Not all affiliates are created equal. It’s not just a case of the more, the merrier – if you really want to reap the benefits of affiliate marketing, you'll have to choose and manage your affiliates wisely. That, of course, starts by understanding all the types of affiliates out there.
In this article, we've laid that out for you.
Here are 10 different affiliate types, their pros, cons, and ideal use cases.
What Factors Determine the Affiliate Type to Choose
If you're new to affiliate management or have only had experience with a specific type of product, you might assume that all affiliates are more or less the same: influencers (big or small) that help you drive sales through their network. But affiliates come in all shapes and sizes.
There are more ways to succeed at affiliate marketing than by partnering up with high-value affiliates or social influencers. To find your match, here are the factors you need to consider:
- Target audience: keep the demographics and interests of your target audience in mind, and pick affiliates that appeal to your audience. It might seem too obvious to mention but do your research well to see what your audience thinks about a potential affiliate.
- Niche: choose affiliates that operate in the same industry as your business, or a niche that is closely related to yours. For example, beauty relates to fashion. This ensures that their audience is already interested in your products or services.
- Accountability: you’re looking for brand advocates that are ambitious and accountable. Select those that are reliable and actively trying to drive sales.
- Brand fit: choose affiliates that align with your brand values to ensure that their promotions and content are consistent with your strategy. Dig deep for this: you want your values to be similar or complementary to avoid conflict.
- Long-term partnerships: consider the potential for long-term partnerships with each affiliate, and pick those that are likely to provide ongoing value over time.
- Attribution and affiliate tracking: some social platforms make click attribution more difficult, which means that tracking becomes a challenge. Keep this in mind to avoid any disagreements. With the right SaaS affiliate software, tracking becomes easier.
- Fees and commission: especially when working with individual influencers or celebrities, you may encounter some big up-front fees or payment structures that don't necessarily match what you can offer. See what is possible, but don't take too many risks just to secure an affiliate.There’s a time and place for each type of affiliate.
Let’s explore the options to find your perfect fit.
10 Types of Affiliate Partners to Consider Working With
If you get a little creative, tons of people and businesses can be your affiliates. If you're looking for inspiration on who to work with, take your pick from the types below.
These affiliates have a smaller following but a highly engaged audience. They can have podcasts, radio shows, a blog, social media channels, or an online newsletter. While their reach isn't necessarily big, they’re often eager to work with truly great brands.
- Pro: showcase your product in authentic content to a targeted audience.
- Con: limited reach and potential for low conversion rates.
Ideal use case: ideal for businesses with a niche product or service and a need for targeted, authentic advertising.
2. Creators on content monetization platforms
Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok – heck, even LinkedIn. Creators on these platforms plug your affiliate links into their content, which they tailor to their audience.
- Pro: thanks to the algorithm, chances are you reach more people than just your affiliate’s direct audience. Plus, there are a ton of creators to choose from.
- Con: you don't have control over the content that's coming out on these platforms, so make sure to choose creators you trust and whose style and values align with yours.
Ideal use case: there are countless use cases for this one! Every platform will likely have influencers and creators in your niche on there, so it’s just a matter of picking the right ones to work with.
3. Charities and non-profit organizations
An often overlooked category is charities and non-profit organizations. Schools, local sports clubs, charitable organizations, and hospitals – they can all be affiliates if your product or service is fit for the people they work with or are trying to reach. If you can offer them a significant commission as a donation, and they can advertise your products, everybody wins.
- Pro: increased brand exposure and social responsibility.
- Con: you'll likely have a limited reach compared to commercial partners.
Ideal use case: this is ideal for businesses with a strong social responsibility message and target audience.
4. Bloggers and publishers
This category is much bigger than you might think. It includes online magazines, newspapers, independent blogs, news websites, and many, many more. From BuzzFeed to Forbes and from beauty blogs to tech blogs – you'll always find one that fits your audience.
- Pro: your affiliate links will appear in authentic content and reach a targeted audience.
- Con: it’s time-consuming to create quality content, and high competition. Getting published or even mentioned can be hard!
Ideal use case: since there are so many places out there, it works for almost every niche.
5. Email marketers and newsletters
Instead of blogs or social media, you can also focus on creators (inspo: James Clear) or organizations (inspo: Creative Mornings) who reach their audience through email. These affiliates can be great to work with because of their dedicated and nearly hand-picked audience, and they get to monetize their emails.
- Pro: high conversion rates and increased brand awareness.
- Con: low open rates and potential for spam.
Ideal use case: as long as the niche fits and the affiliate can offer real value on your product or service to their audience, it's a win.
6. Mobile apps
Why not partner up with mobile app creators? If your product or service is a great fit with specific ads, you can double the value that's being offered to app users.
- Pro: increased reach and engagement with mobile users.
- Con: limited audience and increased competition with other mobile-oriented affiliates.
Ideal use case: if you have a very mobile-friendly audience that loves using apps, consider reaching out to new and existing apps to work with.
7. Coupon and deals websites
You might be hesitant to partner up with affiliates who offer discounts on your products and get a commission: it could feel like a double loss. But if you are already offering discounts through your website it can give you the sales boost you need, especially if your product is featured among the first within your niche category.
- Pro: high conversion rates and additional brand exposure
- Con: lower margin, brand devaluation, spreads like wildfire and once the discount genie is out of the bottle - good luck trying to reverse that decision. Most importantly, you'll most likely be offering discounts to people who were willing to pay the full price but decided to look for discount when landed on a checkout page.
Ideal use case: high competition industries and existing discounting policies.
8. Brands in your niche (or in a niche that's relevant to yours)
Why work with the competition? Sometimes, you can’t offer your audience exactly what they want, or see competitors who struggle with the same. By recommending each other's products from other brands, you all get a commission, and you're working on a great relationship with your customers. It doesn't need to be your exact niche, but it should be related.
- Pro: high conversion rates and increased brand loyalty.
- Con: limited audience and increased competition with other businesses in your niche.
Ideal use case: businesses looking to cross-promote products or services.
9. Podcast and video affiliates
These affiliates use audio, video or a mix of the two to draw potential buyers to your product
- Pro: focused targeting and increased brand exposure.
- Con: difficult to get a hold of and will most likely require additional incentive or payment upfront
Ideal use case: any company looking to improve brand recognition.
10. Ranking and review websites
If you’re not working with ranking websites yet, you’re likely missing out. 95% of people check out reviews before buying anything, so ranking websites are the perfect place to drop affiliate links.
- Pro: high credibility and increased brand awareness.
- Con: limited audience and potential for negative reviews.
Ideal use case: if you're confident in how people feel about your business and products, go for it. Only do this if you truly offer high-quality products or services or have a need for unbiased reviews.
Find Your Perfect Affiliate Software
Rewardful is the place to go if you want to learn how to create, scale and manage your affiliate program. We've helped over 20,000 companies set up and grow their affiliate and referral programs… and we’ve got more tips ready for you, so stay tuned.