Affiliate marketing has become one of the most popular passive income generating tools. It is a great starting point for professionals who want to start an e-commerce business or for marketers looking to monetize their website traffic.

There are many strategies available today to implement an affiliate marketing campaign. This guide explains how to promote products or services as an affiliate to create an additional revenue stream.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a technique whereby an advertiser pays a website, known as an affiliate, a commission in exchange for generating leads from the website’s promotional activities. Affiliate marketing is based on the performance of the affiliate. The affiliates is rewarded every time a visitor takes an engaging action after having been in contact with promotional content.

The 4 elements of affiliate marketing

  • Affiliates: These are the product promoters, the ones who receive the commission.
  • Advertisers: they are the creators of the product, their goal is to sell.
  • Networks: specialized networks can manage the affiliates.
  • Consumers: these are the end users of the product.

How to create and manage a content marketing strategy?

Who are the affiliates?

Affiliates, or publishers, can be individuals or companies. They are typically bloggers or content creators in the same industry as the creators of the product or service they are promoting with content such as blog posts, videos or other resources.

They can also promote their own content to generate qualified leads through advertising, SEO traffic or list building.

When one of their visitors takes an action that converts them into a lead or customer, affiliates earn a commission based on the terms of their affiliate agreement.

Who are the advertisers?

Also known as product developers or merchants, advertisers are those who develop the product or service that other individuals or companies of some prominence promote, in exchange for a fee in the form of a share or commission.

For example, a company that offers a commission to its affiliates when they lead their customers to make a purchase on its platform or a blogger who offers an affiliate program via his podcast.

Whether they are self-employed or large corporations, advertisers have only one obligation: to pay affiliates who help them generate transactions.

Advertisers are not always the creators of the product, as is the case with the Amazon Partners Club.

What are affiliate networks?

Affiliate networks act as intermediaries between advertisers and affiliates. Merchants or product creators do not always use them, but these networks are useful to solidify the bond of trust between the two parties involved in the collaboration.

They manage the relationship between advertisers and affiliates, and have independent monitoring and auditing structures that are critical to reducing fraud rates. ClickBank and ShareASale are two of the most popular networks.

Some advertisers use a network because they lack the time or resources to track, manage, and report on affiliate compensation. With a wide selection of affiliates, the network also allows them to expand their collaborations.

Who are the consumers?

Consumers, or customers, are visitors who perform an action, such as making a purchase or submitting a form, that earns affiliates their commission.

How does affiliate marketing work?

Because affiliate marketing is a performance-based system, the affiliate only earns a commission when a visitor takes an action that moves him or her along the purchase path, whether it’s a click, a form submission or a purchase.

Affiliate programs

The following are some of the most common affiliate program models:

  • Pay Per Click (PPC): the affiliate is paid for all clicks generated, whether or not the click results in a lead or sale. This model is rarely used, as only the advertiser takes a risk.
  • Pay per lead (PPL): The affiliate is paid for each lead generated, whether it is an online form submission, a free trial registration, or a pre-sale. The risk is shared equally between the advertiser and the affiliate.
  • Pay Per Sale (PPA): The affiliate is paid for each sale generated. This is the most common model, as only the affiliate takes a risk.

Types of affiliates

To become an affiliate, you must first sign up for an affiliate program, such as the Amazon program. After signing up, you will receive an affiliate link containing a unique identifier to use in your promotional content.

Each time a visitor clicks on this affiliate link, a cookie is placed in their browser to track their actions. So when they perform an action that qualifies them under the terms of the contract, the advertiser can record it and attribute it to the affiliate for commission.

There are different compensation structures that vary depending on the terms of the affiliate contract. For example, commissions can be paid monthly or weekly depending on the terms of the program, or based on the leads or sales the affiliate has helped generate.

You should pay close attention to the compensation structure of your affiliate program, as it has a direct impact on the goals you are trying to achieve.

The cost of participation

Joining an affiliate program usually does not involve an upfront fee, but depending on the options chosen to promote a product, the affiliate will incur variable costs.

Affiliate marketing is often associated with earning a commission from promoting another individual’s or company’s products.

The mechanics involved seem simple at first: find a product you like, promote it and earn a commission for each sale you make. However, it is essential to understand some of the subtleties.

First, make sure that the type of compensation the advertiser sets up, whether it’s a commission per sale or per lead generated, or a one-time payment, is appropriate for your goals.

Depending on the pricing structure applied, these objectives are likely to influence your choices regarding the product you promote, the type of promotion you develop, and the time and resources you allocate to it.

