If you’ve been in the world of content marketing for a while, you’ve probably heard the term “affiliate marketing” before. You’ve probably also heard rumblings about how it can help companies generate a lot of passive revenue for minimal work – an intriguing assertion!
But what exactly is affiliate marketing, and can these programs really drive sales and bring in as much money as their proponents claim? In this article, we’ll let you know exactly what affiliate marketing programs are, and spoiler alert: there is more truth to these claims than you may be expecting!
Additionally, we’ll list a few of the most interesting affiliate marketing programs across numerous industries, to show you what’s out there and what’s possible regardless of what your company specializes in. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is when a company commissions an affiliate, such as an influencer or another business, to market their products and services to their audience or end-users.
How this usually works is that the affiliate will show a company’s advertisement and share a trackable affiliate link to their audience, usually via social media. This link has a tracking cookie that tracks users who click the link, to see if they make a purchase. These cookies have a specific “cookie life” which is a period of time in which a customer must make a purchase for the affiliate to earn a commission.
Put simply, the affiliate is generally rewarded monetarily when a customer clicks their link and makes a purchase from the company, but sometimes they will also be rewarded for recruiting free-trial users, increasing downloads, and even for acquiring leads and clicks.
The benefits for a commissioning company are obvious – their products and services are being demonstrated to what can often be a very large audience, which can result in lots of new customers and users who trust the affiliate. Since the affiliate is also rewarded, it’s essentially a win-win situation.
Affiliate marketing programs – some interesting examples
Affiliate Marketing Network: Amazon Associates
Amazon Associates is one of the most popular affiliate marketing programs – after all, Amazon is one of the most popular online retailers in the world. Amazon is an example of a site that offers an affiliate network – these networks make it easier for companies and entrepreneurs to find affiliates such as influencers and bloggers and vice versa.
Amazon offers its associates between 1% and 10% for a commission, depending on the category that the sold product belongs to. Lower-end products give a lower percentage, while luxury items give a larger percentage.
The company does however offer an extremely short cookie length – their cookies only last 24 hours. This is incredibly tight, but as Amazon is such a huge company, they constantly have thousands of affiliates sharing links, meaning they still make a lot of commissions.
Gaming Affiliate Marketing Program: Epic Games
Epic Games is an extremely successful name in the gaming industry – if you’ve never heard of them before, they’re the company behind one of the biggest games from the past few years: Fortnite. They’re also generous to developers who list their games on the online Epic Games Store, paying them 88% as opposed to the 70% that most retailers pay.
The company is however quite strict on who they allow to sign up as an affiliate. Affiliates must have at least 1000 followers on a popular social media site such as YouTube, X (Twitter), Twitch, or Instagram. Affiliates earn a base rate of 5% per commission, putting them right in the middle of the percentage offered by Amazon.
Epic Games has a cookie length of 30 days, meaning their affiliate’s audience has quite a lot of time to make a purchase, earning the affiliate their commission. This length is most likely down to how strict they are on entry – as this means they have fewer affiliates they need more time to complete commissions.
Coupon Affiliate Marketing Program: Walmart
Some stores offer affiliate programs in the form of coupon code distribution programs. Walmart is one of these companies. As they have so much stock that they need to turn over very quickly, they are usually always able to send out coupon codes for their affiliates to share with their audiences.
Affiliates working with Walmart earn a base rate of 4% per commission, which is a fairly average percentage when you start comparing them to other sites.
They do have a cookie length of 3 days though, which is quite tight. Much like Amazon, as they’re so popular, they can have many affiliates putting out links at once, meaning their cookies don’t need to last very long.
Children’s Toys Affiliate Marketing Program: Lego
Everyone loves Lego, and luckily for budding affiliate marketers, this beloved company offers an affiliate program. Being such a popular company – which explains its $7.4 billion value, as of 2023 – they have lots of interested affiliates, which has a knock-on effect on how much it pays.
Lego offers a commission of 3% per commission, which is a little on the lower side. Presumably, they rely on brand recognition and goodwill to generate a lot of clicks, which seems to be paying off! This is also good for affiliates, as those 3% commissions will add up over time.
However, they don’t have much time, as Lego’s cookie length is 7 – just one week. This is quite tight, but not the tightest on this list. When taken into consideration along with how much people trust the brand, 7 days could be a lot worse!
Dating Affiliate Marketing Program: Match.com
Many single people looking for love trust Match.com to help them out – it has built up a reputation of quality thanks to its easy-to-use, high-quality interface, and more mature user base. They’ve also built up quite a catalog of affiliate marketers, some of whom earn over $10,000 per month in commissions.
This is likely partially due to their commission rate, which is an enormous 50%. This is one of the highest percentages we’ve ever seen, and speaks to how much money the website must be making if they can afford to pay their affiliates such a high percentage.
Furthermore, their cookie length is 120 days – that’s a long time! With such a long time to complete commissions and such a high commission rate, it’s no wonder people are signing up. As we said, this only shows how successful Match.com must be to be able to be so generous with their affiliates.
Legal Affiliate Marketing Program: Legal Zoom
Legal Zoom is a company that is able to provide people with access to legal professionals for a lot cheaper than usual, thanks to how they have automated many of the simple tasks that their business needs to accomplish.
The company pays their affiliates 15% per commission, which seems high compared to Lego and Epic Games, but is a lot lower than what is offered by Match.com. It’s certainly not bad though, especially since while affordable in terms of legal services, their services are on the pricier end of things.
Their cookie window is 30 days, which is also fairly decent. The higher-priced products mean that while affiliates may make fewer commissions in that time frame, the 15% they earn per commission will add up quickly.
Airline Affiliate Marketing Program: Dollar Flight Club
Dollar Flight Club is a website that provides its members with deals on flights, some of which are quite incredible – it’s not uncommon to find flights that are 90% cheaper than they would be elsewhere. It’s not surprising that they’re quite a popular site!
However, this company is also quite strict on who it is willing to work with as affiliates. Typically, affiliates need to produce popular travel content and blogs, and this content can’t just be on social media sites.
Offering 50% per commission, affiliates make around $35 dollars per sale – as well as 50% of the revenue earned when one of their customers renews an annual membership. Their cookie length is 90 days, which also speaks to their generosity.
Luxury Products Affiliate Marketing Program: Jimmy Choo
Famous for its offerings of high-end shoes and bags, Jimmy Choo is a British designer goods brand that is revered worldwide for its products. Even luxury brands such as this one often have affiliate marketing programs – potential affiliates can sign up via the Rakuten Linkshare network.
Jimmy Choo’s affiliates earn 8% per commission. While this doesn’t sound like an awful lot, you must remember that this is a designer brand, with many products costing in the thousands of dollars. All of a sudden, 8% doesn’t sound so bad!
Their cookie length is a standard 30 days – this is quite a common time period for affiliate marketing programs. Though it’s only a few weeks, this is ample time for affiliates to make a lot of money by completing commissions on the brand’s luxury items.
It’s easy to see why affiliate marketing programs have become as popular as they are. Offering benefits to companies in the form of increased traffic and revenue, and offering monetary rewards to affiliates per successful commission, affiliate marketing is a tried and tested method through which businesses and entrepreneurs can synergize to achieve growth and money.