Is Affiliate Marketing Dead? What you NEED to Know…

by | Jul 21, 2020

The question of whether affiliate marketing is dead or not has attracted different views from different circles. There are those who allude to the fact that affiliate marketing is here to stay, while others believe that it’s already dead. So, what’s the final answer to this very important question? In response to this query, it’s imperative to point out that after more than 3 decades since the inception of affiliate marketing – so much has changed.

As the internet started becoming more robust and accessible to individuals in the early 2000’s,  channels like blogs, social media, and forums were created which started allowing a wide number of affiliate marketers to become successful. 

As the digital landscape changes with time, many marketers have seen their income streams dry up and their networks fade to the abyss.  So where do we stand now?  Is affiliate marketing really dead?

Is Affiliate Marketing Dead?

The truth of the matter is that affiliate marketing is not dead. The fact that 80% of brands employ it to increase their sales ratio shows that it’s not yet dead. Perhaps, what marketers need to understand is that things are not as they used to be years ago. They have to remember that as things change, the ways of operation have to change as well.

For example, as technology evolves and the players in this marketing space increase, marketers have to reinvent themselves as well. Below, you will learn how the affiliate marketing environment has changed and the strategies that successful affiliate marketers are using to increase revenue.

What Do the Numbers Say

According to 99firms, 15% of the total digital media advertising revenue is attributed to affiliate marketing. This number has been steadily increasing as the internet becomes more and more available.  In total, affiliate marketing spending is projected to be around 6.8 billion (Statista).  That should be all the numbers you need to know there’s plenty of profits to be made in affiliate marketing.

Average Spending on Affiliate Marketing Proves it's not Dead

Affiliate Marketing Spending in the United States (in billion U.S.D.) 

If you type in “affiliate marketing” into Google Trends, you’ll see that affiliate marketing is more popular than it’s ever been!  The reality is that affiliate marketing is being used in various different industries including health and wellness,  fashion, makeup, and outdoor activities.  For many businesses, affiliate marketing is an essential piece of their revenue pie.

Google Trends Affiliate Marketing Trend

What Has Changed Today?

Just to reiterate, affiliate marketing isn’t dead. Rather, there are significant changes that have taken place over the years that have made it difficult for some marketers to experience expected outcomes. Just because the environment has transformed doesn’t mean that the marketing platform has died. It’s the ability to appreciate these changes that allow some marketers to thrive while others struggle to make it.

In fact, if you’re new to affiliate marketing you have a distinct advantage.   Since you’re not caught in the old ways of affiliate marketing you can learn from new trends.  This would be difficult for someone running an affiliate business the same way for the past 10 years.  Nonetheless, if you’re starting any kind of business online, it’s important to be agile so you can stay profitable through an algorithm update or new affiliate restrictions.

Truth #1: Increased Competition

As you probably know, competition is always a challenge for any market space. Only those who are able to differentiate themselves manage to win out high levels of competition. Based on the success story of affiliate marketing in the past, more people want to get into it.  This means that the industry is continually attracting many people to it, thus crowding the market landscape. Everybody wants to have a piece of the platform’s income potential.

The barriers of entry to become an affiliate marketer cost almost nothing.  So when you see a YouTube talking about all the money he’s made from affiliate marketing it’s easy to see why so many people are drawn to the idea.  Don’t be confused though, even though the popularity of affiliate marketing has grown, about 95% of new marketers fail.  To build a profitable online affiliate marketing business will take time, dedication, and commitment.

Truth #2: SEO Changes

As an affiliate marketer, keeping up with the latest SEO trends is a necessity if you have to succeed in the industry. You have to develop the spirit of learning new tactics that will help you get noticed by your target audiences. Without this, you’ll likely find affiliate marketing not giving you what you expect in return. Essentially, the SEO tactics that worked a few years back are not working today.  SEO is a constantly revolving door that requires constant updating, as new SEO tactics emerge, more opportunities for affiliate marketers exist.  Therefore, affiliate marketers who are not keeping up with the current trends find it difficult to get optimal outcomes for their businesses.

GOogle Algorithm Update by Imagitrue

SEO and affiliate marketing are essentially designed to accomplish the same goal, which is to drive traffic to the most relevant piece of information in order to convert a sale.  It’s important you always keep this in mind when you’re creating a piece of content.  If you’re building spammy backlinks or keyword stuffing your content you could get penalized.  Google is only getting smarter so always act within their best practices to avoid a dramatic loss in rankings.

