January 15, 2021

Affiliate Marketing, Explained Like You’re 9 Years Old (Or If You Are, Hello Justin)

Affiliate marketing has become one of those topics many people think they understand because it seems pretty intuitive plus they generally want to “get” it.

A lot of the time, working so closely with customers’ affiliate programs, we lose sight of the fact that not everyone is 100% indoctrinated with this marketing method.

And more people should be!

After all, affiliate marketing is growing exponentially, along with e-commerce, which had seen a boost prior to the pandemic, but has continued even in tumultuous 2020 and into this new year.

At Advertise Purple, we’re lucky to be on the cutting edge of a space that is performing so well.

Many of these same people find it comparable to influencer marketing or assume that it’s merely aggregate coupon code sites, both of which are true to an extent.

But what nobody has done – or so it seems – is take affiliate marketing and boil it down, clearly explaining what it is as if you literally have no idea.

It can be humbling to admit, but sometimes a clear and concise explanation is all we need. And we’ve found it can be helpful to more people than would care to admit.

So, let’s try this.

Okay, so somebody has a product, like a super cool toy that they think any kid would enjoy, but specifically kids who like to spend time in the outdoors.

Naturally, it would make sense to advertise to people who go on the internet and look for sports and outdoor activities on search engines, in forums, and in other digital communities.

There are 3 parties here: merchants (people selling the product… in this case the toy), shoppers (kid who wants only the best toys), and this advertiser or “affiliate” (the trickiest part to explain, but essentially an intermediary that helps both the shopper and merchant win).

There are probably writers who would love to hear about this toy, so they could include them on lists like “coolest toy of 2021” or “some fun items you need to bring on your next camping trip”. These? They’re content affiliates. They can be influencers, but can also be journalists.

In fact, there is quite a bit of overlap between different types of affiliates.

What are the 10 most common types of affiliate? Let’s see…

Coupon sites – A lot of these can help make it much easier to sell products online. Ibotta, Ebates, RetailMeNot, Honey are examples of these, just to name a few. In many cases, coupon codes get lost in the shuffle, but this makes it so that one can apply any great coupon deal to your purchase.

News & media sites – Again, like that writer I mentioned who loves toys? He or she might work at an outlet like Business Insider or BuzzFeed who would love to spread the word about this camping toy. Perfect, because a lot of kids reed those (please adjust for generational differences, I know 9 year olds don’t read BI)

Content sites – Already mentioned these, but blogs are a good example. Maybe a standalone camping blog that often includes affiliate links.

Oh that reminds me, “affiliate links”. These are an important thing to take note of. They have specific codes tagging them so that when a sale is made, the affiliate is credited. This is the most important part of the affiliate sale. 

Review sites – Again, this is a type of content affiliate. However, this time they’re providing their unbiased review of the product. These are great, because they allow the publisher to give their honest opinion on how much they love (or hate) the item that’s for sale.

Loyalty sites – These sites operate somewhat like coupon sites, however they reward you for returning. If you use a loyalty affiliate like this again and again, you can qualify for awesome deals with them on tons of different products.

Bloggers – Somewhat self explanatory, but these are also content affiliates who have a following in some kind of niche. Maybe sports and outdoors, which would be perfect for our product! This also includes influencers and social media users with large followings.

Shopping comparison – These sites help with to make the shopping experience the best it possibly can be. It will take a look at the specs, reviews, and attributes of these products and compare them.

Email – Direct email marketing such as newsletters and the like can be affiliates as well.

Mobile – Again, there’s crossover between some of these different kinds of affiliates. Optimizing for mobile is almost always a good idea because a lot of people have been groomed to shop on their phones.

Search affiliates – These are entrepreneurs who leverage search engines, Facebook and other paid advertising sites.

So, we’re basically unlocking the power of advertising to clients where they already are, which is incredibly compelling to brands.

Maybe they have grown accustomed to using a loyalty site, and including your product in their feed was the difference between making a sale to them or never garnering their attention whatsoever.

Maybe they’re a search engine enthusiast who likes doing the research before buying. If there are reviews, blog posts, and the like that include your product, it’s more likely people will find and then buy it.

The list goes on and on.

But in the end, affiliate marketing is the outsourcing of your advertising budget to these “affiliates” which I wrote about above in those bullets.

I hope that made sense. And if it didn’t and you still have questions, please feel free to reach out at [email protected]. We’d love to discuss further!


Are you getting started in affiliate marketing or looking to improve your current program?

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