You want to be affluent and financially free, but you can save only enough at the end of each month. Affiliate marketing platforms can help you through! Working hard for months, yet end up making only a little money.
Asking yourself a faint ‘Why?’ and that is when you realize you need a source of passive income. Yes, that is right, a kind of income you can achieve even when you are asleep!
This article will discuss Affiliate Marketing, what it is, how it is done, and where it is done. We will also be exploring the top Affiliate marketing platforms of 2021. Now, what does affiliate marketing mean?
RELATED: 20 AFFILIATE MARKETING TOOLS YOU NEED TO KNOW
If you do a little Google search, you will find out that the term ‘Affiliate’ means to connect a group of people to an organization, whereas ‘Marketing’ refers to advertising aftermarket research to sell a product or service. Though this explanation briefly introduces you to Affiliate Marketing, there’s more to it which we will be discussing below.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
If you are one of the merchants, then, affiliate marketing is the process of generating your company’s website traffic, which will result in more potential customers and brand recognition. As one of the merchants (business owners), you might face difficulties reaching out to the right set of people who you think are interesting in your product, I.e., your target audience.
You are, therefore, unable to have too many sales or increased business revenue. This is when you have to think from a customer’s point of view. Is this product trustworthy? Do I need it? General comments made in your advertising posters will not answer those questions. Your customers need a source they can rely on. And that is when affiliates come into play.
Yes, affiliates are the people who influence your customers; they are someone your consumer’s trust. How does that help? Well, suppose your customers regularly read a blog or social media posts set out by this specific affiliate.
Therefore, if you ask this person to put out links to your website in their posts, their viewers, who are your potential customers, might click it to reach your website and perhaps make a purchase! If you are interested in becoming an affiliate, then, being an affiliate, you are the middleman that brings customers to the business website.
That being said, you must have sufficient popularity on your platform so that you can promote the merchants’ product as much as possible. Whether it be on social media or your blog, you must create engaging content related to the niche the company’s products are based on.
Why should you get into affiliate marketing platforms?
If you are one of the merchants, businessman, or an entrepreneur, check out the following on why you should consider affiliate marketing:
You don’t need to worry about gaining customer’s trust.
Affiliates are well trusted and follow by your consumers, so you don’t have to think about gathering this audience all by yourself. This affiliate works on a niche that is related to your products, so they can help you highlight some of the benefits your product has.
Of course, you have to think of your customer’s needs and wants to have a successful business, but the affiliates will help you do that quicker and easier. They will give your product a great introduction, which is vital since first impressions matter!
New products can be released conveniently.
New products are products that do not have prior experience in the market. Consequently, customers will be reluctant to buy these as they don’t know what exactly could happen. Nonetheless, if a popular affiliate comments a positive yet powerful statement regarding the product, the people following them will gain some trust in the product, even if it is entirely new.
Wider Audience for affiliate marketing.
Marketing with simple flyers and posters will only gain you a couple of hundred viewers. However, with affiliate marketing, you get customers both locally and internationally.
If you sell digital products, this is an outstanding advantage because digital products such as games, mobile subscriptions all these, can be delivered worldwide.
If you do not sell digital products or can’t deliver them internationally, affiliate marketing is still okay as it will let people know about you, and possibly that will be helpful for the future when you plan to open a branch elsewhere.
Increase in brand credibility and sales.
Your chosen affiliate is both genuine and well-known for the niche your products are based on. As a result, your customers are likely to purchase since they are sure that the product they will get is credible enough. With affiliate marketing, you can be sure to see your sales increase drastically as well!
Heavy Website traffic.
Having a great website with no viewers is something you don’t want. Therefore if you wish to increase the number of views, you should consider affiliate marketing. This will bring your website customers who are interesting in your product.
Also, as your website now will have many backlinks, it will rank higher in SEO (search engine optimization), meaning there’s a chance Google will show your website on the first page when someone types a thing related to your product in the Google search tab.
You only pay if someone buys your products.
