Is Affiliate Marketing Dead? The Truth About the Industry

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Last Updated on 22nd May 2024

Is affiliate marketing dead? Ha! Far from it, my friends. In fact, it’s more alive and thriving than ever before.

The idea that affiliate marketing is on its last legs is nothing more than a myth, perpetuated by those who just haven’t kept up with the times (or those who want to sell you an eCommerce or dropshipping course!)

The truth is, affiliate marketing is a vital and ever-evolving industry, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

So, let’s put the funeral plans on hold and dive into the exciting world of affiliate marketing together, shall we?

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What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is like a secret handshake between businesses. One business says to the other, “Hey, I know some people who might be interested in what you’re selling. If I introduce them to you and they make a purchase, can I get a cut of the profits?” And the other business says, “Sure, sounds like a win-win to me!”

It’s like matchmaking, but for businesses and customers. The affiliate gets a commission for every successful match they make, and the business gets a new customer. It’s a love story for the digital age.

A diagram showing how affiliate marketing works

Some people think of affiliate marketing as a sneaky way for businesses to make money, but it’s actually a great way for businesses to get more exposure and for affiliates to make some extra cash.

Just think of it as a mutually beneficial business relationship, rather than a one-sided transaction.

That being said, the “secret handshake” is not so secret nowadays. Firstly, affiliates now have to disclose their relationship with the company they’re promoting on any promotional pages or feel the wrath of the FTC.

Secondly, affiliate marketing has gained so much popularity over recent years that a larger percentage of the general public is now aware of a potential “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” relationship that may exist between companies and publishers.

Just take a look at this image from Google Trends showing the popularity of affiliate marketing over the last 5 years:

Google Trends graph showing the affiliate marketing trend over 5 years

Is Affiliate Marketing Dead?

The short answer is no. Affiliate marketing is not dead, and still very much worth it in my opinion.

So, contrary to popular belief, affiliate marketing is not dead. In fact, it’s still a thriving industry and is expected to continue growing in the coming years.

One of the main reasons for this is that affiliate marketing provides a cost-effective way for businesses to acquire new customers. Instead of spending a large amount of money on advertising, businesses can pay affiliates only when they make a sale.

Another reason the affiliate marketing industry is still going strong is that it allows for a more targeted approach to reaching potential customers. Affiliates are able to reach specific audiences and demographics that the business may not be able to reach on its own.

Additionally, with the rise of social media and influencer marketing, affiliates now have more ways to promote products and connect with potential customers.

Furthermore, Affiliate marketing also provides a way for individuals to make money online, by promoting products and services that align with their interests, passions, or content. This creates a win-win situation for both the affiliate and the business.

Here are 4 proof in pudding reasons why affiliate marketing is not dead:

1) Affiliate Marketing Spending Continues To Increase

Affiliate marketing spending has been consistently on the rise for years, with companies allocating more of their marketing budget to this channel.

According to recent studies, spending on affiliate marketing increased to around $8.2 billion in 2022. This was an increase of 10.1% from 2020.

That’s pretty impressive growth right there.

As for 2023? Well, spending on this style of marketing is only predicted to continue and is estimated to reach around $10 billion.

One of the main reasons for this increase in spending is the growing awareness of the effectiveness and ROI of affiliate marketing. Businesses are starting to realize that affiliate marketing can provide a cost-effective way to acquire new customers and boost sales.

Additionally, with the rise of e-commerce and online shopping, affiliate marketing has become an essential tool for reaching consumers where they are spending most of their time: online.

Another reason for the increase in affiliate marketing spending is the growing popularity of influencer marketing.

Influencers are able to reach specific audiences and demographics that traditional advertising methods just can’t reach. As a result, more and more businesses are turning to influencers to promote their products and services.

Pretty sweet if you’re an influencer with a sizeable audience!

2) Increased Interest In Affiliate Marketing

As I mentioned previously, Google Trends clearly shows a steady increase in interest in affiliate marketing.

If affiliate marketing was dying then the Google Trends graph would also show a steady or sharp decline in interest. However, we are observing that the opposite is actually true. Just take a look at the graph below:

Google Trends graph showing the affiliate marketing trend over 1 year

Besides a lot of the general public now realizing that affiliate marketing is a great way to build a part-time or full-time business, I think that covid-19 has also helped out the industry too.

A huge amount of people were left without an income during the pandemic, and I believe this has caused a lot of people to now turn to the internet to earn more income. Since affiliate marketing has such a low barrier to entry, and you don’t need to invest much money to get started, I believe that this business model will continue to be a popular one long into the future.

3) Affiliate Marketing Generates a LOT of Revenue for Businesses

As much as 81% of all brands are now working with affiliate marketers as a way to reach a wider audience and drive sales. That’s a staggering amount of businesses!

When you think about just how much business is conducted online, all the sales, transactions, and subscriptions. Well, affiliate marketing is responsible for about 16% of all of it. That’s pretty huge. And, in the US and Canada alone, affiliate marketing accounts for around 16% of all eCommerce sales too.

