Updated: May 24
If you have heard about affiliate marketing and are curious to explore the nuances the most common query all beginners have is How can I start affiliate marketing with no money?
Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing strategy in which an individual or business (known as an affiliate) promotes products or services offered by another company (known as the merchant or advertiser). The affiliate earns a commission for each sale, lead, or desired action generated through their marketing efforts.
Parties involved in Affiliate Marketing
There are typically three primary parties involved in affiliate marketing:
Merchant/Advertiser: The merchant or advertiser is the individual or business that offers a product or service for sale. They create an affiliate program to attract affiliates who will promote their offerings. The merchant provides the necessary marketing materials, such as banners, links, or product information, to affiliates. They are responsible for tracking referrals and paying out commissions to affiliates for successful conversions.
Affiliate/Publisher: Affiliates are individuals or businesses who join the merchant's affiliate program to promote their products or services. Affiliates can be bloggers, website owners, social media influencers, email marketers, or anyone with an online presence. They use their marketing channels to drive traffic and potential customers to the merchant's website using unique affiliate links or codes. Affiliates earn a commission when their referrals result in a successful conversion or desired action.
Customer/Consumer: The customer or consumer is the individual who clicks on an affiliate's promotional content and subsequently makes a purchase or completes a desired action on the merchant's website. The customer is the end user of the product or service being promoted.
Additionally, there are sometimes intermediary parties involved in affiliate marketing:
Affiliate Network: An affiliate network acts as an intermediary between the merchant and affiliates. They provide a platform that connects affiliates with multiple merchants and offers. Affiliate networks handle tracking, reporting, and commission payments on behalf of merchants. They simplify the process for affiliates by centralizing various affiliate programs in one place.
Affiliate Manager: In some cases, merchants may employ an affiliate manager or have a dedicated team to oversee their affiliate program. Affiliate managers are responsible for recruiting new affiliates, providing support and resources to existing affiliates, optimizing the program, and monitoring performance. They act as a point of contact for affiliates and help ensure the smooth operation of the affiliate program.
These parties work together to create a mutually beneficial relationship, where the merchant gains increased exposure and sales, affiliates earn commissions, and customers receive valuable product recommendations or discounts.
How to start Affiliate Marketing?
As a new affiliate marketer, you need no investment, but you may have to set up a system that can bring in the right traffic to the product sales page or a landing page for affiliate marketing.
To become an affiliate marketer you need to follow these steps:
Join an Affiliate Network
Find a specific product to sell
Go out and sell
Collect your commission
Now let us look at each step in more detail.
Step 1: Join an Affiliate Network
What are Affiliate Networks or Affiliate Platforms?
An affiliate Platform is a company that houses a bunch of affiliate programs from other companies and forms a network of affiliate marketers and affiliate programs called an affiliate network. These companies or businesses are also referred to as merchants. An affiliate or an influencer is connected to these programs through the network hosting website called the affiliate platform. An affiliate marketer generally chooses programs within their niche and promotes them to their audience who are generally followers. The network on the other hand collects the commission from different companies who have hosted their programs on the network and pays it to the affiliate marketer who is the user of the network. The affiliate marketer promotes it to customers through a link generated for the product or service on the network called the affiliate link which helps the network collect the commission that belongs to the respective marketer.
Best Affiliate Marketing Platforms
Companies also provide affiliate programs individually that could either be recurring where the commission tends to come in on the following sales the customer makes that may also pay a lifetime commission or it may be fixed where the commission is set to a flat rate. While these programs are carried out without the aid of affiliate platforms, they are also termed as high-ticket because the sale value is high and so is the commission.
High Ticket Affiliate Marketing Programs
CPA Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing
The best way to start affiliate marketing is to work with CPA marketing where CPA stands for Cost per Action. There are affiliate marketing networks that promote attractive offers from clients which share a commission on performing the associated Click Through Action which may lead to Cost per Click or Cost per Lead. These websites work around the Cost per Action method and if you can manage to pull traffic to these products then you can earn an impressive commission. While affiliate marketing depends on sales for earning commissions which vary depending on the sales, CPA marketing allows a fixed commission for the associated action.
Following are a few best CPA affiliate platforms or CPA networks as they are called:
These sites offer some of the best in class commissions. It is an easy start for beginners with zero experience in affiliate marketing.
Step 2: Find a specific product to sell
Once you have decided on the network now it is time to zero in on the product you want to sell. It is always advisable to stick to your niche. Every affiliate product is associated with an affiliate link. Also when you start with marketing affiliate links you will need short link generators to make the links look legitimate by hiding long-length URLs with special characters and large random numbers. Shortened URLs can also assist in measuring the effectiveness of CPA marketing.
Step 3: Go out and sell
Now that you have the products you want to sell and have the affiliate links for them it is time to promote and sell them.