Though there are some exceptions to this rule, which will be discussed later, this remains one of the most significant advantages of affiliate marketing. The pay-per-sale method is described as such that the affiliate gets only 5% of the sold product from the company. So for every $20 worth of product purchased, you give the affiliate only $1. Besides that, all the website traffic that you get is entirely free!
You get to use someone’s power of influence.
When it comes to affiliate marketing, most of it depends on the recognition and credibility of your affiliate. It is difficult to get much attention as a startup business, so why not let someone help you with their credibility and popularity?
Tangible and intangible products (digital) can be sold.
Nowadays, not all products are tangible (physical). Yes, digital products like online screen recorders, consultancy firms, etc., all of these can be market through affiliate marketing platforms. Intangible or digital products benefit from affiliate marketing since consumers can purchase them then and then.
Not sure what digital products are? Well, digital products are substances that you cannot physically hold with your hands, smell, or even taste! These digital products are primarily sold online.
Digital products range from various mobile apps such as daily planners or schedulers. These are great ways to start a business. Where tangible products require extensive inventories and storehouses, digital products only need some of your computer space. Digital products also show their efficiency in being successful products as they don’t have any manufacturing material costs!
What does it take to be an affiliate?
If you are interested in becoming an affiliate, checking out the following points:
You only need a computer and an internet connection for affiliate marketing platforms
Yes, it is that simple, just a device and a network that will allow you to create content relating to the product. An internet connection will enable you to sign up for several affiliate marketing platforms and affiliate networks.
No need to have product ideas or validation
Since the merchants will be doing most of the product design and development work, you don’t have to worry about anything related to that. All you got to do is a bit of research on that product you choose from an affiliate network so that you can be sure to persuade your readers to purchase it.
If some merchants ask you to highlight product benefits as they think you are familiar with niches resembling their products. You can help them by doing that. Remember, happy merchants mean high commission rates!
No need to worry about delivering products
All aspects related to the distribution of the product stays none of your concern as the merchants is solely responsible for this. The merchants need to make sure they can deliver products to places locally or at least where their viewers are from. Ordering is not an issue here since the merchants will have an online ordering system.
Passive income and a self-sustainable business for affiliate marketing
Since you don’t need to work for a specific period, you don’t need to be actively involved in affiliate marketing like a 9/5 job. Therefore, you are left with a lot of time for other works. Additionally, your earning potential increases significantly.
Though you need a certain number of followers or subscribers to have a successful affiliate marketing journey, doing such can also generate followers. How? Specific promo codes and discounts will be available only for followers, so people interested in purchasing will follow you to get those offers.
Earning Commission with affiliate marketing platforms
Earn commission every time someone clicks or views your affiliate link. Again, there are exceptions to this rule, but you will earn high commission rates if your chosen product or niche is excellent.
Now that you know about Affiliate marketing, let us quickly go through some terms that we will use later on:
- An Affiliate program: The strategy or plan manufactured by merchants to promote products and services.
- The Affiliate Commission: Amount paid for creating website traffic or purchase.
- Affiliate Agreement: All terms and conditions, including commission rates with timelines that both merchants and affiliates agree.
- Affiliate Link: A link that contains ID and username. Its activities can be tracked and recorded; for example, if someone clicks on it, a cookie is generated, which the merchant will later review. These links are what affiliates use in their blog posts, YouTube Channel videos, or social media posts to promote the product.
- Affiliate Network: The virtual/online affiliate marketing platforms that connect affiliates with merchants (business owners or entrepreneurs).
What is an Affiliate Network?
Affiliate networks bridge merchants and affiliates where the merchants’ input products need affiliate marketing. In these online affiliate marketing platforms, both merchants and affiliates have to create accounts that are followed by an identity verification process.
The primary purpose of these affiliate networks is to simplify affiliate marketing and make it easy for both affiliates and merchants to track activities related to sales and commission. They have separate dashboards in these affiliate marketing platforms, and each can monitor their performance using various reporting tools.
When merchants insert a product that needs marketing in these affiliate networks, they can use interactive options like adding promotional texts or creative descriptions. The affiliates can then apply through this affiliate network to get an affiliate link to carry on with the promotions in their platforms, i.e., their blog or social media.
Why need an affiliate network?
