Affiliate Marketing in 2020: What It Is and How You Can Get Started


Wake up at an ungodly hour. Drive to the office through a total traffic jam, streets crowded with other travelers half asleep. Passing through the email after a mind-numbing email until the sweet release at five o’clock.

Sound terrible?

What if, instead of dealing with the monotony and stupor of the rat race to make a few dollars, you could make money at any time, from anywhere, even in your sleep?

That’s the concept behind affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is a popular tactic to boost sales and generate significant online revenue. Extremely beneficial to both brands and affiliate marketers, the new push towards less traditional marketing tactics has paid off. In fact:

  • 81% of brands and 84% of publishers are leveraging the power of affiliate marketing, a statistic that will continue to grow as affiliate marketing spending increases each year in the U.S.
  • There is a 10.1% increase in affiliate marketing spending in the U.S. each year, which means that by 2020, that number will reach $6.8 billion.
  • In 2018, content marketing costs were estimated at 62% of traditional marketing schemes, while simultaneously generating three times more leads than traditional methods. In fact, 16% of all online orders can be attributed to the impact of affiliate marketing.
  • In March 2017, Amazon’s affiliate structure changed, offering rates of 1-10% of product revenue to creators, providing the opportunity for affiliates to dramatically increase their passive revenue based on the verticality in which they sell.
  • Jason Stone’s affiliate marketing, also known as Millionaire Mentor, was responsible for up to $7 million in retail sales in June and July 2017 alone.

What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is the process by which an affiliate earns a commission for marketing another person’s or company’s products. The affiliate simply finds a product that they like, then promotes it and earns a share of the profit for each sale they make. Sales are tracked through the affiliates’ links from one website to another.
How does affiliate marketing work?
Because affiliate marketing works by spreading the responsibilities of marketing and product creation among the parties, it manages to leverage the capabilities of a variety of individuals for a more effective marketing strategy, while providing partners with a share of the profits. For this to work, three different parties must be involved:

  • The salesperson and the product creators.
  • The affiliate or advertiser.
  • The consumer.
  • Let’s delve into the complex relationship these three parties share to ensure that affiliate marketing is a success.

1. Sellers and product creators.
The marketer, whether a sole proprietorship or a large company, is a seller, merchant, product creator or retailer with a product to market. The product can be a physical object, such as housewares, or a service, such as makeup tutorials. Also known as the brand, the seller does not need to actively participate in the marketing, but can also be the advertiser and benefit from the distribution of income associated with affiliate marketing.
2. The affiliate or publisher.
Also known as the publisher, the affiliate can be an individual or a company that markets the seller’s product in a way that is attractive to potential consumers. In other words, the affiliate promotes the product to persuade consumers that it is valuable or beneficial to them and convince them to buy the product. If the consumer ends up buying the product, the affiliate receives a portion of the revenue earned.

Affiliates usually have a very specific audience to which they market, usually adhering to the interests of that audience. This creates a defined niche or personal brand that helps the affiliate attract the consumers most likely to act on the promotion.

3. The consumer.
Whether the consumer knows it or not, they (and their purchases) are the drivers of affiliate marketing. Affiliates share these products with them on social media, blogs and websites.

When consumers buy the product, the seller and the affiliate share the benefits. Sometimes the affiliate chooses to be honest with the consumer by revealing that they are receiving a commission for the sales they make. Other times the consumer may be completely unaware of the affiliate marketing infrastructure behind their purchase.

In either case, they will rarely pay more for the product purchased through affiliate marketing; the affiliate’s share of the profits is included in the retail price. The consumer will complete the purchase process and receive the product as usual, unaffected by the affiliate marketing system of which he or she is an important part.

How are affiliate marketers paid?
A quick and inexpensive method of making money without the hassle of selling a product, affiliate marketing has an undeniable appeal to those looking to increase their income online. But how do you pay an affiliate after linking the merchant to the consumer? The answer is complicated. The consumer does not always need to buy the product for the affiliate to receive a bribe. Depending on the programme, the affiliate’s contribution to the seller’s sales will be measured differently. The affiliate can be paid in several ways:

1. Payment per sale.
This is the standard structure of affiliate marketing. In this program, the merchant pays the affiliate a percentage of the sales price of the product after the consumer purchases the product as a result of the affiliate’s marketing strategies. In other words, the affiliate must get the investor to invest in the product before being compensated.

