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Affiliate Marketing: Here’s what you should know in 2024

Affiliate marketing is a way to bring together brands, content creators (also called affiliates), and their consumers, to help grow a business. Affiliate marketing helps brands reach a larger audience, while it helps content creators expand their reach and monetize their work (through commissions on sales or referrals).

Content creators can be podcasters, bloggers, and social media influencers on TikTok, Instagram, X (formerly known as Twitter), YouTube, Facebook, or other networks. 

Affiliate marketing is an $8 billion business, according to some estimates, and understanding what it is can help you transform your business. Here’s what brands and content creators should know about affiliate marketing.

How does affiliate marketing work?

Essentially, an affiliate marketer hosts a website where a business can advertise its products through blog posts, podcasts, videos, reviews, product links, traditional ads, and much more. Depending on the type of relationship, the affiliate receives a payment for every click, or for every purchase, which is known as cost-per-acquisition (CPA). 

For marketers and content creators, you typically start by choosing a niche, joining an affiliate program, promoting products and offers for your client, then track and optimize conversions. In doing so, you’ll generate income in the form of commissions based on the traffic and/or sales you generate. An affiliate marketer or network can help you take care of many of these steps.

For a brand, things work somewhat in reverse. You work with a marketer to determine what type of content will resonate with your desired audience, and make offers that will generate conversion (purchases). You’ll pay a commission in exchange for this exposure. 

What does an affiliate marketer do?

An affiliate marketer helps facilitate the relationship between brands and content creators and their audiences. Affiliate marketers can help brands identify the best content creators for their products, and the best platforms to showcase those products. The best affiliate marketers can also help businesses spend their marketing budgets more efficiently by tracking marketing performance for return-on-investment (ROI) and return on spend (ROS), and changing strategies accordingly.

For content creators, an affiliate marketer can help connect them to brands that make sense for their audiences. Many affiliate marketers also make it easy for brands to pay a commission to their content creators, and vice versa — helping content creators get paid for their work. Many affiliate marketers even operate around the world, sometimes in hundreds of countries and currencies.

How do I become an affiliate marketer?

There are a few steps you can take:

Choose a niche

Maybe it’s parenting. Maybe it’s health and wellness. Maybe it’s travel, finance and money, pets, sports, gaming, product reviews … the list goes on. But it helps to have a special area of focus so you can better align with brands. If you’re too general, it will be hard to find an engaged audience, and you might face stiff competition. If you’re too specific, you might struggle to get the mass following you’ll want in order to make money.

Build a website

Even if you plan to publish content across channels, it helps to have a single platform destination where brands can go to see your work, and where audiences can go to discover more of your content. (If you host a website, you also have more control over your content, compared to what you might have on a social media platform.)

You can use many available services to build a website: WordPress, Shopify, Weebly, and more.

Create content

This is the most important part. A few popular types of content include:

  • Blogs. Still the most popular. Populate your website with original articles and photographs related to your topic or niche.
  • Podcasts. Audio recordings where you tell a story, review a product, conduct an interview, or more. 
  • Social media posts. Publishing content to social media can help you grow a built-in audience, taking advantage of such tools as hashtags, location tagging, and more.

Whatever type of content you choose, you will likely benefit by posting across platforms — for example, including an excerpt of a review on Instagram and on your blog.

Join an affiliate network

As with any other type of networking, an affiliate network can help you grow your circle of influence by connecting you with like-minded content creators and brands. The best affiliate marketers will provide you with tools to help you monetize your work and grow your following.

How does affiliate marketing help a brand increase conversion? 

Affiliate marketing is performance-based, meaning that you are paying not just for content and placements, but for results. If your marketing dollars are not spent efficiently, you can change strategies quickly and easily to maximize efficiency. By putting your product in front of an engaged audience, often selected for its likelihood to make a purchase, you can reduce risk and increase conversion.

In addition, affiliate marketing can help you analyze such questions as: “Why did my conversion drop?” You can track your performance and see what changed — maybe an audience segment is no longer as engaged, or perhaps your audience has seen the same creative content too many times.

Is affiliate marketing worth it?

For most brands and content creators, some form of affiliate marketing is a helpful way to boost revenue. Here’s why:

1. It’s low-risk.

For most brands, affiliate marketing is a fraction of the overall marketing budget. That’s in part because the cost of affiliate marketing remains low (especially when compared to, say, producing and placing a television ad during a major sporting event). Most affiliate marketing tools also help you spend those dollars efficiently, so it’s low-cost and high-impact — a winner for everyone.

For marketers, the aforementioned low barrier to entry — all you really need is a website — means you can dip your toe into the affiliate marketing waters with ease.

2. It’s easy to scale.

Once you find a winning strategy, it’s easy to simply spend more money to replicate that strategy. You can toggle your spend to ensure that your ROI remains in the desired range.

On the marketer side, you can also promote more than one brand, which is different from traditional marketing.

3. It connects you with a targeted audience

For some brands, a mass market audience might make sense — again, these are the ones with nationwide marketing campaigns. But for many, maybe even most brands, a targeted audience is the most efficient one to market to. (For example, if you make pet supplies, you only need to reach people with pets.) Affiliate marketing is a way to reach people who might be interested in buying your product or service — and bypass people who wouldn’t be.

This means you’ll likely enjoy a higher conversion rate, and potentially develop a relationship with the consumer that lasts longer than your marketing campaign.

4. Flexibility 

Because affiliate marketing is relatively affordable, it also means you can avoid the sunken costs of a splashy campaign that underperforms. 

Moreover, most affiliate marketing networks will connect you with creators who publish across a wide range of platforms — so you can find your audience, no matter where they are.

What are some affiliate marketing trends for 2024?

Looking at the current and future landscape, here is what to expect for affiliate marketing in 2024 (and beyond):

AI integration

Let’s face it: Generative AI tools like ChatGPT have been a blessing for marketers. If you know how to leverage it, AI makes content creation and audience selection easier than ever, and Konnecto’s Affiliate Discovery platform can help you use AI to discover new partners.

Taken together, AI helps you lessen your workload by automating day-to-day tasks, so you can focus on your bigger goals.

Focus on micro-influencers

Gone are the days of the mega-influencers. Sure, they offered a mass following, but they are also cost-intensive and less specialized, meaning you pay more for generic, low-performance content.

Enter micro-influencers: Influencers who can promote products and offers to their small — but niche and highly engaged — audiences. This fosters a connection and a community, leading to a more trusting relationship between the creator and their audience, and between your brand and your potential consumer. 

The rise of social commerce

Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok are making it easier for people to discover and purchase products directly within the app. This dovetails nicely with the above trend of micro-influencers who have become superstars to their audiences, and have earned consumers’ trust, while removing barriers to the point of sale itself. In other words, customers don’t have to click a link that takes them outside of an app to buy something, creating a streamlined process that benefits creators, audiences, and brands — a true win-win-win.

What is Konnecto, and how can it help brands with affiliate marketing?

Konnecto is an affiliate marketing platform that is built to help brands make proactive business decisions by prescribing solutions rather than simply reacting to situations.

Through Konnecto, you can use state-of-the-art models that identify purchase patterns and prescribe recommendations to help you maximize impact and ROI. To put it another way, Konnecto can help you plan your next move based on data and performance, which is why it’s already trusted by the likes of Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz, Lego and more.

Find out more about how Konnecto can help you grow your brand today.

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