Affiliate Marketing in 2018, What You Need to Know

Last Update: Jan 4, 2018

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Affiliate marketing is constantly changing and evolving and 2018 is going to be another year when we can expect some incremental shifts, and some more radical shifts. I am going to spend a bit here explaining where I see affiliate marketing in 2018 heading and hopefully shed some light on the industry as a whole.

Before I get started, I want to clear your mind of ONE thing. Affiliate Marketing is not going anywhere. The opportunity to build a full time business through affiliate marketing is still as possible as it has ever been.

In fact, there is becoming a greater shift of investment by large companies into their affiliate programs and their affiliates. You can expect more of this in the year ahead.

There are 5 main shifts/changes that you can expect in the year ahead within the AM world.

1. Affiliate Programs Need Affiliates More Than Ever.

I am sensing a bit of desperation in the commerce world. Very successful retailers of the "offline" world are losing their grasp of their overall market because of the "progressive online" companies that have focused primarily in the online retail space.

You have the likes of Etsy, EBay, Amazon, AliExpress that have truly invested a great deal of their energies into affiliates and their online retail experience. They are continuing to thrive and grow and will do so in 2018.

Then you have companies like Sears, Toys R Us (as well as several others) that are going completely out of business because they didn't focus on affiliates and their overall online retail experience.

We are going to see more of this. There will be more retailers that will go bankrupt in 2018. There will be a much greater focus by existing retailers in their online experience, affiliate programs, and working at a higher rate with affiliate marketers.

Those that continue to invest in this manner will see positive growth in their businesses in 2018. Those that don't, are unfortunately going to experience the same demise as many other "offline focused" retailers that simply do not get the new economy.

2. Authority Bloggers Will Continue to Reap the Rewards.

One thing that you can be assured about is that those that focus on OWNING their niche in 2018, are going to continue to attract the attention of larger affiliate marketing agencies, networks, and affiliate programs.

As an affiliate, you have a lot of power as you start to accrue a brand in the industry. The same way celebrities attract huge contracts for selling contracts through commercials, if you focus on building your brand in your given niche/industry you are going to continue to attract these types of partnerships.

Often times as you gain true branding in your niche. Affiliate programs consider offering you more incentives or better commission (like our all-expense-paid Super Affiliate Conference).

So embrace your niche, work to become the best within it, and don't try to diversify and wear too many hats within the online world. It only takes ONE niche to be very successful online (as in millions in revenue per year).

Also, help as many people as you can in your niche. Make it a goal of 2018. If you can help 100% more people this year, you can expect 100% growth. If you can help 500% more people this year, you can expect 500% growth in your affiliate revenues.

If you haven't already had the opportunity to check out my Live Class on "Insights into Efficiently Becoming an Expert in 2018", I recommend you do so. All Premium members have access and it is going to give you some unique perspective on building a brand through the course of a year. It CAN be done.

WATCH LIVE CLASS: Insights into Efficiently Becoming an Expert in 2018

3. More People Online = More Affiliate Marketing Opportunity

Every year the world population grows. Ever year access to the Internet continues to grow. Every year more people are more active on the Internet than ever, through more devices.

There was a point in time when people were fearing the demise of desktop computing and people actually using anything but a mobile device. It was a big fear, in particular in the SEO space and with affiliate marketers.

What has happened though is that people now are online more than ever, people often times have 3-4 devices they can connect to the internet with and consume information with (desktop, laptop, iPad, smartphone, now home enabled devices), and people are now spending more money than ever as a result.

People also have ramped up their search habits.

Offline constructs like libraries, books, newspapers and offline retailers are continuing to become obsolete, meanwhile anything online is only gaining more popularity.

This is a good thing for affiliate marketers. In fact, the opportunity has never been so big and the affiliate marketing snowball is going to continue to grow in size in 2018.

4. E-commerce is Thriving, More Hybrid Opportunities

Affiliate marketing is great. But it certainly is not the only way to monetize website traffic and if there are greater profits outside of affiliate marketing within certain pages on your website, then authority sites are going to continue to leverage these.

