There are four distinct groups of people involved in affiliate marketing, all playing a part in seeing the success of the marketing process: The affiliate (or “publisher” ): This is the person or entity that promotes the merchant’s product or service. The merchant: The individual or company selling the product or service that the affiliate is promoting. The affiliate network: This is an intermediary between an affiliate and a merchant’s affiliate program. Though an affiliate and merchant don’t need to use a network to connect, it’s a common channel for such partnerships. The customer: The ultimate goal of any marketing campaign is to generate leads and sales for the merchant. In affiliate marketing, customers are acquired through the actions of affiliates, who use various promotional methods to drive traffic to the merchant’s website.

An affiliate and merchant usually team up through an affiliate network, which suggests other merchants that fit the affiliate’s profile. For example, a network might suggest a range of tech products to an affiliate who is reviewing cell phones.

An affiliate and merchant might also connect without any type of promotion or advertisement. For example, a merchant who manufactures cake pans might connect with an affiliate who writes about baking. The merchant would want to get their product in front of the affiliate’s audience because it is an opportunity for potential customers to see the product.

Affiliate marketing examples

Chances are, you’ve come across affiliate marketing before without even realizing it. The reason for this is that the most successful affiliate marketing is usually found when it’s paired with content that readers enjoy and find useful. Though it might be tempting to promote products solely to make a sale or boost traffic for the merchant, affiliates who have built trust with their audience by featuring quality products they stand behind are more likely to convert readers into customers. In other words: quality sells.

Some common examples of affiliate marketing are: Including affiliate links in blog posts or articles on websites that cover general topics, like this list of Kitchen Essentials from the cooking-focused website Kitchen. Including affiliate links in the description of YouTube videos, like in MKBHD’s “My Every Day Tech 2022” video. Dedicated review websites that cover products that appeal to a targeted readership, such as Gear Patrol and Wirecutter.