Most aspects of affiliate marketing are the same no matter what country you live in. There are unique challenges that Canadians face, however. Actually finding Canadian brands and businesses with affiliate programs is one of them.
You don’t have to promote Canadian affiliates only, just because your website is based in Canada. If you’re actively targeting Canadian consumers or businesses, you’ll want to choose partner programs that are either in this country or those that ship to Canadians.
Additionally, consider digital products that don’t have to be shipped. Digital products may include eBooks, eCourses, and so on. These creators can be located anywhere in the world and still be popular in Canada. They also offer some of the highest commissions in the industry. You’ll find a vast collection of digital products in the Clickbank network. Check each digital product out yourself before recommending it because the quality can vary greatly. Plus, it’s easier to sell something when you can attest to the quality.
How to Find Canadian Affiliate Programs
If you are looking for Canadian businesses to work with online, there are some tips and tricks that will help you find them.
The easiest way to start affiliate marketing is to join an affiliate network. They have hundreds of business that are ready to work with you, but some are more Canadian-friendly than others. Read The Best Affiliate Program Networks for Canadians for more information. One network feature that makes a huge difference in international affiliate marketing is the option to search by country. Some will also share country-specific sales data, so you’ll know how well the program is doing for other Canadian affiliate marketers.
You’ll find a lot of small businesses on affiliate networks in virtually any niche. Many will instead opt to have their own in-house programs. You’re more likely to find larger businesses in networks as they’re happy to pay to have someone manage the details, and to have a database of affiliate marketers ready to promote them.
Some Canadian businesses you may recognize on affiliate networks include:
CJ Affiliate Network:
Indigo Books and Music
Mark’s Work Warehouse
The Shopping Channel
Linkshare Affiliate Network:
Shoppers Drug Mart
New Balance Canada
The Body Shop
Royal Doultan Canada
Lego Brand Retail
ShareASale Affiliate Network:
Note that ShareASale is more affordable for small businesses, so make sure you check them out if you’re looking for unique Canadian merchants to work with.
What About Amazon.ca?
Amazon.ca is my backup plan. If I can’t find the product with any of my other affiliates, I check Amazon and use it if they carry the item. They’re not my first choice because Amazon commission rates are painfully low and they offer only a 24 hour “cookie”. The cookie duration refers to how long a customer can return to buy a product and the commission will still go to you.
The main reasons affiliates link to Amazon are:
- It’s easy to use.
- They have a high sales conversion rate.
- Shoppers often buy more than one thing before they finalize the order. If they buy more, you receive a commission for those sales too.
Amazon can be a valuable research tool as you explore product possibilities. You can gain insights regarding the most popular products by using their search and Best Seller features. Choosing products that have proven to be popular is a good indicator of how successful you’ll be with selling them.
For example, you could select Office Supplies from the drop-down menu to the immediate left of the search bar, then search for ‘business software’. The results will show the best sellers. You can also search by ‘popularity’ to find out which products are most popular in any category.
While it can be a laborious task, one of the best ways to find Canadian affiliate programs is with a search engine. Start with a keyword related to your niche and add “Canada affiliate program” to the search phrase. For example, if you are looking for affiliates that sell office supplies, you’d search for “office supplies Canada affiliate program”. Of course, if you have a merchant in mind you type in the name and add “affiliate program” or “affiliates”.
Look at other Canadian websites that have advertising. You’ll have the best luck with Canadian blogs. Click through their ads to see if that company has an affiliate program. Major websites will often have advertisers that pay them directly, as opposed to paying them a percentage of sales, but it’s worth a shot.
The Canadian Affiliate Program That’s Right for You
Once you find a merchant you want to work with, you’ll have to evaluate them to see if it’s a good fit for you.
Your niche & visitor demographics
Choose products that are most likely to sell, based on your audience. It doesn’t matter how much an affiliate program pays, if you can’t make sales it’s useless. The same applies to the amount of commission a merchant pays. You may make more from a company paying 10% than you will from one paying 50% if the product or service sells better. 10% of something beats 50% of nothing.
Will you be paid a percentage or a flat rate? Per sale, per lead or per click? How much will you be paid for each sale or action?
We prefer Canadian or US funds. Many networks and affiliate programs will pay in American dollars via PayPal, which allows you to choose a time when our dollar is low to transfer funds to your bank account. If you work with an affiliate network like CJ, they receive the funds in USD but calculate the exchange rate and pay Canadians in CAD.
Even if you don’t control the timing of your exchange rates, being paid in American currency translates into a nice bonus for Canadian affiliates. For example, right now we receive about $100 Canadian dollars extra for every $300 USD we transfer. It’s something to consider when you’re evaluating the commission rate offered.
The fine print
Some shady merchants will try to sneak in little details that will have a negative impact on your earnings. For example, they may pay 20% per sale, but only for new customers.
One of the best things about an affiliate network is you will earn from multiple merchants and usually reach the network payment threshold faster. Whether you’re going through a network or private affiliate program, make sure you check what the payment threshold is. If it’s too high for you to reach in a reasonable amount of time, skip it.
Even if you don’t directly recommend a product or service, a certain amount of endorsement is implied. Make sure it’s something you will be proud to put your name behind. You’ll want to consider everything from how the website is designed to how honest their marketing copy is.
If you’re not sure, place an order yourself. If you love it, you can write an honest review with photos of you using the product. You’ll be able to say the review is unsolicited, since you bought it yourself. Honest, unsolicited (not sponsored) reviews are tough to come by and they can be a powerful conversion tool. It can also lead to more opportunities with the brand you’re promoting.
Learn More About Affiliate Marketing:
Read our BIG guide, How to Start Affiliate Marketing in Canada for more information on getting started.
My Favourite Brand Doesn’t Have an Affiliate Program
Most leading American retailers have affiliate programs in their customer acquisition toolbox, but Canadian retailers have been slower to adopt the strategy. If you find a Canadian business you want to work with and they don’t have an affiliate program, you can suggest they consider one and point them to the article, How to Start An Affiliate Program in Canada.
You can also propose alternatives, such as having them sponsor a blog post or review on your website. The great thing about building relationships with Canadian brands is you’ll have less competition and a better chance of building a long-term relationship. Relationships, be it with the merchant or your website visitors, is the key to success.
??? What is your favourite Canadian affiliate program?
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Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In over 20 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and eCommerce websites.
Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on CanadiansInternet.com, CanadianFamily.net and AllNaturalPetCare.com, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.