I launched a new program a while back and someone who joined the program asked me, why would I promote this program when you have 0 sales or last sale occurred X days days ago. The truth is that many people would not pick a program like this, but on the other hand, some smarter or out of the box thinking people may think that you should not pass this up, but do some research instead.
The thing is that you don’t actually know why they had 0 sales or why there hasn’t been a sale since x number of days. It could be that it is a crappy Merchant with a bad landing page or shopping process. It could be due to adware overwriting sales from that Network or it could be something completely innocent. This is what I try to figure out and recommend you try to figure out why they have had 0 sales or haven’t had a sale in x days and then decide if they are a Merchant you should promote.
Suppose you look through a Network and find that there is this program that is an amazing fit for your site. You go to join it but when looking through the program you notice they have zero or only one bar, no sales for a few days or even have a high reversal rate. Don’t let this scare you. Instead evaluate why this could happen and why they have these bad numbers. The thing is that they may be new, may not allow coupon sites, they may not have many active Affiliates yet either or they may not allow trademark bidding. All of these things could lead to slow sales from the start or even during certain seasons and if they catch people doing this that could be the reason for a high reversal rate. So what can you do to find out why they have such negative numbers.
The first thing I would do is to join the program and write to the Merchant and ask why there aren’t any sales yet. If the Merchant doesn’t respond back, then that is a warning sign. If the Merchant does respond, don’t be afraid to question them.
There has to be trust and communication to have a successful long term relationship with Affiliate Marketing. If the Merchant gives you a ton of fluff or doesn’t encourage you to go live or help you to go live, you may want to think about how dedicated they are to you and to their Affiliate program. If they explain what could be causing the slow start and then give examples of how you could promote them or offer assistance to help get you started, you may have found yourself a gold mine.
If you find one of these programs and the reason there aren’t many sales is that they are still unheard of, this is your opportunity to be the first one in the gates and start to drive the first sales in and get the SERPs for the products you initially found them because of. This is a huge opportunity because you not only found a responsive new Merchant, but if you are one of the first Affiliates driving sales for them, they will more than likely always remember you and help you in the future by letting you be the first to learn about new products, specials and may be more likely to get bonuses and special treatment when the Merchant needs something or is just in a good mood.
Basically, just because a Merchant has no sales in a certain amount of time doesn’t mean you should avoid them, it means you should try to find out why because if they have the products you need for your site, are responsive and have a valid reason for not having regular sales coming in, you may have found a program with little to no competition and possibly a huge money making opportunity for you and your site.
If the Merchant does respond and everything seems legit but you still have some worries about them, the next thing to do is to look at the major Affiliate Marketing forums. You may find complaints about them, praises for them, see them asking questions about how to get people active, etc… Using forums to find complaints, etc… is a great second step in evaluating a Merchant that has no sales in a long time period or a high reversal rate. If you still don’t find anything in the forums and they aren’t a brand new Merchant, you may want to write to the Network directly or do Google Searches to see if others have had good or bad experiences with that Merchant.
If you find a program that is responsive and has the products you want, not to mention you like their site, I recommend jumping at these programs and securing your place in their minds in the beginning of the program to develop a relationship with them. However, there are also reasons to avoid programs like this and reasons that they have had no sales.
They could be unattentive, they list one url but drive to a different, there are large leaks, they went under and forgot to close their program, they are a new site without much traffic and/or do not allow coupon sites which could send sales from people leaving the shopping process to find a coupon, etc…
If you come across a program that has the products you want or need for your site but you are concerned about high reversal rates, no sales for a long period of time, etc… just do some work and find out why. Write to the Merchant, check the major forums for information, etc… because you may end up passing on a goldmine. There is a lot more to evaluating a program, but using the date of the last sale or the volume compared to the Network is not something to always use as a final decision maker as these can sometimes be goldmines that you would be stupid to pass up.