If you are one of the merchants, read the following to know why you need to create an account in an affiliate network:
No manual recording involved
When it comes to manual work, there are many chances of errors occurring. As a consequence, either you will end up paying more money than what you really should have to the affiliate or lose good affiliates for paying less in an untimely fashion. Therefore, these affiliate networks help you do that with fast and efficient technology, so there is no room for error!
Focus on performance
With advanced monitoring tools provided by the affiliate networks, you get to know which affiliate is the most useful. Knowing such will allow you to invest in affiliates that show promise. Affiliate networks can also analyze your mistakes for better performance in the future.
Getting a companion from private sources might be unreliable and result in the rupture of your brand image. Nonetheless, this isn’t possible through affiliate networks since all users need to be verified.
Again, you only pay when you are sure someone has purchased from you. Although these affiliate networks will charge you for their services, this is still worth it than spending all you got in creating traceable links for fake or unequipped affiliates.
Many affiliates to choose from
Since an affiliate network consists of hundreds of affiliates, you can select whoever has the best profile according to your judgment. Make sure to look for their previous experience and client reviews to have a better insight. If you are an affiliate, why should you be part of such an affiliate network:
Verified and trusted merchants for affiliate marketing
Verification is essential that HAS to be done when starting affiliate marketing. These affiliate networks or better known as affiliate marketing platforms, ensure that whoever your merchants are, they are reliable and not fake sellers.
Wide range of products to choose from
Countless products need your help in marketing. This reduces your chance of running out of products to write articles or create social media posts about. Nevertheless, make sure to choose something you can relate to since you might have connected to that for long periods.
Do a little research on affiliate marketing platforms and affiliate networks to better understand which niches are good and which aren’t. Additionally, make sure to choose a popular niche so that your affiliate commission can go high up!
There is no chance of hiding or faking information in an affiliate network since the affiliate network admin can monitor everything.
You can always report any activity that looks fishy to the admins of the affiliate marketing platforms. Furthermore, make sure to have all critical discussions and read everything written in the Affiliate Agreement.
Nothing is more painful than not receiving the commission you were promised. If you contact a company through personal means, there is a chance fraudulent websites will scam you.
Even professional companies don’t choose affiliates in such a way, I.e., through personal contact. As a result, you should always consider one affiliate network among those hundreds of affiliate marketing platforms.
Failure isn’t inevitable. If you fail to generate any income with your first few merchants, it is okay. However, you must look into your progress analysis which is super simple with these affiliate networks. If you have an outstanding performance, you are likely to get offers and incentives from the merchants due to your hard work.
With such significant advantages comes to a few disadvantages as well. You might not get excellent Commission rates at the beginning. Creating an account might cost you some bucks as well.
In some cases, you need to show that you can generate a specific amount of traffic to get verified. Nonetheless, it is highly recommended to use an affiliate network for your affiliate program.
Steps of Affiliate marketing
Below, you can find the summary of the steps:
Product Design and development
This is the first stage of any business where the merchants do thorough market research, figure out the product’s demand, and identify their competitors. At the end of this stage, a product that is well researched and developed is created and launched.
Affiliate Program introduced
Starting from developing marketing objectives to ensuring affiliate commission and goals, merchants in this stage create an account in an affiliate network and posts their affiliate program. The merchants then have to root out relevant affiliates and invite them to participate in this affiliate program.
If you are one of the merchants, make sure to read your chosen affiliate’s profiles thoroughly before selecting. It is crucial to see if the niche they are working towards matches your product.
Of course, you can always contact them through the affiliate network to get more information. If you are an affiliate, you can search for merchants and send emails if you have queries. However, it is preferred that every communication happens within the affiliate network.
In this stage, all selected affiliates are given a unique link that contains an ID and username. These links are traceable, so whenever someone clicks it and visits the merchants’ site, a cookie is generated and stored in the potential customer’s browsing history for a limited time.
This results in website traffic, and the link notes it down so that the affiliate can be awarded for this action. If a conversion happens through this link, that is also recorded.
