The key to a healthy bottom line in the digital age isn’t grinding until you drop.
Instead, it’s about establishing multiple income streams and maximizing the value that comes from all of your marketing efforts.
Affiliate marketing has been a popular way people do this for years, but the jury’s still out on whether or not it’s still as effective now as it was when it first became a thing.
So what is affiliate marketing really all about? Does it work, and is it a good fit for your ongoing business goals?
And most importantly of all, is it still relevant now that we’re coasting comfortably into 2022, especially in light of how marketing is changing?
Let’s take a closer look at the answers to those questions and more.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is more or less precisely what it sounds like.
It’s a marketing model that leverages the reach of third-party content producers (the affiliates) to drive sales and generate traffic.
In exchange for helping sell the associated products, the content creator or digital marketing professional in question receives a commission or other incentive.
Companies need reach and a reliable way to spread the word to relevant audiences about their products or services.
Likewise, content creators and digital marketers need reliable income streams to add to their portfolios.
Affiliate marketing makes it possible for those on both sides of the equation to reach their goals together.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
Affiliate marketing differs from other digital marketing approaches in that it distributes the work of selling a product or service among an entire network of willing third-party affiliates.
Affiliates can be just about anyone and are found across every industry or niche.
All they need to qualify is a website, social media presence, or another channel via which they can market the associated products.
This is most often done by publishing online content containing links to products that fit the potential needs of the target audience.
When a customer follows one of those links and decides to purchase the product, the vendor records the transaction and the unique affiliate identity attached to it.
Once that transaction is properly confirmed and finalized, the commission is credited to the affiliate’s account and paid according to a set schedule.
So is Affiliate Marketing Worth it in 2022?
The sheer versatility and accessibility of affiliate marketing programs from big names like Amazon helped affiliate marketing explode throughout the 2010s.
It’s continued to grow ever since and shows no signs that it will slow down anytime soon.
So, in short, affiliate marketing isn’t going anywhere, meaning it’s still going to be well worth your time throughout 2022 and beyond.
In fact, it’s actually on target to pass the $8.2 billion mark — nearly twice its worth only a few short years ago in 2015.
So, whether you’re a potential vendor, a creator looking for additional income, or both, making affiliate marketing a part of your plans now would be a smart move.
What are the Advantages of Affiliate Marketing in 2022?
If you’re genuinely wondering whether affiliate marketing is still relevant as we move into 2022, all you really need to do is glance at the numbers.
Over 80 percent of brands and 84 percent of online content creators use affiliate marketing. And they’re getting results, too.
Digital content creators and media professionals make about 15 percent of their revenue from affiliate programs.
Affiliate sales also account for over 16 percent of all online sales across the United States and Canada.
Here’s a closer look at the biggest reasons why affiliate marketing will remain more than relevant in 2022.
1. It’s easy to get started
You don’t need an entire host of resources in your corner to get started with affiliate marketing.
You don’t need a whole team of advertising professionals on staff, nor do you need the money to purchase advertising space.
All you need are interested affiliates who’d like to work with you and are eager to get started.
Beyond that, the only real effort involved in getting started is choosing your affiliates.
Of course, you’ll need a strategy for attracting desirable applicants and a system for vetting them, but that’s about it, making it a good fit for businesses of any size or type.
2. Keeping things going is cost-effective
Although budgeting is always a concern in business, rising supply costs, labor shortages, and other pandemic-related factors find business owners especially money-conscious as 2022 begins.
So the more cost-effective your marketing strategy, the better.
Options like pay-per-click advertising are always a bit of a gamble, as every click costs you whether or not it results in a sale.
But since affiliate programs are commission-based, you only pay for what your affiliates can sell.
And the lower the cost, the lower the risk — perfect for start-ups, small businesses, or any company that needs to watch its bottom line in 2022.
3. You can target specific demographics with ease
Whether you’re working on establishing stronger bonds with an existing audience or looking to tap into a brand new niche, affiliate marketing keeps you in the driver’s seat all the way.
As a vendor, you get to select each of your future affiliates individually, making it easy to choose candidates with strong ties to markets you want to tap into.
As a creator, you can select programs in line with your niche and give your audience access to products they’d genuinely enjoy.
And since affiliate marketing is so easy to integrate into campaigns that may already be working well for you, you enjoy a relatively high return on your original investment.
Add more demographics to your outreach plan and scale up, or walk things back to accommodate other approaches. It’s all up to you.
4. It’s a simple way to bulk up your bottom line
Whether you’re a seller or a content creator, there’s no shortage of opportunities to make money online these days, so the world is your oyster if you’re looking to start a side hustle or fatten up your bottom line.
However, many of your best options are going to require you to make ample room for them in a schedule that may already be pretty packed as you begin 2022.
On the other hand, affiliate marketing comes well within spitting distance of generating utterly passive income.
By that, we mean you can generate a decent income stream by leveraging work you’ve already done.
Once you’re up and running, it only takes a small amount of effort to keep things moving. And it’s relatively easy to scale up operations without putting in a lot of extra work, as well.
What Emerging Affiliate Marketing Trends Should You Look Out for in 2022?
Of course, every new year in marketing comes with specific up-and-coming trends to be aware of, and affiliate marketing is no exception.
Here are a few to be mindful of as you put together your strategy for 2022.
Rise of the Micro-Influencer
Although bloggers will always be a valuable part of a successful affiliate program, influencers have risen in importance in recent years.
You can expect that to continue in 2022, but with a growing focus on micro-influencers with small but loyal followings of a few thousand people.
Micro-influencers mean unique opportunities to tap into niche markets and enjoy higher conversion rates.
They are highly passionate about what they do, often generating high-quality, unique content that gets results.
Growing Emphasis on Trust
With topics like data breaches and consumer privacy making headlines in the marketing world, trust has been growing in importance for a while now.
As controversial marketing features like third-party cookies exit the scene in favor of people-friendly alternatives like human-first data experiences, the ability to win and retain consumer trust will become ever more critical.
Leveraging the intimate connection small to mid-level influencers have forged with their audiences is one way to help your target audience trust you more.
But prepare to get on board with others as the marketing world keeps trending toward transparency, openness, and honesty in advertising strategies.
New Online Shopping Experiences
The convenience and variety the internet brings to the table meant online shopping was already red hot.
However, the way the pandemic has forced businesses of all types to digitize operations even further has brought some fresh options to the table.
Watch for the emergence of new, exciting ways to shop online — such as live shopping events on social media, to name just one example.
Business-savvy professionals who can master these experiences early will have a significant edge to their advantage, and affiliate marketing experts are certainly no exception.
Wrap Up: Make Affiliate Marketing a Part of Your Strategy in 2022
Don’t listen to rumors that insist affiliate marketing is a relic of the past and is on its way out.
Not only is it very much alive and well, but we’ll be seeing some exciting opportunities to use it to connect with an audience in 2022 and beyond.
You can ensure you don’t miss out by learning everything you can and fine-tuning your marketing strategies accordingly.
Ready to take the next step and start preparing for what’s next?
Check out our comprehensive overview on the twelve most important types of digital marketing to master both now and in the future. We’ve got you covered!