What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing at its core is the online marketing process built around the business relationship between four different parties: a seller, an affiliate, an affiliate network and a buyer.
A seller and an affiliate enter into a contractual agreement via an affiliate network. The seller or advertiser then provides the affiliate or publisher with creative in many forms. These can be links, banner or text or video adverts or unique phone numbers in some cases. The affiliate whether an individual or a business, normally incorporates such links and adverts into their websites or social media posts or emails etc. The affiliate takes steps to drive traffic to such links and adverts.
When visitors click on any of these links or adverts they end up on the advertiser’s website or online shop. If interested, the visitors may make one or more purchases online from seller’s website and become buyers. The affiliate or publisher is entitled to a fee on every such purchase that buyers make. This is how we define affiliate marketing and how affiliate marketing works at a high level.
You can be an affiliate if you want to create a regular internet income.
In affiliate marketing terms, a seller means an individual or a business that sells a product or service online. Some affiliate marketing experts refer to a seller as a merchant or an advertiser too.
Affiliate marketing process begins when a seller decides to pay a fee or commission to other people or agencies or businesses to help promote and sell their products or services on the internet. A seller that is willing to pay for product promotion online becomes an advertiser.
An advertiser can sell one or more of a range of products like books, tools, trainings, electronic goods, clothing, cosmetics, tickets, insurance etc. There is no limit for what a seller can sell online as long as it is legal and there are some buyers out there.
Amazon, eBay, Clickbank etc. are real life examples of advertisers. They all sell a range of products online and are willing to pay a fee to a person or a business to promote their products online.
A small brick and mortar store in your neighbourhood can also be an advertiser in affiliate marketing terms if they have a website and are willing to pay for product promotion on internet.
An advertiser generally owns the responsibility for product creation. They may create the product themselves or pay someone else to do it for them. In either case, product creation is outsider affiliate marketing scope.
Though an advertiser is at the root of affiliate marketing, their role may not involve much activity in the affiliate marketing process once they have their product ready to sell and initiate the affiliate program. Most of the marketing activities are an affiliate’s job.
You can make a reasonable passive online income as an affiliate or publisher. Most successful affiliates have a steady internet income working just few hours a week. Some affiliates make a decent living out of affiliate marketing alone.
You do not need much money to become an affiliate and you can work as an affiliate from the comfort of your home.. As an affiliate, you can practically work from anywhere in the world as long as you have internet and a device like laptop, tablet or smart phone.
As an affiliate you do not need to do any production, inventory or shipping. You just promote one or more products on your digital properties like your websites, your social media accounts, digital billboards or email network etc. You simply refer new customers to advertisers.
You can be an affiliate as an individual or a business. As an affiliate you would own one or more websites or social media accounts. Your websites and social media accounts will have plenty of helpful information or blogs or reviews about the products you want to promote. You may even have many email subscribers that you can promote sales to via the internet.
The purpose of websites, blogs, social media posts and emails is to attract visitors to the advertiser’s website. You can drive visitors to your affiliate websites by SEO or SEM etc.
You must develop content on your websites, blogs, reviews and emails in such a way that you encourage people to make a purchase on the advertiser’s website. You can post honest reviews about the advertiser’s products on your websites, blogs, social media or emails.
The advertiser would pay you a fee for every sale you create. It is all done online. So if you have been asking how does affiliate marketing work, the answer is it all works online.
Thus from an affiliate’s perspective, affiliate marketing involves finding some one else’s products to promote, promote the products and as a result earn a commission for each sale resulting from the promotion.
To be an affiliate, you need to register with an advertiser and seek their approval. This puts you the affiliate in a contractual agreement with the advertiser.
Sometimes, affiliate networks handle the registration and also act as an intermediary between you the affiliate and the advertiser.
Affiliate network brings advertisers and affiliates together. As an intermediary between advertisers and affiliates, an affiliate network provides a platform where an affiliate can register with advertisers.
Normally a third party affiliate network serves more than one advertisers. So, if you want to become an affiliate, you would usually register yourself over an affiliate network that represents the advertiser.
Examples of third party affiliate networks include Clickbank and Commission junction. If you register as an affiliate with Clickbank or Commission junction, you can promote sales for advertisers that they are respectively associated with.
However, some large businesses often run their own affiliate network in-house. For example, businesses like eBay and Amazon have in-house affiliate networks.
If you want to promote eBay or Amazon sales, you must register yourself as an affiliate on their respective websites and adhere to their policy.
Some affiliate networks need you to let your website visitors know that you are an affiliate. This will make sure the buyers are well aware of the relationship between the affiliate and the advertiser. However, some advertisers do not need you to tell your visitors that you are an affiliate.