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Affiliate marketing is a multi-billion-dollar industry that provides content creators with exciting career opportunities. It’s quickly becoming a typical strategy that E-Commerce brands use to promote their products or services. It is a great way to monetize your website traffic and generate extra revenue. Whatever your industry or niche, you can take advantage of this flexible source of income. One of the best ways to earn passive (or nearly passive) income online, even while you are sleeping, is through affiliate marketing, but if you don’t approach it correctly, it won’t work.
In this in-depth guide, we will outline how to start affiliate marketing, & what are the best ways to grow your affiliate marketing business so that you can take it to the next level.
Table of Contents
What is Affiliate Marketing?
The process by which an individual or an organization promotes products of other businesses and gets a commission on each sale they generate is known as Affiliate marketing. These individuals are often called affiliate marketers. They look for products they and their audience are interested in and promote them through their affiliate links. They get paid an affiliate commission on every sale that they generate.
In simple terms, Affiliate marketing is a method of marketing where Individual shares products or services of some other brands on their social networks like Facebook, YouTube or their website to earn a commission on the sale of that product.
If we talk about the history of Affiliate marketing, it came into the picture in the late 1990s as a new way for retailers to get traffic from other websites to promote their products. It got boosted In 1996 when Amazon set another milestone in Affiliate marketing by introducing the world’s first affiliate program, the Amazon Associate program. Because of this, website owners could earn a commission by referring customers to Amazon’s website.
Over time, affiliate marketing evolved quickly and became much more competitive. During this period, many new technologies, such as Affiliate tracking links, cookies and tactics, such as social media and other marketing channels to promote products, got associated with affiliate marketing. Today, it has become a multi-million-dollar industry used by many individuals and organizations to generate revenue and sales.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
In the affiliate marketing sales model, a business pays a third party to promote its products or services and get sales. Affiliate marketers are everyone you’ve heard on a podcast or seen promoting a product on social media. They are paid a commission from any sales they get because of their affiliate links shared for products or services to their audience. You must be wondering, what is this affiliate link? Let us know about it.
What is an Affiliate Link?
The affiliate link is a unique link which contains a code that enables businesses to track every customer you send on their platform. You will only receive a commission when a customer uses your affiliate link to make a purchase. An Ideal affiliate link consists of three components, and these are:
1. Seller’s website URL (Example: https://udyogmantra.in/)
2. Tracking Parameter (Example: ?r=)
3. Unique Affiliate ID (Example: 1962535)
And full affiliate link will look like this: https://udyogmantra.in.com/?r=1962535.
However, the basic functioning of an affiliate program is as follows:
- You promote a product of other brands on your blog, website, or social media. Let’s say, X
- Now someone clicks your unique affiliate link
- And purchases X
- The company or the affiliate network then records this transaction.
- Store X confirms the purchase.
- And you receive a commission
4 Pillers of Affiliate Marketing
The creators of the products or services are known as sellers or merchants. They are responsible for paying affiliate commissions on purchases. Anybody willing and able to pay for sales via affiliates can be a seller, whether individuals or significant businesses like Mamaearth, which produces skincare products.
Affiliates, often known as publishers, can be either individuals or companies. Affiliates are often content creators specialising in the same industry as the product they’re promoting. They promote products and services through social media posts, blogs, videos, and other content. For example, running a review blog of the seller’s products.
Affiliates can also use sponsored ads to drive traffic. Although there are usually restrictions on the keywords affiliates are allowed to use for the products they’re promoting. You should avoid using the products’ trade names or brands.
3. Affiliate Network
Many sellers partner with an affiliate network to manage their affiliate marketing campaigns. The network oversees third-party audits and regulates transactions between affiliates and sellers.
Top affiliate marketing networks include:
- CJ Affiliate
The individuals who do the transactions are the consumers or customers. They are the ones who make the product purchases or fill out the lead forms so that the affiliate can get paid the commission.
Types of Affiliate Marketing
In 2009 Pat Flynn posted an article in which he categorized affiliate marketing into three parts, Unattached, Related & Involved affiliate marketing. Let us understand the difference between them:
This is the segment of marketers who don’t have any connection to the product or service and has yet to test it themself; therefore, they cannot provide reviews and verdicts to their users. These marketers usually use a PPC model, promoting affiliate links through ads to get sales.
