This article is a beginner guide to Affiliate Marketing. If you are a newbie and want to know in detail about Affiliate Marketing, then you just landed on the right page. Most of the people come to know about Affiliate Marketing as a Quick Money Making Scheme. But let me tell you if you think it as the way, then definitely you are wrong. Yes, it is a right that it is something with which we can make lots of money but it is definitely not that easy as you think. It required the ultimate hard and smart work.
Forget about it as a scheme and let’s begin with the basic definition of Affiliate Marketing.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate Marketing is that type of marketing in which we promote the products or services of a company, organization or brand and if we promote the products successfully and make sales, we earn a commission. That’s what the basic definition says.
The commission is basically a reward that a person gets on a successful sale. That why it is reward-based and performance-based marketing which motivates the people to make more and more sales in order to earn more. This way, not only the promoter who earns commission benefits but also the company due to a large number of sales.
Affiliate Marketing is so successful throughout the globe that a lot of companies have adopted it and in the Online World, most of the companies have their Affiliate Marketing Program.
Four Entities are primarily included in the Affiliate Marketing. These are the Merchant, the Network, the Publisher and the Customer.
- The Merchant is the one who actually has the products or services to sell.
- The Network is the group of all the marketers involved to promote the products or services. Usually, the network is built to let the promoters know in detail about the products, prices and other required details for a successful promotion.
- The Publisher is the endpoint marketer who actually promotes individually and makes the sales. A single publisher is also known as Affiliate Marketer or simply an Affiliate.
- The Customer is the one who buys the products or services.
Make sure you understand the meaning of all four entities well, as we’ll use this terminology to understand the other things in this article.
Hope, this gives you the basic idea of Affiliate Marketing.
How Does it Work?
Now, another question, how does Affiliate Marketing works. It sounds so simple to promote and sell things. But without a process and flow, it would be impossible to communicate the things between the affiliate and the merchant.
- The Merchant offers an Affiliate Program.
- Publisher Joins the Affiliate Program and multiple publishers form a Network.
- The Affiliate Program provides an interface (usually a web management dashboard or portal) that lets you manage and analyze most of the aspects of the program.
- You get your unique Affiliate Links, which you have to share to the potential buyers.
- When somebody purchases the services or good using your Affiliate Link, it is being tracked uniquely as your sale by the Affiliate Program Management.
- The sale is reflected in your Affiliate Dashboard and you earn a commission for it.
- The commission, payout, and payment date, etc., all depends on the Affiliate Program terms and company.
Technically when we talk about the process of generation of affiliate links and the tracking, there are a lot more things. Now, well see the flow of working in a more general way. Along with the explanation, I’ll also explain the definitions of some common terms used along with Affiliate Marketing.
The Beginning of the Process
The process starts with applying for the Affiliate Program. As every company has different conditions in accordance with its Affiliate Program, the process of applying for the program is also different. Some company allows just anybody to signup for their affiliate program while others simply limit their program to only a few people who are already well established and have a good history of making affiliate sales.
But the thing is most of the popular and esteemed companies keep their Affiliate Program open to just everybody. Still, you’ve to go through a process of Approval, post which, you’ll be able to start making affiliate sales.
Sign up & Review
Firstly, you signup for the Affiliate Program by providing some of the basic details like your personal information, how will you promote and what platforms do you already have to promote the products or services offered by the company and why they should give you the opportunity to be their affiliate.
Most of the companies prefer those affiliates who have their own website with good traffic, as companies consider blogs and websites with good user base to be an opportunity to promote their products. That’s why you’ll find that most of the Affiliate Signup process application will have this field of your Website URL.
Anyways, the approval process may be very easy to quite complicated and it completely depends upon the company and once you successfully cleared the process, you’ll come to know about the Approval. Some approve instanly while others take time upto a week. One done, you’re provided the credentials to Affiliate Dashboard.
- The companies provide an Interface where you can manage all the things and it is known as the Affiliate Dashboard.
Promotional Materials & Affiliate Links
Before starting, you should know in detail about what you’re going to promote. Affiliate Dashboards usually contains information about their products and services in detail and sometimes they also provide you with promotional materials like images, banners, and videos, which you can embed in your website or wheresoever as well as per their terms and policies.
Every Affiliate Marketing program has some terms, make sure you do the promotion following them properly. Some policies have conditions like PPC (Pay Per Click) promotion not allowed, you can not target a few reserved keywords in PAID marketing, etc.
Anyways, the most important thing that you get in this dashboard is the Affiliate Link. It is all that you need most of the times.
As I also mentioned earlier, it is a unique link given to every affiliate using which the company can track that the sale is made or not. You’ve to use this link as the Call of Action.
Most Affiliate Dashboards are capable of providing you detail insights tracked with this link. Like the total number of clicks on this link, the number of unique people accessing this link, the country of the clicked users and more. This simply helps you to track and improve your promotional strategy for Affiliate Marketing. In the end, it is the only way out using which the company tells you your commission.
Commission & Payout
In the end, all that matter is the payout. It keeps you motivated for doing even better. The commission is the amount that you get for your promotional and sales efforts. Again different companies have a different commission and payout policies.
Some companies have fixed per product commission. Some have a relative percentage commission. Some increase the percentage or simply the fixed amount of commission as the volume of sales increases.
For example, Hostgator Affiliate Program is quite popular. You can understand their commission structure from the following screenshot.
As you can see, when you make 1 to 5 sales with Hostgator, they pay you $50 per sale but when you make 21 or more sales, the commission goes as high as $125 per sale. This is also a way to motivate affiliate to make more sales. There is a two-way benefit, the company gets more sales, the affiliate gets more commission.