For example, if you choose to promote your content through paid advertising, you need to consider the costs involved in order to compare them to the commission you receive and ensure that your approach is cost-effective.

Similarly, if you have a blog and a website, you will incur hosting fees, which are usually a flat fee for all the sales you generate. It is therefore essential to prepare your marketing plan well to determine how much to invest, and how.

Affiliate marketing compensation

After having dealt with the costs involved, it is legitimate to wonder about the amount of income that an affiliate carrying out this activity full time is likely to receive.

Affiliate compensation should be considered in terms of profits generated rather than sales. Affiliate earnings are only one part of the affiliate program.

An affiliate earning €5,000 per day may be worse off than one earning €500 per day but having no expenses, if he invests most of his income in paid promotional material.

Before joining an affiliate program, make sure you align your expectations with the income you are likely to earn. By doing so, you will be able to target a relevant sector or area while developing a proper way of working.

For example, if you focus on paid media, such as Google Ads or Facebook ads, the amount of money you invest is as important as the amount of money you receive.

Choosing your affiliate program

Misconceptions

There are two common misconceptions about affiliate marketing. This article is an opportunity to set the record straight on choosing an affiliate program.

  • Affiliate marketing is outdated. Whether it’s SEO, advertising, or mobile, one of the defining facets of the online marketing world seems to become obsolete every year. However, if a business stands the test of time and continues to prove itself, it is probably destined for longevity. That longevity, however, requires the ability to evolve, and affiliate marketing is no exception. From a system focused on generating quick wins, affiliate marketing is now a model that requires the development of trusting relationships to bear fruit. This necessarily implies the implementation of a more successful strategic approach.
  • Affiliate marketing is easy to implement. Affiliate marketing is a task that requires time and effort to be profitable. It involves choosing a relevant product to promote, choosing the right collaborators, developing trusting relationships and providing fresh content. Although it may seem easy to set up, affiliate marketing must be based on strategic choices to be efficient.

Basic rules

Affiliate marketing is based on two basic rules:

  • As an affiliate, you should only promote products that you know extremely well and whose value and interest to end users is clear to you.
  • Don’t directly tell a user to buy a product, but recommend it based on your own experience and what it has helped you accomplish.

Promote relevant products

To promote relevant products, it is advisable to consider the following three elements:

  • The audience: does the product you’ve chosen match their expectations and will your audience be grateful that you are promoting it?
  • Quality and value of the product: Would you recommend it to your own friends?
  • Profitability: does the product you’ve selected have a competitive conversion rate and is it likely to generate sufficient revenue?

Your membership in an affiliate program will only pay off if you master the fundamentals of marketing and build an authentic brand.

If you promote products without considering the value they generate for your audience, you will never be able to take full advantage of the program you join. Therefore, the products you choose to promote must be based on real convictions about their value and usefulness.

To ensure a stable source of passive income, you need to develop your own brand, select products that you are passionate about and create authentic content.

Affiliation platforms

Many affiliation platforms are available to you to make your program a reality as an advertiser. Here are three examples of the most popular affiliation platforms.

Affila

Affilae is a platform that does not require installation fees and does not take any commission. The subscription is without commitment and per month, for an amount of 69 €.

In fact, Affilae provides tracking links without redirection, in order to increase the number of inbound links, or backlinks that you integrate into your affiliate program. In terms of natural referencing, each of these links is then seen as positive by the engines.

This platform prioritizes independent professionals so that they develop their relationships with their affiliates. However, have in mind that Affilae does not have a marketplace and does not manage the administrative aspect for you, but shines in the field with an excellent brand image and a great deal of trust granted by its users.

Rakuten Advertising

Rakuten Advertising is a must in terms of affiliation. This platform is known for its progressive optimization of affiliate campaigns, in favor of you and your affiliates.

Rakuten’s characteristic campaign rotation system is its added value. It also helps advertisers to verify the quality of the content created by affiliates. It participates in a regular monitoring of the performance of the members of this program.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that Rakuten has a payment system that prevents the network of affiliates, which is smaller than that of competitors, from predicting the payment of commissions.

ShareASale

ShareASale is another platform with a very practical interface. It makes it easy to monitor the statistics and performance of affiliate campaigns. Some data allow you to better understand them, such as the average amount of sales or earnings per click.

However, there are many other affiliation platforms, such as Awin, DaisyCon, TradeDoubler, Affilinet, Webgains or Amazon.