10 min readWhat Is Affiliate Marketing? How Does It Work?
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Marketing is an essential part of any industry, whether the said industry is small or large. Marketing is necessary for efficient customer reach and sometimes even customer satisfaction. It is the primary generator of sales and hence marketing professionals are high in demand.

Marketing usually involves the study of consumer interests and analysis of competitors in addition to figuring out the best method of presenting a product to the customer. Many types of marketing are available to combat the obstacles that are present in the real world. In the traditional era too, various types of marketing existed and with the advent of the internet, many more types have become mainstream. 

Affiliate marketing is one of the forms of marketing which is difficult to know but is very useful since it has an extended capability. It is a system where a company’s product is marketed by a wide range of people called “affiliates”. Affiliates work in what is called an affiliate network and are paid a commission whenever the customer buys any product which is registered in the affiliate network.

This is a simple overview and marketing using affiliates is more complicated than this. The company that uses such a strategy easily acquires the customers and the affiliate marketers themselves do not need to work as customer support to the customers. Affiliate marketers either a group of people or a company need not even stick to a single product.

How Affiliate Marketing Works

NBCanada How Affiliate Marketing Works

We will now understand the process of affiliate marketing in depth. This technique basically consists of three entities, which work together to help the product reach the customer effectively. 

The three entities and their functions are given as the following.

The Seller

This is the main point from which the product begins its journey. The seller may be an individual or a large corporation, as both can register under and use affiliates for their marketing services. The seller is also called the brand and the primary requirement is to create a product. Many sellers are also affiliates themselves, but this is not true for all sellers.

The affiliate network collects a sum of money from the seller as per their agreement. This is usually whenever their advert is clicked on or their product is bought by the customer. An artificial intelligence company can work with the seller to better distribute the finances to the affiliates.  

The Affiliate

The affiliate is the main constituent of this type of marketing. An affiliate can be an individual or an entire company dedicated to selling the seller’s product. Both the seller and the affiliate must be registered under the affiliate network. The affiliate promotes the product either on the internet or offline using various methods. On the internet, it is often done by paid advertising and SEO. If the customer actually ends up buying their product, the said affiliate gets their due commission from the seller. The affiliates usually know the product and the customers very well and they target a particular audience. Through their years of experience, they form a brand name for themselves and attract a particular set of customers. 

The Consumer

The consumer is the final piece of the puzzle in the affiliate product marketing business. Their purchases are actually what keep the affiliates in the business. When the customer knowingly or unknowingly makes a purchase, the seller and affiliates share their profits. The customer is not charged anything extra in this process, as the retail price includes the affiliate’s price for marketing. This creates an interesting situation. Sometimes the affiliates are upfront about the commission they get from the seller. Other times they keep the consumer oblivious about the whole process. 

How do Affiliates get Paid?

The affiliates can get paid in many ways. They are mostly paid for each sale they make but as the technology has increased, other terms of payment are becoming popular. These days, artificial intelligence is used to monitor each sale done across the internet, as there are simply too many products that are sold using this method at once. We will now discuss the payment terms that are popular between affiliates.

Pay Per Sale

This is the standard way affiliates get paid. Usually, when the customer makes a purchase, the seller gives a commission to the affiliate. In this method, the affiliate must make the investor invest in the product before getting paid.

Pay Per Lead

This is a more complicated system than the pay-per-sale system. Here the affiliate persuades the customer to visit the merchant or seller website. Once the customer signs up or contacts the merchant, it is considered as a lead and the affiliate is paid accordingly.

Pay Per Click

In this type of arrangement, the affiliate is paid as per the web traffic they bring into the merchant or seller website. They are essentially incentivized per click of the customer from the affiliate website to the seller website.

Advantages of Affiliate Marketing

NBCanada Advantages Of Affiliate Marketing

There are many advantages to affiliates who participate in this type of marketing process. The seller is also advantaged by having distributed numbers of many affiliates working for their company. Consumers need not worry about the complicated marketing process and get what they ask for when this type of marketing is used. Following are the advantages of using this type of marketing

No Consumer Support

Normally, the marketing team is also required to solve any customer queries that arise in the business. But affiliates are only responsible for the marketing and are not responsible for consumer support. This is a great relief for the marketing side. The seller or the merchant is responsible for all consumer complaints when this type of marketing is employed.

