Affiliate Marketing 101

Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways of generating money online. By definition, affiliate marketing is simply earning a commission for promoting the products of other companies. To understand the process of affiliate marketing, you need to first understand how it works, and its major players. 

Important Affiliate Marketing Players

  • Brands (Advertisers/Merchants)
Brands produce or supply the products or services that will be promoted by affiliate marketers.
  • Affiliate Marketers (Publishers)
Affiliate marketers promote the products owned by brands and are rewarded with commissions for their marketing efforts.
  • Customers (Consumers)
These are the consumers of the products produced by brands that the affiliate marketer promotes the products to.  An affiliate program can be run in-house by the relevant brands, or it can be managed by an independent affiliate program or network. An affiliate network typically has many affiliate offers from a wide range of brands and affiliate niches. Affiliate networks help brands to boost their marketing outreach, whereas affiliate marketers use them to access different types of affiliate offers. 

The Affiliate Marketing Process

The affiliate marketing process is simple and straightforward. You can start your affiliate marketing journey by simply signing up with an affiliate program or network. Choose your favorite product to promote, and the affiliate program provides you with a unique affiliate link that you will share with your audience.  The unique link will allow tracking of sales attributed to your promotional efforts. You will then earn commissions when a person clicks on your unique link and goes ahead to buy or perform any action that is relevant to the brand or affiliate network. 

The Best Ways to Promote Affiliate Offers

When getting started, most affiliate marketers share their links with their friends and network of contacts. While sharing links with friends is a straightforward activity, you need to eventually build and grow an audience so as to grow your affiliate earnings.  Some of the ways to build an audience include creating blogs, newsletters, social media profiles and pages, videos, as well as authority profiles in relevant online forums or Q&A sites. To help you perform effective promotion of your affiliate offers, the affiliate program or network provides marketing creatives that will help promote the product with your audience that is interacting with your content.  As an affiliate marketer, you require a wide range of marketing skills and creatives so as to be able to perform comprehensive marketing activities across different platforms and channels. Some of the marketing creatives available to affiliate marketers include text links, website banners, interactive widgets, forms, as well as landing pages, mailers, and more. For instance, if you have a blog, you can utilize text links and banners within your pages. 

Organic and Inorganic Marketing

Affiliate marketing is ultimately a performance-based activity, and the more effort you put into promoting the products, the more you are likely to earn in commissions. An audience can be built in two main ways: organically and inorganically (paid promotion).  Organic marketing involves growing your audience naturally, without utilizing any paid methods. Organic marketing typically requires time, but it tends to build a strong bond with your audience. Some organic marketing methods include social media posts, SEO, and guest posts.  On the other hand, inorganic marketing involves utilizing paid ways to get traffic and can be achieved within a short period of time compared to organic methods. Some of the strategies of inorganic marketing include native ads, sponsored posts, paid search ads, PPC, and paid social media ads. Paid promotion can quickly boost your reach, but it is recommended that beginners should first start with organic marketing strategies.

Final Word

As seen above, anyone can get started with affiliate marketing and start earning money online quickly. Affiliate marketing is a highly scalable business and there are very low barriers to entry. You simply need to join an affiliate program, choose a good product to promote, and decide on the best way to market it to your audience.