2. Payment for each potential customer.
In a more complex system, pay-per-lead programs compensate the affiliate based on the conversion of leads. The affiliate must persuade the consumer to visit the merchant’s website and complete the desired action – either by filling out a contact form, signing up for a product trial, subscribing to a newsletter, or downloading software or files.
3. Pay per click.
This program focuses on encouraging the affiliate to redirect consumers from their marketing platform to the merchant’s website. This means that the affiliate must engage the consumer to the extent that they move from the affiliate’s site to the merchant’s site. The affiliate is paid based on increased web traffic.
Why be an affiliate merchant?
What are the reasons for becoming an affiliate marketer?

1. Passive income.
While any “regular” job requires you to be at work to make money, affiliate marketing offers you the chance to make money while you sleep. By investing an initial amount of time in a campaign, you will see continuous returns in that time as consumers purchase the product over the days and weeks ahead. You receive money for your work long after it is completed. Even when you’re not in front of your computer, your marketing skills will earn you a steady stream of income.

2. No customer support.
Individual marketers and companies offering products or services have to deal with their customers and make sure they are satisfied with what they have purchased. Thanks to the affiliate marketing structure, you never have to worry about customer support or satisfaction. All the work of the affiliate marketer is to link the seller with the consumer. The seller takes care of any complaints from the consumer after you receive your commission from the sale.

3. Work from home.
If you are someone who hates going to the office, affiliate marketing is the perfect solution. You can launch campaigns and receive income from the products the salespeople create while working from the comfort of your home. This is a job you can do without having to take off your pajamas.

4. Cost effective.
Most businesses require start-up fees as well as cash flow to finance the products they sell. However, affiliate marketing can be done at a low cost, which means you can get started quickly and without much hassle. There is no need to worry about affiliate program fees and no need to create a product. Starting this line of work is relatively simple.

5. Convenient and flexible.
Since you are essentially becoming a self-employed person, you get maximum independence to set your own goals, redirect your path when you feel so inclined, choose the products that interest you, and even determine your own schedule. This convenience means you can diversify your portfolio if you wish or focus only on simple, straightforward campaigns. You’ll also be free of company restrictions and regulations, as well as poorly performing teams.

6. Performance-based rewards.
With other jobs, you could work an 80-hour week and still earn the same salary. Affiliate marketing is purely based on your performance. You will get from it what you put into it. Improving your review skills and writing attractive campaigns will translate into direct improvements in your income, and you’ll finally get paid for the outstanding work you do!

7. Don’t underestimate the power of SEO.
There is a lot of organic traffic you can get from search engines if you do your SEO correctly. The days when search engine optimization was about fooling Google are gone. Today, it’s all about making your website better for visitors. People naturally look for information online. That’s why you should learn the basics of website optimization, keyword research and link building to be the source of information they find first. Who wouldn’t want to be first in terms like “best product” or “product review” on Google?

Common types of affiliate marketing channels
Most subsidiaries share common practices to ensure that their audiences are engaged and receptive to the purchase of promoted products. But not all affiliates advertise products in the same way. In fact, there are several different marketing channels they can take advantage of.

1. Influential.
An influencer is an individual who has the power to influence the purchase decisions of a large segment of the population. This person is in a great position to benefit from affiliate marketing. He or she already has an impressive number of followers, making it easy for him or her to direct consumers toward the seller’s products through social media postings, blogs, and other interactions with his or her followers. The influencers then receive a share of the benefits they helped create.

2. Bloggers.
With the ability to rank organically in search engine queries, bloggers excel at increasing a seller’s conversions. The blogger tests the product or service and then writes a complete review that promotes the brand in a compelling way, driving traffic back to the seller’s site.
3. Targeted paid search microsites.
Microsite development and monetization can also generate a large amount of sales. These sites are advertised within a partner site or in search engine sponsored listings. They are distinct and separate from the organization’s main site. By offering more focused and relevant content to a specific audience, microsites lead to increased conversions due to their simple and direct call to action.

