Affiliate marketing may seem complicated at first. But it is a pretty simple concept.
The purpose of this affiliate marketing anatomy guide is to explain how the entire process works. And give you full understanding of the components so you can be the best affiliate marketer you can be.
From affiliate marketing to affiliate websites, we will dive into thorough explanations and visual diagrams to show how these components all connect together.
The more you understand the components of affiliate marketing, the better chance you will connect these components together in successful ways.
So, let’s get started, shall we?!
Affiliate Marketing Anatomy
Affiliate marketing is a business relationship between three different groups of people:
- Merchant = Advertiser
- Affiliate = Publisher
- Customer = Consumer
The merchant is the company that has products they want to sell. The merchant agrees to an affiliate program where they pay out commissions to people who sell the merchant’s products.
The affiliate is a person who helps to sell the products available from these merchants. The affiliate spends their own time and money to promote these products. When the affiliate makes a sale, they receive a commission from the merchant.
The customer is a person who buys the product from the affiliate. Customers usually buy solutions to problems they are trying to solve.
The primary goal of an affiliate marketer is to help connect buyers with solutions. With products and services.
Everything Starts With The Consumer!
The consumer is the reason that:
- Marketing exists in the first place
- Solutions are needed
- Businesses are formed to create these solutions
If we did not have consumers, we would not need solutions. Solutions are created to solve problems for these consumers. Businesses and companies are the ones that create these solutions. Consumers are the ones that buy these solutions.
In today’s digital connected world, consumers turn to the internet to find solutions to their problems. People are searching Google 3.5 billion times a day. This equates to 1.2 trillion searches a year. People, these consumers, are using Google, to solve their everyday problems.
Official statement from Google:
“We’re officially in the era of the research-obsessed consumer. With a smartphone in hand, people can get the answers they need to make the right purchase decision anytime, anywhere. You can see this behavior clearly in search data—mobile searches for “best” and “reviews” have grown in the past two years.” – Think with Google
So, before you learn about what products to promote or what affiliate network to join, you must learn about your consumers and the problems they want to solve. Researching people and the audiences of the people you will target, is the most important step of affiliate marketing.
If you promote solutions that no one needs, then you will not sell many products. If you promote the wrong products to the wrong groups of people, you will not sell many products.
Success is when you offer the right solution to the right group of people. In order to do that, you need to do a lot of research. Don’t take this task lightly. This is the foundation of your business being successful vs. not.
The Affiliate Marketing Buying Process
The way the actual buying process works is:
- Customer needs a solution
A customer starts looking for a solution to their problem. They do an online search for more information or ask people on social media for options.
- Customer finds a website with recommended solutions
The customer finds a website with information on their problem and recommended products and solutions.
- The product solutions are provided by an affiliate
The customer leverages the information provided by the affiliate. The affiliate has strategically placed affiliate links to the suggested products.
- The customer is connected with the merchant
The customer clicks on the affiliate’s link and is taken to the merchant’s website to purchase the product. The customer buys the product. The merchant tracks the sale from the affiliate. The affiliate gets paid a commission.
For affiliates, purchased referrals are tracked through affiliate marketing links with unique affiliate IDs. Each affiliate ID is specific to each affiliate. No two affiliates will have the same IDs.
An affiliate marketing link looks like this:
The information behind the ? is an affiliate ID. ?a_aid=d8a91845. This ID number maps to a specific affiliate (i.e. person) who is promoting the product.
You may see some other variations of affiliate IDs like this:
The Process of an Affiliate Marketer
The role of an online affiliate marketer today looks something like this:
- Choose a Market
- Build a Website
- Attract Visitors
- Earn Commissions
So, essentially you will:
- Decide who you are going to recommend solutions to
- Build a website that lists these recommended solutions
- Find ways to drive visitors to your website
- Earn commissions for people who buy your recommended solutions
The role of an affiliate marketer is no different than a business owner. Just think of the last company you purchased a solution from.
Whether it was a drive thru restaurant to serve you fast food so you did not have to cook or the mechanic who serviced your car because it needed an oil change, these are all companies that offer a solution to a specific problem, need or want that you have.
Affiliate marketers do that exact same thing. They just do not make their own products. They promote other companies products.
Well, some affiliate marketers do promote their own products too. This is another source of income you can always add down the road. Right now, just keep it simple and get good at executing affiliate marketing. And ideas of products you can promote will always be unlimited.
The Anatomy of Affiliate Networks
Affiliate networks connect companies with products to sell with independent marketers who can sell those products.
These affiliate networks help manage all of the processes around having an affiliate program, tracking the sells from affiliates and paying the commissions to those affiliates.
For an affiliate marketer, the advantage of using an affiliate network is you can access multiple products who serve multiple niches, multiple groups of people. You choose multiple products that fit your specific target groups of people from one place.
An example is: if you can promote 10 products from one affiliate network, this prevents you from having to manage 10 separate affiliate programs individually that would all require individual sign ups, separate affiliate links, and different payment solutions.
If you think about it, managing an affiliate program as a merchant, can be a lot of work. This would be in addition to creating and managing the products they sell.
The Anatomy of a Website
Online is where the world is connected. 4 billion people are connected to the internet today. A website easily connects you to this world. And easily connects this world to you.
So, it is imperative to have a website for affiliate marketing. The reach potential is far to great to not have a website.
There are required components to make a website work.
The main components to a working website are:
- Hosting – A service that connects your website to the world wide web (www). This service makes the website live for the world to access from the internet.
- Domain Name – The name of your website. This provides individual branding opportunities for each site. Each domain name is unique to each website.
- Builder – A website builder that allows you to create and build the website. The website contains pages and blog posts and other content for people to consume.
Then you have website elements. These elements make up your actual website that people view.
The main website elements are:
- Uniform Resource Locator (URL) – a web address that specifies the location of a resource on the internet. Your website domain name will be included within the URL.
- Website Page – the page of a website that includes contents and materials for site visitors.
- Header – standard top element of a website page that usually includes the website or company logo and website navigation menu.
- Site Navigation – provides links to various pages and content throughout the website. A Standard navigation menu includes page links to: Home, About Us and Contact Us.
- Body – the main content area of your website pages. This is where content lives such as written information, images and visuals, links to other websites, etc.
- Sidebar – an optional block of content that can be different than the main content area. Sidebars usually contain links to recently published content and email sign up forms.
- Footer – standard bottom element of a website page that usually includes another website navigation menu with additional page links within the site.
The overall goal is to help your website visitors access the information on your site. You want to make it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for and your helpful product recommendations.