Is Affiliate Marketing Dead? How Coronavirus Influence it?

Last Update: September 20, 2020

Is Affiliate Marketing Dead? How Coronavirus Influence it?

My chosen title and blog piece might create an army of haters to me, until you hear me out until the end. Kyle, Carlson, and the rest of the WA community, please don’t yank me out as I love being an associate, friend, and supporter of Wealthy Affiliate. Why I am writing this article then? The number of articles out there in the social media space including YouTube, digital marketing web-posts, and social media stating that affiliate marketing is dead with an almost 50:50 ratio or equals the number of those stating exactly the opposite. The former ones have not-so promising statistics on their side, the latter ones pinning hopes of the stronger than expected returns with the new norm during and after this global pandemic. Which side you are betting? Definitely you are on the safe and sure side after your decision of signing-up with WA!

Both sides have compelling arguments and use trends or industry experts to support their claims.

Both sides are right. Both sides are wrong. Many were based on opinions, some were based on factual life experiences and the consequences of efforts made and casting the net on which correct side of the boat! There is no contradiction between these two statements.

It all boils down to what affiliate marketing is for us and how we define its purpose on the other peoples’ lives, before our own.

I will walk you through the arguments made by supporters of each side, look at how the troubled times of the global pandemic will influence the industry, and, hopefully, the answer will become clear.


Affiliate marketing is not dead, it’s making the biggest comeback!

According to an independent research firm https://99firms.com/, the annual affiliate marketing spending is projected to hit the $6.8 billion mark. The affiliate marketing industry statistics show steady growth. In fact, the US affiliate marketing spending increases annually by 10.1% and it's expected to reach $6.8 billion by 2020. The figures are clear: money spent on affiliate marketing in the United States alone is steadily going up. And there are more numbers to back up the idea that affiliate marketing is very much alive:

The industry itself is booming. People are making money out of it. Some people make very good money with it. The Pareto Principle, originated way back early 1900s, still applied which states that as one focuses on 20% of the critical Affiliate Programs out there, it will give you 80% of your expected targets (and purpose). What are those Top 20% Affiliate Programs out there? It solely depends on your target niche products.

And as more e-commerce and online purchases more secured, the more our activities move online, the more important affiliate marketing should become. We in the big WA ship is on the rising tide that lifts us all, depending on just few critical factors:

  1. 1. Be honest with your audience, your target market and customers.
  2. 2. Choosing the right niche product and market.
  3. 3. How much traffic, it drives your commission or income.
  4. 4. Providing engaging and sticky content.

The worldwide popularity of the "affiliate marketing" search term goes up year by year which now runs more than 2 millions searches per month!!. This may be the indicator of the growing importance of the industry. However, it may also mean that more and more people joining the game, right?

This brings us to the second part…


Affiliate marketing is dead, you think so?

Based on my research, the affiliate marketing that more than a decade ago is non-competitive, or should I say, dead! Those were the days of hastily written product reviews with related and unrelated affiliate links flooding the article. Pervasive banners are no more. Forced continuity offers are getting blocked by banks. Affiliate marketing is no longer a secret and exclusive club for initiates and tech-savvy groups.

When there are too many fishing boats on the same area, with big trawlers from bigger companies you will be competing with, then the catch will only become smaller and meager.


Is affiliate marketing still worth it? What has changed?

Growing competition

More people want to become affiliate marketers than ever. A very good indication is the explosive number of new members in the WA community. That’s good! The idea of working from home is getting more attention nowadays especially in troubled times such as this ongoing battle with the corona virus epidemic. This drives people to search for job opportunities that can be done solely from the confinements of their homes.

There will be more affiliates fighting for the same offers and bidding for the same (but growing) traffic.

Affiliate Marketing is now harder and with stricter regulations

Internet giants are tightening their ad policies. Pressured by governments or public opinions, they ask for better content regulations. Even giant corporation like Amazon already cut their affiliate commission rates (reference : https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/14/21221326/amazon-affiliate-marketing-links-commerce-commission-cuts)

More and more verticals or angles are getting banned on Facebook and Google. Advertising has to become less aggressive and more clever. More deep thought-through process backed up by more researched of your targeted affiliate program/s.


