What is Affiliate Marketing, and How Does It Fit in with Digital Marketing?

We have all seen the TikToks and Instagram Reels talking about affiliate marketing and how you can make untold amounts of wealth, but what is affiliate marketing? And who is it for? Furthermore, how can I take serious digital marketing tactics and implement them into my affiliate marketing and start making more money?

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Some things to know about affiliate marketing…

  • With the amount of data mining that goes on (whether you consciously let it happen or not), affiliate marketing has become a billion dollar industry.
  • Per-per-sale is the most common form of affiliate marketing as opposed to per lead or click.
  • 81% of brands have affiliate programs.
  • Roughly a quarter of affiliate programs are related to the fashion industry.

So what is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is an advertising model that has recently exploded in popularity.  In this model, a company will compensate third-party sellers to generate new customers and leads for the company and their products or services.  These sales and leads generated are typically tracked through affiliate links posted on one website to another.

How does affiliate marketing work? 

  1. The merchants (also known as sellers and product creators):  Merchants are the companies that create the products or offer the specific services that the affiliate is promoting.  Merchants can be massive Fortune 500 companies or just a small business or solopreneur.  Using an affiliate marketer doesn’t even require the merchant to be directly involved.
  2. The affiliate (also known as the advertiser):  The affiliates are the merchants salesforce, and work like commission based salesmen.  The affiliates are promised a certain percentage of a sale or a dollar amount for each converted lead that they bring to the merchant.  Their job is to persuade new customers that the product or service that they are promoting is valuable or holds massive benefit if the customers purchases.  This takes a lot of the costs involved with marketing off of the merchant and places them on the affiliate.
  3. The consumer:  obviously there is the consumer in this process.  The consumer may be just a random person that stumbled on the affiliate’s link, or they may be a long time follower of the affiliate.  Either way, once they officially become a customer of the main company, the affiliate will see their commission.  

What types of affiliate marketing are there?

  1. Unattached Affiliate Marketing:  This type of affiliate marketing means that there is no connection between the affiliate and the product. They have no authority because the affiliate has no interest in the product that he or she is selling and that they don’t have a lifestyle that promotes this product.  This usually leads to the affiliate being uninvolved in the sale process and does very little actual promotion.  Unattached affiliates often leave their links unattended and essentially hope for the best.
  2. Related Affiliate Marketing:  Related affiliates are connected to their product through lifestyle or skills, but do not necessarily use the product or service on a consistent basis.  A related affiliate exists in the same “arena” that the product or service may be in, but they do not make any claims about their use.
  3. Involved Affiliate Marketing:  Involved affiliate marketers are avid users of the products or services and consistently promote them.  This would be like a hiker advocating for a pair of boots or a chef using a certain pan.  Involved affiliates will often find it easier to promote the products because they are coming from a position of authority and customers tend to trust them more.  However, involved affiliates have to be careful with which products they endorse because they may hurt their credibility if they endorse low quality or problematic products or services.

The customer may not even realize that they are buying through an affiliate marketer, but it still benefits the affiliate as long as they use the link.  Consumers typically will not pay extra for a product when buying from an affiliate.

How do affiliates make money?

  1. Per sale:  the most common way for affiliate marketers to make money is by each sale.  Companies typically pay affiliates by giving them a certain percentage of each sale they bring in through their affiliate link.  This percentage can range from 10% to over 50%.
  2. Per lead:  you will also see companies paying each affiliate based on a lead that they bring in even if they do not convert.  This means that the affiliate just has to get the customer to sign up for a mailing list, register for an event, or even just fill out a contact form.
  3. Per click: this is not super common, but can be very easy for the affiliate.  The only thing that they need to get the consumer to do is use their link to go to the merchants main page.  That’s it!

Affiliate marketers and digital marketing

Digital marketing and affiliate marketing are not the same thing, but they do have major similarities.  Technically, affiliate marketing is just an aspect of digital marketing.  

  1. Affiliates need to be creating quality content to promote the products.  Just like in digital marketing, they need to be putting the products in an appealing light in order to excite consumers and convince them to buy.
  2. Affiliates also need to build relationships with their customers through their content.  You often see affiliates promoting their products through blog posts or social media.  Affiliate marketers need to build relationships with their followers, viewers, and users.  Just like any company would do, affiliates need to use their digital platforms to build a brand reputation that appeals to customers and hopefully build loyalty with those customers.
  3. Finally, affiliate marketers need to keep up with trends.  The internet is a different place than it was just a year ago.  If affiliate marketers are still posting on dead platforms or still trying to appeal to fads that are long dead, they will lose their crowd appeal and credibility.  Creating content that is high in popularity will keep them in front of as many potential customers as possible.

Once an affiliate marketer starts to think like a digital marketer and starts to target their users with the goal of creating longterm and loyal customers, they can take start to find major success in their selling.

So, if you are looking to work with someone that can help you take your affiliate marketing to the next level and start making those millions of dollars that TikTok promised you, click the button below and see what we can do for you!