Today, affiliate marketing is implemented across a wide range of social media — YouTubers often include affiliate links in video descriptions to highlight the products they mention or the clothes they’re wearing. Similarly, bloggers frequently place affiliate links within product reviews posted on their blog.
The use of affiliate marketing strategies has become increasingly relevant as consumers demonstrate a preference for online shopping, and content creators and influencers look for the best ways to generate revenue across digital and social media.
The growth and importance of affiliate marketing is becoming undeniable. By leveraging affiliates, marketers are able to reach untapped audiences with built-in trust. Here we’ve gathered the most relevant affiliate marketing statistics marketers must know. Click to skip to the following section:
Affiliate marketing continues to increase in popularity among advertisers, in part due to its performance-based nature. More than four out of five brands use affiliate marketing to generate revenue, and data has shown publishers use the strategy even more.
80% of brands and 84% of publishers leverage affiliate marketing.
To measure the use of affiliate marketing among top advertisers and publishers, Forrester surveyed over 150 advertising VPs (limited to U.S. companies generating a minimum of $200 million in revenue) and the same number of U.S. publishers by site traffic.
While this is just an estimation, the continued growth of affiliate marketing is prevalent among all sources. According to one study that tracked U.S. affiliate marketing expenditures (from 2010 through the present), the U.S. affiliate marketing spend will likely reach $8.2 billion by 2022 — up from $5.4 billion in 2017.
Compared to the majority of sales channels, this is quite an impressive figure. 10% is considered a strong growth rate for most small-medium businesses, with lower figures being more likely with larger companies. This places the affiliate marketing industry well above average.
According to Google Trends, interest in affiliate marketing has increased drastically of late. In fact, the July 2020 search for “affiliate marketing” peaked at the highest search in 11 years.
In five years, affiliate marketing’s popularity ranking soared from only around 25 to 100 worldwide, an increase of 300%! Google considers a value of 100 as “peak popularity”, with a value of 50 being only half as popular.
The popularity in the U.S. has fluctuated more widely, with popularity beginning around a rating of 42 before bouncing to reach its current ranking of 82. While the difference isn’t quite as dramatic, the trend clearly shows a consistent and sustained increase in affiliate marketing.
Since 2017, creators on Amazon have earned on average a 4% commission through advertising Amazon product links in their content.
Creators can earn up to a 10% commission for promoting luxury items, and on the other end of the spectrum, a 1% commission for promoting video games.
BuzzFeed and The New York Times are two examples of the publishing giants that drive readers to Amazon products through Amazon’s affiliate network.
In April 2020, amid the coronavirus outbreak, Amazon decreased the commission rates for many product categories in one of the biggest Amazon Affiliate announcements since 2017.
Some product categories were hit harder than others — for example, commission rates for grocery products dropped from 5% to 1% while rates for furniture and home improvement products experienced a 5% decrease in commission.
Even in 2020, publishers still generate the majority of their revenue from traditional advertising. According to The Affiliate Marketing Report from Business Insider, however, affiliate marketing is growing faster.
U.S. affiliate marketing spending increases annually by 10.1%, indicating that affiliate marketing is becoming more widely accepted by mainstream media publishers.
Many product reviews, comparison articles, and recommendation listicles may be from affiliate marketing. High-quality content naturally sells better than mediocre blog posts, so the majority of affiliate-created content may be quite useful.
All in all, the steady increase of affiliate content has made it much easier than it used to be to make an informed decision about what to buy and where to buy it.
Despite the vote on affiliate marketing’s efficacy being less than unanimous, a substantial segment of the marketers polled believed it to have substantial merit as a means of reeling in new customers, right up there with email marketing and traditional advertising methods.
Although many didn’t cite affiliate marketing as one of their top choices, the majority still incorporated an affiliate program into their overall marketing strategy.
After analyzing data from 550 affiliate programs across 6 networks and sorting the affiliate programs into 20 broad categories, fashion ranked first, accounting for 18.7% of all major affiliate programs.
This comes as no surprise, and the next other high-ranking niches shouldn’t either:
Next up was the sports and outdoors category, with 14.6%, followed by health/wellness and beauty at 11.1%.
The popular categories and niches that thrive tend to have one of two critical qualities – visual appeal, problem solving, or both.
Aesthetically pleasing gardening and travel images automatically provoke clicks, and the tutorials and recommendations that often accompany them are genuinely helpful.
Meanwhile, categories like finance and electronics often involve detailed, informative content that helps the audience to make educated decisions about potentially expensive purchases.
Of all the stats on this list, this is one of the most telling. Even three years back, half of affiliate content was first viewed on mobile. While some customers may have completed their purchases on desktop, mobile devices were responsible for half of all affiliate-generated leads.
Since 2017, our collective use of mobile devices has only increased. While there isn’t an updated affiliate marketing statistic for mobile, it’s highly likely that an even greater percentage of affiliate traffic begins on-the-go today.
Affiliate marketing is nothing new, but in recent years it has proven its merit as an effective sales channel with affiliate marketing spend to hit the $6.8 billion mark in 2020.
Further analysis predicted that affiliate marketing will influence up to 14% of online purchases in the U.S. this year.
The total impact in the U.S. market will equate to roughly $70 billion in sales. While affiliate marketing is highly unlikely to replace other tried-and-true marketing methods entirely, it’s likely that we’ll see this trend continue to grow for some time.