Note: This affiliate marketing type is for those looking to make money without adequately getting into the product.
This segment of marketers is interested in the niche or somehow connected to the product. The perfect example is when a Fashion influencer promotes fashion products without testing them. As a result, these types of marketers end up giving wrong suggestions to their users, Which will initially cause a lack of trust among their audience.
This is the best type of affiliate marketing, where the marketer performs hands-on tests and presents actual product or service reviews to their audience. It shows that the content has authority and trustworthiness. A perfect example of Involved affiliate marketing is shown below in the screenshot of an iPhone 14 Pro review Youtube video by famous tech reviewer Marques Brownlee.
As we can see in the second screenshot, Marquis shared his affiliate links for iPhone 14 pro after giving the full review.
Pros & Cons of Affiliate Marketing
|1. Billion-dollar Business
As many of you know, the affiliate marketing sector is worth billions of dollars and has been booming for the past few years. It primarily increases your chances of growth and success and is one of the key advantages of becoming an affiliate marketer.
|1. No Control over the Affiliate Program
An affiliate marketing program is not your business; you participate in it. In other words, you depend on a Retail Company and must abide by their rules. At first, it seems charming, but it loses its charm as time passes. You must wait for the client to adjust the new rate and put the changes into effect. It isn’t much you can do besides communicate.
|2. No Expertise is Required
To become an affiliate, you don’t necessarily need to be an expert in marketing. The great thing about affiliate marketing is that you can pick up tips as you go along by experimenting with different organic and paid campaigns. There are numerous ways to manage and run affiliate marketing programs as well. Leverage any prior marketing expertise and determine what works best and generates the most revenue.
|2. No Control Over Competition
The advantages of an affiliate program are high profitability, low cost, and ease of starting an affiliate business. Additionally, it implies that you have no influence over the competition and that anyone can introduce a new marketing strategy and capture market share. Professionally experienced affiliate marketers will provide you with tough competition in the market, which will influence your company’s growth.
|3. Minimal Investment
If you’ve ever wanted to start your own business, especially one that sells physical goods, you know how expensive it is. Sometimes, a lot of money. You’ll have a low-cost solution to start your business using affiliate marketing. As an affiliate marketer, you only need to consider how much time you spend on content creation and promotion.
|3. No Customer Base
Once customers use your affiliate link to visit the client’s website, it becomes a referral program. They would go straight to the store the next time without your link. It is impossible to create a database of repeat or loyal customers. You are responsible for bringing in new customers and building a strategy to retain them.
However, some SaaS affiliate marketing programs provide recurring licenses, meaning that if the consumer stays with the business, you’ll continue to receive the commission. These programs are limited.
|4. Passive Income
Affiliate marketing is a passive income option, as, through your content creation and promotion, you can earn money from it. Moreover, the transaction can occur even if you are not actively involved, which means your website would keep you making money even if you’re on a holiday or sleeping.
|4. Uncertainty of Income
Pay-per-performance has the potential to be both a huge opportunity and a considerable risk. Nobody guarantees that becoming an affiliate marketer will be simple or that you will start making money right now. Although it’s a challenge you should take on, and you must put all your effort into making the most of the chance, it is ultimately difficult to predict how much money you will earn from it.
With affiliate marketing, you have a good amount of flexibility to follow your interests while still generating income for your business. You sell the product without designing, creating, producing, storing, shipping, or servicing it. This implies that there are no defined times when you should work on developing or advertising the product. Just choose products that appeal to you and those you believe your audience and network will like, then create the affiliate content necessary to promote them.
|5. Quantity Approach
Since some marketers engage in spam marketing, affiliate marketing, to some extent, falls under that category. It’s important to note that using any of the shadow techniques will limit your opportunities for growth and harm your reputation. The affiliate program would also end the collaboration with you.
