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is affiliate marketing dead

Is Affiliate Marketing Dead? [RIP]

Is affiliate marketing dead? Well, let’s dig in to this.

Affiliate marketing first hit the scene in 1989, but really started to pick up steam throughout the 1990s.

Amazon and CDNow were some of the revenue trend’s earliest adopters, with many other associate programs gaining popularity thereafter.

When Web 2.0 came about, affiliate marketing had become a hot trend with many distribution channels like forums, blogs, and social media platforms actively utilizing it.

For years, affiliate marketing has been a successful tactic, but these days, many of us wonder if it is dying out (or perhaps, dead already).

Many have seen their affiliate programs dwindle. A good number of people have stepped out of the affiliate game altogether due to a lack of income.

But are these extreme cases indicative of the sad fact that affiliate marketing is completely dead or will affiliate marketing die out in the very near future?

Affiliate Marketing: Dead Or Not Yet?

The blunt answer is that no, affiliate marketing is not dead. It has however changed dramatically throughout the years, and most basic affiliate programs can no longer be relied upon to generate earnings.

Those who are still trying to use the strategy, therefore, need to not only be receptive to adopting new ideas and trends, they also need to get creative.

Is Affiliate Marketing Dead? The Numbers Don’t Lie

It is harder to leverage affiliate marketing to be successful these days, that’s a fact.

However, the data actually shows that in 2015 Americans spent 4.21 million on affiliate marketing, and that number has increased over the next half of a decade to an estimated 6.82 billion in 2020.

Even though it is more challenging to breakthrough in the affiliate marketing realm, the growth shows that people are still willing to spend money on affiliate marketing.

As indicated by Google Trends, the term “affiliate marketing” is still an extremely common search query, with 81% of brands still using affiliate marketing to get their products in front of as many eyeballs of prospective consumers as possible.

is affiliate marketing dead

Beyond that, 20% of publishers are still using this strategy to generate annual revenue.

One aspect that is helping the affiliate marketing industry is the use of social media by publishers to share stories about their products.

Judging by its ludicrousy $12 billion sector worth, it would seem that affiliate marketing is as popular and profitable as ever.


The U.S. affiliate marketing programs, which pulled in $5.4 billion in 2017, is projected to reach $8.2 billion by 2022. Back in 2017, affiliate marketing links gobbled up over 5 billion clicks and saw more than 170 million transactions being made.

While the numbers for the two prior years are not yet available, the affiliate marketing methodology remains a successful way to boost brand sales across the board.

This is so prominent in fact, that about 90% of merchants regard affiliate marketing as being an essential component of their digital marketing plan.

Currently, the health & wellness, fashion, and the sports and outdoor activity industry giants leverage affiliate marketing tactics and techniques, with fashion accounting for 19% of affiliate marketing activities, sports raking in 15%, and health & wellness accounting for 11%.

These might be the biggest industries in the affiliate game, but they are far from the only ones. Many other industries are still using affiliate marketing, with 83% of them being able to expand their exposure and increase their revenue.

Is Affiliate Marketing Dead – Is it Still Worth It?

With affiliate marketing still being prominent, it is safe to say that it is not going anywhere anytime soon.

But, is it still worth the effort? Would a company that uses outside marketers to boost sales and bolster their profits still be able to rely on affiliate marketing over a direct marketing approach?

Can affiliate marketing still even make money?

Before we answer those questions, let’s look at a few facts:

● At this time, Amazon Associates, VigLink, ShareASale, Awin, Rakuten, SkimLinks, and CJ Affiliates are the biggest affiliate industry players.
● Amazon Associates programs offer commission rates ranging from 1% to 10%.
● ConvertKit has a recurring 30% commission for every customer monthly.
● With BigCommerce, affiliates don’t just get a 200% commission for the first recurring patient by a customer, they also score $1,500 for each project customer.

is affiliate marketing dead

Is Affiliate Marketing Dead – Not A Get Rich Quick Scheme

One of the biggest misconceptions about affiliate marketing is that it’s a get-rich-quick scheme of sorts.

Many who start in this type of marketing erroneously believe that with minimal applied effort on their behalf, they will begin earning thousands of dollars a month.

If that were the case, however, everyone would be hopping on the affiliate train. Anyone who promotes affiliate marketing as a fast, easy way to earn really big bucks is being morally dishonest.

The truth is that affiliate marketing takes effort, time, and patience, as well as requiring quite a bit of practice.

Like any other business, it is unlikely to result in automatic profits, at least not until a steep learning curve can be overcome.

Simply signing up to be an affiliate marketer is not going to be sufficient. It takes hard work in conjunction with the brands being represented, with the necessity of building out a wide network of followers and customers.

Those fresh to the affiliate marketing world should expect to need to put in some time and hard work into the venture.

Simply entering an affiliate marketplace is not going to magically replace their fully sustainable income.

Affiliates get paid on commission based on every referred sale. That means they need to constantly reach out to more and more people and grow the network of merchants they work with.

Coming into affiliate marketing with certain connections in the industry might be a sizable benefit, but it is by no means a direct correlation to high conversions.

If executed well, publishers can still generate good revenue from affiliate marketing, however.

Is Affiliate Marketing Dead – From A Merchant’s Point Of View

The product or service being sold is owned by a merchant. Those merchants who leverage affiliate marketers, pay these affiliates a commission on every sale.

Paying extra money is not ideal for any business, but the upside is often quite lucrative. Affiliate marketers can reach prospective consumers that the merchant would have not been able to or thought about being able to reach.

