Also known as referral marketing and pay-for-performance, affiliate marketing took shape as a viable sales channel, around 1995. The Internet was giving rise to online commerce and merchants were finding ways to embrace the reach of the information highway. By using technology to track clicks, referrals, online sales and commissions, it was possible to develop partnerships with people, not directly employed. This opened up a significantly bigger marketplace around the world, without having physical office locations. These unofficial salespeople became known as affiliates. Using their own websites, blogs, mailing lists to promote selected products and services. While seemingly complicated, affiliate marketing is actually quite easily explained…
Virtually anything can be sold via affiliate marketing. Tangible goods, digital products and virtual services, such as memberships. The revenue share business model is particularly suited to digital downloads that do not require physical manufacture nor delivery. In our case, we sell memberships, that include digital products and services.
Normally merchants have to budget for advertising and promotion. We don’t pay for neither. Hence, we can easily afford to slice off a percentage, and offer that to affiliates, in return for their efforts to promote our memberships.
We share 5% to 50% of our online revenue with our affiliates. This depends on the level of effort and involvement.
Affiliates who wish to earn 50% are considered full-time Partners. We pro-actively collaborate on a 50/50 basis.
Affiliate Partners are not necessarily experts in affiliate marketing, and work with a dedicated Partner Manager.
The technical mechanism that handles the tracking is called an affiliate program. A simple, single-tier structure, with a direct connection between the referring affiliate and the sale. An affiliate can only earn commissions on actual sales. There is no compensation for referring other affiliates. The emphasis is on promoting products.
It must immediately be said, that affiliate marketing is not MLM. Multi-Level-Marketing is exactly that, and relies on participants building a downline in the shape of a pyramid. Earning income on multiple levels, means the focus shifts to recruiting others, instead of the product. This is CONTRARY to affiliate marketing, whereby the PRODUCT is most important, without multiple levels of compensation. Affiliate marketing is NOT to be considered MLM.
Most mainstream merchants have affiliate programs, and they certainly would want to be associated with MLM. Below are just a few examples. Notably, Jeff Bezos started the Amazon affiliate program in 1996. and it is the basis of the Amazon business model. Most people do not realize, that every time they buy something through Amazon, unseen affiliates earn referral commissions. Affiliate marketing is a widely accepted sales channel.
These merchants, like ourselves, offer an affiliate program to anyone that wishes to join. Discerning merchants carefully screen applicants, in order to prevent abuse and fraud. Technology can be used to keep bad actors out.
Basically, every affiliate is issued with a distinct and unique affiliate ID. This number is automatically added to URL links in the web browser. Your affiliate ID can also be hidden in sub-domains, permalinks, redirects and QR codes.
We use QR codes extensively, as this medium has become popular. We can generate various destination URLs.
The affiliate ID is stored in a web browser cookie, for a specified period of time. In our case, we offer lifetime commissions, so the cookie does not expire. The cookie is created when a user clicks on a URL that includes a valid affiliate ID. If and when they pay for a membership, the commission is allocated to the referring affiliate.
Affiliate programs are only as good as the tracking technology used. With attractive graphics, accurate tracking and clear reporting, made readily available to affiliates. They value transparency, honesty and efficient support.
Due to the digital nature or memberships, the earning potential for affiliates is unlimited. As long as the server can stand the load, and deliverables flow smoothly. Affiliates can and will make every effort to rack up as many referrals as possible. They also like to compete. Offering incentives and publishing a leaderboard works a treat.
When it comes to money, people get anxious about accurate and timely payment. Affiliates usually work hard and can be quite demanding. Prompt payment is probably the most important consideration for affiliates, before they join and/or continue to promote. We pay our affiliates via PayPal, Stripe, Payoneer, Transferwise, Revolut or N26.
Now that affiliate marketing is almost three decades in existence, it has become an established profession for many. These people are referred to as super affiliates. They all started somewhere though. Perseverance wins!
The reason affiliate marketing is not a household name, is that it can be difficult to understand, and harder to get involved. We’ve solved that by making our affiliate program REALLY easy to join. In fact, all you need to do here, is login with a valid Social ID. After just a few clicks, a user/affiliate ID is automatically generated, and you are all set.
Been there, done that… doing it all over again!
A product of South Africa, vintage 1963. Internaut since 1982. Roaming the world from the age of 23 to date, learning. Jack of all trades, master of none. Technology nerd & pilot. Digital Nomad. Free to travel~live~work, anywhere.