Passive Income

Skilled affiliates actually earn money while they are not actively working. This is because once the affiliate invests the right time and money into a campaign, it grows on its own. As the campaign grows it is more likely that the customers will buy the product. Once the customers start buying the product, it becomes part of the passive income that the affiliate earns.


Marketing in this manner is cost-efficient when compared to other forms of marketing. In order to start affiliate marketing, little capital is required. This is because many sellers that already have a product exist and one can easily learn the skills of this type of marketing. 

Work from Home

Marketing of this sort can easily be done at home. Freelancing as an affiliate is increasingly becoming the new normal in this type of marketing business. The entire process from campaign creation to receiving revenue can be carried out remotely. 

Performance-based Revenue

The revenue of the affiliate is directly influenced by his or her own performance in the field. This means that there is an ever-increasing potential in this type of marketing. With time the affiliate acquires enough skill so as to better serve the customers.

Common Channels of Affiliate Marketing

Most affiliates use common practices to keep their audience engaged in the product. Most affiliates include influencers and bloggers who use the internet to develop and groom the most niche focused customers. But the old methods like email lists and advertising on large media websites remain as channels to leverage affiliate methods of marketing. Following are some of the channels that are common for this type of a marketing strategy


Influencers are the people who hold a lot of power over a large segment of the population on deciding the things they buy. They have a large following and usually attract a particular form of customer. These customers are then targeted by the company products by companies partnering up with the influencers. When the seller or the merchant company makes money as a result of the influencer, such profits are split with the influencer. Influencers are really popular on instagram and leveraging them is a common form of affiliate strategy of marketing.


Bloggers are the next channel of affiliates that can make customers interested in the product. This is because bloggers can organically increase the ranking of the merchant website. By investing in bloggers, the merchant sells their product in a slow but consistent manner. The blogger usually samples the product in a user desirable format and writes about it in already popular websites. The blogger is then paid a share of the final profit the merchant receives. 

Paid Search Focused Websites

Developing and monetizing paid search focused sites is another way of efficient marketing in the affiliate world. These sites advertise the host site as sponsored listing on their own website, and require an upfront fee. Such sites are called microsites and are usually distinct and separate from the main site that the organization that prepares them. As they are simple and straightforward, microsites are reliable channels of affiliate strategy for marketing.

Top Trends of Affiliate Marketing in 2021

Marketing is a field that has to change depending on the customer attitude, market environment, and strategies and the affiliate strategy of marketing is no different. There are many ongoing trends in this type of marketing business. New affiliates who are just starting out and old skilled marketers must look at these to improve their customer reach. 

Improving Affiliate Attribution and Reporting

Many affiliates run on last-click attribution. This means the affiliate that receives the last click usually receives a 100% credit. This situation is now changing, and every marketing effort is taken into account while giving the affiliate revenue. Artificial intelligence is heavily used to do this, as sellers these days hire an artificial intelligence development company to develop tools that make this possible. Each affiliate in the system is increasingly receiving revenues for their own work

Influencer Niches Being Hyper-Targeted

In the past, large affiliate companies did this type of marketing, and they were a mainstay. This is not the case anymore, and consumers use long keywords to search for what they want. Thus the most successful affiliate marketers are increasingly turning out to be influencers. This is because influencers have a very specific type of audience that they leverage such hyper-focused niche into a marketing success.

Smarter Affiliate Marketers

The whole marketing network that uses the affiliates is becoming smarter. This is because the merchants that get a large part of the revenue become reliant on their affiliates. The affiliates if they are companies, leverage this and drive where the market is going in terms of finance. Whether it is CPA, CPL, or a CPC commission structure affiliate marketers get a lot of money by becoming smart by knowing both about their sellers and the customers.


Because of its interconnected nature and size, affiliate marketing can be a significant advantage over other forms of marketing. A company can easily take advantage of affiliates to deliver the products more efficiently to its consumers. Nextbrain Technologies is the best digital marketing company in Toronto, Canada. The company also is involved in the development and publishing of mobile applications. The company provides a network for many customers that are involved in affiliate marketing.



Digital transformation expert with 12 years of experience in digital products for various industries.