For example, if you are selling something that is not branded (a wooden clock), there are many opportunities to drop ship through companies like AliExpress where you can ship products at a much lower cost than you can charge for them, sometimes you can make 100% plus on the actual price of the product.

If you take a $15 clock like the one above, you sell it for $30, you double your money. This is a logic that has been in place, but where the "brand" isn't as sensitive (like a generic clock), you are going to see more opportunities in this space. There is much more administration and costs associated with accepting payment, dealing with returns, and managing product support. But accepting payment and hosting a store on your website through plugins like WooCommerce can be a great opportunity.

We have some existing training on this, but we are going to be exploring facets in the direct "e-commerce" space through more live classes and training in 2018.

Affiliate marketing is definitely going to remain our focus with the largest share of our training, but we also feel there are going to be new opportunities arising out of the e-commerce side of things that conventional affiliate-based sites will be able to leverage (as technology continues to improve).

The ability to operate a hybrid website where you recommend products through affiliate programs, as well as other means like drop shipping, and owning your own products/services are going to become more of a reality in 2018 and beyond.

5. Lots of Opportunity Outside of Amazon

Amazon is eating a disproportionate piece of the pie, the most we have ever seen. They are blowing away sales records and one thing that can be said about Amazon in the last 10 years is that they have invested in their affiliate program, their affiliates (associates) and maximizing revenue.

During Black Friday of 2017 it was stated that Amazon took anywhere between 45-50% of all online sales. That is a big deal, but this certainly does not mean that Amazon should be viewed as your only option. Online sales broke records once again in 2017, and will do so again in 2018.

Affiliate programs are going to continue to pop up. Networks continue to recruit brand new merchants and continue to expand their offerings. And often times you can find much better commission share (% wise) outside of Amazon.

There are 100,000's of affiliate programs out there across every industry offering a wide range of commission rates (1-75%), so explore your options and be strategic about what you promote on your sites. There is likely a greater windfall of revenue if you do your due diligence and you seek affiliate programs outside of just Amazon's.

Cookie life (the time in which you get credit for an affiliate commission) are typically better than Amazon as well through other affiliate programs and networks. Some like Wealthy Affiliate, offer affiliates LIFETIME cookies, meaning you get a commission if someone goes through your affiliate link and joins at any time, forever. Compare this to shorter cycle cookies like Amazon (which are only 24 hours).

Successful merchants on Amazon and other mass shopping agencies are going to become more privy to the benefits of having their own independent affiliate programs and either join affiliate networks or set-up their own independent affiliate programs. They will earn the merchants larger profit margins this way and they will also be able to pay affiliate more than commissions. A win/win.


There you have it.

Those are some trends I see either taking place, or evolving in 2018. The affiliate marketing industry has never been more exciting in my opinion and you can expect the most affiliate opportunities we have ever seen in the year ahead.

I would love to hear your feedback though. Where do you see the affiliate marketing industry heading in 2018? What are some trends you have noticed in your own niches? Do you have any questions or personal feedback? Drop a comment below!

Here is to a successful a brilliant 2018 ahead!

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Recent Comments

296

"we are going to be exploring facets in the direct "e-commerce" space through more live classes and training in 2018."

This is very good news! I think there is a lot of room for other marketing models to sit alongside affiliate marketing on a niche blog, such as drop-shipping, direct selling of physical goods yourself, as well as offering your own digital products and services.

Actually, I got started online back in the early 2000s (!) by selling Japanese games, comics and other Japanese gear, which involved packing and shipping the orders myself. (I was amazed when my website about Japanese mahjong sets began to get orders. At that time I knew nothing about "keywords" and simply wrote a few blog posts on the topic and put up a sales page with Paypal buttons - and it worked!)

When I moved into affiliate marketing, I also focused on developing my own digital products and online services for other marketers, which was a good way to cover my business expenses while learning the ropes. So I have always felt that affiliate marketing, although a BIG piece of the pie, is not the whole pie!

