Affiliate marketing used to be the bête noire of online marketing. It could generate huge payoffs but had a bit of a downmarket air to it. The stream of bad actors amongst the wide variety of legitimate players hasn’t helped its reputation. Estimates project affiliate marketing to experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.1 percent between 2015 and 2020, growing to an $6.8 billion industry. That kind of current growth makes affiliate marketing a perfectly respectable and potentially profitable digital sales and marketing strategy.
I wanted to learn about what affiliate marketing really is, look past its reputation, and see where it’s going. If affiliate marketing remains just a phrase to you, jump down to the final section of this post for a high-level review of affiliate marketing basics; then come back here. If you don’t need a primer on affiliate marketing, keep reading on. In this post, I look at:
- The current state of affiliate marketing
- Review of where the experts say it’s going
- Review of affiliate marketing basics
Current State of Affiliate Marketing
Let’s start with the question most affiliate and would-be affiliate marketers have – what are the hottest niches? In my research, most of the blogs I read on this topic list health & wellness and money making opportunities as the most profitable affiliate niches. Yet I also found one data-based analysis, done by Geno Prussakov at AM Navigator, of the most profitable niches that offered some alternate insight.
Prussakov looked at data from 550 affiliate programs across six networks. Based on his research, the highest performing affiliate niche is… fashion, followed by the sports & outdoors industry (which included fitness programs). Health & wellness/ beauty, which included weight loss programs, came in third.
When Prussakov took a deeper dive into individual affiliate networks, he found the top performing industries varied by network. AvantLink’s top performing categories were outdoor/recreation, followed by hunting/fishing, while CJ Affiliate’s best category was travel, followed by fashion. I think the lesson here for potential affiliate marketers is to ask a more targeted question rather than “what’s the hottest niche?” A more nuanced approach must include consideration of the relative strengths and benefits of a specific network. I offer some more questions to think about when evaluating networks in my review of affiliate basics below.
To understand more about the current state of affiliate marketing, I also looked at the 2016 AffStat Affiliate Marketing Benchmarks report. This survey of affiliate marketers from all over the world found that the most popular category of programs they promoted was computer & electronics, with clothing & apparel a close second. Prussakov’s research had computers & electronics as a top ten performing niche, which adds another layer of nuance to the question of the hottest niche.
Affiliate marketing is hard work. If you need to be motivated by more than money, then selecting a niche that interests you is key. If promoting technology Go to the full article.