I'm considering setting up affiliate marketing (probably with someone like ShareASale) for my vertical market app. (It's installed Windows S/W for churches and charities to track their donors and donations and issue receipts.) My usual price initial purchase price is $80, though there's a free feature-limited Lite version as well.
My app is already quite successful (I'm in my 5th year full time on it), with some very good organic search results and getting some value from AdWords as well.
So my question is, have others with similar sized vertical markets really found that the investment of time and effort (not to mention commission costs etc.) are really worth it, for affiliate marketing? Overall the impression I read from most sites is that for most who have tried it, it has not been worth it. But I'm open to hear otherwise.
From what I understand you have a product you'd like to list on an affiliate network, you are not looking to do affiliate marketing yourself.
Based on this assumption here is my advice. SharAsale, clickbank, and the like are really scummy places to find affiliates. Normally the e-products being listed on these networks are garbage.
Once you are listed you need to watch for the 20/80 rule; that is: 20% of product on affiliate networks represent 80% of what will be pushed by affiliate marketers. Network's often call these "Hot Items", if you're not on these "hot item" li, then being on the network is not going to help you.
You could alternatively set up your own affiliate program using a tool like http://zferral.com or http://hasoffers.com these tools let you attract your own affiliates within your niche, then tracks their referrals and provides them with a commision. (with a middle man % cut)
I posted a more comprehensive look at this concept here: http://www.business2community.com/startups/creating-a-referral-engine-for-your-startup-0164978
I think affiliate marketing has been used for plenty of verticle apps. Your question though looks different than your title. The issue seems to be can an $80 app be a good product for affiliate marketing. How much of that $80 do you plan to give up to a marketer? What is the possible number of sales? This seems like too small a market for this approach for you or the marketer.