You can run various campaigns on various websites to promote the affiliate link. You can leave the others by focusing on the links that perform well. You can run numerous affiliate programs across various product categories as you are not limited to just one affiliate product. If one product is hard to sell, go on to the next one, which is simpler to promote and offers greater earnings.
|7. No Customer Support
You don’t have to worry about customer support for the products and services you sell as an affiliate marketer. Many affiliate marketers who want the freedom to start their businesses without worrying about how to deal with actual customers find this to be a huge relief. The main point we want to make is that you should only recommend high-quality products and services to your audience that you would genuinely use. They will stop trusting you if you promote inferior products to your audience to make easy money. Therefore, choose the affiliate products and services that you promote carefully.
|8. Sole Proprietorship
You often work as a freelancer and establish your business activity as an affiliate partner. And as the sole proprietor, you don’t share the earnings with anyone.
|9. Performance-Based Earnings
Affiliate marketing offers the great benefit of earning well based on your performance if you’re good at managing marketing campaigns and promoting products.
While affiliate marketing comes with all these benefits. It also has some drawbacks. Let’s discuss them as well.
How do you Get Paid in Affiliate Marketing?
Depending on the affiliate program’s terms, there are various payout models. The company typically pays out commissions monthly, although this can change based on the rules of the affiliate program. You can receive a weekly or monthly payout for all your generated leads or sales. When selecting an affiliate program to join, you should be mindful of the payout structure, which ultimately depends on your objectives.
The most used affiliate marketing model is pay-per-sale. Affiliates are compensated under this payment model for each sale they bring in.
Affiliates are paid for clicks generated under the pay-per-click affiliate marketing payment model, regardless of whether a sale was completed. This model is quite rare.
Affiliate marketers get paid for the leads they generate under the pay-per-lead model. Depending on your goals, the payout model will influence which product you select, how you plan to promote the product, and how much time and resources you want to invest.
How to Start Affiliate Marketing in India
Anyone can quickly start affiliate marketing by following these easy steps:
- Decide a Niche
- Choose Your Affiliate Channel
- Build an Audience
- Find an Appropriate Affiliate Program/Network
- Create Valuable Content
- Drive Clicks to Your Affiliate Links
- Monitor and Analyze Your Affiliate Campaigns
- Maximize Your Earnings
1. Decide a Niche
The first step to start Affiliate Marketer in India is to decide on a niche. A specific area that you would like to focus on. For example, if you like fashion and blog about trending items, you can become a fashion Affiliate Marketer. Take a look at this blog for “affordable handbags” by CashKaro.
Similarly, if you are interested in technology, you can decide to promote deals solely and offers on electronics.
Apart from your interest, there are a few other things that you need to keep in mind while deciding on a niche. They are-
- Choose a niche that you would like to research. As an Affiliate Marketer, you must constantly stay on top of trends. Hence, choosing an industry you want to know more about is always wise.
- It should solve the problem of the customers. Choosing a niche that would solve the customer’s core problem is essential for more sales.
Here is an amazing analysis from “influencermarketinghub.com“. They have shown the affiliate commission rates broken down based on niches/categories.
To begin with, we recommend you go through our blog, where we have listed some of the best niches to start with in affiliate marketing.
2. Choose Your Affiliate Channel
After deciding on your niche, you should pick at least one platform or channel for affiliate marketing. For affiliates who wish to create product reviews and comparisons to promote their selected affiliate products, blogging is likely the easiest and least expensive way to get started with affiliate marketing.
Another excellent Channel for affiliate marketing is YouTube. Additionally, creating a YouTube channel and uploading videos are both free. The disadvantage is that YouTube is saturated with content creators and videos, making it challenging to stand out. Moreover, creating and uploading a great video will take much longer than writing a simple blog post. If you want to talk to people on camera, you should consider YouTube. Additionally, if you already have a YouTube following, use it for effective affiliate marketing. You can check our in-depth guide for Youtube affiliate marketing, where we have covered each step with examples.
Another place with a lot of affiliate marketing activity is Instagram. It’s an active platform, and just like YouTube, it’s a great choice if you already have a following. To promote your affiliate products, you can create visually appealing images and videos, and like other platforms, you can even pay for ads if you want. Check out this Instagram page below that promotes Flipkart deals.
