Affiliate Marketing

by mnothling

Affiliate Marketing Explained

Affiliate marketing (also known as performance based marketing or referral marketing), is a form of internet marketing where you advertise and promote someone else's product and if someone purchases the product as a result of your marketing, you get paid a commission. The concept of affiliate marketing on the internet was patented by William J. Tobin in 1989.

The four core players in this market are the merchant or vendor that owns and normally creates the product, the affiliate network that manages the offers on behalf of the vendor, the affiliate (also known as the publisher) who markets and pre-sells the customer and the customer (or lead) who purchases the product.


An affiliate is someone who sells someone else's product for a commission.

They are not the owners of the product. Their purpose is to market and sell the product on the product owner's behalf for which they get paid a commission - normally a percentage of the sales price.

The vendor creates the product, provides a sales page and then provides payment processing through their payment processor. The vendor also delivers the product to the customer and provides support for the product.

The affiliate simply has to drive traffic to the vendors sales page and pre-sell the lead to increase conversions on the vendors sales pages. 

The affiliate's marketing costs are their own and are a cost of doing business. Often, the vendor will provide sales copy, sales funnels, banners and email swipes to aid the affiliate in promoting the product. The affiliate may use the marketing materials provided but will normally create their own to provide a unique angle for their target audience as they are competing with all the other affiliates who are also trying to sell the same product. Top-tier affiliates (called super affiliates) may negotiate better payouts  from vendors up front as they sell a higher volume of products. Regular affiliates can ask for a 'bump' in their payouts if they are selling a lot of products too.

Affiliate Network

Often, an affiliate network will act as intermediary between the affiliates and the owner of the product.

Affiliate networks will screen affiliates and evaluate their experience, monitor for any violations of restrictions placed on marketing methods or strategies as well as encouraging and rewarding those affiliates that perform well through compensation methods such as increased commissions. 

They will track sales using affiliate tracking software and will also monitor the quality of traffic being sent to the offer. They will also handle the payouts of commissions to affiliates.

Some examples of affiliate networks are Rakuten, Linkshare, Commission Junction, Clickbank, Shareasale and Jvzoo. The network makes a percentage of all the sales sold through their network by affiliates. They will often hold internet marketing conferences where they provide training for affiliates as well as bringing in some of the vendors or top affiliates as speakers so affiliates can meet with them and to create an opportunity for networking.

Sometimes, you can join as an affiliate directly with the vendor himself with the regular commission percentage payout determined by the vendor or negotiated by you. If you are a well know marketer with a large buyers list or have a reputation for selling a lot of product, you may be able to participate in revenue sharing to help launch or promote the product.

Driving Traffic

There are a number of traffic strategies open to affiliates wanting to send leads to the vendor's sales page. The traffic source will affect how the affiliate 'funnels' his prospects to the vendor's sales page where they will hopefully convert to sales.

Many affiliates will create a pre-sell page where they will send the traffic to first before sending them on to the vendor's sales page. Most success (conversions to sales) come from pre-framing the prospective buyer first rather than sending them straight to the vendor's sales page.

Squeeze Pages and Sales Funnels

Typically, the affiliate marketer utilizes a 3 step formula for promoting an affiliate product but this may vary - typically affected by the source of the traffic and whether the traffic is 'warm' (they have interacted with the affiliate previously and there is some level of trust) or 'cold'.

Step 1 is to drive traffic to a squeeze page (or opt-in page) where the affiliate collects the customer's email address to add them to their list for future e-mail marketing and follow up. In exchange for obtaining the lead's email address, the affiliate typically offers the lead a bribe of some sort called a 'lead magnet'. This could be in the form of a free review, some free training or a valuable resource, an ebook, bonus or a discount offer - anything of value to the prospect that would entice them to give up their email address. This page also results in a micro-commitment by the customer and is the next step in transitioning them to a conversion goal. (Dropping a retargeting pixel here is smart as you can do retargeting advertising very cheaply and win over many of your prospects that did not opt-in).

Step 2 is pre-framing the client by sending them to a landing page where you pre-sell the end product by focusing on the benefit or solution to a problem that the product will provide.

Tip: Do not focus on or 'sell' the product itself - paint a mental picture of the outcome that the product will provide.

Step 3 is sending them to the vendor's sales page where the vendor will sell the person on their product, take payment and deliver the product.

Creating the squeeze page and pre-sell page is something the affiliate has to create along with creating the accompanying  sales copy on each page. The easiest and best way to create and host these pages in my opinion, is using ClickFunnels. If you need help in creating high converting sales copy (including emails), I recommend using Funnel Scripts which is amazing. 

Share this article

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.