Five reasons why affiliate marketing keeps on growing

By Lee-Ann Johnstone, CEO



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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October 23, 2020 | 8 min read

Affiliate marketing is fast becoming an area of expertise within the digital framework. As it becomes better understood, the impact and value that an affiliate program provides within the overall digital marketing mix is becoming clear. Affiliates are not just an acquisition channel, but an extension of your entire marketing function.

Lee-Ann Johnstone on how marketers can optimise their use of affiliate marketing.

Lee-Ann Johnstone on how marketers can optimise their use of affiliate marketing

From SEO to branding, affiliates play an important role in allowing you to optimise your marketing strategy and reduce your costs. This is definitely one of the most exciting digital sectors to dive into, especially as Covid has impacted the way digital engages audiences online. Let’s take a closer look at what keeps driving affiliate marketing forward as a popular digital medium.

1. Affiliate marketing optimises data lead strategies

Affiliate marketing tracking solutions offer digital marketers a depth of customer data and user behaviours from a variety of traffic sources. The fact that the affiliate channel is so well tracked offers marketers the opportunity to get the best results across a breadth of their digital activities. You are able to look at the multiple sources of traffic your affiliates generate and determine where best to spend your own budget to target more and augment their delivery. All affiliates and managers need to have a good grasp of their data to know where changes need to be made to hunt down that next goal and major milestone.

To help support this, tracking programs have become incredibly sophisticated. Many different aspects can be tracked and analysed on the customer awareness and user conversion journey to ensure that all behaviours are captured and then incentivised appropriately. Affiliate tracking can also be served alongside media buying, which gives marketers a bigger picture view of where and how customers are finding their brands and when in that journey they are converting. Attribution channel marketing can utilise this data to effectively reduce your costs.

Revenue wastage, fraud and lack of transparency can all now be monitored so easily in this channel, alongside influencer marketing, PPC and traditional advertising – which are all worth pursuing, but still come with a high risk of the unknown and other fraud, unlike the transparency you can achieve within affiliate marketing.

2. What other channel can provide flexible and market reactive pricing?

The right affiliate program will be agile and able to adapt commercials as needed. They are often set up to react to market forces, changes in behaviour or pricing models for traffic, which is something easily done in an affiliate program compared with other advertising or paid media channels where contracts and spaces are booked months in advance.

This means that affiliate managers are able to change their pricing models as needed to meet demand and user change, or augment campaigns that are launching at a higher brand level. Pricing models can be changed when they need to be, and this flexibility of working can help to complement brand marketing as is sometimes needed.

Since budgets are more flexible, it means you can set up a system of pay on performance. This helps to lessen the risk that can come with advertising.

3. Affiliate marketing remains a key driver for users and customer acquisition

No matter how the industry might change, there is no denying that affiliate marketing has remained a key driver for customer acquisition. It is thought that some 20% of marketers in a recent survey from Forrester Research delivered by PepperJam still rank affiliate marketing as the highest customer acquisition channel within the overall marketing mix one could draw on. In the same survey, 33% of marketers also believed that affiliate marketing programs were highly successful when it came to driving customer acquisition efforts, with a further 42% classing them as successful.

These stats serve to confirm why affiliate marketing remains a popular choice for acquisition within digital and why chief marketing officers and other key brand stake holders need to be learning more about this popular form of marketing and how to harness it.

4. Affiliate marketing plays a role at every stage in the customer’s buyer awareness journey

Affiliates provide services and content that stimulates buyers to purchase at each stage of the awareness cycle prior to purchase. From content sites to tools and reviews and money back voucher codes, affiliates have built businesses around understanding your customers needs intimately. They have built their brands round popular niches and search terms, and can add value to your business in every stage of the buyer journey – if you let them in!

Brands need to understand this and use their affiliate programs to augment their other advertising and brand activities. This should also help to deliver the best possible ROI results. That same survey from Forrester Research and Pepperjam showed that 46% of marketers believed affiliate paths increased ROI compared to other marketing channels. It is key in driving the customer’s journey forward, no matter what the end goal or product might be.

5. Affiliate marketing is a popular alternative to paid media sources

Many countries or sectors have some stringent regulations and guidelines in place when working with affiliates. Strategically, these need to be taken into account. However, this can also lead to an awful lot of misunderstanding and mismanagement on the part of affiliate marketing managers, which in turn give affiliates a bad rep. Poorly maintained or managed affiliate marketing programs will, in many businesses, have caused a loss. Therefore, it is imperative that strategy is considered prior to launching an affiliate program on mass – or even in a new region where your brand might want to expand.

Asking an expert to help with this can save loads of time being wasted or marketing money being misspent, trying to achieve goals that aren’t realistic within the affiliate channel. By investing in learning and ongoing channel development, many companies are able to boost their affiliate marketing revenue quite substantially.

I’ve been working in affiliate marketing for almost two decades and this has afforded me the opportunity to see brands launch and scale highly profitable and successful programs from a multitude of sectors.

I know this channel can deliver incremental revenue and I can show you how to get that in place to augment your brand reach when managed strategically and with a clear objective and infrastructure being put in place.

It’s one of the reasons why market sentiment is still so favoured within this channel. Strategy matters when dealing with affiliates as part of your marketing mix.

If you need help with yours, speak to an expert

If you want to ensure you give this channel the opportunity it needs to augment your revenue and help your brand growth, talk to an expert.

Affiliate marketing is a channel that, right now, far too many businesses underutilise and many don’t fully understand. With so many tools ready to help a company improve their leads and tracking, affiliate marketing can be used by multiple industries to grow and bring new leads and customers for greater success overall. These five reasons are but just a few of the key points I think support affiliate channel growth – no matter how digital marketing influences change around it.

Lee-Ann Johnstone, chief executive officer at Lee-Ann Johnstone.


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We are an award-winning digital & affiliate marketing agency and content hub. Our founder Lee-Ann has been in affiliate marketing for almost two decades and...

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