Some other channels to look out for Affiliate Marketing:
3. Build an Audience
You should first focus on building an audience before thinking of growing one. There are various successful tactics you can use to build an audience and promote more clicks on your affiliate links:
1. Paid Traffic
One option is to invest in paid traffic through pay-per-click (PPC) ads. While this approach can provide immediate traffic to your site, it’s essential to consider the potential drawbacks. Running ads can eat into your profits, especially in the beginning stages, and success may take time as you optimize your campaigns. Additionally, once you stop paying for ads, the traffic will cease. Paid traffic is most suitable for high-paying affiliate programs where the numbers can justify the investment.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) involves optimizing your content to rank higher in search engine results, particularly in Google. You can attract consistent and passive traffic over time by targeting relevant keywords, creating valuable content, and building authoritative links. SEO is a long-term strategy that requires understanding your target audience’s search intent, crafting relevant content, and ensuring search engines can easily crawl and index your pages.
3. Build an Email List
Developing an email list allows you to engage with your audience directly and promote your content and affiliate links. By offering something valuable, such as a free eBook or an email course, you can encourage readers to sign up. Once you have their email addresses, you can regularly communicate with them, share new content, and promote relevant affiliate products. Including affiliate links in your emails can generate additional clicks and sales.
Follow and tag influencers who might be interested in your niche if you primarily work on social media. Making every effort to boost traffic to your website or social media page is the key.
Avoid selling anything to your audience only to make a quick profit. They will trust you more if they feel your interest is genuine.
4. Find an Appropriate Affiliate Program/Network
Once you have identified your target audience and established a platform to publish your content, the next step is to find suitable affiliate marketing programs that align with your niche.
To begin, conduct research within your niche and explore brands that offer affiliate programs. Many companies have dedicated affiliate programs you can join directly through their websites. Look for terms like Affiliates, Partners, or Become an Affiliate on their websites.
When choosing an affiliate program, you’ll come across three main types:
1. High-paying, low-volume
These programs focus on niche products that may have a smaller customer base. However, they offer generous commission rates. For instance, HubSpot’s affiliate program pays well, with a 100% commission on the first month’s purchase and a 15% recurring commission afterwards. These programs can be lucrative if you target the right audience.
2. Low-paying, high-volume
These programs involve products with broad appeal and a large customer base. Amazon is a prime example, offering commissions of up to 10%. While the commission rate may be lower, the advantage is that you can earn a commission on the entire purchase, not just the recommended product. This can add up if your audience frequently makes multiple purchases.
3. High-paying, high-volume
These programs involve expensive products that attract a broad audience, such as credit cards. While the potential for high earnings exists, these programs often attract experienced marketers and may involve more competition. It’s important to note that some affiliates in this category may resort to unethical tactics. However, ethical marketing strategies can still yield success in promoting high-ticket items.
Some of the best affiliate programs that you can join in India are:
- Flipkart affiliate program
- Amazon affiliate program
- Myntra affiliate program
Alternatively, you can sign up for an affiliate network like udyogmantra. With udyogmantra, you can become an affiliate marketer for over 150 brands like Flipkart, Myntra, Ajio, Nykaa, etc. It also has fantastic affiliate marketing tools like udyogmantra magic tools which help you automate your link-sharing process.Some other top affiliate marketing platform include Amazon Associates, ShareASale, CJ, and ClickBank.
5. Create Valuable Content
To successfully convert your audience into buying customers, it’s crucial to prioritize building connections and engaging with them, ultimately earning their trust. This begins with creating valuable content that resonates with your audience.
High-quality content convinces your existing audience and enhances your site’s performance in search results. Achieving a higher ranking increases the likelihood of attracting organic traffic and reaching new visitors.
Whether you’re creating YouTube videos, blog posts, or newsletters, your goal should be to deliver original and informative content that addresses your audience’s queries or helps them solve specific issues.
To find inspiration for your content, conduct keyword research to understand your audience’s problems and pain points. By addressing these concerns through your content, you can establish yourself as a reliable source of information and build credibility with your audience.
