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An introduction to affiliate marketing

One of the more popular marketing strategies that marketers across the globe are turning to is affiliate marketing. We’ll take a look at this sales-driving tactic, and show how beneficial it can be to both brands and marketers.

Introduction Affiliate Marketing

Money for nothing is unfortunately something of a myth. The world of affiliate marketing, however, is about as close as you can get to this unattainable utopia. It’s the reason why over 80% of brands are leveraging affiliate marketing in their strategies. But what is affiliate marketing? And how can it be used in a marketing strategy?

The events surrounding COVID-19 have caused digital marketing to take precedence. Whether that’s email marketing or more of a focus on social media marketing, businesses have had to adapt to the new normal and find new avenues of attaining revenue.

Affiliate marketing is an effective strategy that more companies are looking towards. Let’s dive into this powerful marketing strategy, and look at how you can get started with affiliate marketing today.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing may not be a form of marketing you’ve come across before, as it is somewhat different from many of the basics of marketing. What makes it different is that it involves third parties to generate leads and conversions.

Affiliate marketing is when an affiliate ends up earning a commission from marketing a service or a product from a third party. The affiliate partner (in this case, you) is rewarded a payout each time the desired and agreed result is made. You are promoting someone else’s product, and earning a cut for each result you manage to obtain. 

Nine times out of ten, the desired result is a sale, but it could be anything. You may be rewarded for new leads, downloads of an app, or even benefit from a pay-per-click scheme. Affiliate marketing programs are often free to join, so you don’t need to worry about high start-up costs. This makes it a great side hustle to get started in, but is also worth considering in a more structured marketing strategy. 

How is affiliate marketing used in a marketing strategy?

Digital marketing is extremely versatile. You can have multiple different strategies happening, resulting in high rates of traffic from different sources. So while your email marketing strategy and social media campaigns are underway, there is nothing to hold you back from starting an affiliate marketing program.

Full-time affiliate marketers will dedicate their time to finding products and targeting these products to prospective leads. It’s a low-risk strategy for them, as they don’t lose out on a huge profit by using an affiliate program. They only end up paying for successful results.

Affiliate marketing can offer valuable insights into your marketing strategy. In addition, it is low energy and low risk, due to the fact that it is a form of performance marketing. So if you’re thinking about implementing more strategic marketing, it could be a great option to consider. 

Is affiliate marketing an effective marketing strategy?

The affiliate marketing industry has nearly doubled in the past 5 years, which shows exponential growth. It’s a low to no-cost venture that can contribute huge profits, and it is low risk, easy to scale, and easy to execute. All these advantages have led to this becoming one of the more popular modern marketing strategies.

All parties involved in the strategy end up benefiting from affiliate marketing. If you’re considering it as a side hustle, you can end up driving more traffic to your website or blog. If you’re the company that is implementing it, you can end up benefiting from more sales and conversions while growing your audience.

Either way, it can be a lucrative and low-risk opportunity to succeed and to turn a profit when using this unique form of digital marketing. It takes some time for it to be effective, but if you are disciplined and determined, you can start to generate a steady stream of income. 

Affiliate marketing – a step-by-step guide

So how do you get started with affiliate marketing? Whether you are considering using this model of marketing for your company, or you want to become an affiliate yourself and monetize your personal website or blog, the results can be lucrative. 

Just like running your own business, becoming successful requires dedication and discipline. And like running a business, success doesn’t happen overnight – you’ll need to put in some hours and some hard graft into making a success of it. So let’s take a look at some of the steps you can take to leverage the power of affiliate marketing. 

Decide on a platform

The first step in building your affiliate marketing strategy is knowing which platform you want to build your audience around. Affiliate marketers will all have their own approach and their own preferred platform. Consider what platform you use the most, and which platform understands you best. 

Starting with a platform that you know and are more comfortable with will lead to you creating higher-quality content. The platform you choose should also play to your general strengths and interests. This will result in a stronger, larger, and more engaged audience who will be encouraged to purchase the item or service on offer. 

Many platforms nowadays provide you with cross-channel views of how well your different marketing tactics are working – both individually and together. This provides you with an essential tool in your digital marketing toolkit, as you can adjust your strategy as it progresses. 

Join affiliate programs

To speed up the process, you can also use an affiliate program or affiliate network. They act as a middleman between you and the merchants or companies whose products you’ll be selling. The biggest affiliate marketing program is Amazon Associates, but there are many other affiliate networks out there. These include Rakuten, Awin, Impact, and CJ Affiliates as some of the top alternatives.

If you’re a newcomer to the world of affiliate marketing, then joining an affiliate program is a good option. It’s a great introduction to affiliate marketing, and it’ll furnish you with all the tools you need to track your earnings and see how well you’re doing. As a company, you could also consider creating your own affiliate program, if you have coding and programming experience.

The only consideration you need to make when choosing your affiliate program is whether the network has the products you want to promote. You should also make yourself aware of the rates and the payment schedules laid out by each program.

Create great content

Once you’ve decided upon your platform, you’ve created the engine of your marketing strategy. To make your engine run successfully, you’ll need fuel. The content on your website or blog is effectively the fuel that powers your affiliate marketing strategy. 

Whether it is written, visual, or aural, the content of your site is the most important part of the affiliate marketing strategy. Knowing how to create great online content is the key to converting visitors to your site into sales. Once you have decided on your product, platform, and program, the content needs to be generated. 

