Complete Guide To Affiliate Marketing

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 18, 2021

Published February 4, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Marketing strategies are useful in promoting a company's product and helping to boost sales. Affiliate marketing is a marketing strategy that companies implement to generate sales and stimulate web traffic. Understanding what affiliate marketing is can help you develop and apply successful marketing strategies to help your business succeed. In this article, we will discuss affiliate marketing, why affiliate marketing is important and how to become an affiliate marketer.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a process in which a person, the affiliate, earns a commission for marketing a company's products. An affiliate finds a company's products that they enjoy and promotes those products on their website, social media accounts or other media platforms. When members of the affiliate's audience purchase the product using specific links or promotional codes, the affiliate receives compensation for helping generating sales and traffic to the company.

There are different types of affiliate marketing channels used to promote certain products, including:


Influencers have a significant social media following and can directly impact the buying decisions of thousands or even millions of consumers. The more followers an influencer has, the more they can benefit from affiliate marketing because a large group of people is likely to see their affiliate posts. Influencers interact with their followers through web posts, social media posts, blogs and vlogs, among others.


Bloggers use a company's products or services and write reviews to persuade their readers to make purchases. They use affiliate links in their posts to bring sales traffic to the company's website. They specialize in search engine optimization (SEO) techniques as well as other marketing strategies that are aimed at generating web traffic.

Email marketing

Many affiliates use specific marketing campaigns to collect a list of email addresses, and then send emails to those addresses concerning what it is that they are promoting. Another emailing strategy is for the affiliate to send out email newsletters or information regarding certain products. Every email includes affiliate links readers can click on to purchase the products.

Affiliate marketing parties

For an affiliate marketing strategy to be successful, three different parties must work together including:


The company is responsible for creating, producing and distributing the product to consumers. For the product to become profitable, the product should be in demand, useful and of good quality. The company may choose to advertise their products themselves or seek the assistance of an affiliate whose audience most closely matches their target consumers.


The affiliate can be a single person or an entire company that is responsible for marketing the product in a way that appeals to large sums of consumers. Affiliates tend to have a particular and distinct niche whom they market goods and services to, which helps the affiliate attract consumers who are most likely to buy products that meet their needs.


The consumer helps determine how affiliate marketing strategies are implemented. The consumer visits the affiliate's social media page, website or blog and sees information regarding the product. If a consumer buys the product, both the company and the affiliate share the proceeds, thus benefiting both parties.

Related: Economic Demand: Definition, Determinants and Types

Why businesses use affiliate marketing

Businesses may use affiliate marketing for numerous reasons, including:

  • Building a brand

  • Creating excitement around a new product

  • Using performance-based pay structures

  • Boosting sales and growth

Building a brand

A company's brand is very closely related to its reputation. To build a reliable brand that customers love, a company can use the influence of affiliates to create awareness about the brand and to appeal to a wide audience. Additionally, affiliates can help a business promote its products.

Once a company is well-established and customers view it as a reputable brand, they are likely to be loyal to that brand. To compete in their market, businesses should also diversify their affiliates to ensure that they are reaching as many customers as possible.

Creating excitement around a new product

Companies can use affiliate marketing to create excitement for new products or around a product launch. Affiliates can use affiliate links on their websites, which will help drive demand for the product.

Businesses can also send out promotional offers through their affiliates. For example, sending out a promotional offer on Black Friday or Christmas is a great way to get potential customers excited about your products.

Using performance-based pay structures

In an affiliate marketing strategy, the company has control over the affiliate's compensation. In this way, affiliate marketing can be a cost-effective marketing strategy because a business will pay the affiliates when a sale is made through their affiliate links. Businesses can trust that they are paying only the affiliates who receive the most web traffic and ultimately contribute to the company's sales and growth.

Boosting sales and growth

Using an affiliate marketing strategy helps to guide prospective customers to a company's website, which can help boost sales. When a business uses trusted affiliates to help target customers, it can create brand loyalty among these customers. Creating a reliable, in-demand product that customers love can also lead to customers returning to purchase from the company again, further increasing sales and growing the brand.