How to promote affiliate products?
create a blog depending on your niche
Write Posts reviewing these products
Promote through email marketing
Promote on YouTube
Run paid ads
Hold free webinars
Discuss on forums like Quora, Reddit, AnswerThePublic, and others
Follow the affiliate program policies on distributing freebies and similar incentives for sales
For generating traffic to your links try posting your affiliate links on traffic forums related to the niche. It is advised to create landing pages to promote these products in case you don't have a blog. Following are 2 sites that can be used to create landing pages and posts even without owning a website :
Step 4: Collect your commission
When a potential customer clicks on the affiliate's unique link or uses their unique code, it redirects them to the merchant's website. The affiliate's link contains a tracking mechanism that records the referral.
If the referral makes a purchase or completes the desired action (e.g., signing up for a newsletter, filling out a form, etc.), it is tracked by the affiliate program. This is how an affiliate earns a commission based on a predetermined percentage or fixed amount set by the merchant.
Now that you have seen how products are promoted through affiliate channels let us see how to use a marketing funnel for this.
Affiliate Marketing Funnel
The goal of an affiliate marketing funnel is to convert as many potential customers as possible into paying customers.
An affiliate marketing funnel typically consists of the following stages:
Awareness: Potential customers become aware of the product or service through various marketing channels.
Interest: Customers express interest in the product by clicking on an affiliate link or advertisement.
Desire: Affiliates aim to create a desire for the product through educational content, product demonstrations, and reviews.
Action: Customers make a purchase by clicking through the affiliate link to the merchant's website and making a purchase.
Optimization: Affiliates continuously track and optimize their funnel to improve conversion rates and maximize earnings.
The above image shows the type of content and marketing channels that can be used in different stages of the affiliate marketing funnel.
Affiliate Marketing Strategy
An affiliate marketing strategy refers to the overall approach and high-level decisions made to achieve the goals of your affiliate marketing program. It involves determining the direction, focus, and tactics that will be used to leverage the affiliate channel effectively. A strategy answers the "why" and "how" questions of your program.
Key components of an affiliate marketing strategy may include:
Defining program goals and objectives.
Identifying target audience and affiliates.
Selecting the right affiliate network or platform.
Determining commission structure and incentives.
Developing a value proposition for affiliates.
Outlining promotional and communication strategies.
Setting performance measurement metrics.
In summary, an affiliate marketing strategy provides the overarching framework for your program, guiding decision-making and shaping the direction of your affiliate marketing efforts.
Affiliate Marketing Plan
An affiliate marketing plan, on the other hand, is a more detailed and operational document that outlines the specific actions, tasks, and timelines required to execute the strategy. It delves into the specifics of implementation, providing a roadmap for day-to-day activities and tracking progress toward program goals.
Key components of an affiliate marketing plan may include:
Recruitment tactics for attracting affiliates.
Creation and distribution of promotional materials.
Communication channels and support mechanisms.
Performance tracking and reporting tools.
Compliance guidelines and ethical considerations.
Budgeting and financial planning.
Evaluation and optimization strategies.
The affiliate marketing plan takes the strategic decisions made in the affiliate marketing strategy and breaks them down into actionable steps, assigning responsibilities and setting timelines.
In summary, an affiliate marketing strategy sets the direction and guiding principles for your program, while the affiliate marketing plan translates that strategy into actionable tasks, tactics, and timelines. The strategy is the "what" and "why," while the plan is the "how" and "when" of executing the program.
Affiliate Marketing Campaign
An affiliate marketing campaign, on the other hand, is a focused and time-bound initiative within the affiliate program that aims to achieve specific objectives within a shorter timeframe. It is a tactical execution of the affiliate marketing plan and typically lasts for a specific period, such as a few weeks or months. The campaign is designed to generate immediate results and drive targeted actions or conversions.
Key components of an affiliate marketing campaign include:
Specific campaign goals and objectives.
Targeted audience segment.
Promotional materials tailored to the campaign.
Commission structure and incentives specific to the campaign.
Communication strategies for promoting the campaign to affiliates.
Tracking and measuring campaign performance.
Evaluation and optimization based on campaign results.
The affiliate marketing campaign is a more focused and tactical effort within the overall affiliate marketing plan, aimed at achieving specific short-term goals.
The campaign is a tactical execution aligned with the overall plan which in turn is the detailing of the overall strategy.
By now, you have understood that, affiliate marketing benefits all parties involved. The merchant gains increased exposure and potential customers through the efforts of affiliates. Affiliates have the opportunity to earn passive income by promoting products or services they believe in, without the need for creating their own products. Customers benefit from receiving recommendations and reviews from affiliates they trust.
For more information, please visit my YouTube channel DigiMarketerOnline
The intent of this article was to make affiliate marketing easy. With the help of this information, beginners can start with affiliate marketing for free. In our next article, we will discuss free affiliate marketing tools required for marketing.