No site will start turning profit overnight, so you want to really build up a head of steam with your content marketing strategy. Focus on keywords, and use these to generate as much content as you can that is relevant. Make sure you revisit it to tweak and optimize, once you’ve measured the success of your content.  

Drive traffic and convert clicks

Content is essential for driving traffic, and the more traffic you have, the higher chance of converted clicks you might get. Affiliate marketers will always be looking for ways to increase the traffic and number of conversions that they get. 

Google will automatically promote websites that are continually updated, so ensure that you are constantly posting new SEO content to your site. The higher your site or blog ranks on Google, the more traffic it will get. You can also consider incentives for your customers that will encourage them to convert and make a purchase.

Coupons and promotions are proven traffic drivers and click converters, with 97% of consumers on the lookout for special offers when they shop, so consider working with a coupon affiliate marketing site to promote your product. Using newsletter subscriptions that offer a discount can not only convert clicks but also support your email marketing strategy at the same time. 

How do you become an affiliate marketer?

Affiliate marketing can be done by anyone, anywhere. If you’re looking for a side hustle that is low risk, and can essentially earn you money while you sleep, then it’s a great option to consider. Once you understand the fundamentals of marketing, you will be in a great position to start your own affiliate marketing strategy.

If you’re looking to try your hand at affiliate marketing, then it’s important to know where to start. Joining all the dots and knowing what program, platform, and product you’ll be marketing requires some up-front work. As long as you are familiar with your niche and the platform you plan on using, then it all comes down to creating engaging content.

Affiliate marketing takes time. Your first step should be to make your first affiliate marketing sale. From there, consider the ways you’ll be able to grow, and set yourself new goals. You can also try experimenting with new methods to see what works and what doesn’t.

Industries that use affiliate marketing

One of the biggest advantages of affiliate marketing is that it shares the responsibilities of marketing across several different parties. This leverages the abilities and skills of a wide range of individuals while also resulting in shared profit and success. 

So what sort of industries use affiliate marketing as part of their digital marketing campaigns? Let’s take a look at some of the different industries that regularly use this particular marketing strategy.

The travel industry

We’ve all been pining for a trip overseas since the pandemic kicked off. One way to vaguely scratch that itch is by becoming a travel affiliate. By using vibrant and unique photographs and accompanying text, you can catch the user’s attention, and earn a commission on the side.

Coupon sites

Coupon sites make up 27% of all affiliate marketing spending in the UK. Typically, they’ll promote vouchers and promotions through on-site exposure. In recent years, they have started to collaborate with influencers and even in-app targeted campaigns too.

The novelty gift market

Not necessarily one of the main industries you might think uses affiliate marketing, it is, nevertheless, the case. When people purchase a novelty item, they may not have that particular product in mind. Affiliate marketers focus on certain niches and audiences, resulting in high conversion rates.

Fashion sites

Lots of the major clothing brands and online stores will offer a fashion affiliate program. By positively reviewing and posting about items of clothing, you’ll also offer up a link to the fashion site itself, with the aim of earning you a slice of the action.

Health & Wellness

One of the biggest and most widespread affiliate marketing programs you can join, the health and wellness industry can end up being quite lucrative as an affiliate marketer. Due to the numerous niches and health issues out there, finding the right one to suit your audience can be relatively easy.

Main types of affiliate publishers

Once you start on your journey into the affiliate marketing world, you’ll quickly realise that there are a large number of publishers to work with and choose from. Understanding who and what these publishers are can help you to develop strong affiliate marketing strategies, aligning your business goals and brand values.

Here, we’ll take you through some of the most important affiliate publishers.


These are an extremely common type of affiliate publisher. Their primary goal is to supply valuable and relevant content to a clearly defined audience. Often the readers of blogs are really loyal, so reaching these audiences can be very lucrative.

Cashback sites

Cashback sites can end up creating a high volume of customers, as commission ends up being split between the site and the end-user. Having a cash incentive can lead to continued use of the site as well, so using affiliates can keep current customers and easily attract new ones.

Voucher code websites

Who hasn’t had a quick scan of the internet before making a purchase to see if there are any vouchers or discounts that they’d be able to use? With things like minimal amount spent vouchers, you can get a great payback as a voucher affiliate, but you’ll have to continue to update and refresh the vouchers – this will make it seem more exclusive.

User-generated content

There are lots of communities of shoppers out there who all offer advice and help – and some offer special deals and exclusive offers too. Tapping into this sphere will reveal an audience who are highly engaged and are ready to become loyal customers. 

Jobs that use affiliate marketing

As affiliate marketing has become a strategic marketing tactic that more industries are using or looking to use, many of them have started to offer up affiliate marketing roles. If you have a background in marketing already, you may be able to transition to one of these roles. Similarly, if you have proven success in your own affiliate marketing campaign, you will be more desirable to employers.

The main roles include affiliate marketing manager and affiliate marketing executive. There is even the option for affiliate marketing internships – something that could be an ideal step if you’re looking to progress from having affiliate marketing as a side hustle.

Final thoughts

The world of affiliate marketing is continuing to grow. As it does, you’ll find that marketing teams across the world will begin to implement it as part of their strategies. While an affiliate marketing strategy can take a bit of time to show progress and turn a decent profit, it is a marketing strategy that doesn’t require too much interference.

At the end of the day, affiliate marketing can be a rewarding way of adding a new revenue stream without too much risk. It will take a bit of time, but by putting in the hours upfront, you’ll reap the rewards down the line.

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