4. E-mail lists.
Despite its older origins, email marketing remains a viable source of revenue from affiliate marketing. Some affiliates have email lists that they can use to promote the vendor’s products. Others may take advantage of email newsletters that include hyperlinks to products, earning a commission after the consumer purchases the product. Another method is for the affiliate to build an email list over time. They use their various campaigns to collect emails in bulk, and then send emails regarding the products they are promoting.

5. Large media websites.
Designed to create a large amount of traffic at all times, these sites focus on building an audience of millions. These websites promote products to their mass audience through the use of banners and contextual affiliate links. This method provides superior exposure and improves conversion rates, resulting in top-notch income for both the vendor and the affiliate.

Tips to help you become a successful affiliate marketer

1. Develop a relationship.
As you begin your affiliate marketing career, you’ll want to cultivate an audience that has very specific interests. This allows you to tailor your affiliate campaigns to that niche, increasing the likelihood that you will convert. By establishing yourself as an expert in one area rather than promoting a wide variety of products, you will be able to market to the people most likely to buy the product.

2.Make it personal.
There is no shortage of products you can promote. You’ll have the ability to choose products you personally believe in, so make sure your campaigns focus on truly valuable products that consumers enjoy. You will achieve an impressive conversion rate while simultaneously establishing the reliability of your personal brand.

You’ll also want to be very good at email outreach to work with other bloggers and influencers. Use a tool like ContactOut or Voila Norbert to gather people’s contact information and send personalized emails for guest and affiliate blogging opportunities.

3. Start reviewing products and services.
Focus on reviewing the products and services that fall within your niche. Then, leveraging the relationship you have created with your audience and your position as an expert, tell your readers why they would benefit from purchasing the product or service you are promoting. Almost anything sold online can be reviewed if there is an affiliate program in place: you can review physical products, digital software or even services booked online, such as carpooling or booking a resort. It is especially effective to compare this product with others in the same category. The most important thing is to make sure you are generating detailed and articulate content to improve the conversions.

4. Use several fonts.
Instead of focusing on just one email campaign, also spend time making money with a blog, reaching your audience in social media, and even looking for promotions in various channels. 5. Try a variety of marketing strategies to see which one your audience responds to most. Use this technique often.

5. Choose campaigns carefully.
No matter how good your marketing skills are, you’ll make less money with a bad product than with a valuable one. 6. Take the time to study the demand for a product before you promote it. Be sure to research the seller carefully before teaming up. Your time is worth a lot and you want to be sure you are spending it on a profitable product and a seller you can believe in.

6. Keep up with trends.
There is serious competition in the field of affiliate marketing. You’ll want to make sure you’re aware of any new trends to make sure you stay competitive. In addition, you’re likely to be able to benefit from at least some of the new marketing techniques that are constantly being created. Be sure to keep up with all of these new strategies to ensure that your conversion rates, and therefore revenues, are as high as possible.

What are the main trends in affiliate marketing in the year 2020?

1. Improved affiliate attribution and reporting.
Many affiliate programs operate on a last click attribution basis, where the affiliate who receives the last click before the sale gets 100% conversion credit. This is changing. With affiliate platforms providing new attribution models and reporting features, you can see a complete picture of how individual marketing tactics are working together. For example, you can see that a paid social campaign generated the first click, affiliate X got the second click, and affiliate Y got the last click. With this complete picture, you can structure your affiliate commissions so that Affiliate X gets a percentage of the credit for the sale, even if he didn’t receive the last click.

2. Niche influences are becoming hyper-targeted.
In the past, large affiliates were the mainstay, as powerful couponing and media sites gave traffic to hundreds or thousands of advertisers. This is no longer the case. With consumers using long term keywords and looking for very specific products and services, influencers can leverage their hyper-targeted niche for affiliate marketing success. Influentials may not send advertisers large amounts of traffic, but the audience they do send is credible, targeted and has higher conversion rates.