Some marketers have debated the value of discount codes, but the facts don’t lie. With nearly a third of U.S. affiliate marketing sales in 2018 traced back to vouchers, they’re clearly a useful tool in the affiliate marketing arsenal.
Research has also found that 83% of respondents’ shopping choices were influenced by the appearance of a discount code. Discount codes make it more enticing to buy greater quantities at a time than they normally would.
When you’re considering such massive markets, 16% is nothing to scoff at. The U.S. in particular is a prime target for affiliates — currently, the U.S. is the most lucrative market to focus on.
Nearly 64% of affiliates worldwide target U.S. consumers contributing to that 16% figure.
It goes without saying that the price of the products being sold by affiliates influence how large of a sale they can make. It’s no accident that many of the most successful affiliates work in a few key niches. With higher-priced items, however, like expensive apparel, fitness equipment, or electronics, a $1,000 sale is entirely feasible.
Many people interested in the affiliate marketing industry wonder what the affiliate marketing average income is.
While the majority of affiliates earn up to $20,000 on a yearly basis, there is still a large portion of affiliates that go beyond this mark.
Out of the 35% of affiliates who earn more than $20,000 per year, 12% make over $75,000 in affiliate marketing income. Of the 35% of affiliates who earn more than $20,000 per year, 12% make over $75,000.
After acquiring ShareASale, another massive affiliate network, the network distributed $734 million among its 100,000 plus contributors. This places Awin among the top affiliate programs of 2020, competing with sites like eBay Partner Network, Rakuten, Clickbank, and, as always, Amazon Associates.
Nothing is quite as convincing as a success story. Of all the companies built off affiliate commissions, Groupon is about as good as it gets.
In the 2nd quarter of 2020, Groupon generated global revenues of $395.6 million dollars and currently has 53 million active users. As of October 2018, Groupon had already sold an astounding 1.5 billion Groupon deals!
While Amazon Associates may not offer the highest commission rates, the other benefits of working with Jeff Bezos’s big name giant are plentiful enough to keep Amazon’s affiliate program in the top spot.
Amazon Associates has over 50,000 websites and the comfort of working with a large and reputable brand is one reason new affiliates flock to Amazon Associates. The bigger reason? Virtually limitless products in any niche.
These affiliate networks are the most impressive options for 2020. These affiliate networks are listed in order of market share according to the Alexa top 100. While they each have their pros and cons, the best network for those looking to become an affiliate depends on what items they’d like to promote, preferred commission rates, and personal sales goals.
Email marketing used to be the tried-and-true method, but affiliate marketing is giving it a run for its money. With most email providers routing ads to a dedicated “promotions” folder, it hasn’t been hard for affiliate marketing to catch up.
Today, affiliate marketing is one of the four main sources of e-commerce sales.
The reason content marketing is so effective is simple. Content marketing is designed to answer your audience’s questions. How well does a product work? How long does it last? Are the materials high quality? What’s the return policy like?
With content marketing, affiliates help build brand trust, generate new leads, and improve conversions. Because affiliate marketing content comes from a real person, customers often find it more authentic than traditional ads.
In addition to this positive response, 85% of merchants stated that their affiliate marketing budgets increased or stayed the same from 2015 to 2016.
While affiliate marketing isn’t a perfect solution, one reason it has held popularity over the past five years is that it effectively introduces customers to new products and offers without interrupting quality content.
As web users become increasingly intolerant of pop-ups and gimmicky ads, plus the growing effectiveness of ad-blocker apps and email filters, affiliate marketing may gain even more of an edge.
For those who dream of becoming a full-time associate marketer, this stat’s a good one to know. The most popular and methods were loyalty and cash-back programs at 43% and voucher codes at 30%, contributing to a total of 73% of total affiliate sales.
Like “pay per click” advertising, pay per call works by affiliate marketers directing potential customers to interact with a company. The only difference between the two is how they connect.
Instead of getting paid for every click you generate as an affiliate, you get paid by how many sales calls you direct to the company. While it’s effective, it only works well for specific industries.
Pay per call marketing is popular among service-oriented businesses that schedule appointments over the phone, or companies that sell virtual products such as insurance policies. Despite its limited applications, if it works for your niche, it’s likely to work very well.
Anyone who has searched flights on sites like Expedia or Priceline is already familiar with this simple, yet effective, business model. By making it easy to compare destinations, hotels, and flight prices, travel sites offer enticing deals paired with a great deal of convenience.
This type of comparison is responsible for 20% of sales in this niche. Coupons are also even more popular, with cashback offers showing the biggest draw.
Despite not being the unanimous top choice among all marketing professionals, affiliate marketing generates impressive results. While these statistics have yet to be updated for successive years, these figures are undoubtedly higher than they were in 2017.
The differences in preference between millennials and boomers are well documented. Their preferred technology usage is one of the main differences.
While older generations consistently lean toward email marketing to make their purchases, millennials and Gen Z are often shopping on mobile.
33% of those in the 18-34 age bracket claim they always opt-in to push notifications, with an additional 30% in this age range often doing so.
Recent reports predict that the number of people using digital assistant devices, like Alexa and Google smart speakers, could hit 4 billion in 2020, 5 billion in 2021, and 6.4 billion in 2022.
Users typically phrase questions differently when speaking instead of typing, influencing the popularity of varying search results. Specifically, voice queries tend to be longer and phrased as questions.
The words chosen can give affiliate marketers a hint at how close they are to making a sale.
By making it easier to determine whether a potential customer is just doing research or is ready to buy, voice search is likely to play a greater role in affiliate marketing during the next few years.