What is affiliate marketing?

DSM Digital School of Marketing - affiliate marketing

The term ‘affiliate marketing’ refers to a popular tactic which is employed to drive sales as well as generate noteworthy online revenue. Very beneficial to both brands as well as affiliate marketers, the new push to less traditional marketing tactics has paid substantial dividends. In actual fact, 81% of brands as well as 84% of publishers have said that they leverage the power of affiliate marketing, which is a statistic that will continue to increase as affiliate marketing spending increases every year.

So what really is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is the method of making a commission through the process of promoting other people’s (or company’s) products. In other words, you find a product which you like, you promote it to others and then you earn a piece of the profit for each sale which you make.

The idea behind affiliate marketing is that you promote other people’s products, often by means of an affiliate network, and then you earn a commission if people actually end up buying as a result of your marketing.

The concept is based on revenue sharing. If you have a product and would like to sell more, it is possible to offer promoters a financial incentive by using an affiliate programme. If you have no product and would like  to make money, then you can promote a product which you feel has value and, in addition, earn an income from this activity as an affiliate marketer.

How does affiliate marketing work?

As affiliate marketing functions by diffusing the responsibilities of product marketing as well as creation across parties, it manages to leverage off the abilities of a number of individuals for a more effective marketing strategy while offering contributors a share of the profit. To make this work, there are three different parties who must be involved:

  1. Seller as well as product creators,
  2. The affiliate or advertiser, as well as
  3. The consumer.


  1. Seller in addition to product creators

The seller – whether or not they are a solo entrepreneur or large enterprise – is a vendor, merchant, product creator or retailer which has a product to market. The product may be a physical object, such as household goods, or a service, such as makeup tutorials. It is not necessary that the seller is actively involved in the marketing however they may also be the advertiser as well as profit from the revenue-sharing which is associated with affiliate marketing.

  1. The affiliate or publisher

 Also known as a publisher, the affiliate may be an individual or a company which markets the seller’s product in an interesting way to potential consumers. In other words, the affiliate is responsible for promoting the product in order to persuade consumers that it is valuable or useful to them as well as to convince them to buy the product. If the consumer does ultimately buy the product, the affiliate receives a portion of the revenue made, as we’ve discussed previously.

Affiliates usually have a very particular audience to whom they market and generally adhere to that audience’s interests. This modus operandi creates a defined niche or personal brand which assist the affiliate to attract consumers who would be most likely to act on the promotion.

  1. The consumer

If the consumer knows it or not, they (as well as their purchases) are the drivers of affiliate marketing. Affiliates show these products to them on social media, blogs in addition to websites.

When consumers purchase the product, the seller as well as the affiliate divide the profits. At times, the affiliate will elect to be upfront with the consumer by sharing that they are receiving commission for the sales which they make. At other times the consumer may be completely oblivious to the affiliate marketing infrastructure behind what they buy.

The affiliate’s take of the profit is encompassed in the retail price. The consumer will conclude the purchase process and will then receive the product as normal. They are unaffected by the affiliate marketing system in which they are a significant part.

Get in touch with the Digital School of Marketing

Want to learn other marketing tactics that you can use to make your business fly? If you do then you should definitely study our SETA-accredited National Certificate of Advertising and Digital Marketing. Follow this link for more information.

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