The good news!

While more people will be jumping on the affiliate train, big companies hosting affiliate programs may become more careful when accepting new program joiners. They may try to vet people more, put requirements such as having a successful site and so on. The importance of quality contents to drive quality lead (traffic) will spurn more quality and growth. Beginner affiliates like many of us here need to be more persevering, patient, and with the right positive mindset into our hearts and mind (that will drive our body to move forward).

SEO changes

Search engine optimization is an ongoing game where affiliates try to decipher and keep up with the newest keywords' algorithm changes. There were many training from Kyle and community on this important subject matter.

But the overall trend is clear: it is harder to rank on the first spot in Google. With the growing expansion of ads in SERP and featured snippets, the first spot may not even be visible. On top of that, what algorithm deems important may change overnight.

The rise of having our own personal brands

For all the “make a quick buck” traditional affiliates program out there : a change is coming. Google and Facebook always liked brands and they will grow to love them even more.

If you have run some generic offers, it is time to invest in building your own brand. Brands are the future.


Conclusion: So, is affiliate marketing dead?

All the arguments in the world shouldn’t cloud the fact that it’s still a 12-billion-dollar pie to share. What’s the final answer?

The “death of affiliate marketing” is just a figure of speech pointing out the fact that it is undergoing a significant change. It will still be profitable. Maybe not for all. Like a franchising business several years ago, even one invested heavily on a tried and tested franchise, not all locations are successful!

Maybe not for the unprepared ones.

How to work in affiliate marketing in 2020 and beyond

The death and re-birth of affiliate marketing will put an even bigger emphasis on knowing your audience. I am now rethinking deeper and closer into these factors as past 2 months I was struggling on what niche product to focus on. Factors that come into my mind are:

  • On being clever and passionate with your targeting and optimizing niche options.
  • On affiliate tracking of all your costs and profits.
  • On more testing and smart traffic redistribution. I suggest (and highly recommend) that WA team owners to put one folder (with sub-folders for specific topics) as repository of all successful models of our high performing members, role model their approach, appreciate their efforts, and recognize their contributions in sharing their success. Many good stories out there but one has to mine these into layers of blogs, posts, Q&As in every training modules.

But the money is still there and it will stay that way till the end of the Internet.

Affiliate marketing vs COVID-19

The times of the global corona virus pandemic has turned the traditional knowledge about what works upside down. What used to work may not work anymore and the new norms are over-taking old things as new best practices.

We can safely say that affiliate marketing is a line of work that is very desirable right now for a few good reasons:

  • It allows people to work from home
  • It requires relatively low initial investments
  • It doesn’t require any specific skills or educations

The virus didn’t kill the affiliate marketing definitely. But it had an impact on it, in a good way as well:

  • There are a lot of offers to choose from
  • Average cost-per-click has dropped, even by 70 – 80 % in some cases
  • There are more millions of potential new companies and products also “fresh-green” into digital marketing. They need to expand their network exponentially in the net world. Most n the Internet right now, close to 3.010 Billion as of late 2019!! You don’t believe? Go and check this out on https://www.invespcro.com/blog/world-population-online/
  • ... crisis and uncertainties in life bring out the best of us. One of avenue and path to take is through digital marketing, and specifically affiliate marketing. One way is certain: what we have used to know as ‘affiliate marketing’ is dying. Welcome the “new” affiliate marketing approach and strategies!
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YvonneBray Premium
I agree with Jess below affiliate marketing is very much alive. Thank you for sharing your post.
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JeffreyBrown Premium
I love your trawler analysis! IMO, Affiliate marketing is very much alive!

Jeff
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Francisco97 Premium Plus
Affiliate marketing is very much alive specially the Wealthy Affiliate.
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krisneale Premium
Great read... looking forward to getting the view of others around this! Thanks for sharing
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