by date, evaluate the sentiment, etc):
5. Check Trusted Third-Party Affiliate Program Review Services
Services that review and compare affiliate programs feature expert opinions that is useful to take into account.
You should be very careful to identify really impartial reviews that list both advantages and disadvantages of the service.
AceAffiliates.com is one of such service that you may find useful. You will find each program reviewed and rated in several important categories:
- Reputation / security;
- Ease of use;
- Customer service;
- Commission rate;
- Ease of commission payment;
To Conclude: Use Your Common Sense
Using all the tips above, you are likely to find quite a few reviews of any affiliate program. How to tell which of them are fake? How to identify those that really matter? Rely on your personal impression and common sense:
- If something seems to be too good to be true, it most likely isn't. Take too positive reviews with the grain of sault.
- If someone was disappointed, the program isn't necessarily is bad. You can't please everyone; look through more opinions and answers to see if the program is really that bad.
- Compare, compare, compare. To see the real picture, you need to find many reviews and judge various opinions.