The Core Pillars of Affiliate Strategy (2024)

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Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing channel wherein online partners receive a commission on sales they refer. This channel can be an incredibly cost-effective option for brands looking to capitalize on existing brand loyal users and reach new media partners who may be interested in promoting your brand. Affiliate, at its core, is a relationship-based marketing medium; good relationships with your affiliate partners and a keen understanding of their goals will sustain program success.

This channel is a long-standing component of brands’ conversion initiatives and has seen vast change over the years as a result. Specifically, changes like the ITP 2.0 release and CCPA have forced affiliate marketers to be agile and adapt with industry updates. With that, the industry has seen constant shifts in top performing strategies and a hunger to test new initiatives for success.

So what are the key components of affiliate strategy based on the current landscape? We’ll outline a few below:

Affiliate Communication

  • Providing frequent brand updates, promotional planning, and support to your affiliates is crucial to program success. Many affiliates rely heavily on these communications to plan their promotions month-to-month and gain refreshed ideas for brand content. Offer additional support and promotional assets when needed.
  • Develop program-wide newsletters that communicate general updates and provide tracking resources. If possible, do not use your affiliate program-branded newsletters; try to develop a custom template that fits your branding.
  • Use the newsletter scheduler available in your affiliate platform to improve efficiencies. Avoid over-communication: affiliates are inundated with emails from multiple programs. Be brief and to the point, focusing mainly on promotional details that may be of interest.
  • In addition to sending program-wide newsletters and having a defined cadence on that front, send direct emails to key partners on the program with additional details and clearly outlined next steps. As some of the bigger players in the space will not sign up for these newsletters and may not receive important information, it’s important to ensure they are aware of updates.
  • Send quarterly emails to your top performing partners providing them with brand updates and requesting any optimization opportunities they recommend. Allow the affiliate to lead the strategy here as they know their audience best, but provide suggestions and guidance along the way. Make sure affiliates are clear on the best point of contact for inquiries and the additional assets available for their promotions.

Incentivizing Via Your Commission Structure

  • Your commission structure is the main method of driving affiliates to promote your brand. Conduct industry and competitor research to identify an attractive baseline commission that will foster inbound program application and give prospects a reason to promote your brand over competitor brands.
  • Segment your commission rates by partner category in order to protect margins with the volume-driving partners and further incentivize upper funnel partners with a higher commission rate. Implement a mid-range commission with cashback and loyalty partners to capture high kickback rates for users.
  • Leverage affiliate bonuses to drive partners to complete certain milestones that are meaningful to your brand. Allow affiliates who complete stated goals to be considered for increased rates or program benefits like product sends.
  • Ensure that your affiliate program is always funded sufficiently – on-time payments are a huge component of a strong relationship. Conversely, late payments (both for paid placements and commissions) can negatively impact your relationships and even drive affiliates to leave your program or spread reviews.

Leverage Promos

  • In a recent survey taken by Shane Barker Marketing, it’s reported that 97% of users look for a deal when they shop. As deal-seeking behavior is such a prominent part of the consumer journey, embrace it! Use promo seeking to your advantage and be strategic about which offers you will promote through the affiliate channel. If you don’t participate in this stage of the consumer journey, you risk forfeiting those users to competitor brands.
  • Make data-driven decisions about the types of promotions and sales you will run through the affiliate channel. As offers are a key component of a high performing program, be intentional about sales and messaging.
  • Review your top performing historical offers and identify the potential causes of success. Tailor your ad messaging around a clear call to action and make sure affiliates are aware of the expectations for their promotions.
  • Consider promotions based on your goals. For example, if your brand is focused on new customer acquisition, create an affiliate sale available to new customers only and offer an increased commission on new user sales.
  • Ensure that affiliates are notified of the promotions well in advance of the live dates. Some affiliates plan their content weeks ahead – you want to secure those promotions with plenty of time to spare. Additionally, providing proactive notice allows you more time in the event that there are questions around the promos or additional assets needed on the brand side.

Execute On A Full-Funnel Strategy

  • The world of affiliate marketing has been commonly boiled down to one partner type: coupon sites. While lower funnel partners are undoubtedly important to program performance, it’s also smart to engage partners at other areas of the marketing funnel. Enter: consideration and awareness affiliates.
  • Once you’ve onboarded key lower-funnel affiliates and provided them with the necessary assets for promotion, begin to develop a list of target upper funnel and consideration based partners.
  • Try to envision what potential customers may search for in your industry and work to partner with top ranking sites for those queries. Provide those sites with relevant product information and identify ways to make your brand stand out.
  • When working with review sites or being shown alongside competitors, make sure unique selling points are clearly communicated and provide an additional incentive for users to convert. Work with your affiliate contacts closely to identify things that are meaningful to their respective audiences and focus on those points in reviews.
  • Analyze audience data and existing content on upper-funnel sites to find affiliates that would be a good fit for your brand. While many of these marquee publishers will require a flat fee for partnership, you may be able to incentivize their promotions by working through subnetwork sites.