3. GDPR is changing the way personal data is collected.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force on 25 May 2018, is a set of rules governing the use of personal data across the EU. This is forcing some affiliates to obtain data from users through opt-in consent (updated privacy policies and cookie warnings), even if they are not located in the European Union. This new regulation should also remind you to follow FTC guidelines and clearly disclose that you receive affiliate commissions for your referrals.

4. Affiliate marketers are getting smarter.
Merchants who receive a large percentage of their revenue from the affiliate channel may become dependent on their affiliate partners. This can lead affiliate marketers to take advantage of their important status to receive higher commissions and better deals with their advertisers. Whether it’s CPA, CPL or CPC commission structures, there are many high-paying affiliate programs and affiliate marketers are in the driver’s seat.

What affiliate marketing strategies should I employ in 2020?

1. Only recommend products that you are extremely familiar with.
Building trust with your audience is paramount in affiliate marketing, and the fastest way to lose trust is to recommend products you haven’t used before or that aren’t suitable for your audience. Also make sure you never tell anyone to buy a product directly, you are simply recommending the product. The more useful it is and the more quality recommendations you make, the more likely it is that your website visitors will come back for their experience.


2. Promote products from many different merchants.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you only promote one merchant’s products, you get stuck with their commissions, their landing pages, and ultimately, their conversion rates. It is important to work with many different merchants in your niche and promote a wide range of products. This affiliate marketing strategy will diversify the amount of commissions you earn and create a steady stream of income when you build an affiliate website.

3. Constantly test and optimize your conversion rates.
Let’s say you have a promotion page where you promote a product through affiliate links. If you currently receive 5,000 visits/month with a 2% conversion rate, you have 100 referrals. To reach 200 referrals, you can either focus on getting 5,000 more visitors, or simply increase the conversion rate to 4%. What sounds easier? Instead of spending months building domain authority with blogs and guest posts to get more organic traffic, just increase your conversion rate by 2%. This can include optimizing the landing page, testing your calls to action, and having a conversion rate optimization strategy in place. By testing and optimizing your site, you will get better results with much less effort.
4. Focus on your affiliates’ traffic sources.
It’s important to know where your traffic is coming from and the demographics of your audience. This will allow you to customize your messaging so you can provide the best affiliate product recommendations. You shouldn’t just focus on the vertical you’re on, but on the traffic sources and audience that visit your site. Traffic sources can be organic, paid, social media, referral, display, email or direct traffic. You can view traffic source data in Google Analytics to see things like time on page, bounce rate, geographic location, age, gender, time of day, devices (mobile or desktop), and more, so you can focus your effort on higher-converting traffic. This analytical data is crucial to making informed decisions, increasing your conversion rates and driving more affiliate sales.

Benefits of joining the BigCommerce Affiliate Program

1. Industry leading commissions.

In BigCommerce’s affiliate program, you receive a 200% referral reward and $1,500 per company referral, with no commission limit. Plus, the more referrals that go through the program, the higher your commission level. BigCommerce uses an industry leading 90 day cookie, so you will receive up to three months credit for the referrals you generate. In addition, there are no minimum obligations or commitments to join the program.

2. Strategic growth.
BigCommerce provides unique strategies to help you grow, increase your website’s visibility, and drive more sales. You can save time and money on content creation by linking to WordPress blogs, webinars, and more with content developed by BigCommerce for your audience.

3. Powerful tracking.
Our affiliate dashboard offers a complete look at your clicks, trials, sales, and commissions. You can see your earnings, track your performance, and get paid at the same time every month.

4. A dedicated account manager.
You’ll have direct access to an affiliate expert who understands your business and your goals. BigCommerce will work with your team and our conversion rate experts to maximize your commissions and earnings per click. We provide 1-to-1 support via phone and email, quarterly affiliate contests, and our latest product updates.

5. Promotion is easy.
In your control panel, you’ll have easy access to our ready-made text links, banners, and content. Promote BigCommerce anywhere on your website by simply inserting our affiliate links into your pages.

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