Affiliate marketing became particularly popular thanks to the advent of advertising on social networks. When we see an Instagram story marked with AFF or directly affiliate, we are seeing a sponsored article through affiliation.

The mechanism is very effective for the promotion of goods and services and, despite being a sector that in the last 2 years has experienced a rapid expansion, it is still relatively little used by SMEs.

In this article, we try to learn more about the mechanisms behind affiliation, how to start working and above all earn, and finally, which are the best affiliate programs to sign up for.

What is affiliate marketing?

If we go back to the Wikipedia definition, with this expression we mean a commercial agreement between two parties: on the one hand we have an advertiser, and on the other an  affiliate who has one or more communication channels useful for promoting the product.

By communication channel, we mean any type of channel: from a website, to a blog, to a page on social networks. In short, all of those which can act as a sounding board for a specific good or service.

We are therefore faced with a sort of alliance between the brand and the promoter platform: the aim we intend to achieve is not just about an increase in visibility, but above all it concerns an increase in direct sales, that is, those that the affiliate seller is able to obtain from their community.

So let's see how to structure an affiliate marketing strategy by observing the players in the field.

The protagonists of an affiliate marketing campaign

Actually, we already have observed two. We will have to analyze a third one:

  • first, we have the advertiser or retailer

This is the brand that needs to expand its audience. Usually it is an ecommerce that needs an  increase in lead generation and increase sales.

  • secondly, we have the promoter (affiliate or publisher)

This is the company that will promote the products or services of the advertiser company on its behalf. This could be a website, a blog, but also an influencer or a YouTube channel. The advantage for the promoter is represented by a sales commission which is generally not too high. We are talking about a percentage ranging from 5 to 15 percent, although it normally stands at 6/7 percent.

  • the third player in the field is the platform

A platform favors the meeting between the sponsorship requests of the products and the demand of potential publishers. Within these platforms, therefore, what is formed; in jargon this is defined as "affiliate network".

Within this platform we will follow some steps. The brand accepts the advertiser and ad hoc content will be agreed to promote the products or services.

The sales following the sponsorship will be marked with a code that will allow to keep track of the amount of turnover, but also of clicks and simple views.

It will be then the task of the platform to manage all payments and provide the reports.

The importance of the target in an affiliate strategy

There are several steps you need to follow to make such a strategy successful.

The first thing to do, for is undoubtedly that of starting from the market niche you want to aim for. More the niche will be well identified and restricted, the better. You might think this is nonsense but, in reality, expanding your target too much means not being able to target anyone.

At present, and we refer to those who want to start an online business based on affiliation, not all niches are suitable for this type of business. You need to find a niche that is profitable, where there is a large number of people who are potentially interested in making a purchase.

One way to understand it is to check the search volumes of keywords related to the business. If they are too low, perhaps it is not the right niche to start from.

The 5 benefits of affiliate marketing (for the advertiser)

This marketing tool certainly constitutes a great advantage on both sides.

For an advertiser, in particular, the advantages are multiple:

  • increase in sales;
  • increase traffic to your website;
  • the payment of commissions only based on the number of sales actually completed;
  • the possibility to access a larger public (lead and customer acquisition advantage);
  • increase of brand reputation thanks to the work of the affiliates.

On the other hand, however, they can also have unpleasant advantages if you fail to build a targeted strategy.

What are the best affiliate programs?

As mentioned, the affiliation market is constantly growing. Do you want some numbers?

  • Amazon currently counts more; of 900 thousand associates;
  • ShareASale currently has about 700 thousand associates.

So let's try to understand which are the best programs not only in terms of usability of platforms, but also in terms of earnings.

Here are the main platforms:

  • Amazon: those who start usually start here, for earnings that are close to 10 percent;
  • Ebay: the offer is higher but the percentages are a little more low and are around 5 percent;
  • Fiverr: the platform for freelancers and professionals who make their skills available at a competitive rate;
  • Udemy: the platform of online courses, definitely interesting for those who intend to sell courses created by others. The commissions are also tempting, because they are around 30 percent.

In the travel and tourism sector, we then have:

  • Booking: you receive a percentage of the commission retained by Booking on travel sales;
  • Expedia: guarantees a small percentage of the sales of services achieved through its platform. Each service will have a different commission.

Among the fashion giants we have above all:

  • Zalando: the portal for the sale of clothing offers commissions that generally reach 8 percent.

Leggi anche: Funnel: what is it and how to insert it into a marketing plan

How much money you can make with affiliate marketing?

Stop and think for a moment about the most famous influencers in the world of fashion.

In addition to the percentages we have talked about regarding affiliate platforms, it is interesting to note that one of the emerging professions is that of the affiliate marketing manager.

It is a figure who combines soft skills, knowledge of the world of digital marketing and influencer marketing. Going forward in time, it will be more and more likely to be a figure formed in the context of data reading, the main foundation on which every strategy is based.

Currently it is rather complex to become Freelance Manager, in fact usually it is a figure inserted in the staff of a company. On average, however, earnings stand at attractive figures. From the initial 40 thousand euros, you can in fact reach around 80 thousand euros in the height of the career.