Now, coming to the Payout. Most of the companies have the payout policy for a month, that means you’ll get paid every month via one of the payment options supported by the program. Companies also put restriction as you’ll only get the payout when you reach a certain limit. For example, you’ll get the payout only when your commission amount reaches $100 or more. Not all companies have this kind of limit. Again, it depends.
The payout cycle time may vary. Some pay fortnightly, some after two months, while there are also such programs, which pay weekly or daily!
Affiliate Marketing Terminologies
The different terms used in Affiliate Marketing are defined below.
- Affiliate. The person associated with the Affiliate Program who does promotion and make sales.
- Affiliate Dashboard. The Digital Platform provided by the company to manage the different aspects of the Affiliate Program.
- Affiliate Links. The unique links provided to you by the Affiliate Program to track the promotion & sales.
- Payment Mode. The mode using which you get the Affiliate Commission Payout. For example, the most popular Payment Modes are Paypal and Direct Bank Transfer.
- Affiliate Cookies. The cookies stored by the technical flow of the affiliate links in targeted customer’s web browser in order to track for a few days. These cookies help to track the sale even if the user not purchases right away but during the next few days.
- Cookie Period. The amount of time a cookie is stored on the user’s browser, so that can credit the sale commission to you.
- Link Cloaking. Shortening of the original affiliate links into custom links is known as Affiliate Link Cloaking. Usually, the affiliate links are ugly in look, so most of the people convert them into pretty URLs by using some redirection service.
- Affiliate Manager. Many companies assign an affiliate manager to the affiliates which can help in the case the affiliate wants any explanation or anything else associated with the program and the whole process. They can also help in the promotions.
- Affiliate Marketplace. A lot of companies rather than creating their own custom management environment for affiliate program rely on some third party Affiliate Management Companies, known as Affiliate marketplaces. A lot of companies offer their Affiliate program on Affiliate marketplaces. One benefit of them to affiliates is that they can signup for multiple affiliate programs at one place. Payouts from multiple programs become much simpler. ShareASale and Commission Junction are examples of Affiliate Marketplaces.
- Recurring Commission. A lot of services are recurring services, that means the customer has to pay again for the service after a fixed period of time as per the subscription. A lot of affiliate programs offers a recurring commission as well. It is the commission which is paid to you when your referred customer renews the subscription for service of the company. Many theme development companies offer such Recurring commissions.
There might be some other terms like CTR, Conversion Rates, etc., which are common in the other field of Digital Marketing as well. Therefore, they are not explained here, well still if you have any doubts on any terms in Affiliate Marketing, you can ask via the comments.
Ways of Promotion in Affiliate Marketing
One of the most commonly asked questions of beginners is how to start promoting for Affiliate Marketing. That’s why instead of putting this question in FAQs, I thought of making it as a separate section.
Well, there are numerous ways of promoting affiliate products. Some of the most common ways are mentioned below.
- Email Marketing
- Search Engine Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Social Media Sharing
- Direct Referrals
Blogging is the most preferred way of Affiliate Marketing these days. Lots of people have their own blogs and websites and they promote the affiliate products and services to their audience by mentioning them in articles in the form of a review or in many other ways. SEO is a key thing here. Most of the people write articles and target them for the potential keywords in the Organic Search Engine Rankings.
If you’re a beginner to blogging, here’s a guide for you to get started with blogging.
And if you wanted to get started with blogging for Free, here are two special guides for you.
This way, they basically target potential customers to their Affiliate Links. You can view the Earning reports of many bloggers online who earn a lot this way via affiliate marketing.
Some people run Advertising on Google and other search engines for some potential keywords and take the users to a Landing page where they have their affiliate links. Similarly, Social Media ads are run for some reason. People share their affiliate links with potential customers on social media platforms and some simply give the link to the people who want to purchase the products or services associated with the affiliate program.
Affiliate Marketing – Frequently Asked Questions
Some of the most commonly asked questions related to Affiliate Marketing are given and answered below.
How to Find an Affiliate Program?
Finding an affiliate program is quite easy. Most of the companies have links to their Affiliate Program in their Menus. You can check the footer of the website most commonly. But there’s an even better way to find the affiliate program for a product or a company.
Just Google It. Like, “Company Name” + Affiliate Program
For example, to find the affiliate program of Amazon, you can search the way as I did and shown in the screenshot below.
To find the affiliate programs related to your niche, you can Google Search, the similar way. For example, if you want to find affiliate programs related to ECommerce, you can search like ECommerce affiliate programs. The way to find good affiliate programs in your niche is as simple as that.
Likewise, you can search for the Most Paying Affiliate programs as well.
Affiliate Marketing Vs AdSense, which has more potential to Earn?
A lot of bloggers have these two major options as a way to monetize their blogs and websites. Either they can use Google AdSense to place ads and earn monthly payouts from Google or the second way is Affiliate marketing. The confusion is which has more earning potential.
Definitely, Affiliate Marketing has more earning potential but not for sure. That depends on your blog or website audience and the nature of the traffic. If the visitors are targeted users, then maybe Affiliate Marketing will work good but if the users are not so targeted AdSense will work better anyway.
Therefore, the answer is not justified for your blog or website and you’ve to experiment with yourself what will work better for you.
What are the signs of a Good Affiliate Program?
A good affiliate program would have the following features.
- A Featureful Affiliate Dashboard.
- Timely Payout.
- Not so High Payout Limit.
- Multiple Payment Options.
- Provided Promotional Materials.
- Real-Time Tracking & Analysis
In the end, I’d say Affiliate Marketing is a great way to earn money online as long as you understand the gravity that it is requires hard work and time to be a successful affiliate marketer.
Thanks for being here at WTMatter to get this information on Affiliate Marketing. Hope it helps you and if it does, you can share this article with others who might find it useful as well.