What’s Affiliate Marketing?
Today the term “Affiliate Marketing” is increasingly used in conversations and publications both offline and online. Offline newspapers and magazines use the term when listing money-making opportunities available on the worldwide web, while countless number of online articles discuss different aspects of affiliate marketing. But, what in essence is affiliate marketing, and how can you benefit from it?
To define this concept, let us begin with a situation I guess you are familiar with. Have you ever been in search of something to buy, and have an intermediary (like a friend, relation, workmate, or even a stranger) give you direction (and possibly more information) concerning where you could acquire that item?
The intermediary may not have been working for the business he/she directed you to, but their “intervention” in helping you find your product was a kind of affiliate marketing. The biggest difference perhaps is, such case usually takes place offline, in our everyday life; whereas the “actual” affiliate marketing occurs on the internet. Companies that want to reach a wider base of internet users with their products and / or services use intermediaries called affiliates in order to achieve that.
So, affiliate marketing is an online business activity whereby a person (referred to as “affiliate”) is “recruited” by a company to refer internet users to goods and / or services sold by that company, and is paid a commission when anyone buys, or – in some cases – only visits the website where the goods or services are sold.
Does that give you a better understanding of what affiliate marketing is?
How does Affiliate Marketing Work?
In our example above, you the buyer, the intermediary and the sale point may all be located in the same town / city, unlike affiliate marketing which is not restricted to a particular place, as it occurs on the internet.
As you know, the internet connects people from around the world (except those in countries where access to it is restricted). More and more individuals and businesses are taking advantage of this reality to sell their goods and services. A company in the United States is able to sell to customers in India by means of the internet; a traveler in South Africa can buy a flight ticket from a travel agency located in Dubai. Just to name few possibilities.
Like in our example, these companies are not able to locate all those who are in search of their products or services. So what they do is the put in place a mechanism called Affiliate Program whereby they “recruit” online intermediaries (affiliates) including bloggers; and social media account, YouTube channel and website owners who use divers forms of ads on their page, channel or website to direct potential customers to that business’ website and are paid a commission when those customers buy or simply visit the site in some cases.
One can stay in one place, serve as an affiliate for a company in a different country and refer customers they may never meet in their lifetime. That’s the power of the internet, and individuals are taking advantage of this phenomenon to earn an income online.
More and more companies are selling their goods and products online, as well. These companies recruit so many affiliates for each good or service. As a result, their affiliate programs or associated affiliate networks use sophisticated tracking software which uses codes embedded in affiliate links to attribute sales. That is how each affiliate is identified and gets paid his / her correct commissions.
Players in the Affiliate Marketing Process
Depending on the specific case, there can be three or sometimes four players in the affiliate marketing process.
1. The Advertiser or Merchant: That’s the seller; the business or company that wishes to sell its goods and or services on the internet
2. The Affiliate or Publisher: the individual or entity which directs potential buyers to the advertiser’s website using their private online space
3. The Buyer or Customer: It’s the “consumer”, the person or entity which searches for and eventually buys the good or service concerned
4. The Affiliate Network: This refers to an entity which regroups and facilitates affiliates access to relevant affiliate programs. This last player does not necessarily appear in all affiliate marketing processes, especially if the advertiser has its own affiliate program whereby it can directly recruit affiliates.
The Affiliate Marketing Process (as illustrated by Trodvies)
The affiliate is linked to merchants by affiliate networks (blue arrows); while he/she links customers to relevant merchants (red arrows).
Some Advantages of Affiliate Marketing
With an increase in commercial activities online, more and more people are turning to the internet in order to make money, and affiliate marketing seems to be one of the most lucrative means for those who are proficient at it.
Here are a number of advantages that affiliate marketing offers:
1. First and foremost, it is a win-win situation for the parties involved
The buyer is able to access, and probably buy the product or service he/she desires; the company is able to sell more of its products /services; while the affiliate (and if applicable, the affiliate network) receive relevant commissions.
2. The Merchant only pays after results are obtained.
Unlike in traditional (offline) marketing where money is spent on advertising campaigns without those campaigns yielding fruits in some cases, with affiliate marketing, companies only pay out commissions after their set goals (sales generally) are achieved, thereby reducing their costs and increasing their profits.
Affiliate marketing has even more advantages for the affiliate.
1. The affiliate has less responsibility as far as running a business is concerned
They don’t have to produce their own product. Neither do they have to worry about storage, inventory, or shipment, or related costs. They only market what is already “ready to be sold”.
2. It generates passive Income
The affiliate’s pay doesn’t require his /her presence. One could work at a traditional job, and yet generate income “on the side” from affiliate marketing.
3. It offers a high return on investment (ROI)
Affiliate programs/networks are free to join. Expenses incurred by affiliates are usually for maintaining a web presence (and applying personal marketing methods which are not compulsory); and are not directly or solely linked to the goods and /or services they promote. In addition, one could be an affiliate for as many companies/programs as he/she wants, making as much as possible, on a single “investment”.
4. No profession or work experience required.
With Affiliate marketing, no profession nor job experience is required; just relevant training, passion to assist a defined segment of internet users make informed decisions regarding goods and services they are interested in, as well as adhering to guidelines of affiliate programs or networks.
5. The Potential of the Affiliate Marketing industry
In recent years, revenue from affiliate marketing has been on an upward trend. In 2019, the industry was estimated at 12 billion United States Dollars in sales. And as more and more people turn to the internet to do their shopping in the coming years, this trend is expected to continue, meaning more money made available to affiliates.
6. The Freedom It offers
Like other online money-making activity, you “work on your own terms”: when you want, how you want, from wherever you want.
Interested in becoming an Affiliate? CLICK HERE!
You may have read articles citing affiliate networks that you could join, without suggesting relevant training programs. Such a recommendation is counterproductive, especially if you are (relatively) new to this sphere. I have come across a number of individuals online who had either joined some affiliate program/network or were intending to do so with no prior training, and therefore found it hard to achieve progress.
This is where a platform like Wealthy Affiliate comes in handy.
Google and Alexa (web traffic analysis company) rank Wealthy Affiliate as Number 1 among many online platforms when it comes to affiliate marketing training. Not only does Wealthy Affiliate provide you with in depth affiliate marketing education, they simultaneously handhold you into joining relevant affiliate networks/programs, thereby alleviating issues faced as a result of lack of training.
Especially if you are a “newbie”, Wealthy Affiliate’s training will lead you into becoming a proficient affiliate marketer. But you must be aware that earning a consistent income through affiliate marketing requires commitment over a considerable period, in addition to training received.
Wealthy Affiliate also has a vibrant community and awesome features. Their community of over 1.5 million members is one unlike others. Members are always available and willing to help when you have a problem. And their numerous features make having a web presence easy. There’s actually nowhere better a newbie can learn how to become a proficient affiliate marketer than at Wealthy Affiliate.
There are lots of money-making opportunities on the internet. Affiliate marketing is just one of them. Unlike many other online business models, you don’t need to have much money to begin an affiliate marketing business. What you will need instead is web presence in the form of a website, a social media account/page, or the like; and relevant training (if you are new to this activity).
There are many advantages affiliate marketing offers the affiliate. But one must first be trained and understand that like in any other business venture, success in affiliate marketing depends on time invested. If you decide to take up affiliate marketing as an online activity, be assured that it is legitimate business, and that you can earn a reliable income as an affiliate marketer. However, that will not happen overnight as affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick online business model.