Picture this: You're embarking on a thrilling journey into the expansive world of affiliate marketing.
You've got your product, you're brimming with enthusiasm, but then... you freeze.
Who do I partner with?
How many types of affiliates are there anyway?
From that blog-savvy neighbor of yours to big-shot influencers painting the skies of Instagram, the affiliations you can form are as diverse as they are powerful.
Let’s dive into some common affiliate partnership types.
11 Common Types of Affiliate Partnerships:
1. Content Affiliates.
Diving straight into the world of affiliates, I'd like to introduce you to a significant player - content affiliates.
They're the ones that really make things happen for your program.
Content affiliates primarily rely on creating high-quality, valuable, and engaging content on their websites or blogs to promote products or services.
They're the bloggers, influencers, and content creators who weave product promotions seamlessly into their articles, blog posts, reviews, or video descriptions.
Imagine reading an engrossing mountain biking blog post about some of the best mountain bikes that were tested and road to the limits by your favorite content creator – that’s content affiliate marketing at work!
Or think about watching a DIY home improvement video tutorial where the host casually recommends a particular brand of power tools – again, that's what these folks do.
Out of all of the affiliate programs I’ve managed and audited, I’ve seen these types of affiliates drive 60% of the affiliate program’s revenue.
2. Review Affiliates.
Let's talk about review affiliates.
These are the folks who offer in-depth and honest reviews about products or services on their platforms.
Here's how it works:
- A review affiliate receives a product or service from a company, gives it a whirl, and then shares their experience on various platforms such as blogs, YouTube channels, or social media accounts.
- Their audience relies heavily on these reviews to shape their purchasing decisions because they trust the reviewer's opinion.
The defining factor is that these affiliates focus primarily on reviewing products and providing genuine feedback. It's not just about promoting; it’s also about informing and guiding consumers during their purchases.
For instance, think about tech bloggers who unbox new gadgets and give their first impressions or beauty influencers who test out makeup products for their followers. Here are some well-known examples:
- MKBHD (Marques Brownlee): An influential tech YouTuber known for his detailed gadget reviews.
- Wirecutter: A product review website owned by The New York Times Company.
- Temptalia: An award-winning beauty blog featuring in-depth makeup reviews.
These review affiliates have built solid reputations based on honesty and expertise in their fields.
But here's the catch – maintaining credibility while earning commission can be challenging at times. They need to strike a balance between being informative reviewers and successful promoters, which isn’t always easy!
3. Coupon and Deal Sites.
Coupon and deal sites are a big part of the affiliate world.
They work by posting links to discounted products or services on their own website or social media channels. When someone clicks that link (and uses the coupon code) and makes a purchase, bam - the site earns a commission.
Based on my experience, coupon websites can also be a partnership to avoid for these reasons:
- Your company doesn’t offer coupons, but these sites still rank for “X coupons” and use affiliate links in their website to drive the last click sale.
- Poor consumer experience if the coupons don’t work on affiliate sites, leading to more customer support inquiries.
- Hard to maintain the number of active coupons across hundreds of sites.
- Cut further in your profit margins (on top of affiliate payout and network/software fees)
4. Search Affiliates.
Let's talk about search affiliates.
Search affiliate partners use their marketing budget to direct paid ad traffic to your website via their affiliate link.
It can be a solid strategy in a quite competitive market, but it’s also a strategy that can be much more expensive than your traditional affiliate payouts.
Typically, these partners want a much higher take rate because they have more risk.
Also, you’ll need to consider bad actors that bid on your trademark search terms. You definitely don’t want this to happen!
5. Social Media (Influencer) Affiliates.
These are individuals who have carved out a digital space for themselves on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Snapchat.
Their followers range from thousands to millions and they've cultivated a significant influence over their audience's purchasing behaviors.
Take Danielle Bernstein of @weworewhat for example. She's built an Instagram following in the millions by sharing her personal style. Because of her large fan base and credibility in fashion, brands often partner with her to promote their products. She’s essentially acting as an affiliate marketer while adding value for her followers by showcasing how she uses or styles these items.
6. Email Marketing Affiliates.
Email marketing affiliates primarily use email as their main channel of communication and promotion.
They utilize strategies like targeted campaigns, newsletters, and personalized messages to promote products or services on behalf of businesses.
One thing I love about email marketing affiliates is their ability to build lasting relationships with subscribers through consistent value delivery. They're not just selling; they're cultivating trust and loyalty among customers.
