The term “affiliate marketing” came about when people started selling things online. These days, you’ll hear it everywhere. It’s the most common model of selling things on the Internet. In spite of this, many people are still confused as to how it works. Which is understandable because there are a lot of factors and components, often depending on industry and product.
The simple explanation of affiliate marketing however is…
Promoting a product or service and receiving commission through it.
Even if you’re not planning on starting your own business, anyone working in the digital marketing realm should at least have a basic understand of affiliate marketing and what it is.
The Basics of Affiliate Marketing
When I was freelancing, I had a vague idea of what affiliate marketing was. When I started working for a company, I learned a good bit more. We promoted online dating sites – through affiliate marketing.
Essentially, the process ran like this:
- You got a product you wanted to sell. For example, say you wanted to promote Match.com.
- You then receive a special, tailored link to that product (called a “tracking link”).
- You promote that link and persuade others to click on it and buy the service (in this case, a subscription to the dating site).
- You then receive a commission.
That’s essentially all affiliate marketing is – at it’s most basic level.
Now of course, it’s much more complicated than that. But if you’ve never heard of it and want a basic understanding, that’s pretty much the crux of it.
Wait… There’s more!?
Of course! In the olden days, it was quite easy to just send the tracking link to someone who might be interested in your product. Since the internet has gotten a lot more sophisticated, we have to be a lot cleverer in how we promote our links. Some people put them on website and then do content marketing to drive traffic. Others use Adwords, others used paid advertising.
Promoting tracking links through organic search (SEO), for example, is playing the long game. You’re not going to make money straight away. In fact, you’ve got to build up your site. Build up your authority on Google. That takes time.
On the other hand, you could make money doing paid advertising campaigns. That’s a lot faster and is sometimes known as digital media buying… which of course requires a lot of skill and a good eye for numbers.
Don’t forget about affiliate networks!
Anyone can start off in affiliate marketing. The easiest way to do this is sign up to an affiliate network like Commission Junction and then peruse their products, seeing which one you would like to promote. It’s also possible to get affiliate links and deals straight from the source. However, that’s often where negotiations come into play.