The sales that can be spawned from the affiliate network end up being worth the investment by the merchant because these are conversions that could have been achieved only through the use of affiliate marketers’ participation and efforts.

Affiliate marketing commission ends up being a form of a finders fee.

The merchant doesn’t have to pour more financial resources into their own marketing, and just pay others (affiliates) to market the product for them, paying them a small percentage of an otherwise unreachable sale.

This retains the merchant more money to invest in things like payroll and benefits.

84% of brands utilize affiliate marketers. It is not just Fortune 500 companies either. Many mom & pop shops utilize it too, so the benefits are enterprise-wide, even if they only make up a small portion of a merchants’ sales efforts.

Is Affiliate Marketing Dead – Best Practices For Affiliate Marketing

So clearly affiliate marketing is not on its last legs, but it is an industry that has become much more competitive. It requires a lot more knowledge, time, and hard work than ever before.

Those who got into the affiliate marketing game early on might be lucky enough to not have to change much as their presence and strategy are already well established.

Those looking to get into that world for the first time, need to set specific goals and hold realistic expectations, regardless of whether they are the affiliate or the merchant.

Most importantly needs to be the recognition that affiliate marketing isn’t likely to become an overnight success.

The sphere is highly competitive, with many markets already having a dominant spot for most brands.

Making a name for oneself news therefore to be achieved through hard work and some creativity.

Here are a few tips with that in mind.

Is Affiliate Marketing Dead – Find And Stick To A Niche

Some believe that promoting as many different products as possible is the winning strategy in terms of affiliate marketing, when in fact, it is nearly the direct opposite.

Choosing a single product or a niche market for a particular type of product is significantly more strategic.

To be a successful marketer, being passionate and knowledgeable about the products promoted is paramount.

Focusing on strength in terms of understanding, appreciation, and familiarity are all positive attributes that one could have when reaching out to a merchant in a particular field, as it is this level of product comprehension that promotes the greatest rate of success in being able to truly promote a product (or hundreds of them) successfully.

An entire industry is also too broad of a scope for affiliate marketing work. It needs to be more targeted to a particular niche.

One would not want to go into being a fashion affiliate, but rather a more targeted area like jewelry or makeup.

Is Affiliate Marketing Dead – Trust Thy Merchant

While the ultimate goal is to market oneself as an affiliate, association with reputable merchants is also key.

It is important to know and trust that the merchant an affiliate is promoting produces high-quality goods and services, or those who buy subpar products are unlikely to use the affiliate again.

It is important to not only study the marketed products but to have honest, in-depth conversations with the merchants and inquire about any concerning or nuanced matters with regards to their products.

If you would not use an item yourself, you probably should steer clear of promoting it. Since the ultimate goal is to please the consumers, an affiliate is best served to avoid products that are going to do the opposite of that.

Is Affiliate Marketing Dead – Don’t Shy Away From Learning

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Working independently as an affiliate marketer might be an appealing idea, but it should never come at the cost of learning from others and growing more knowledgeable.

One of the best learning programs available is Authority Hacker. Well known in the industry for providing solid, applicable and effective tools to teach you how to build an affiliate marketing business from the ground up. Check out my review here.

Reaching out to affiliates or attending networking events are all great ideas in terms of learning more about the affiliate marketing business.

Resources can be found in both an in-person and an online forum, and while there might be an upfront cost for such training, the skills taught could prove invaluable to becoming a better, more successful affiliate.

They will also rather quickly pay for themselves.

Some even consider bringing on a team to help the affiliate marketing campaign prosper.

Keeping commissions to yourself is desired, but working with a team can help reach even more consumers, garner more clicks, and achieve far more conversions.

With the larger customer base, the money will still be coming in, even when split amongst a team.

Is Affiliate Marketing Dead – Don’t Get Discouraged

is affiliate marketing dead

While getting off the ground with affiliate marketing can be discouraging, it is vital to remain optimistic about one’s efforts throughout the process.

Making mistakes or failing is not a bad thing as long as the reasons for these results are understood, learned, and avoided in the future.

Those who stick with affiliate marketing recognize that it is not an easy job, but it can be lucrative and rewarding when one commits to learning and working hard at it.

Is Affiliate Marketing Dead – Track Everything


The only way to learn what is working and what is not is to keep track of everything on the affiliate network. This means that any promoted product should have its clicks, conversions, and sales tracked.

Many programs make such tracking easy to accomplish, including Google Analytics, Clickmagick and Redtrack. Many affiliate sites even have their own tools for these matters. The key is to be diligent about track

Is Affiliate Marketing Dead – Diversification

Never put all of your affiliate eggs in one basket. In other words, don’t promote products and services through just one source of traffic.

Having a website for promotion is a great start, but there are other powerful promotional channels to consider.

Through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and many other social media outlets, one can reach many new potential customers.

Bluntly speaking, if it exists online, consideration for using it for affiliate marketing should be considered.

Diversification of traffic streams can greatly assist in identifying a target audience and acquiring more interest in the promoted products.

Finding the right people to market to increases the number of sales made organically, not to mention reduces the inefficiencies in your day to day work.

Affiliate marketing is all about seeking out helpful methods or tools for bettering product and service promotion, then utilizing them.

For this reason, using those makes you a stronger affiliate marketer.

The more strong affiliate marketers there are out there, the more rarely the question “is affiliate marketing dead?” will need to be asked.

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