May 25th, 2006 by Jamie Estep
Guide to Merchant Account Affiliate Programs – Part 1
This is a two part post on merchant account affiliate programs. The first part will cover the basic types and payout amounts of merchant account affiliate programs, and the second will cover where to sign up for merchant account affiliate programs, and will list a number of available programs.
An affiliate program is an online referral program that is designed for website owners to refer visitors to another website in exchange for a commission on any transaction those visitors make.
Merchant account affiliate programs have become increasingly popular with web design, hosting, consulting, and businesses where customers may seek a recommendation on getting setup accepting credit cards. Merchant account affiliate programs have two basic payout structures: pay per lead, and pay per account.
Pay Per Lead
Pay per lead affiliate programs are where a flat fee or percentage is paid to the affiliate for each referral. A referral is normally considered a visitor applying for a merchant account. The affiliate is paid whether or not the applicant actually sets up a merchant account.
- Paid for each application.
- Paid whether or not an account is ever setup.
- Faster turn around time for being paid.
- Lower commission per action.
Pay per Account
A pay per account affiliate program is almost unique to merchant service affiliate programs. An affiliate is paid for each approved merchant account that they refer. Unlike a pay per lead program, the affiliate has to wait for the referral to be approved and processing before they are ever granted a commission.
- Higher payout per referral.
- A substantial percent of applicants wont ever get fully setup.
- Delay in getting commission until merchant account is setup.
- No control of the process once referral is made.
As you can see the two programs are similar, but offer completely different benefits. It is my experience that for merchant account affiliate programs, pay per lead affiliate programs are better for both the affiliate and the business they are referring to.
The simple difference between the two program types:
The key difference between a pay per lead and pay per account program is that affiliates with the pay per account programs have to wait and trust that the lead they referred will be turned into an account.
With a pay per account program, the merchant account process can be confusing and frustrating for affiliates who are waiting for their commission. Apart from that, the best merchant account provider is not going to convert more than 70% of their leads into sales. That means that in the best case scenario, 3/10 referrals will never be paid. Realistically, most providers will never break a 50% conversion from a lead to an account.
Pay per lead programs usually pay between $5 and $25 per lead. Pay per account programs normally pay between $50 and $200 per account. When you get into the higher paying programs, there is very often additional requirements for the commission to be paid. Sometimes the requirements are as detailed as having a required monthly minimum processing volumes, or the referred business has to process for 3 or more months. The bottom line is that the time, complicated process, and limited payout window that pay per account programs offer, are not worth it.