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The standard way to make money as an affiliate marketer is through sales commissions. For instance, I promote various WordPress plugins on my site. A click on one of my affiliate links followed by a sale will result in a commission for me. Successful affiliate marketers who earn four and five-figures monthly rely on sales commissions. However, money can be made elsewhere and with more ease through pay per lead (PPL) affiliate programs.
A pay per lead affiliate program is a type of cost-per-acquisition (CPA) program that compensates an affiliate for getting prospects. It’s also known as cost-per-lead (CPL), cost per action (CPA), and pay per action (PPA). Many pay per lead programs have secondary payout tiers for leads that become customers, which is advantageous. Pay per lead programs commonly requires a lead to:
- Sign up for a free trial
- Create an account
- Register for a webinar or event
- Download or install software
- Request a demo, e.g., software or product demo
- Book/schedule a meeting, appointment, or visit
- Submit contact info, e.g., email address or phone number
- Complete a quote, for example, a life insurance quote
A pay per lead program is attractive because the bar is set low. Getting a person to sign up is easier than getting that same individual to make a purchase. Secondly, PPL programs are helpful during slow periods and commission droughts (droughts happen to the best of us). On the other hand, because the trigger event is less demanding than a sale, PPL programs typically pay low amounts, for example, $0.01 per lead. Also, focusing exclusively on PPL programs will not lead to making thousands monthly.
The Top Affiliate Programs
Publishers want to promote the top affiliate programs because they can yield more commissions. It’s as simple as that. Other articles highlight “the best programs,” but most of them include random and unvetted merchants that won’t increase your earnings. Let’s identify what excellent and profitable affiliate programs have in common.
A Fair Variable or Fixed Commission
Advertisers who pay single to low double-digit commission rates (or who nickel and dime publishers) aren’t worth your consideration. (Note: some industries pay low commission rates because they operate on thin margins.) A commission rate of 20 percent is the benchmark I use. For fixed commissions, rates are subjective.
A Minimum Cookie Length of 30 Days
Giving marketers one or a few days to convert traffic is ridiculous and unfair. By contrast, a 30-day conversion period allows for prospects to become customers and affiliates to get credit for their promotional efforts. Although thirty-day referral periods are a standard industry practice, a minimum of 90 days should be commonplace.
Other factors you should consider are a program’s earnings per click (EPC), payout threshold, deep linking capabilities, and affiliate support. You’ll want to partner with merchants/affiliate managers who are intelligent, fair, responsive, and quick to resolve inquiries. The affiliate tracking software a merchant chooses is also critical to achieving success. Learn how to choose affiliate products and programs.
Let’s review the best pay per lead affiliate programs. I omitted PPL programs for personal finance, investing, trading, and debt, but many merchants in those categories offer high payouts for leads. For example, Acorns pays $6 per lead, Digit ($10), Ally Invest ($20), Upgrade ($60), Personal Capital ($100), and Kabbage ($120).
Many of the programs on this list are available on the top affiliate networks, including ShareASale, Impact, CJ Affiliate, and FlexOffers. These programs and networks are excellent for bloggers, YouTubers, beginners, and experienced marketers. I’ve separated advertisers into popular affiliate program categories so that you can find products and services for your niche. A company might not mention an affiliate program on its website but may have one. Merchants typically link to their affiliate programs in their website menus and footers, and some offer programs on multiple networks.
Ecommerce Affiliate Programs
- 3dcart – $2
3dcart helps business owners create, operate, and maintain successful online stores with relative ease and efficiency. Learn about the 3dcart affiliate program.
- BigCommerce – $1.50
BigCommerce is an ecommerce platform that creates beautiful and completely customized online stores with built-in features. Learn about the BigCommerce affiliate program.
Marketing Affiliate Programs
- Constant Contact – $5
Constant Contact enables individuals and business owners to create and share professional-looking emails in minutes. Learn about the Constant Contact affiliate program.
- Sendinblue – €5
Sendinblue empowers businesses to build and grow relationships through digital marketing channels including email campaigns, transactional emails, and SMS messages. Learn about the Sendinblue affiliate program.
