Is affiliate marketing worth it?

Is affiliate marketing worth it? 

This is a question brands and affiliates around the world are asking. 

As you would expect, the answer is nuanced and there are many people on both sides of the argument. 

For affiliates and merchants, it’s an important question to find an answer to because there’s a lot of money on the table for both. So, let’s find out: is affiliate marketing really worth it?

Is Affiliate Marketing Worth It?

Before we answer the question, let’s look at some statistics:

  • More than 80% of brands run affiliate programs
  • Roughly 79% of marketers use affiliate marketing to interact with existing customers
  • Affiliate marketing is the top customer acquisition channel for 40% of US merchants
  • 85% of affiliate marketers expect affiliate marketing revenue to grow
  • Affiliate marketing spending is growing by 27% per year

You’ll often hear people debating “is affiliate marketing dead,” but these statistics certainly point to the contrary. More and more brands are seeing the benefits of affiliate marketing, and with more being spent on affiliate marketing each year, there are more and more opportunities for affiliates. 

Is affiliate marketing work it -  process

Let’s get back to the original question then: is affiliate marketing worth it?

The answer is, it depends on your business and it depends on your expectations. 

One of the reasons people have come to question the value of affiliate marketing is because there was this perception that it was an easy, highly passive income. Nothing worthwhile comes that easily though!

Affiliate marketing can still be highly lucrative for both affiliate program managers and affiliates. What you’ve got to recognize is that it won’t be easy, and it will require skill.

Why Do People Say Affiliate Marketing is Dead?

The stats seem to suggest that affiliate marketing is still alive and kicking, so where does this perception that affiliate marketing is dead come from?

It seems to come predominantly from affiliate marketers, particularly those that have been in the game for a long time. While assertions that affiliate marketing is dead are clearly overplayed, there are legitimate reasons for people to question its value. 

Is affiliate marketing dead?

Things change incredibly quickly in this industry and this has presented challenges for some affiliates:

  • There’s a lot more competition: there are more website and more people doing affiliate marketing every day
  • There’s greater regulation: programs can afford to be more selective and enforce program-specific rules
  • It’s hard to create a competitive edge: with spy tools, as soon as you start doing something well, there’s nothing stopping your competitors from copying you
  • Big tech updates: updates such as Apple’s iOS’s privacy changes have made Facebook Ads much more difficult
  • There are other options to make money on the internet: barriers to starting an e-commerce store, creating your own product, starting your own marketing agency are much lower
  • It’s not the “passive income dream” people are led to believe it is: it takes effort and ingenuity to make affiliate sales

If you’re an affiliate looking to make a quick buck, then clearly, these can be seen as negatives. However, they’re also positive evolutions in the industry. 

  • Top-quality affiliates accept that it’s going to take hard work and ingenuity to become a successful affiliate marketer
  • More regulation helps to stop people from using questionable marketing tactics and protects the consumer (enhancing the reputation of affiliates and merchants)
  • There might be more competition, but there are also more varied opportunities

On the flip side, if you’re an affiliate program manager, then all of these things are positives. You can work with affiliates that are well-suited to your brand and use your affiliate terms and conditions to protect your business, all while reaching a targeted, engaged audience. 

Things Have Got Better for Affiliate Program Managers 

More and more brands are seeing the benefits of affiliate marketing. 

A big part of this is the perception of the industry. You won’t have to speak to too many people before you find someone who thinks affiliate marketing is a sleazy Wild West where anything goes. 

The thing is, this has changed a lot. Regulations like the FTC’s affiliate disclosure guidance have set clearer standards and changed expectations. 

It’s much easier for companies to build their own affiliate marketing programs, create their own terms and conditions, and carefully manage affiliate sign-ups. Ultimately, this means more control over how your brand is represented (something that’s a huge concern for any company).

When we ask “is affiliate marketing worth it,” the answer for companies looking at starting their own affiliate program is a resounding yes. With software like AffiliateWP, you can build a highly optimized affiliate program and you control every aspect of it. 

There are fewer barriers to starting a program and when you do, you’ve got more control over your brand, and are participating in a better-regulated industry. 

There Are Still Opportunities For Affiliate Marketers

The story isn’t quite the same for affiliate marketers. They face more barriers to entry, and the get-rich-quick (and easy) idea that affiliates of the past were sold on doesn’t exist anymore.

It’s not all bad news though. 

This shouldn’t play into the equation of whether affiliate marketing is still worth it or not because: 

  • There’s still a lot of money to be made through affiliate marketing 
  • If you do well, then there’s still the opportunity to create a passive income
  • When one marketing tactic stops working, other ones open up (for example, replacing Facebook ads with native ads)

To get to that point though, it requires digital marketing’s number one ingredient: consistency. 

This doesn’t fit well with the picture some people like to paint of affiliate marketing. It’s not a get-rich scheme; it’s a legitimate revenue generator and marketing tactic. 

If you treat it like a legitimate business, then there’s no need to be afraid of the added competition and increased regulation. 

FAQs: Is Affiliate Marketing Worth It?

  • Is affiliate marketing going to die? The data certainly doesn’t suggest affiliate marketing is going to die. Affiliate marketing revenue is only growing, and new businesses are turning to it as a marketing tactic every day. 
  • Is affiliate marketing still profitable? Affiliate marketing can still be extremely profitable. On average, publishers make around $52,000 annually from affiliate marketing, but there are many that make a lot more than this.
  • Why do affiliate marketers fail? Affiliate marketing isn’t easy. It takes skill and commitment. You’ve also got to learn your trade and constantly optimize your processes. Many affiliate marketers fail because they’re not consistent enough and give up before they figure out the route to success. 
  • Why is affiliate marketing so hard? The main difficulty with affiliate marketing is the same as with business in general: it’s not easy to make sales. There’s also a lot of competition out there, so you’ve got to be able to spot the best affiliate opportunities and be inventive with your marketing tactics.

The Key to Making Affiliate Marketing Worth It

As you might have figured, we’re not impartial observers of the “is affiliate marketing worth it” debate. However, we do passionately believe that the first step to making affiliate marketing worth it for everybody is having the right software. 

If brands are going to have success with their affiliate marketing program, they’ve got to have flexibility and powerful tools at their disposal. Tools such as affiliate portals, vanity coupon codes, and unlimited creatives are there to empower affiliates, and when you do this, you’ll find affiliate sales start to come in. 

So, we think affiliate marketing is worth it, now you can find out by starting your own affiliate program with AffiliateWP.

Get started today!

William Palmer

About the author: William is a technical writer for Awesome Motive. He's passionate about helping small businesses unlock the power of affiliate marketing, and summit the rankings with great SEO. In his spare time, you'll find him exploring the wonderful scenery of Cantabria, Spain.

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