7. Loyalty Portals.
Loyalty portals stand as a unique type of affiliate marketing that's often overlooked. If you've ever clicked through from a rewards site to make a purchase, you've interacted with this style of affiliate marketing.
These platforms are essentially intermediaries between consumers and businesses. They reward users for shopping at certain stores or buying specific products, offering incentives like cash back or points redeemable for prizes. It's the modern-day version of clipping coupons, only it's all done digitally.
Here are some examples:
- Rakuten Rewards (formerly Ebates)
8. Comparison Sites.
Comparison sites are a type of affiliate that's unique, providing value to consumers by doing just what their name suggests - comparing products or services.
Let's take a deeper dive into how these websites operate.
Essentially, they gather data from various sources and then present it in an easy-to-understand format for consumers.
This makes it more straightforward for potential customers to compare prices, features, benefits, and drawbacks of different products or services before making a buying decision.
Think about it this way:
- You're interested in getting yourself a new smartphone but are overwhelmed by the multitude of options available on the market today.
- Instead of visiting each manufacturer’s website individually and manually comparing specs and prices (which could be quite time-consuming), you can simply visit one comparison site where all this information is aggregated and presented to you neatly.
These sites DO NOT sell products or services themselves; instead, they redirect users to merchants' websites using affiliate links. When someone clicks on one of these links and makes a purchase, the comparison site earns a commission.
Here are some popular comparison site examples:
- NerdWallet – Provides comparisons for financial products like credit cards
- Kayak – Compares flights, hotels, car rentals
- TripAdvisor – Compares travel-related services
9. Mobile App Affiliates.
These affiliates are typically app developers who have built a user-friendly platform or game and then use that to promote products or services.
One prevalent method used by these types of affiliates is in-app advertising. A good example? Those ads you see while playing a mobile game or using a free application. This type of affiliate marketing can be particularly effective because users are often engaged with the app for extended periods, providing ample opportunities for ad exposure.
Another common strategy employed by mobile app affiliates is through push notifications - those little messages that pop up on your phone screen from time to time reminding you about updates, offers, or new content within an app you've installed.
A great example is NerdWallet’s finance app.
NerdWallet provides copious financial advice to millions of people, driving a lot of their revenue through advertising, but…
They also generate revenue through their partnerships with financial institutions. Check out their app marketplace below with recommendations to credit card providers – yes, they earn a kick-back on these recommendations if you become a customer of the credit card company!
10. Video Affiliates.
Just think about it: how often have you seen a YouTube influencer reviewing a product, followed by "you can find the link in my description box below"?
That's video affiliate marketing in action!
By leveraging their vast audiences and trust factor, these influencers become an invaluable asset for brands looking to expand their reach.
But why are they so effective? Well, it boils down to two main reasons: visibility and engagement.
Now let me shed some light on how these affiliates usually operate.
Typically, they get paid either per sale (PPS) or per lead (PPL). With PPS, they'll earn a commission every time someone uses their referral link to purchase something. On the other hand with PPL, they get paid for every lead or sign-up generated through their link.
11. Podcaster Affiliates.
Alright, let's dive into our final affiliate type - podcaster affiliates.
These are the voices that fill your morning commute or accompany you during your weekend chores. With podcasting gaining massive popularity over recent years, it's no surprise that many marketers are turning towards this platform for their affiliate marketing strategies.
Podcaster affiliates have a unique position in the world of digital marketing. They've got the power of voice on their side, and with it comes an intimate connection to their listeners. It's this personal relationship that can be effectively leveraged for affiliate promotions.
Now here's where it gets interesting: Unlike traditional blog posts or social media updates where affiliate links can be embedded directly into the text, podcasts require a bit more creativity to include these promotional elements organically within the narrative flow.
- You might hear a host mention a product during the show followed by a unique promotion code listeners can use at checkout.
- Some hosts may offer detailed reviews of an affiliated product as part of their content.
- Others invite company representatives onto their shows to discuss products in-depth – providing both informative content for listeners and subtle promotion for businesses.
In terms of numbers, data from Statista suggests that U.S podcast advertising revenues soared from around $69 million in 2015 to an estimated $1 billion in 2020! That’s quite impressive growth if you ask me!
Wrapping up our Affiliate Partner Types
And there we have it - a whirlwind journey through the vibrant tapestry of affiliate partnerships! It's like walking through a bustling bazaar: colorful, diverse, and brimming with opportunities waiting to be seized. Remember, the affiliate world isn't just about quantity but also the quality of connections you forge. Each partner type offers unique strengths, and the key is finding which ones align with your brand's voice and goals.