Education Affiliate Programs
- CreativeLive – $1
CreativeLive offers online courses in photography, video, music, business, productivity, self-development, and art. Learn about the CreativeLive affiliate program.
- LinkedIn Learning – $8
LinkedIn Learning is an American massive open online course website offering video courses taught by industry experts in software, creative, and business skills. Learn about the LinkedIn Learning affiliate program on FlexOffers.
- Pluralsight – $5
Pluralsight offers extensive online developer, creative, and IT courses that are taught by industry experts. It offers 6,000+ courses to businesses and individuals. Learn about the Pluralsight affiliate program.
- Skillshare – $8
Skillshare is an online learning community with thousands of free and paid classes in design, art, business, marketing, technology, and more. Learn about the Skillshare affiliate program.
Hosting Affiliate Programs
- GoDaddy – $2
GoDaddy is a top domain name registrar and web hosting company that supports millions of customers globally. Learn about the GoDaddy affiliate program.
- SugarSync – $1.60
SugarSync is an online backup, sync, and storage solution that helps you share all of your data across your devices. Learn about the SugarSync affiliate program on FlexOffers.
SMB Affiliate Programs
- Box – $100
Box is a cloud content management, file sharing, workflow, and collaboration platform. Learn about the Box affiliate program.
- Code42 – $60
Code42 is an enterprise and small business (CrashPlan) SaaS solution that secures all distributed end-user data on state-of-the-art cloud infrastructure. Learn about the Code42 affiliate program on CJ Affiliate.
- FreshBooks – $5
FreshBooks provides small business accounting software. Users can send invoices, track time, manage receipts, file expenses, and accept credit cards. Learn about the FreshBooks affiliate program.
- Patriot Software – $20
Patriot Software makes accounting and payroll software for small businesses. Track your money and pay your employees with ease. Learn about the Patriot Software affiliate program.
- Paychex – $25
Paychex offers a variety of payroll and human resource products and services for businesses of all sizes. Learn about the Paychex affiliate program on CJ Affiliate.
- Pitney Bowes – $50
Pitney Bowes helps clients succeed by simplifying the complexities of commerce and enabling billions of transactions around the world. Learn about the Pitney Bowes affiliate program on CJ Affiliate.
- QuickBooks – $5
QuickBooks makes account software for individuals and businesses. Stay organized, get paid, and save time. Learn more about the QuickBooks affiliate program on CJ Affiliate.
- RingCentral – $15 or $25
RingCentral is a global provider of enterprise communication and collaboration solutions. It empowers today’s mobile and remote workforces. Learn about the RingCentral affiliate program.
- Salesmate – $0.25
Salesmate has everything you need to organize your sales process, build life-long customer relationships, and win more deals in one powerful sales CRM application. Learn about the Salesmate affiliate program.
- Sideline – $2
Sideline is a mobile app that gives users a second phone number to separate work from life on one device. It also gives you the tools to start, work, grow, and pursue your passion. Learn about the Sideline affiliate program.
- Zenefits – $20
Zenefits offers a comprehensive and mobile HR experience to simplify human resources. Learn about the Zenefits affiliate program on FlexOffers.
Dating Affiliate Programs
- Christian Mingle – $2
Christian Mingle is the leading Christian dating site for single men and women looking for a God-centered relationship. Learn about the Christian Mingle affiliate program.
- DatingDirect – £2.50
DatingDirect is a fun and friendly place to meet new people and explore relationships. Learn about the DatingDirect affiliate program.
- EliteSingles – $7
EliteSingles is an innovative matchmaking service designed for sophisticated and ambitious professionals of all ages. Learn about the EliteSingles affiliate program on CJ Affiliate.
- Jdate – $2
Jdate is the premier Jewish dating site and largest community for Jewish singles looking to make great connections with Jews near them. Learn about the Jdate affiliate program.
- Match – $2
Match redefines the way single men and single women meet, flirt, date, and fall in love through online dating. Learn about the Match affiliate program.
- SilverSingles – $7
SilverSingles is a dating platform exclusively for singles over 50. Meet the young at heart who share the same desires. Learn about the SilverSingles affiliate program on CJ Affiliate.
Other Affiliate Programs
- 1Password – $2
1Password helps simplify your online life by automatically filling, storing and securing passwords, personal data and credit cards. Learn about the 1Password affiliate program on CJ Affiliate.
