What is affiliate marketing and can I make money from it?

The world of advertising has changed almost unrecognisably since the era depicted so well in hit TV show Mad Men. If Don Draper was around now he would have a field day because of the sheer amount of advertising options available in the modern world.

A recent but hugely successful form of modern advertising is affiliate marketing, a method used by hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of companies worldwide. Unlike most forms of traditional advertising, you don’t need to be well-connected in the industry to take advantage of affiliate marketing.

So, what exactly is affiliate marketing? How can I make money from it?

Don Draper from Mad Men was an advertising guru, if he was around now he’d have a field day with affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing explained

This internet form of advertising is usually found in online blogs, vlogs or in social media influencer content. In essence, affiliate marketing is the practice of offering either explicit or implicit product recommendations for a monetary incentive.

If, for example, you had a successful snowboarding blog that reached a large audience in Canada, you might begin an affiliate relationship with The Boardroom. Weekly or monthly you would write an article reviewing an item on sale at The Boardroom, including links to their website.

For every item sold as a direct result of your recommendation you would then receive a percentage of the profit on that item. It would entirely be your choice whether you told your readers about this partnership. You could be open about your partnership with The Boardroom and ask readers to buy their products, or you could be more discrete about it and embed links into your content.

How is affiliate marketing monitored?

Every website, even those made cheaply, have tools available that allow the owner to track the source of all their web traffic. Companies that pay for affiliate marketing monitor all the traffic directed to their site from their affiliates.

They can track the average time spent on their site from each particular user and also track purchases made as a result of affiliate marketing. Through these monitoring tools they can keep an eye on the effectiveness of their affiliate partner.

Why do companies opt for affiliate marketing?

Quite simply, affiliate marketing is much more cost-effective than traditional forms of advertising. A TV or radio commercial requires a large amount of money up front to produce and pay for, and offers no guarantee of a boost in sales.

With affiliate marketing companies pay their advertisers commission on items sold. There’s no upfront cost and therefore companies are only paying for effective marketing. Thanks to web analytical tools companies can also monitor the effectiveness of certain affiliate partners.

If one partner is not providing the desired traffic or sales that had been hoped for, a company can cut them loose and move onto another partner. Affiliate marketing also provides demographic specific marketing.

1 in 10 people listening to a radio commercial may be interested in snowboarding, and 1 in 10 of those listeners may eventually purchase something from The Boardroom. However, 100% of people reading a snowboarding blog will fall into The Boardroom’s demographic.

Gambling – A lucrative affiliate industry

The Canadian online gambling market is incredibly competitive, and with strict regulations on traditional advertising methods, online casinos are focusing their attentions on affiliate marketing. The law of the land means Canadian’s must gamble through offshore online casinos – naturally, they do everything they can to attract visitors to the site.

Participating in an affiliate scheme with a leading Canadian online casino can prove to be lucrative, due to the sheer number of players that are attracted to the site, who then deposit funds. Almost every online casino participates in some form of affiliate marketing, and those companies are always looking for new affiliates.

Most well-known online casinos have easy to use affiliate programs that you can sign up to in as little as 5 minutes. These companies offer their affiliates better financial incentives than online retailers.

Instead of basing your recommendations on one-off payments, online casinos base them on the lifetime transaction value of a particular customer. If a customer that has found a casino via your recommendation has an LTV of $850, you will get a cut of that figure.

Tips for becoming an affiliate partner

Firstly you need to have a blog or a vlog, and it’s no use just making one for the sake of it. You need to focus on a topic that generally interests you – it makes producing content easier in the long-run.

Once you’ve picked the topic that you’re going to blog about, you need to start building your audience. Doing this is easier than you may have thought. By using social media effectively you can easily gain a loyal audience of at least 500 readers a month.

You may see no returns in the first couple of months of blogging but if you persist in creating quality content your audience will grow. Once it has reached a satisfactory level of readers, you can then start looking at affiliate marketing as a way to make money.

You’ll need to choose a partner that suits your demographic. There’s nothing to be gained by partnering with an online casino when you write a food blog. Choose a company that suits your brand, niche and audience.

Finally, you will need to come up with a strategy to advertise your affiliate partner’s goods. As mentioned above, you can do this implicitly without ever explicitly telling your audience that you are advertising to them.

This is the easy option and as such will provide you with the lowest financial returns. The best way to use affiliate marketing for profit is to be open and honest with your readers, most people will appreciate that you are simply trying to make a bit of money.

Review products from your affiliate, if something’s a good deal be up front and tell your audience to go and buy it. The risk with not doing this and advertising implicitly is that your audience will notice what you’re doing and lose trust in you.

Summary

Even a pretty laissez-faire approach to affiliate marketing will provide you with financial rewards if you have a decent sized audience. However if you throw yourself into it and put in the required effort you can make a LOT of money from affiliate marketing.

Remember to choose your affiliate partner wisely and keep your content relevant to whatever you’re advertising. What are you waiting for? Go find an affiliate partner now and start making money from your content.