What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate MarketingMany to most of you already know what affiliate marketing is, and use affiliate campaigns to monetize your website.  This post is for the members of the community who still need to know… “What is affiliate marketing?”  For those just interested in who I recommend, scroll to the bottom and click one of my affiliate links.

Since the advent of the internet, affiliate marketing has been used not only as a hub of information and files, but also of commerce.  With this new realm of commerce came a new challenge for marketers and the brands they work for. They quickly realized that getting noticed on the internet is very different from getting noticed on any other media.  Internet users, almost from the get-go, had a shorter attention span (have I lost you yet?) and a greater desire to be entertained, rather than informed.

As more and more types of internet marketing came into being, affiliate marketing began to take its place among the most common and most profitable.

Affiliate Marketing Basics

Affiliate marketing has three equally important sectors, all of whom work together for the profit or benefit of each other part. The three members of this symbiotic relationship are the company, the affiliate, and the customer. The company is whatever business which has a product or service that they want to promote. The affiliate is a third-party (non-company) website (I’m talking about you niche site builders), which promotes that product or service, either through written materials or through videos, animation, or other media. The customer is the viewer of the advertisements, the potential buyer or investor. As the industry has grown, there are now companies that manage their own affiliate marketing sites, as well as massive affiliate sites called affiliate networks.  Some experts contend that these are a category all their own, but as they still technically qualify as affiliates, this is what we will call them.

The most basic definition of affiliate marketing is that you the publisher (affiliate) will be compensated by a company for promoting a product or service. The affiliate earns a commission every time someone clicks on the link on the affiliate website through to the company’s website, and then performs an action of some sort… usually a purchase. Some companies and affiliates set up a contract where the affiliate will be rewarded if the site visitors fill out a survey, take a poll, or provide their email addresses for a list, but most often it is when the visitor makes a purchase.

How It Works

On the affiliate webpage, the company provides a link embedded with specific code, which tracks, through internet cookies, how many referred visitors the company sees as a result of clicks on that link. Companies can also provide a specific coupon code to an affiliate. They can track how many times that specific code is used while making purchases and they can reward the affiliate based on that number.

Inside the realm of affiliate marketing, the individual publishers can usually choose any strategy they prefer. This may be a video, encouraging the viewers to click on a provided link, or a blog post detailing the benefits of a specific product and a link to where it can be found. Many mega-bloggers or the YouTube famous are provided with special discount codes for their fans to use when purchasing something.  Netflix has especially jumped on this bandwagon recently, providing specialized coupon codes to YouTube stars, allowing their fans to purchase subscriptions at a discounted rate.

Why it Works

The world consumer is becoming increasingly aware of traditional marketing tactics.  This isn’t just because Mad Men has let inside the mysterious and complicated world of marketing firms.  It is because we are becoming more aware of ourselves as consumers, and more aware of the methods corporations use to get us to buy their products. There are whole college/university classes dedicated to deciphering the underlying message of advertising, and how to avoid being swayed. Critical consumerism, it is called, learning to make conscious product choices, based on facts, rather than on who has the cleverest slogan.  (those meanies!)

Because of this new awareness, companies have begun to try new methods, more guerilla tactics. And while these new strategies give the corporation less control over their own advertisements, they get more honest exposure. Any website that has high publisher to reader/viewer interaction means that hundreds, thousands, even millions of people will not only hear about a company, but also hear why they should do business with that company. And there is almost no more effective way to gain trust among your customer base than to have someone they trust tell them you are a worthwhile company.

Can I Sell My Products Using Affiliate Marketing?

I should hope so!! Any company with a marketable product or service, with something that people will want to spend their money on, can profit from affiliate marketing. The costs of are lower, as you only have to pay for the advertisement when it actually works. Imagine if that was true for other types of marketing; like for example, if Coca-Cola only had to pay their advertising company every time someone walked past their sign and decided they wanted a Coke, and then also went and bought one.  Because you only have to pay when the advertisement actually works, you never have to pay for space or content that doesn’t directly and tangibly benefit your business.

Should You Become An Affiliate?

If you are a content publisher, looking to become an affiliate marketer, there are a few details that will either earn you success or cause you to fail.  Before you start marketing, you are going to need to have an established blog, website, or YouTube channel, that sees high levels of traffic every day. Then, you will need to find companies willing to use you as a marketer, or join an affiliate network. Sometimes, you will have to make them believe that you can improve their profits and bring them success. Remember, it doesn’t cost them anything unless you have a reader or viewership that is willing to participate in the marketing.

Affiliate marketing is developing and changing as fast as the internet itself. Whether you are a company or an affiliate, you need to be prepared to handle shifts in the market and in the online society.

What Affiliate Networks Do I Use? (showing referral fees when possible)










And of course Amazon.

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