Affiliate marketing is a great way to monetize your web traffic and earn additional income. It’s a versatile stream of revenue that you can leverage no matter your industry or niche. In this comprehensive guide to affiliate marketing, we’re going to show you exactly how to get started with affiliate marketing, grow your affiliate marketing business, and share some tips to take your affiliate marketing business to the next level.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting and selling another company’s products or services for a commission. It’s a simple enough concept, but the process itself can involve many moving pieces. At its core, though, affiliate marketing simply means that you sell someone else’s stuff and earn money for it.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
We already mentioned that affiliate marketing is a simple concept, but there are a few moving pieces to understand. With affiliate marketing, a seller creates an affiliate program and provides affiliate marketers with a unique link that the affiliates then use to promote the seller’s products. The links are unique to each affiliate marketer, so tracking who made the sale is easy.
Who Are the Players?
There are three or four key players in affiliate marketing:
- Affiliates: the people who promote the product
- Sellers: the people who created or are selling the product
- Networks: networks managing the affiliates (optional)
- Consumers: end-users of the product
Let’s look at each of these players a bit closer.
Affiliates, sometimes called publishers, can be individuals or businesses. More often than not, affiliates are content creators in the same niche of the product they’re promoting. They promote products and services through content like social media posts, blogs, videos, and several other types of content. Affiliates can also use paid ads to bring in traffic, but there are typically rules around the keywords that affiliates can use for the products they’re promoting, such as not using the product’s brand name or trade names.
Sellers are the creators of the products or services that affiliates promote. They’re the ones who pay affiliate commissions for sales. Sellers can be individuals or companies—anyone willing and able to pay for affiliates for sales. Sometimes, as in the case of the Amazon Associates Program, the seller might not even be the creator of the product or service.
Many sellers work with an affiliate network to manage their affiliate marketing programs. The network handles third-party checks and manages relationships between sellers and affiliates. Some of the top affiliate marketing networks are ShareASale, ClickBank, and Rakuten.
Consumers are the ones buying products and services through affiliate links.
How Do Affiliate Marketers Get Paid?
This is one of the more common questions we get about affiliate marketing. Generally, affiliates are paid when a consumer completes an action like a form submission, click, or sale.
Pay-per-sale is the most popular affiliate marketing model. In this payment model, affiliates get paid for each sale they generate.
In the pay-per-click affiliate marketing payment model, affiliates get paid for clicks generated, whether a sale was complete. This model is pretty rare.
In the pay-per-lead model, affiliate marketers get paid for the leads they generate.
Common Types of Affiliate Marketing Channels
Affiliate marketers can bring in traffic and make sales in several ways. Of course, some affiliate marketing channels are more popular than others. Here are some of our favorite marketing channels to succeed with affiliate marketing.
Blogging helps affiliates rank in search engine results and can drive traffic to affiliate offers organically (aka “free”). Typically, bloggers will use reviews, tutorials, how-tos, and other educational content to promote the affiliate product. They then link to the seller’s site using their unique affiliate link to get credit for the sale.
As you can probably imagine from a site named Influencer Marketing Hub, we’re big fans of influencer marketing. Influencers hold a lot of sway over the people in their sphere of influence, typically on social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. People follow influencers because they’re interested in what the influencer has to say and are already primed to try whatever the influencer might promote.
Influencer marketing for affiliate sales can take many different forms like live videos, product reviews, account takeovers, and more.
Paid Search Microsites
Microsites are branded pages (or a single page) separate from your main website. These sites provide another avenue to offer detailed information and a sales pitch for affiliate products. Since they’re separate from your main website, you can offer a more targeted, relevant message that’s free from the distractions that usually come with a traditional website.
Email marketing has been around for a long time and for a good reason. The ROI on email marketing is high. Like, high. Depending on which study you read, numbers range from 3500% to 4400% return. That means you have the potential to bring in $35–$44 of revenue for every $1 you invest in email marketing.
Your email list can be a great source of potential affiliate sales for affiliate marketers. While you don’t want to sell, sell, sell with every single email you send, there’s nothing wrong with sending a promotional email for every three value emails you send. You can add affiliate links to your email newsletters and watch the affiliate sales roll in.
Since eCommerce and online shopping have taken off, coupon sites have become increasingly popular in affiliate marketing. Posting your affiliate links on coupon sites can bring in lots of sales from the savvy shoppers out there.
Mass Media Sites
Mass media sites, or large media sites, are built to bring in tons of traffic. You’ll find reviews and comparisons of different products on these sites, many of which are affiliate products. These sites act as a depository of social proof for the products and services. They tend to promote products through banners and contextual affiliate links.
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