I'm looking forward to seeing how WA develops along these lines this year.

All the best,

David Hurley
#InspiredFocus

Thank you Kyle, its important for us to get your overall outlook on the AM industry, puts extra perspective on it when someone with your experience stands back, summarizes and shares.
I look forward to developing my sites in 2018 and building on my relationship with my friends on WA.
I think AM will steadily grow as more up and coming companies fight for online retail space. I think cryptocurrency will be a part of that growth and blockchain in the set up of that company structure is the way of the future. We would be wise to educate ourselves in and grow with it

Thank you Kyle for this blog. This is going to help me after I do my cruise website and monetize it. Because I was considering becoming an affiliate of Amazon which I will sign up for. But because of the low commissions, I will do my research and figure out what will be best for me. And also promote WA.

Happy and very Prosperous 2018!!
Steve

Great motivational information. I saw on Squak Box this morning the talking heads are predicting Amazon to buy Target next (old news I guess by now)...I don't plan on applying for Amazon affiliate just yet because my site isn't where it needs to be but I have applied to a few others related to my niche I am excited about.

Anyway, I have been working on my "Authority" site hard lately and plan to continue doing so. I have more confidence than ever that I will eventually make my online site work! I have also been studying about products for drop-shipping and putting my own brand to a few products.

Very exciting stuff ahead! Thanks for keeping us up to date and looking foward!

Hi, Kyle...

I totally agree with your assessment. I am glad to see that you and Carson are continuing to fine tune the training and features here to keep abreast with the market...

This means Wealthy Affiliate will remain relevant and dominant in the training marketing segment. A good thing for you both and for members too...

Some of the things I am noticing in the market that affiliate marketers need to pay attention to is the ever-increasing focus on sellers improving user engagement/experience for their website visitors and leads/subscribers...

This is taking many forms...Some tools have been around, they are just evolving somewhat, and some are relatively new or even brand new...

I see ever more ways to intermingle social accounts available on the various platforms with your content and SEO marketing strategies...

Some are just shiny objects, some are real advancements...

These social platforms are competing with one another for the attention of their users, and have been adding new tools and features to attract and keep people on their platforms, and also are adding new ways to get users to embed their tools on their websites...

I could go through them one by one, but suffice it to say that if the affiliate marketer pays attention to the new social features and tools out there, and leverages them for their own branding and programs, the marketer will be able to tap into this increasingly important traffic source and sell more...

Tools like instant reviews, purchase bot pop-ups, chat-bots, AI, quizzes, surveys, contests, videos with embedded links, hot spot images, memes, and gifs all can complement your content and SEO marketing, which will remain important.

These days you can build a business entirely on the social platforms (i.e. Instagram, Facebook), however, I believe it makes more sense to spread the ways you drive traffic to many channels versus one, and I think that content will remain king in that regard.

If I were starting out again, I would focus on the content and website, as taught here, and then start drilling down on social marketing, while standing up the ability to collect subscribers and use email autoresponder marketing as soon as I have 100 site visits a day.

I would be ready prior to that point, meaning developing lead magnets that the target audience is looking for and setting up a way to capture those prospects...In my case, I waited too long...

Next, I would learn about sales funnels, how to plan and design them, how to create effective copy for them, how to stand them up and how to connect all the pieces together...

The next area I would start to study and learn about after the email marketing would be one social marketing method. That might be Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Does not matter, whatever you feel comfortable using...

As an example, Instagram is a fast-growing channel to sell. Using influencers, or through focusing on Millenials or members having a smaller but more focused audience you can create new sources of targeted traffic...

While building your content portfolio of targeted subject posts, and using SEO to get rankings for them, and gathering subscribers and using email marketing from the traffic, you add new streams of traffic...

The big picture is that you will always be expanding and learning. You will be building your brand and reputation, your influence in the niche grows and grows. People listen to you. People buy based on your recommendation.

This feeds on itself, and your traffic figures get better and better...As do your sales and income...

Getting traffic to your website is fine, it is what happens when they get there that will make you an income. Traffic in and of itself is of no value...Adding in Calls To Action and pages to focus that traffic on your offers makes sense...

