Affiliates in a business can make marketing efforts to bring in customers and visitors to a business. This kind of marketing is known as Affiliate marketing and the affiliate or affiliates are rewarded for this kind of performance based marketing. The business consists of four important components, firstly consisting of the businessman or merchant, who is also termed as the brand or retailer. Secondly, there is a network that contains a variety of offers for selection by affiliates and also making payments to them. Thirdly, there is the affiliate or the publisher and finally the customer. However, the affiliate market has now become more complex and another tier of players are now made necessary, such as the agencies for affiliate management and what are termed as super affiliates. Separate professional vendors are also brought in as part of the important players.

There are several other internet marketing strategies that are very similar to Affiliate marketing in several aspects, as only the usual advertising tactics are applied by affiliates too. Such tactics are PPC or pay per click seen in paid search engine marketing and SEO or organic search engine optimization methods. Other methods in common with internet marketing are the display advertising methods. However, affiliate marketing can be a little different in some aspects, as they not just adhere to the traditional strategies, and these include marketing by means of reviews about the affiliate partner’s products or services.

Affiliate marketing should be distinguished from referral marketing. Both these types of marketing make use of a third party or parties in order to increase the sales of the merchant or brand. However, there is a difference between the two, as affiliate marketing is mainly concerned with monetary motivations for the purpose of increasing sales. On the other hand, referral marketing focuses more on trust and maintaining a close relationship with the customer for increasing sales. (1)

Advertisers sometimes miss the presence of Affiliate marketing (2) and it tends to have a smaller profile, especially in comparison with other marketing strategies connected to email and search engines, as well as website syndication, as these are more attractive to internet merchants. Yet, affiliate marketing can play a major role in the tactics applied by online retailers.