Associated Affiliate is Awarded
When merchants look into the records and the conversion actions, they can find out each affiliate’s performance and grant a commission to those affiliates as per the Affiliate Agreement. More affiliate programs can be held with these affiliates if the merchants are satisfied with their performance.
Things to consider when selecting an Affiliate network
Knowing that an affiliate network is all you need to get started, it can be challenging to choose among so many different options. Therefore, consider the following before selecting:
Commission rates and other fees for affiliate marketing platforms
Some affiliate marketing platforms require you to deposit an amount before verification when you open an account. This is merely to ensure that fraudulent sellers or affiliates get in, and in most cases, this fee is refundable once the affiliate network is sure of your identity.
Affiliate networks require a payment to use their tools and services, so include them in your total budget. It is essential to keep commission rates to a certain level in some of these affiliate networks.
If you are an affiliate, you can calculate a rough estimate on how much you can earn through this. If you are one of the many merchants, you should take care of this so that your affiliate doesn’t ask for too much money.
Business model options
There are four primary business model options for you to choose from. Your network might provide all, but it is worth it to understand them clearly beforehand: Cost-Per-Click (CPC): Whenever a viewer clicks the affiliate link, the affiliate earns a commission.
This is useful for affiliates since they make something even if no one purchases the product. Of course, the commission rates might be low, but this is still worth it if you think your chosen product is not very likely to be sold.
Cost-Per-Action (CPA): This is the most effective and reasonable choice since each commission is based on a particular activity. Not all products are tangible (physical).
Some require app installs or subscriptions and various other actions. The merchants discuss with you what measures are needed and how much each can pay you. Cost-Per-Mile (CPM): A mile refers to 1000 ad views.
As a result, you earn a commission whenever the affiliate link view rises to 1000. Here, the catch is that you might not get anything if your view count remains under 1000, but then again, there’s a chance to earn high values if you have enough views.
Nonetheless, you don’t have to worry about customers buying the products. Pay-Per-Sale (PPS): This is the most convenient method for merchants since they only pay for a sale. As a result, merchants have no risk of losing money since they pay the commission to affiliates only after receiving money from the customer.
Product selection range
Always choose popular niches so that you can get many products to market for. Some networks are solely based on one slot, whereas others can provide many. As a result, make sure to choose a network that welcomes your product!
Approval requirements for affiliate marketing platforms
The verification process for some affiliate networks can be a little complicated. Some will require you to give the most important documents, while some just need verification through email. If you are one of the serious merchants or affiliates, it is best to choose the strict one since that will ensure you that there will be no fraud or scam.
However, if you’re just starting and think you still need more documents for a better portfolio or profile, you can choose the easy ones. Keep in mind that just because they are asking for email verification doesn’t mean they don’t have other screening options to separate scams and all that.
When the affiliate network provides you an affiliate link, they ensure cookies are generated in your customer’s device for the merchants to look at. The longer the cookie duration, the more website traffic is generated.
Seemingly, choose marketing networks that provide long cookie durations for a high commission rate. It is beneficial to both merchants and the affiliates since the longer the cookie stays, the chances of the customer purchasing also increase.
Advanced Tools for affiliate marketing platforms
Tracking is highly significant in affiliate marketing. Of course, as an affiliate, you don’t want merchants to not notice the traffic you bring to their websites. Therefore, to look into such performance, these tools are required. While affiliates can monitor which product reviews gave them the most commission, merchants can view which affiliate presented the most sales.
Communication for affiliate marketing platforms
Your chosen affiliate network should have a proper communication method, such as a chat system, to reach out to the affiliate 24/7. The network should also be able to help you out should you need their assistance.
Reviews in Popular sites such as Quora or LinkedIn
If the network is well known, they will most likely have great reviews on infamous media platforms. You should check them but avoid too positive or too negative ones since they are not very reliable.
Several affiliate network directories rank each of these networks based on specific criteria. Do some research on that and note down things that are worth mentioning. Your chosen network should be available through multiple searches in search engines as well.
How to choose a topic as an affiliate?
Though it is suggested that you have prior experience and website trafficking, there is always a first time. So before choosing a niche, ask yourself the following questions:
Do you like and understand the topic?