Moving on...

I think video marketing use will continue to rise by affiliate marketers. The delivery of videos is changing too, i.e. people are using more live streaming...

There are a number of free tools available, and because this marketing means is so effective, it just makes sense to learn as much as you can about this as early as you can...

By 2021, 82% of activity will involve viewing videos...So it is a way you will have to draw people to your websites...Make them mobile friendly too, as the percentage of internet access time continues to rise via smartphones while desktop access falls...

Monetizing video...

Even though changes in YouTube mean it is harder to leverage a channel (get paid for showing ads) and your videos, it is worth standing up a channel and start pumping out videos on your websites and also post them on YourTube...

You can use them to sell your promoted products, your own products, or services, etc. that you may be focusing on for your websites or social accounts too.

Again, I say jump in as soon as you feel comfortable enough with what you are doing...

All of this cannot be learned or applied in a day, a week, or even a month. It is like a snowball hurtling down a snowy hill...It starts as a small ball, builds as it rolls, and when it reaches its end-point, it can be huge...

Quite a journey...

10,000 Foot View...

It is and will remain a progressive journey, this online marketing business. Starting with the basics as you learn here, and moving to intermediate and advanced marketing methodologies (also available here) makes sense.

You are so right that affiliate marketing is not only not dead, its use is rising and it makes sense for the business owner. You cannot get cheaper salespeople.

A Business Owner's View...

I am thinking from a business owner standpoint, as this will help you understand my point...Affiliates are working for you to sell your goods and services, and they only get paid when they sell something...

There are few costs involved, as affiliates are responsible for paying all taxes, overheads, and things like health insurance, etc. You really are remiss if you do not tap into affiliates.

Bottom Line...

So yes, we will continue to have a market for our blogs, sales pages, and products/services. It is a bright future and if affiliate marketers apply what they learn here, they can do very well...

I for one am looking forward to this year. As many here likely are thinking, this is a year for scaling. Take wherever you are now and plan on growing that by a factor of 10, 20, or more...

It most certainly is possible!

Cheers!
Dave : )

...
Sat, Feb 17, 2018

Hi, Dave.

What a wealth of information your comment provides! Thank you very much for taking the time to write it!


Sharon

Awesome Kyle, the bigger the online world gets, the BIGGER THE ONLINE WORLD GETS. In today's world, any company that fights the online affiliate marketing world is already in trouble. The company that gives us a chance to reap the rewards of selling their goods and services, is way ahead of their competition, Amen.
Bless WA for being seeing the marketing future of many companies. We Are There for them.
Sam and Deb

An "affiliate" is much more than a tool. It is the ability for a company to have access to 100's, 1,000's and 10,000's of people with an interest in marketing their products and services. If they treat them well, they will reap the rewards of having an astute, knowledgeable and forward thinking marketing team.

Some co's still don't get it, but MANY do. They will continue to at a higher rate than ever and I am really exciting for the opportunities that are going to continue to establish themselves for affiliate marketers in the year ahead.

Yes indeed Kyle. Deb and I were at the VA Clinic today having some tests for stuff, leave it at that. The conversation came up with our DR about what we do to keep our selves busy. We very gently, lol, told her that we invest a lot of our time figuring out how to save some of North America's big conventional walk-in companies. She was taken back some what, she knew I had turned 70 last November 12 and was dealing with some Agent Orange Issues from the Vietnam days. She asks Deb, "How in the world do you and Sam stay that active on the net and the conventional business world?" Easy question: Easy answer. We told here that the world is made up of a lot of people that reach certain ages or conditions in life and start telling themselves, take it easy or slow down some, and other reasons to start pulling back. How does one learn all the Blogging and Internet stuff she asked; Well, we introduce them to the Number One Blogging Platform on the Planet. I could go on Kyle, but you get the message. What you guys do is important in the grand scheme of things and many of us intend to help spread that.
Bless You Guys,
Sam and Deb

I can't believe this Kyle. I was just logging on to write about this very topic, because Amazon just changed one of it's program policies and brought the commission rates down on several popular items. They probably do this every year after the holidays, but it still stings.

