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Affiliate Marketing Key Terms and Definitions

Updated: Jun 10, 2021

The idea of using affiliate marketing is tempting… Mostly because it is a win-win situation for both parties: an Affiliate Partner and a Brand.

Affiliate Marketing is a type of performance-based marketing where an affiliate promotes a product or service and earns a commission per sale or lead.

Affiliate Marketing Industry

Affiliate Marketing is an industry that continues to grow rapidly. Digital marketers expect it to be a $6.8 billion industry by the end of 2020, with more than 80% of brands using the affiliate marketing channel. These are impressive numbers. This type of digital marketing is booming due to our increased online presence overall, and as more and more people use the Internet for shopping. That being said, we shouldn’t expect any decline in affiliate campaigns any time soon. It will grow stronger and stronger in the coming years.

We put together some interesting facts about the affiliate space that are worth considering:

  • Affiliate marketing is expected to be a $6.8 billion industry by the end of 2020 (Source: Digital Global)

  • 15% of the total digital media advertising revenue is attributed to affiliate marketing (Source: Business Insider)

  • The industry has grown by 52% in the past 5 years (Source: eMarketer)

  • 81% of brands use affiliate channels and 84% of publishers leverage the power of affiliate marketing (Source: Awin)

  • There are over 11,400 affiliate programs in the US alone! (Source: AM Navigator)

  • Affiliate marketing accounts for 16% of online orders. Imagine! (Source: Awin)

  • 38% of marketers think affiliate marketing is a top acquisition channel (Source: Awin)

There is often miscommunication regarding the terminology, so let’s get that straightened out. There are two main parties involved in the affiliate marketing promotional campaigns.

  1. Brand. Sells its products or services. A Brand is also called an Advertiser or a Merchant, other names are Seller, Retailer, Vendor.

  2. Affiliate. Anybody with a web property who promotes products for Brands and earns revenue on sales. Also knows as a Publisher or Marketer.

Who is a merchant?

A merchant is a brand or a company who is looking for affiliate partners to promote their products/service.

It may seem easy. Every merchant thinks that they’ve got an awesome product, and all they need is to send an email to a potential affiliate (prospect), and he will jump on promoting it and then, magically, everybody is happy. As much as Brands would like this to be true, there are a lot of steps to take before such an approach could be successful. First of all, affiliates have lots of choices. These choices are not only because of a large number of brands participating in affiliate marketing, but also the affiliate programs’ terms and even the promotional model they prefer to use. In addition, there are different types of publishers: topic they cover, type of audience, coupon code requirement, and so on.

Remember, the affiliate’s size matters. You may chase hundreds of small affiliates who, at the end of the day, would bring you a few sales a month, meaning that your efforts and hard work won’t nearly be paid off. In our next post, we’ll discuss how to pick the right strategy for your affiliate program type and some of the best practices about building a program from scratch.

Who is an affiliate?

Anybody who has a website, blog, social media account, or any other web property online can be an affiliate.

In order to promote a brand’s products, a publisher uses a tracking link that connects a sale to his affiliate account. The tracking link allows the brand to attribute that conversion to a publisher. The affiliate places that link into a website, a blog, or a social media post, and promotes it, increasing the chances for a sale to occur. You can even spread the word and share your affiliate link via email or text message and still earn commission.

According to Awin Affiliate Network, their affiliates earned over $700 million last year.

The beauty of the affiliate approach is that it doesn’t require any significant investment from an affiliate. It is free to join most of the affiliate networks. In fact, you should pick a network that is free. Steps to take when starting with affiliate marketing from the publisher side:

  • Know your audience and what products they might be interested in

  • Research the niche

  • Determine who the top brands are and understand why! Examples, price point, quality, features, etc.

  • Research if affiliate programs are available for brands you want to work with

  • Narrow down your list of brands by evaluating programs’ terms such as their cookie window, commission rate, and others

  • Connect with the brand and express your intention to develop a long-term relationship

  • Ask for a product sample or service trial to ensure you’re recommending a product you’ve personally tried

  • Create a quality review or social media post

  • Do not forget to grab your unique affiliate tracking link and insert it into that post when redirecting to a merchant site!

  • Join affiliate forums for relevant discussions and tips

Should I use affiliate marketing?

15% of the total digital media advertising revenue is attributed to affiliate marketing (Source: Business Insider)

Yes! We believe that this number answers the question. There is so much potential in affiliate marketing for both affiliate and brand.

Digital Global stated that US affiliate marketing spending grows annually by 10.1%.

To be a successful affiliate marketer, you need to primarily focus on 2 things: know your audience’s needs and build strong relations with the Brand you promote.

Tip for Brands: know your affiliate partners’ needs and build strong relationships.

How do I get started?

You need to find out where brands and affiliates meet each other? Well, Google or any other search engine is probably your number one choice. Some Brands host an affiliate program internally, meaning they have the interface for you on their site. Others use 3rd party Affiliate Networks.

A Brand lists the program and gains access to thousands of affiliates.

For affiliates, it is convenient to have all their merchants under one roof. You just log in to one dashboard and see your clicks, sales, commission, and payouts in one place.

Here is a list of the most popular and reliable affiliate networks:

  1. Share-A-Sale

  2. CJ

  3. Rakuten

  4. Pepperjam

  5. Awin

Each of these networks offer guides on how to get started. With ShareASale, an affiliate may not even need a website. Their social media account will work just fine.


Affiliate Marketing will continue thriving in the coming years. It is expected to be a 7 billion dollar industry within a couple of years. In less than a year, the search interest for “affiliate marketing” grew by 44%, so it is the right time to jump on board and either start your affiliate path or continue improving your skills! Educate yourself, join forums, follow affiliate marketers’ blogs and social media to maximize your return in this channel!

We’d love to hear your experience with affiliate marketing! Share your thoughts, questions, feedback or anything you’d like to tell us!

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