Affiliate Marketing Explained
Affiliate Marketing is a concept that is as old as time. It has had many different forms and names. For instance, Affiliate marketing in its purest form is simply word of mouth. You see a good movie you tell a friend about, and they see it. They enjoy it, the both of you discuss it, and you feel good for having shared your experience so that your friend could have it too. The joy of enjoying your friendship was your reward.
Fast forward to the mid 19th century, and Amway was born. Now you could share things with your friends, mainly products, but now your reward becomes financial. You get paid for sharing, but they even took it a step further because if you get your friends and family to do the same, you earn a bit from their efforts. This type of affiliate marketing is called multi-level marketing or MLM. You have probably have heard of this, and I bet you have even formed an opinion about it. Good or bad, I am not here to debate the question of MLM, but it is a part of the natural evolution of affiliate marketing as we know it.
On April 30th, 1993, the whole world changed as we know it, and like everything else in life, affiliate marketing was not immune to the compelling allure of the Internet. It changed marketing as we know it, and it opened up the opportunity to anyone who wanted to take advantage of it.
Not right away, of course, but the evolution of the once-in-a-lifetime paradigm switch made it possible. It paved the way for any normal citizen to earn anywhere from a decent living to becoming a millionaire if they owned a computer and had some ambition.
If you could write a blog post, you could earn from it. If you could create a social media post, you could earn from it and the Grand Poobah of them all; if you could build an email list, you could earn millions from it by simply using a concept that has evolved from thousands of years ago when friends would tell friends about stuff.
The Evolution of Affiliate Ecosystem Marketing Explained
If there were such a thing, it would be that for every product or service you promote, you need not only a separate affiliate link, but most likely, you will have to register for each program. The administration effort can be a lot of work—organizing and tracking assets or partner relationships, their links, and commissions to ensure you are getting paid all of the proper amounts.
Affiliate Ecosystem Marketing has taken this industry to its next level, but even within this definition, it has evolved. If you are or ever have been an Amazon Associate (that is what Amazon calls their affiliates), then you know what I mean. When you send somebody to Amazon via your affiliate or, in this case, associate link, the person who clicked on the link receives what is called a “Cookie” on their computer (more on cookies later). This Cookie tells Amazon to pay you a commission on anything that person buys for the next 24 hours. This basic affiliate Ecosystem allows you to promote one link and potentially earn commissions from multiple products. It is limited, though, because once the 24 hours is up or the person clicks on someone else’s link in a completely separate blog or advertisement, you are out of luck—nevertheless, a good system for affiliate marketers.
The next example in the evolution of Affiliate Ecosystem Marketing was a small company called ClickFunnels that grew to a $100,000,000 company in just seven short years because of its model of helping entrepreneurs help other entrepreneurs and the customers they serve. ClickFunnels is not an MLM company. It is a SaaS company (Software as a Service). It allows you to build sales funnels and online courses, just like our free affiliate marketing course. ClickFunnels also teaches you to market those funnels and courses and enables you to become an affiliate for all of their products.
However, once you refer a customer to ClickFunnels, they are not just a customer for 24 hours; they are a customer for life. As the company is a SaaS company and charges a recurring subscription fee, and has developed many other products along the way, this is an incredibly lucrative proposition for you as an affiliate marketer.
That brings us to our last example of Affiliate Ecosystem Marketing, The Partner with Anthony program. As you might expect, I am an Amazon Associate, a Subscriber of ClickFunnels, and a proud member of PWA. These are the main systems I use and learn from to build my affiliate marketing business. The PWA model is much like ClickFunnels in that once you refer someone to the program, you retain that customer for life, and everything they purchase within the ecosystem will earn you a commission of some sort.
The one major difference that completes the idea of Affiliate Ecosystem Marketing is that PWA promotes other programs that it did not create or does not own. Programs such as various email autoresponders and other affiliate marketing courses and software that you might need on your journey to becoming a successful and profitable online business.
However, it promotes them within the system using your affiliate link.
For instance, In the PWA course, you learn about the tools you need to build an affiliate marketing business. Two of those tools are necessary to succeed, and those two tools are landing page builders and email autoresponders. PWA promotes ClickFunnels and GetResponse or Aweber within their course. If the person you referred decides to purchase these tools at any time, you earn a commission. It is powerful because you didn’t promote these programs directly, but you reap the reward because you enabled the PWA affiliate ecosystem to do the work for you.
What is a Cookie and can I Eat It?
I told you I would get back to cookies because they are so important, but no you can’t eat these kind of cookies. Cookies are very simple by design but extremely powerful and are the foundation for most online marketing. Whether running paid ads or referring customers to various affiliate marketing programs, they are the foundation for how everything works. It is a small pixel of code that tracks pretty much anything you program it to track. The pixel downloads their knowledge and permission onto the user’s machine (see GDPR cooking compliance).
However, cookies have expiration timeframes and can be deleted from any machine at any time. Unfortunately, it is the best practice for affiliate marketers to track their customers and their commissions.
With the affiliate ecosystem marketing system, all the products, courses, and software reside in the design, so no cookie is necessary. You are promoting one link, one plan, and letting the process promote all the other programs and products, from which you will earn a commission.
Make Sure you Learn and Use all the Tools at Your Disposal
I’m sure this perspective is a little different for most of you who have been educating themselves about the industry and building a business online, so I want to be clear. I am not advocating for you to grow your business with either of these concepts or models exclusively. I certainly don’t, and you shouldn’t either. What I am trying to accomplish with this article is to open your mind to the industry’s evolution. Be aware of new trends and master the old ones. I use every tool at my disposal to create content, traffic, and ultimately revenue, and you might want to do that as well.