Nevertheless, I always look for opportunities outside of Amazon, so this is spot on. And of course, there's no reason you can't have an affiliation with Amazon as well.

BTW, I linked to this post from mine, so people will see how great minds think alike :-)

Hal

I saw that and I chimed into your post. Sometimes serendipity truly shows it's face. I really loved your post and it was so true, certain companies continue to think they can shave prices and shave affiliate commissions in parallel (not just amazon),

But you are also seeing companies raise affiliate commissions and you will see much more off this as well in the year ahead. In particular if they see the opportunity in doing so.

Offering a few more % and attracting 100's more skilled affiliates with authority sites is a good trade off in my opinion. :)

I'm really not sure how Amazon can manage to pay less than they do.... In another year or two, WE will probably pay THEM when we sell something. Their commissions were almost insulting before, but if they have dropped again....

This is so true...If you factor in the acquisition costs for new customers, you just cannot get them for what you pay an affiliate...

Facebook or Google ads can be very expensive and you can blow through a lot of money with less than stellar results...It is not going to get any cheaper either, quite the opposite. I believe...

Here is an example of how cheap it can be, though, and how paying a decent commission will get you more for less ...

I have been approached by a local fella here in Dubai that has access to advertising space on websites that get 2B views a month...

For the products I am selling, he has related website/pages getting 150k views per day, with about 25% coming from Germany, Sweden, and the UK. Another large chunk is coming from the USA...

I have entered into an agreement with him wherein I only pay on sales/conversions for ads placed with him. That means unless something sells, he makes nothing from showing my banners and native ads...

Because the only cost to me is the time to prepare the ads, I have agreed to pay him 10%. For me, that is a deal. I get the lead, I can sell again and again to that customer, and my average acquisition cost likely will go way down...

That 10% is higher than many affiliate programs and I could have gotten him for less money, but my intent is that he aggressively pushes my offers on those sites...He wins and so do I...

Of course, it is yet to be known how effective this sales channel will be, but what are my costs? Nada...

Potentially, my colleague can make some really good money for his efforts, and he is quite happy with that 10%, it is higher than what he gets from others...

Win-win...

Cheers!
Dave : )

Exactly Dave, an affiliate marketing relationship makes much more sense in almost every case. In your case, if their traffic is bogus and they have pumped up their numbers or it is throw away traffic, you don't stand to lose.

They stand to lose their reputation in the sense that you are going to see what they really offer in terms of traffic quality.

But there is little inherent risk when a company creates an affiliate program other than the risk of not managing it properly and it being "stale" as a result. This can happen and does happen quite frequently, companies get excited about their affiliate programs, the invest in the creation and set-up, and then forget about the follow through (working with the actual affiliates).

Good point on the follow-up and continued work with your affiliates...I have seen the value in providing training to help them and your company...

In many ways, you are teaching a lot of what is taught here, and indeed, I am looking at adding more such training for the people that work with us...

I also like the seamless tracking and payout system you have in place...This is not the case with all programs, even some on the relatively sophisticated platforms like JVZoo...

Here are a few examples of vendors not paying attention to their programs:

(1) I went through the end-of-year numbers in December, noting outstanding commissions, etc. There was over $500 total due, to my surprise.

Almost all of these were outstanding from sellers that were due months earlier. I had to chase each down to get paid, even though it was clear that the payments were due...

This was a waste of my time...

What went through my mind was that I will not make any further efforts on their behalf to push their products or services. Another thing I noticed was that some annual renewals I did not get paid for...

(2) Apparently, as with Amazon, there is no lifetime cookie with many sellers of IM products, so the sellers cash in 100% from your efforts. Seems a bit dodgy and again it means I will not push or promote their products...

I missed out on several hundred dollars of commissions from a couple of vendors who are doing this...Lesson learned...

