What is affiliate marketing?
This term refers to the promotion by an individual or a company (also called. affiliate) of the products and/or the services of another person or company (known as a vendor or merchant), generally through an affiliate network using an affiliate link, to earn a cut of the sales price (or commission).
A performance-based marketing system, you get from affiliate marketing what you put into it. Put in little work and resources and you get little or next to nothing from it. Intelligently invest a lot of work and resources in it and you’ll reap the fruits of your labor.
Parties involved in affiliate marketing
The definition above makes you see that there are 3 parties in affiliate marketing: the merchant, the publisher, and the customer as shown in the image below:
(Image source: CJ)
Other sources, including Wikipedia, claim that 4 core players are involved in the industry.
They are, the:
- merchant (also known as ‘advertiser’ or ‘retailer‘ or ‘brand‘)
- network (that contains offers for the affiliate to choose from and also takes care of the payments)
- publisher (also known as ‘the affiliate’)
Let’s look at them briefly.
Customer / Consumer
The consumer, also named the buyer, the purchaser, the website visitor, is a regular internet user who browses websites and clicks on affiliate links or ads to patronize the merchant’s goods and/or services marketed by the affiliate.
They use channels such as social networks, digital billboards or by content marketing on a blog to drive publishers’ and advertisers’ revenue.
Most affiliate specialists forget that this form of marketing also benefits consumers, who are the most important element of this chain.
That said, let’s go to the crux of the matter.
What Are Advantages and Disadvantages of Affiliate Marketing?
If you consult posts on the advantages and disadvantages of affiliate marketing, you only read about affiliates, merchants and the network. The party many articles forget to mention is the consumer/customer.
Yet, they play a big role in the affiliate marketing business and hence are affected by it.
Advantages of affiliate marketing
According to Statistica, affiliate marketing spending in the U.S alone is expected to hit $8.2 billion by 2022.
That’s quite a juicy amount coming from affiliate marketing consumers. But they don’t only contribute to the business, they also get something out of it.
So, let’s look at some of the benefits of using affiliate marketing for your needs:
1. Shop from the comfort of your homes
You do not have to drive all the way to the merchant’s store or to the retailer’s to physically buy the products and/or services.
All you have to do is simply switch on your computer and make the order from the affiliate’s or the merchant’s website.
2. Deliveries made at home
The orders are sent to your home so you do not have to physically go to the merchant’s or the retailer’s.
3. Good recommendations
Serious affiliates (bloggers and webmasters) promote products that they have personally used and found useful and recommendable. Even affiliates who do not go that route, advertise products that they know sell well. They get this recommendation from product and company reviews, from merchant or program or network sites, and from consumers themselves.
4. More information
Many affiliates build special pre-sale pages, which give a lot of information as well as many high quality images about the products.
We also know that affiliates publish product and company reviews which enable you to make informed choices about your purchases. Maybe, the most important aspect is that affiliate reviews enable buyers to know new products and everything about them.
5. Sales and discounts
Affiliates always share information about the sales on their pages, especially during black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Some affiliates also have good relationship with their advertiser, enabling them to obtain special discounts, the codes of which they can give their visitors.
6. You shop 24/7/30/12
Because you’re shopping online, you can do it around the clock.
This can be done for 7 days a week, 30 days a month, and 12 months of the year, through an affiliate blog, a YouTube channel, an email newsletter, or any other type of established medium online.
7. You have access to a huge market
With affiliate marketing business, you can shop from anywhere. That is theoretically the whole world. This gives you many sources to shop from.
Imagine that by consulting social media marketing ads on Facebook or LinkedIn, by visiting blogs, and through your email box, you can buy from affiliates from almost everywhere on earth!
But affiliate marketing is not all rosy for the buyer. You may face the ugly side of the coin, which is what we are going to see now.
Disadvantages of affiliate marketing
1. You may be made to buy what you don’t need
We said above that affiliate marketers make product recommendations to their followers.
While many publishers are serious in what they do, a few bad nuts put out information whose sole aim is to make the reader buy.
I have myself bought things online which I never found a need for.
2. You may be sold poor quality goods or services
You are not in physical contact with the products or services to see exactly what they are nor do you have someone physically explain your purchase to you.
You may therefore end up buying something that on delivery may not be what you had thought it to be.
3. Affiliate programs can change terms or be discontinued
Unscrupulous and dishonest merchants could arbitrarily modify the terms of their affiliate sales, or, worse, close down the program without informing you in advance.
This disorganizes your budget and prevents you from continuing to use a brand you’re used to.
Yes. This is a challenge all consumers must be ready to face. There’s not much you can do about it than either walking away from the affiliate program or accepting the changes they make.
To avoid being in such a situation, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
4. You can fall victim to scams and identity theft
Scammers prey on consumers who buy products and/or services online.
Bearing in mind that not every transaction is legitimate can save you.
Looking for a very cheap way to shop online can also put you at risk. Surfing on your enthusiasm, scammers have come up with all sorts of fake products to steal your money. They do this by inventing convincing and seemingly legitimate reasons to give you false hope about ways to save money while shopping.
So check a scheme carefully before proving your details or handing over your dollars.
Concerning identity theft, scammers will also resort to all sorts of sly means to steal your personal details, and even threaten your life or ‘hijacking’ your computer.
Once they get your identity, the rogues can use it for fraudulent activities such as using your credit card, opening a bank account, applying for credit, file taxes, or get medical services.
There’s no doubt that such criminal acts can destroy your credit status, and cost you time and money to restore your reputation.
Also, be wary of a surprise win. Scammers use these fraudulent means to trick you into giving money upfront or furnishing your personal information in order to receive a prize from a lottery or competition that you never entered.
Beware of other identity theft schemes such as receiving bills for items you didn’t buy, debt collection calls for accounts you didn’t open, offer of loans, offers of investments, and denials for loan applications, among others.
Check Scam posts you should be reading on this blog
5. You’re vulnerable to viruses and other sorts of malware.
As a buyer, you use a Windows, Apple, Linux, desktop, or laptop computer, a smartphone or a tablet for your shopping activities. This exposes you to cyberthreats from computer viruses and other types of malware.
These computer programs are installed without you knowing about it.
What malwares do is create unpleasant and irritating effects, like crippling your computer’s performance, mining your system for personally identifiable information (PII) and sensitive data. They are also known to erase or encrypt your data and even hijack your device operations or computer-controlled hardware.
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Noticeably, there are more benefits than disadvantages in this post. Maybe you know others that you can let us know below.
But no matter the number of disadvantages, affiliate marketing still remains as one of the best ways to shop for products and/or services online.
You simply have to do your homework and research beforehand and implement simple security measures to easily negate the disadvantages in order to enjoy the benefits of affiliate marketing.
Your personal guide to securing your future online.