6. Drive Clicks to Your Affiliate Links
Want to boost the number of clicks on your affiliate links and maximize your commission potential? Check out these powerful strategies:
1. Contextual Placement
Make your affiliate links feel like a natural part of your content. Blend them seamlessly into your text, videos, or other mediums. The key is to provide valuable information and recommendations that genuinely resonate with your audience, making them eager to click on those affiliate links.
2. Persuasive Call-to-Action
Spark curiosity and excitement with compelling call-to-action statements. Paint a vivid picture of the benefits and value your audience will gain by taking action. Words like “Discover More,” “Grab Yours Now,” or “Unleash the Magic” can create a sense of urgency and entice clicks.
3. Visual Enhancements
Catch your audience’s eye with captivating visuals. Use high-quality product images, custom graphics, or even engaging videos that showcase the products or services you’re promoting. People are more likely to click on visually appealing buttons or banners that indicate they lead to exciting affiliate offers.
7. Monitor and Analyze Your Affiliate Campaigns
Monitoring affiliate links is crucial for developing a successful revenue-generating strategy. It involves keeping tabs on the pages, links, and visual elements that attract the highest traffic and conversions.
While affiliate programs typically offer sales data through their dedicated dashboards, you can employ additional affiliate marketing tools to optimize your campaigns further.
These tools aid in monitoring your affiliate campaigns across various marketing channels and refining your affiliate strategies. Some notable examples include Post Affiliate Pro, LinkTrack, and Voluum.
Alternatively, free tools like Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager can also be utilized to track affiliate links effectively.
8. Maximize Your Earnings
While the previous steps provide a solid foundation for launching your affiliate marketing career, they don’t guarantee immediate affiliate revenue. To increase your affiliate income, you must continually optimize your marketing efforts.
A good starting point is to run tests on your content. Identify posts that receive high traffic but have low RPM (revenue per thousand impressions). Then, make adjustments to various elements to determine what drives more conversions and increases your affiliate income:
1. Test your headlines
Create two headlines for the same content and split your traffic into two groups. Serve each group with a different headline and evaluate their effectiveness.
2. Experiment with images
Conduct a similar test with two different, high-quality images of the same product. Analyze the results and feature the image that generates more conversions.
3. Include comparison tables
Consider adding a table displaying product features and prices for product comparisons or reviews.
4. Optimize your CTAs
Make your calls to action as brief and personalised as possible. To generate a sense of urgency, use time-related terms like “Shop Now,” “Limited,” and “Last Chance” and match them with a countdown timer.
5. Implement exit intent pop-ups
These pop-ups serve as a last attempt to persuade visitors to leave the site.
Continuously refining and optimizing your marketing strategies will help increase your chances of generating affiliate revenue.
How Much can you Earn Through Affiliate Marketing?
Most affiliate networks typically pay between 5% – 15% of each sale successfully converted from a lead of a given affiliate link. However, many sellers offer smaller commissions, particularly in product categories where demand is high. Most sales may result in a one-time payment, but some referrals may generate recurring payments depending on the products or services sold. Most regularly subscription-based products and services involve recurrent costs.
Here are some statistics on affiliate marketers’ typical incomes. Potential earnings are significantly higher, according to affiliate marketing income statistics from Glassdoor. Affiliate marketers make an average of ₹1,99,365 a year, with earnings ranging from ₹1,80,000 at the low end to ₹3,32,759 at the high end.
What is affiliate marketing FAQ’s
What Is Affiliate Marketing? Affiliate marketing is an advertising model in which a company compensates third-party publishers to generate traffic or leads to the company’s products and services. The third-party publishers are affiliates, and the commission fee incentivizes them to find ways to promote the company.
Affiliate marketing is when you sell somebody else’s product online for a commission. For example, an entrepreneur or an established company may have a product or a catalog of products, either digital or physical. They let others promote and sell those products, paying them a commission every time they sell something.
Prashant Singh is Founder and Lead Author of UDYOG MANTRA , having MBA post graduate degree. We provide business growth consultant, business expantion, providing information about distributorship, dealership, franchise through udyogmantra.in