The Evolution of Affiliate Marketing Trends

Affiliate marketing has definitely evolved over time. I think a lot of people may think that the affiliate marketing industry is dead because they’re only aware of one way of doing it – blogging.

While blogging is still alive and well, it has become much harder over the recent years, thanks to Google’s many core algorithm updates. That being said, blogging is still a viable affiliate strategy if you understand search engine marketing and affiliate SEO.

Because of this, a lot of affiliates have changed their strategies. Other promotional methods are also more appealing to the younger generations that are up and coming.

Here are some important evolutionary trends to be aware of in the affiliate marketing space:

  1. Influencer marketing: Influencer marketing has become increasingly popular over the last few years, as businesses look to leverage the reach and credibility of social media influencers to promote their products or services. Influencers are often paid to share affiliate links on their social media channels, which can help to drive sales and increase brand awareness.
  2. Video marketing: Video marketing has become increasingly popular, particularly since around 2016-17. Affiliates are creating videos that demonstrate the products or services they are promoting, which can help to increase conversions and engagement. Particularly, a YouTube channel is the most popular vehicle for affiliates when it comes to video.
  3. Content marketing: Content marketing has always been an important part of affiliate marketing, but it has become even more so thanks to social media. This is because consumers are becoming more skeptical of traditional advertising and are more likely to engage with content that is informative, educational, and relevant to their interests.
  4. Transparency & Personalization: Over the years, the general public has become wearier in buying from faceless, nameless businesses selling tat on the internet. Gone are the days when you could make a killing from faceless blog posts and social media channels. Nowadays, people want to know who’s behind the brand, so successful affiliates are being transparent about who they are, and what they do, and are trying to offer a more personalized experience for their audience.
  5. Automation: Affiliates are using automation to streamline their operations and increase efficiency. This includes automating the process of finding new products to promote, creating affiliate links, generating leads, making sales, and tracking affiliate commissions.

How to Become Successful in Affiliate Marketing In 2023 and Beyond

The strategies used in affiliate marketing

By now, you probably realize that affiliate marketing is not dead. In fact, it’s alive and well, it’s just evolved.

If you want to jump into this industry, then here are 6 key steps the beginner affiliate needs to take to become to have success in this industry:

Step 1: Choose a niche

The first step to becoming a successful affiliate is to choose a niche that you have an interest in and you have knowledge of. This will help you create content that resonates with your audience make if you are targeting millennials, then using Instagram or YouTube might be more effective than using examples, easier for you to promote products related to your niche.

It’s important to do research on the market before choosing a niche, as this will help you determine if there is a demand for the products you want to promote.

Read my article on choosing an evergreen niche to help you pick a winner and avoid critical mistakes.

Step 2: Understand your target audience

The second step is to understand your target audience. Knowing who you are targeting will help you create content that resonates with them and make it easier for you to promote products related to your niche.

It’s important to do research on the market before choosing a niche, as this will help you determine who your target audience is and what they are looking for.

Step 3: Find good products to sell

The third step is to find good affiliate products to promote. You want to make sure that the products you are promoting are of high quality and offer value to your audience.

You can find products to promote by researching affiliate networks, such as Clickbank, FlexOffers, CJ Affiliate, and ShareASale. These affiliate networks have a wide variety of products that you can choose from.

You should also research individual companies and products to make sure they are reputable and offer value to your audience.

Step 4: Choose a platform

The fourth step is to choose a platform to promote your products. While you can promote on more than one platform, it’s HIGHLY advisable to start with just one platform first until you have established a good stream of traffic.

The most popular traffic platforms for affiliate marketing are YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and blogging.

When choosing a platform, you should consider the type of content you want to create and the audience you are targeting.

Step 5: Use automation to generate leads and make sales

Automation is a great way to streamline your affiliate marketing efforts and increase efficiency.

While one of the top goals of your affiliate marketing business should be to build your email list, the best way to do it is by using an automated system to collect leads, add people to your email list, automate your communication with them, and offer them products all on autopilot.

In time, email marketing will be one of your primary activities as your email list is one of your most important assets.

Step 6: Optimize your campaigns

The sixth step is to optimize your affiliate offers. This means making sure that you are getting the most out of your traffic, clicks, and offers to maximize your profits.

To do this, you should track the performance of each offer and adjust it accordingly. You can use analytics tools such as Google Analytics or Hotjar to track the performance of your campaigns and make changes based on the data.

Final Thoughts – Will Affiliate Marketing Die?

In conclusion, the question “Is affiliate marketing dead?” is one that has been circulating for quite some time now. But as we’ve seen, the industry is far from dead. It’s alive, thriving, and continually evolving to meet the needs of businesses and consumers alike.

Affiliate marketing is a powerful tool that can help businesses to reach new audiences, increase brand awareness, and drive sales.

So, don’t believe the hype, and don’t be afraid to jump in, because affiliate marketing is here to stay. Long live affiliate marketing!

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