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Top of funnel

  • SEO
  • Influencer
  • PR
  • Paid Social
  • Non-Brand Search (PPC)
  • Non-Brand Search (Amazon)

Middle of Funnel

  • Content
  • Social Media
  • Branded Search (PPC)
  • Affiliate
  • Paid Social (Retargeting)
  • Brand Search (Amazon)

Bottom of funnel

  • Email
  • Social Ads (Retargeting)
  • CRO
The Core Pillars of Affiliate Strategy (2024)


What are the 3 pillars of affiliate marketing? ›

The Core Pillars of Affiliate Strategy
  • Affiliate Communication.
  • Incentivizing Via Your Commission Structure.
  • Leverage Promos.
  • Execute On A Full-Funnel Strategy.
Jun 6, 2019

What are 3 main components of a successful affiliate marketing program? ›

They create an affiliate program to incentivize affiliates to promote their products or services in exchange for a commission. The three main components of affiliate marketing are the advertiser (merchant), the affiliate (publisher), and the customer.

What are the 3 main types of affiliates? ›

The three main types of affiliate marketing are unattached affiliate marketing, involved affiliate marketing, and related affiliate marketing.

What is an affiliate strategy? ›

Affiliate programs work by allowing individuals or businesses (affiliates) to promote and sell products or services of a company in exchange for a commission on each sale. The affiliate earns a commission each time someone makes a purchase through the unique affiliate link associated with their recommendation.

What are the 4 pillars of marketing explain? ›

The four most important pillars on which to build a solid foundation for your marketing plan are: 1) Vision and Brading, 2) Identifying customer pain points, 3) Generating Demand, and finally, 4) Building Meaningful Relationships with your customers.

Which affiliate marketing strategy is the most effective? ›

The 15 Best Affiliate Marketing Strategies
  • Perfect Your Sales Copy. ...
  • Offer Coupons & Leverage Affiliate Promotions. ...
  • Present Giveaways. ...
  • Promote Your Content Everywhere. ...
  • Network With Affiliate Marketers. ...
  • Listen to the Community. ...
  • Optimize the Affiliate Link for Conversions. ...
  • Build Your Own Network.

What are the 3 steps of Clickbank? ›

Create a Hoplink for your affiliates. Put it on the Clickbank marketplace. Submit it for approval. Once approved, pay the activation charge.

What makes a successful affiliate program? ›

To be a successful affiliate marketer, you need to build an audience that trusts and values your opinion or get promoted by an already trusted person or brand. The most successful affiliate campaigns are the ones where a strong brand is behind the marketing objectives in a niche that fits with the brand's audience.

What is KPI in affiliate marketing? ›

If you are familiar with marketing, you know how vital key performance indicators (KPI) are in any of the ads, campaigns, and promotions you perform. In affiliate marketing, KPIs can help you determine if the affiliate campaign you are running is successful or not.

Which of these is a KPI in affiliate marketing? ›

Instead, you should assess the year-over-year growth of other affiliate marketing KPIs such as click traffic, net sales, total number of orders, average order value, number of new customers, etc. You can use these insights to identify the raw earning potential of your affiliate program.

What is a niche in affiliate marketing? ›

An affiliate marketing niche is a specialized topic or area on which affiliate marketers focus when promoting affiliate products or services. This specialization helps them stay focused on a specific target audience and create content tailored to their needs.

What is the affiliate strategy in 2024? ›

In 2024, affiliate marketing's future is shaped by trends like AI integration, mobile prioritization, collaboration with nano and micro-influencers, and a focus on social proof. The industry is moving towards personalized, targeted, and results-driven strategies.

How do you dominate affiliate marketing? ›

To make the most of your affiliate marketing strategy, try these affiliate marketing tips:
  1. Diversify your affiliate partners.
  2. Own the relationship with your audience.
  3. Become an affiliate for audience-recommended products.
  4. Know the ins and outs of the products you're recommending.
  5. Disclose affiliate links.

How do you strategize affiliate marketing? ›

Affiliate Marketing Strategies
  1. Select your affiliates carefully. ...
  2. Optimize your site for conversions. ...
  3. Create a diversified affiliate program. ...
  4. Go all-in with niche influencers. ...
  5. Boost sales with coupons and special discounts. ...
  6. Establish brand-to-brand relationships. ...
  7. Launch your site with content marketing.

What is the rule of three in marketing? ›

The Rule of 3 is a principle used in brand communication and storytelling that suggests information is more effectively conveyed when presented in groups of three. It is based on the idea that people have a tendency to remember and process information more easily when it is organized in threes.

Which 3 industries are the largest users of affiliate marketing? ›

Which 3 Industries Are The Largest Users Of Affiliate Marketing? The top three industries leveraging affiliate marketing are retail, travel, and finance. These sectors prioritize partnerships for performance-based growth.

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