What is affiliate marketing and how it works?

Affiliate marketing is the process of earning commission through marketing for someone else’s product. The person who earns through this process is called an affiliate. But there are some agencies too that work as an affiliate. Sometimes they are also referred to as the publisher.  It is considered one of the best marketing strategies of the modern world.

Role of the affiliate or publisher

A publisher or an affiliate promotes the product or service to potential buyers on behalf of the company. In affiliate marketing, the affiliate appealingly persuades the client to buy the product or hire the service. The affiliate convinces them that the product is beneficial to them and also value for money. When the customer buys the product or the service through the affiliate’s referral, the affiliate receives a portion of the revenue made by the seller.

The publisher or the affiliate generally receives a link or a bunch of them from the seller when they start working together. The links are specific for every single publisher. These links usually contain an id that makes them specific. The affiliate then uses these links in their content and tries to convince his followers to buy it.

Role of the merchant

A merchant can be anyone, a large company, a vendor, a merchant even a solo entrepreneur. There are plenty of publishers on the internet creating content in different niches. The seller finds a publisher who creates content related to their product. 

For example, if anyone wants to sell laptops, he should contact with publisher or affiliate who creates content related to the technology. He can work with a tech reviewer, a tech-blogger, a product tester (electronics), etc. After finding out a proper affiliate for doing marketing on his behalf. He offers him a part of the revenue for each sold product. And starts working after making a deal.  

How it started

Before the creation of the World Wide Web, referral marketing was famous among businessmen for years. But online affiliate marketing emerged in the ’90s. An online flower shop named PC Flowers and Gifts owned by William J. Tobin first came up with the idea of affiliate marketing on the internet. They were very successful initially. 

But Amazon was the company that made the idea of passive income online popular. A program called “Amazon Associates” was launched by them in 1996. It was the first time that affiliate marketing was available to the public. This was the key reason behind such popularity. It also boosted the sale of Amazon and made it one of the leading e-commerce brands.

The invention of cookies played a big role in the emergence of affiliate marketing. Back then before the invention of browser cookies, it was tough and almost impossible to track where the traffic was coming from. Cookies are some sort of file created by the browser to keep a record of the user’s internet surfing history. Generally, it is not very useful for the users but it helps third-party websites and brands to find their potential customers and track their activity on the internet.

Why be an affiliate marketer

After learning about affiliate marketing if you’re thinking about why you should start. Then you should read the following things carefully.

  • Passive Income: This is considered the main and best reason behind the popularity of affiliate marketing. Because all it takes is an initial amount of time and focus. After that, the affiliate marketer gets continuous profit. An affiliate marketer earns even while sleeping if someone buys something using his affiliate links.  It depends fully on proper marketing skills. Anyone can through their marketing skills while continuing their regular job.
  • Work from home: If someone has issues with their regular office jobs then this is a good career choice for them. An affiliate marketer can earn while at home. Thus he/she can spend more time with their families.
  • Performance-based earning: The main difference between regular jobs and affiliate marketing is the earning. In affiliate marketing, the earning is performance-based. This means the more you convince people the more you earn. On the other hand, in regular jobs, the earning is specific and limited.
  • Convenient: Since an affiliate publisher is a freelancer, he does not need to worry about office hours. He determines his hours. An affiliate marketer is also always free from company restrictions and regulations.
  • No customer support: When someone sells something as a commissioned seller he has to worry about the customer support. Because he sold that to the customer directly. But in the field of affiliate marketing, the marketer doesn’t have to worry about customer support as he is not the direct seller. So, when there is a problem with the product or the service the customer directly contacts the merchant leaving the affiliate marketer out of the scene. 

Why merchants use affiliate marketing

  • Startup friendly: One of the biggest problems a startup faces is a lack of manpower. Usually, startups can’t afford to hire skilled employees for every single post because of the lack of budget. Rather they hire freelancers because they are paid depending on their performances. Affiliate marketers work as their freelance marketing employees. Thus they save a good amount of money.
  • Tracking the customers: When a customer buys something using affiliate links the merchant can track them using browser cookies. This they can find out about the interest of their customers and use for future marketing strategies along with R&D purposes.
  • Targeted Traffic: If a brand sells groceries, advertising it to someone interested in fashion is both waste of money and resources. By working with affiliates related to their industries the brands save a healthy amount of money every year.

How to learn affiliate marketing

If you are interested in affiliate marketing and want to learn further then there are lots of content and courses available on the internet for you. Udemy, Commission Hero, Coursera has one of the best courses. Though many of them are paid courses, you can find lots of free courses also. 

YouTube is the best place for video courses. Even Google Garage has some very good courses available for everyone free of cost.

So, if you want to get started in affiliate marketing then start learning from these available resources, and work smart and hard. Because smartness is the key to success in the field of digital marketing.

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