Truth #3: Strict Affiliate Marketing Regulations

Today, the guidelines for affiliate marketing have become more strict than ever. That is why many affiliate marketers assert that its influence has gone down. On the contrary, internet giants still believe that affiliate marketing is an important resource today. So, what do marketing regulations have to do with the notion that affiliate marketing is dead?

Well, marketing regulation bodies are putting in place tough regulations for online advertisements. For this reason, marketers have to adhere to the strict content regulations put in place. In the event that one violates these rules, the chances of getting banned are high. Hence, the strictness of the marketing environment is locking many interested marketers out.

For example, if you are an affiliate marketer, you have to make your advertisement less aggressive.  As data privacy laws become more strict, it becomes more difficult to adhere to them.  This means that you have to do your research extensively and make sure that your reach out to your target audience is within the confines of the law.

It’s because of these strict marketing regulations that some marketers opt out of the industry.  For more information check out Nate MacCallister’s work on Entresource where he wrote a great article outlining issues associated with affiliate marketing regulation

Tips for Affiliate Marketing Success

Indeed, despite the changes that have taken place over the years, affiliate marketing is still alive. Success in the current affiliate marketing space is a result of doing things right. The marketers who are making it big are the ones who have adjusted accordingly to the current trends in the industry. Here are some of the steps you can take to maximize the potential of affiliate marketing today:

Tip #1: Choose a niche you can profit from

Whatever product you decide to promote, you need to make sure it’s profitable and in demand.   For example, you can have a nutrition blog and review different nutrition products, or you can create a YouTube channel and concentrate on architectural photography. The best thing here is to identify a niche that you have great interest in and adequate knowledge.

As you think of the niche to settle for, it’s also valuable for you to choose one that has a high demand. Are there people in that niche who will benefit from the products you promote? If you find a niche that fits your passion and knowledge, you will position yourself strategically for profitability. For you, you won’t see affiliate marketing is dead, but as a growing industry.

Tip #2: Identify the right platform to market your products

There are various platforms you can choose to market your products as an affiliate marketer. This is a very fundamental step since not every platform might be good for you. Part of identifying the ideal platform for you is to understand your target audience well. Where does your target customer hang out online?  Some of the platforms that you can settle for include: a website, YouTube channel, Facebook, or Instagram.

Perhaps the reason why you have not been getting the results you envisioned as an affiliate marketer is because you haven’t been using the platform that brings your target audience closer. Therefore, for you to succeed in this space, you have to first choose the best platform to reach out to your audience in the most effective way possible.

Using a tool like SimilarWeb you can identify a competitor in your niche and see where they’re getting all their traffic from.  Once you start seeing a common trend pic up on it and be sure to use that platform to promote your product.

Tip #3: Be sure of the products you market

This might seem obvious, but it’s not. Identifying the products to promote is imperative for an affiliate marketer. Remember, not every product in your niche will be valuable to your target audience. Thus, you have to make sure that you promote what adds value to your audience. Think of it being a solution to your audience. As you think of this, the best place to begin is promoting products you have used or you have a lot of confidence in.

One of the things that make affiliate marketers fail is not showing their audience that they believe in what they are promoting. Therefore, it will be a valuable asset for your audience to trust what you are offering them. Be certain of the benefits and value that your products offer to your audience. This will go a long way in growing your business exponentially.

Tip #4: Be creative and innovative as you promote products

For you to go beyond the average affiliate marketer, you have to be different in the way you approach your business. Part of what makes a great and high-achieving marketer is the ability to be creative and innovative. As you have already learned, what works today might not work tomorrow. So, the best plan of action is to be versatile and employ different strategies of reaching out to your target audience.

For example, you can choose to optimize your content so as to reach out to more customers than before. You don’t settle on the success of yesterday. Constant improvement and reinvention is the key to succeeding as an affiliate marketer. If you will apply diverse ways of promoting your products and attracting your audience, you will end up increasing your revenue.

Undoubtedly, affiliate marketing is not dead. It’s a growing industry that has a lot of promise for the future. In reality, brands understand that they have to rely on it to increase their sales. Therefore, the notion that it’s dead is not true at all. The only thing that has happened is that the affiliate marketing environment is not as it was before. There are changes that have taken place since its inception. For this reason, affiliate marketers have to respond to these changes positively for them to keep on earning revenues from the industry.

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