(3) Yet another example was the changing of the rules after the fact. I had one seller tell me they changed to 120 day payment period after the sale 'to make sure there would not be a refund' (even though the money back guarantees is only 30 days???)...

I was told I should expect payment in February 2018 for sales made in October 2017...When I pointed out these inconsistencies, I got paid. But guess what? Another vendor I will not work with...

Overall Lessons Learned...

It is from my own experiences plus what I see from good and responsible vendors like Wealthy Affiliate that is shaping how we are putting together our affiliate program...

As with the e-commerce membership training and affiliate website that we have as a project, sometimes it is better to walk the walk before finalizing your own program...

Sometimes a year can make all the difference in the world, as the knowledge, experience, successes, and failures will help you provide a more enriching and useful product...

This is the approach we switched to for almost all online activities...We want to have done what we are talking about/selling. We want it to be beta tested and fixes implemented, we want a product that is ready to perform for partners and affiliates...

Too many times this is not the case...People are selling garbage...

Anyway, good discussion and appreciate the valuable insights, as always!

Cheers!
Dave : )

Thanks Kyle! I'm super excited for what 2018 has in store for us all. I would be even more excited about this e-commerce training you're thinking about getting started. Before finding WA, I was working on doing drop shipping, but eventually decided not to get involved. So would love to learn more about it and maximize on this traffic that is starting to flood in.

Don't be too fixated on that concept. There tends to be more money in affiliate marketing generally speaking and you should still be building an authority site and establishing your brand, but we are going to continue reveal new opportunities to maximize your website revenue and profits.

I'm happy to hear that there will be more training on e-commerce in 2018. It's one of the topics I was going to discuss with you in Feb in the Vegas conference. Last year I received a lot of questions from members that wanted to sell their own products. So I think having more e-commerce training will be welcomed and provide members additional ways to earn in addition to affiliate marketing which isn't going anywhere.

E-commerce is great, it is certainly not for everyone though and it absolutely does not replace affiliate marketing.

There are definite drawbacks to "starting with ecom", the main one being that most people that do this need a significant ad spend, they only can use FB ads or Google/Bing paid placements to drive revenue, and they never really learn how to market to their audience.

Once you have a solid source of traffic, a brand/authority, and have room to position products where your profits (including your time expenditure) are better than promoting those same type of products through affiliate programs.

So you will see some strategic training on ecommerce, but it won't be a sort of catch all like you see out there. We want people to WIN in their markets, and be as profitable as possible. That will always be the goal.

You're preaching to the choir. I totally agree with you. But for some reason some people just want to dive into ecommerce without understanding that without understanding the other fundamental SEO and marketing principles taught here for affiliate marketing sites, their ecommerce site is likely to fail unless they can invest in the paid traffic sources you mentioned.

So I think putting that in context while helping folks set up the ecommerce element would be useful. But i can see this being a gift and curse become some people just set up an ecommerce store and not following the principles of SEO and writing content to promote their site. So I get your apprehension.

Absolutely, it is important that people understand the fundamentals of building a business online before they dive head first into e-commerce.

Too many people are losing a great deal of money in the e-commerce space simply because they are sold on the idea of "build it and they will come".

That is the backwards approach and if you take the "ecom first' approach to business, you surely need a substantial ad budget in order to test and refine and see what converts and what doesn't.

And then you are at the demise of PPC platforms (a) disapproving your ads (b) welcome new competition in that will pay their way past you (c) thinning margins with competition as you are paying for traffic.

Exactly.

Thank you Kyle! this verifies what has been going on out there with retailers. Toys R Us and Sears are history where I am. Sears closes its doors in a couple of weeks.

Online shopping is climbing and we are all here at the right place and the right time to become success stories and it's exciting!

Thanks again for this information!

Yeah, Sears has closed it's doors here as well. It is sad as it has been such a staple, and the offline world is not a bad one for shopping, but they haven't offered any reason for people to come to the store, and certainly they have not put enough emphasis on their online side of their business.

Same with Toys R Us, Kmart, Wet Seal, etc. The list of casualties piles up.

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