Before all these networks and marketing, you have to choose a niche (area of expertise) to work on. This can be medicine, technology, or relationships. If you select technology, you would have to work on products like cameras, mobile phones, and what not?
However, before making this choice, make sure you understand all of its concepts and are familiar with them. Remember, you cannot frequently change niches since this will lower your profile status in front of the merchants.
Are you able to write and create interactive content on that niche?
Only liking and understanding the concepts of the specific niche isn’t enough. You have to ensure the merchants that you can give them content that their target audience will like. If you are unable to do so, affiliate marketing will get pretty hard to continue!
Do you already have a website or media where people who follow you show interest in your posts?
If you look carefully, you can see that affiliate marketing is based on influencing people. Nonetheless, it is alright if you already don’t have an influential impact on people, but you should create one before starting affiliate marketing.
Is the niche famous?
Your selected place must be prominent if you were to generate good income by affiliate marketing. Writing about something that no one is interested in is a futile attempt to be successful.
As a consequence, do extensive research on popular topics and trends before choosing a niche. Find products that readers are likely to purchase or actions they might do, such as installing free game apps.
What will you do for affiliate marketing?
From product reviews to writing blog posts or making YouTube videos, you can do it all for affiliate marketing. Your main aim should be to focus solely on one niche and one activity at once because starting numerous new ones will make it difficult for you to maintain. Therefore, it is highly recommended to plan things and have continuous goals.
Best Affiliate networks 2021
Now that you know almost everything about affiliate marketing, here comes the best affiliate networks of 2021. The top 15 in the list are:
Amazon Associates is a well-known, top-ranked affiliate network. It is both free and easy to sign-up for, and countless product categories can be found.
You can be sure that Amazon Associates will welcome your product. Amazon supports CPC, and commission rates can go as high as 12%. On the downside, however, the cookies only last for 24 hours, and a commission cannot be grant through PayPal.
Amazon Associates is one of the leading affiliate marketing platforms and processes thousands of products that need marketing. Amazon helps affiliates, bloggers, and publishers earn incentives for the products they market, but Amazon also helps merchants gain sales and revenue.
As a massive network, Amazon Associates knows how to give their users complete lucrativeness and ease of work. The real reason behind their success is their well-trained team, who are dedicated to Amazon users by every inch.
Previously known as Affiliate Window, it is one of the best affiliate marketing platforms for newbies. Hence, you have nothing to worry about if you are new to affiliate marketing because their friendly service will surely help you.
Additionally, the Awin affiliate network supports multiple currencies, and they, too, like Amazon Associates, have a great variety of product types, with the most popular being fashion, technology, and travel. Reporting tools are available as well as a 5% commission to affiliates.
Nonetheless, Awin requires you to deposit £5 while registering though this is refundable if you’re not fake. It doesn’t have a FAQ page, so users have to contact via emails to send queries.
With almost 40 categories of products to select from, ShareASale is proactive and friendly for its users. Payment methods are also flexible though payment thresholds can be slightly expensive. Furthermore, affiliates aren’t very well-inform if their chosen product closes or if the merchants decide to stop the affiliate program.
This affiliate network follows CPA payment methods and monetizing website traffic, so this is undoubtedly an excellent choice for affiliates who have many viewers. Their customer service needs mentioning, and their monetization tools are incredibly efficient to produce daily reports.
Commission rates vary in these affiliate marketing platforms though they are somewhat higher than most other affiliate marketing platforms that are not on this list. Nevertheless, verification is pretty strict here, and sometimes, you might have to pay extra fees once in a while.
This affiliate network, too, follows the CPA method and provides high-converting offers. Having a dedicated customer support team with a friendly manager, MaxBounty is equipped with the required campaign tracking tools that are simple and intuitive to use.
The commission earned by the affiliates can pay in a flexible manner making this one of the most popular affiliate marketing platforms of all time. Over to the drawbacks, their pricing rates can go high, and their registration process requires lots of documents, so it is not suitable for novices.