- AirHelp – €35+/-
AirHelp helps travelers to get compensation for delayed/canceled flights and trip-related problems. Since 2013, it has helped over 13 million stranded air passengers get justice. Learn about the AirHelp affiliate program.
- Bigstockstock – $16
Bigstock offers images and videos for everyone including over 55 million stock photos, videos, and vectors. Learn about the Bigstock affiliate program on FlexOffers.
- CableMover – $6.50
SmartMove provides easy-to-use tools and resources to connect people with the best Internet, TV, and Smart Home technologies. Learn about the CableMover affiliate program.
- Canva – $6.50
Canva is a graphic-design tool that helps people create images, logos, thumbnails, posters, and more. It provides access to over a million photographs, graphics, fonts, and templates. Learn about the Canva affiliate program.
- Cronometer – $0.10
Cronometer enables you to track your fitness, nutrition, and health data to live a better life. Learn about the Cronometer affiliate program.
- Direct Energy – $40
Direct Energy is one of the largest retail providers of electricity, natural gas, and home services in North America. Learn about the Direct Energy affiliate program on FlexOffers.
- DMCA – $0.25
DMCA provides website owners with a secure system to protect against content theft and copyright infringement. Learn about the DMCA affiliate program.
- E-file – $1.40
E-file offers consumer tax preparation and e-filing services at half the cost to consumers compared to big-name tax companies. Learn about the E-file affiliate program on CJ Affiliate.
- Ginger – $0.20
Ginger makes sure everything you write is mistake-free. It corrects all types of grammatical mistakes including punctuation, sentence structure, and style. Learn about the Ginger affiliate program.
- Grammarly – $0.20
Grammarly offers grammar, punctuation, and spell-checking software to help students, writers, and professionals. Its software checks more than 250 grammar rules. Learn about the Grammarly affiliate program.
- Hiscox – $25
Hiscox offers professional service businesses a new way to buy small business insurance online. Learn about the Hiscox affiliate program.
- InstaReM – $2
InstaReM offers fast, secure and cost-
- Julep – $7
Julep sells nail, makeup, skincare, and body product and subscription boxes. Learn about the Julep affiliate program.
- Keeper – $10
Keeper is the leading password management solution for both businesses and consumers with millions of customers worldwide. Learn about the Keeper affiliate program.
- LeafFilter – $17
LeafFilter Gutter Protection seeks to provide the best gutter cover solution. Learn about the LeafFilter affiliate program.
- Minted – $1
Minted is an online marketplace of independent artists and designers. It crowdsources art and graphic design through monthly design challenges. Learn about the Minted affiliate program on ShareASale.
- Momondo – Up to $0.76
Momondo is a travel search engine and comparison site for flights, hotels, and car rentals. It reaches travelers in 35 markets worldwide. Learn about the Momondo affiliate program.
- Morning Brew – $3.50
Morning Brew is a free daily email that delivers news from Wall Street to Silicon Valley. Written in a witty and conversational tone, it makes reading news enjoyable. Learn about the Morning Brew affiliate program on CJ Affiliate.
- Paribus – $0.80
Paribus is a free online tool that tracks the purchases you make to see if any of them experience a price drop. Learn about the Paribus affiliate program on FlexOffers.
- ShareASale – Up to $150
ShareASale is a leading affiliate network with the tools and technology to support advertisers and publishers. It pays $150 for qualifying merchant signups and $30 for qualifying affiliate signups. Learn about the ShareASale affiliate program.
- TaskRabbit – $2
TaskRabbit is a task management network that makes life easier for people overwhelmed by their to-do lists. Learn about the TaskRabbit affiliate program on CJ Affiliate.
- Warby Parker – $0.50
Warby Parker is an online retailer of prescription glasses and sunglasses. Customers can try on glasses for free at home before buying. Learn about the Warby Parker affiliate program on ShareASale.
- WorldRemit – Up to 24 GBP
WorldRemit is a money transfer service that has transformed the way people send money to their family and friends. Learn about the WorldRemit affiliate program.
*Contact me on LinkedIn to add your affiliate program to the list.