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Affiliate Marketing - 101


​Following are basic definitions of terms you should know to understand the concepts of affiliate marketing.

Affiliate: An independent agent who promotes products and/or services on behalf of a business in an effort to gain new customers for the business.


Affiliate ID: An unique identifier that serves two purposes: first, it indicates which affiliate referred the customer; second, it tells the business which affiliate to pay for the new sale.

Affiliate link: A link that includes the affiliate ID and that, when clicked, redirects to a business's website. This link is used in the affiliate's promotional efforts.

Auto-responder: An email service that automatically responds to requests to receive promotional email. Auto-responders only send email (i.e. they cannot receive email).

Commission: A payment made to the affiliate whose promotional effort results in a sale for a business.


Convert/conversion:  An affiliate-generated lead converts (i.e. conversion happens) only when money changes hands from the lead to the business. Conversion is also known as making a referral.  (See Lead and Referral)

Customer: Buyer of a product or user of a service.

Downline: The people who become affiliates after an existing affiliate, either directly (through the affiliate's own effort) or indirectly (through another affiliate's effort). (See Referral marketing)

Lead: A potential buyer who has been influenced by an affiliate to consider a business's products and/or services.

Leverage: An investment of time and effort or money on a promotion with an expectation of significantly greater return on the investment. 

​Marketing: Promoting products and/or services; advertising to a target audience.

Market saturation: The point at which the demand for a product or service significantly declines, i.e. so many consumers have it, it's no longer wanted or needed. It then becomes unprofitable to continue promoting it. [NOTE: This is why what an affiliate promotes matters. To have effortless, long-term marketing success, it is important to promote products and/or services that are SUSTAINABLE, i.e. there is always a need for them.]

Marketing list: A list of email addresses of current, past and potential customers.

Matrix: A structure used to track the number of sales generated by and the subsequent commissions due to an affiliate.

Opt-in form: A form displayed on a website to collect a visitor's name and email address. When a site visitor submits the form, it grants permission for promotional email to be sent to him or her. [NOTE: Permission is needed to prevent SPAM complaints, which is can result in stiff fines to the sender.]

Payment processor: A service, such as Cash App, Skrill or PayPal, sometimes used by a business to handle commission payment from the business to the affiliate.


Promote: To tout the benefits of and encourage the purchase or use of products and services; advertise.


Publisher: Publishers create content to engage shoppers through a variety of channels such as websites, social media, blogs and email.

Referral: An affiliate-generated lead that results in (i.e., converts to) a completed sale. A referred customer may subsequently become an affiliate of the business. (See Referral marketing).

Referral marketing: A form of marketing wherein affiliates endeavor to also refer new affiliates as part of a product or service promotion.


Residual commission: Additional money paid to the affiliate, generated from subsequent purchases made by referrals the affiliate previously generated (i.e. requires no additional effort by the affiliate).


Sponsor: Relative to affiliate marketing, a sponsor is the person who introduces or who is credited with introducing someone to an affiliate opportunity. 

Traffic: Website visitors.

Upline: The people who entered a promotion before a new affiliate. 


Website: Any commercial or personal page on the Internet with an independent web address (i.e. a URL). For example, and are commercial (or business) websites; your Facebook profile page and many blogs are personal websites.


Now, let's see  how to become an affiliate

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