These affiliate marketing platforms have been getting reputed merchants ever since they were established for efficient marketing models that include, but are not limited to, CPS, CPL, CPA, and cookie-less tracking. Customer support is available 24/7, and it encourages affiliates to promote more than one product at one go.
If you do some research, you can find the top affiliate marketers in this affiliate network. They even have cross-device tracking mobile support.
Their lack of digital payment options is a big drawback since a commission can no longer be granted quickly. Alongside, they even ask you to have a big European audience which cuts out many affiliates.
Found in 1998, Commission Junction remains one of the oldest yet largest affiliate networks to date. Established merchants are welcomed here, and so are new merchants since their sign-up process is free and quick.
Is it reliable? Yes, indeed, their payment methods are something you have to trust. Tracking tools are available here, but they lack modern payment modes and don’t have a ‘terms and condition’s page. Even worse, you will be checked before every affiliate program you wish to join!
Rakuten Affiliate Network
Being one of the top-rated affiliate networks of all time, Rakuten Affiliate Network is simple affiliate software that has a wide range of products and affiliate programs with a free and easy sign-up process and a user-friendly interface.
Advanced campaign trackers are available, including custom ad generators. They, however, lack PayPal support, and payment schedules are poor. Applying to affiliate programs is also an issue here.
This affiliate network is reliable, user-friendly, and efficient at the same time. Countless affiliate programs are available from reputed brands and companies. The referral program for publishers is also an added advantage for newcomers.
Their payments schedule accordingly, and every affiliate is given equal attention. Their organized ticketing system is something they are proud of! Nonetheless, with great benefits comes to some disadvantages, and this case is no different. They charge advertisers a lot and make affiliates tell them everything about how they sourced the website traffic!
Last on the list of the best affiliate networks is ClickBank. Not only do they promote digital products, but they also have a thing for numerous niches. As an affiliate, you can expect to gain high commission rates, and their excellent knowledge base makes tracking campaigns fruitful.
They, too, schedule payments nicely. On the other hand, their user interface is not up to date, and you can find many low-quality products here.
Top Affiliate Programs in Africa
If you live in Africa and plan to join some of the biggest affiliate websites, we can help you find affiliate programs. To begin with, let’s explore some legitimate affiliate programs that are based in Africa:
The largest affiliate program ever introduced by Amazon is still open to many affiliates worldwide, including in Africa. Here, Amazon asks you you market all available Amazon products by giving you an affiliate link.
Why join the Amazon Affiliate Program? Because it’s free! You don’t need to pay a single dime to join this fantastic Amazon affiliate program. All you got to do is send your application to Amazon Associates and wait for them to accept it.
Whether you want to book flights or find places to stay, Travel Start has it all. Being an affiliate to this company will give you a boost in your affiliate marketing journey, and your commission rates will be pretty high.
They said to pay between R90 and R170 per booking you refer through your blog or social media. If you are interested in the travel niche and want to write blogs about prime destinations, contact Travel Start. They need you!
As the name suggests, this affiliate program is based on kids and parents of young children. This e-commerce business is looking for professional affiliates to market for them, so if you think you can create posts that interest kids, or their parents, join the 4aKid affiliate program today! They provide a commission of 10%, which is a very decent commission rate.
The Health Nut
Health remains one of the most famous niches, and so, we present to you The Health Nut affiliate Program. Whether it be a simple product review or typing out health benefits articles, The Health Nut undoubtedly remains one of the best options for health-based affiliates. They give you a commission of up to 10% of the product you market for.
If you are interested in writing Finance blogs, you must contact Insurance Hound right away to get the best commission rates possible. Whether it be writing about insurance policies or why insurances are a must for everyone, Insurance Hound accepts it all!
Starting from 20% commission rates, this tech niche-based business is looking for genuine affiliates to join their affiliate program. This company mainly focuses on cybersecurity, so if you have a hand in that, you should participate with Kaspersky to educate the whole nation about cyberbullies and what to do to stop them. Don’t forget; they provide 20% commission which is way high when compared to most other affiliate programs!
Start affiliate marketing today. With the best affiliate networks at your side and the great affiliate programs offered, your journey of becoming an affiliate marketer will surely be a treasure! All the best!