How to become an affiliate marketer

Becoming an affiliate marketer involves the following steps:

  1. Find a niche.

  2. Create an online platform.

  3. Generate engaging content.

  4. Build a following.

  5. Select and promote products.

  6. Record and track results.

1. Find a niche

You will need to determine who your target audience is and how you will connect with them. Your niche should be something you have personal experience with, are knowledgeable about and are passionate about. Also, this niche should relate to products that are in demand and that consumers will be excited about.

2. Create an online platform

Affiliate marketers can operate through their websites, blogs, social media accounts and other content creation platforms. Many use a combination of these platforms to increase their output and reach larger audiences. After you have chosen a niche, establish yourself on the channels and platforms where your ideal audience spends most of its time. This step provides you a space to create content and eventually publish affiliate links.

Related: Creating a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy

3. Generate engaging content

To reach as many consumers as possible, it is vital to create consistent, high-quality content specifically tailored to your niche. Content on your website and other platforms could be in the form of product reviews, blog posts, informational webinars and e-books, demonstration and review videos, social media posts, among others.

4. Build a following

Once you begin creating content, you can build a following. An audience is the foundation of a solid affiliate marketing strategy, so it is important to nurture your audience. You can do this by connecting with your audience on social media and promoting your content through social media outlets. Additionally, to gain name recognition, you can write guest posts on higher-traffic blogs and sites.

You can also use email marketing and create an email list. One effective method to do this is to offer free informational products, like webinars or e-books, in exchange for an email address. You could also simply encourage your followers to provide their email addresses to receive updates.

5. Select and promote products

Be sure to select and promote products that you use and that your audience will also find helpful and valuable. As an affiliate marketer, you can promote your products through product reviews, banner advertisements, in-text content links, email promotions and discounts and giveaways.

Related: Marketing's Promotional Mix: Definition and How to Use It

6. Record and track results

After you have built a platform, established a following and created high-quality content, you should track how your audience responds to your marketing strategies. You will need to constantly analyze and optimize your marketing techniques to successfully reach your target audience. For example, you could test new strategies by asking your followers if they would prefer a written product review or an instructional video that illustrates how the product works. When you understand your followers and which marketing strategies appeal most to them, you can market to them more efficiently.

Affiliate marketing FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about affiliate marketing to help you learn more:

Why should I become an affiliate marketer?

When done correctly and efficiently, affiliate marketing can be a lucrative source of supplemental income. These professionals can work from home and at a low cost, making it relatively quick and simple to get started as an affiliate marketer.

The earning potential of affiliates is tied to their performance. For example, an affiliate who creates a user-friendly website and builds a sizable audience through various interactions will be more successful compared to an affiliate who has a confusing website and does not take time to appeal to followers.

Affiliate marketers work as freelancers, and as such, they have more independence. For instance, affiliates can set their own hours and can choose to promote products that are of interest to them. Also, as an affiliate, you will only be connecting the company with the consumer. The company will handle customer complaints and customer support situations.

How can I be a successful affiliate marketer?

Before becoming an affiliate marketer, it is important to take the time to build an audience in a profitable niche. You will need to tailor your affiliate links to your niche, so you must target the appropriate group of consumers. This way, the products that you choose to promote fit that niche's interests, which will help you get sales.

Within your chosen niche, you should establish yourself as an expert by writing good quality content on your website and staying up-to-date on the latest marketing trends. Additionally, when choosing products to promote, you can gain trust with your followers by building a rapport with them and by choosing products that you use and believe in.

What are some effective affiliate marketing strategies?

Many strategies can help you create a profitable affiliate marketing business, including:

1. Promote products you use

It tends to be easier to promote products that you actually use and are familiar with as opposed to products that you have never used. Additionally, be sure that you are only recommending the product to your followers, instead of telling them to buy the product.

2. Partner with more than one company

If you promote products from several different companies, you can diversify your commissions and have multiple opportunities to create revenue as opposed to promoting products from one company. This strategy also allows you to provide a diversity of products to your audience as well.

3. Focus on traffic

Monitor your web traffic as well as the demographics of your followers. Once you have this information, you can tailor your content and product recommendations to your audience. Record and track the performance of your website, other platforms and the affiliate links you promoted. By tracking your affiliate links, you can analyze which ways of promoting the products were the most and least successful with your audience. To optimize your content, consider using online analytics tools to track clicks, views and likes that can help you determine what your audience most wants to see and increase your audience loyalty.

Explore more articles