We’ve all heard this phrase: affiliate marketing is dead. In fact, we’ve been hearing it every year since 2016.
And that may give a false impression that affiliate marketing isn’t worth it anymore.
But the stats say otherwise:
According to a survey conducted by Viglink, 77% of affiliates have seen their affiliate incomes increase year on year since 2016.
Kenshoo, in their paper on Amazon affiliate, reports that 85% of buyers still Google their products before making a purchase.
While statistics indicate a consistent 10% increase in affiliate marketing spends every year.
All in all:
Affiliate marketing has never been more profitable for those who are doing it right.
Then why do people think it’s a dying industry?
Probably because the environment in today’s affiliate marketing industry is much more competitive and fierce than it was ten years ago.
Reasons Why Affiliate Marketing is Dying
Now, when I say that affiliate marketing is dying, it means that it’s become more difficult. Let’s take a look at why that is so.
Poor Quality Blogs
Most affiliate marketers create blog sites to drive traffic towards their affiliate offers.
There used to be a time when affiliate blogging was like a well-kept secret; just enough people knew that it made things interesting.
As more and more people joined, the quality of affiliate blogs went down. This is, in part, due to the low barrier of entry to affiliate blogging.
If you’re looking into affiliate marketing as an income source in 2021, make sure that your blog has high editorial standards.
Poor copy isn’t just bad for SEO (your ability to rank in search engines like Google) but it also takes a toll on your conversions, leading to lesser affiliate income.
You’d also want to make sure that you have a premium domain and hosting along with a simple, navigable theme.
The Amazon Affiliate Program has 900,000 registered affiliates! This should give you an idea of how competitive this industry is.
However, with low barriers to entry and high-income potential, competition in affiliate marketing was always a time bomb waiting to explode.
Now, competition isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it is what helps industries thrive and develop.
The problem with affiliate marketing in 2021 is that everybody seems to be doing the same thing.
They are using the same products, in the same verticals, with the same comparison tables and reviews.
What the industry needs today is innovation coupled with the best practices that have been working well for years.
To succeed in anything, you need to be better than your competition, not like them.
That’s why it’s more important today to be experimental with your approach and presentation of affiliate offers than ever before.
Dependence on Big Players
If you still haven’t heard, Amazon slashed its affiliate commissions earlier this year.
And that was devastating news for affiliate marketers, many of whom dropped from a 10% commission category down to 3% or less.
This incident reminds me of a classic saying in the business world:
Never put all your eggs in one basket.
This is why, according to a paper published by Forrester Consulting, 71% of US-based affiliate publishers have joined 3 or more affiliate networks.
This diversification is important for affiliate marketing and its avoidance is one of the reasons why people suffer huge losses in the industry.
The Rise of Affiliate Marketing Gurus
We’ve all seen those Youtube ads with a middle-aged white man standing in front of a red Ferrari, throwing ludicrous amounts of cash in the air and passionately promising to make us rich if we buy his course.
Now, don’t get me wrong:
There are some great affiliate marketing gurus out there.
But there are also some… not-so-great ones.
And some are just downright phonies trying to rob beginner affiliate marketers of their hard-earned money.
With more and more of these gurus popping up, we’ve seen a huge influx of new affiliate bloggers.
This doesn’t just lead to more competition but also results in more failed blogs due to poor guidance.
Complexity in SEO
According to Statista, 70% of affiliate marketers use SEO to drive traffic to their affiliate offers.
And it won’t be wrong to say that SEO has become a lot more difficult in the past decade.
In fact, there used to be a time when SEO was just about finding keywords that people were searching for in Google and stuffing them in your copy.
Now, the algorithms used by search engines are much more complex, with Google claiming to use over 100 ranking factors in theirs.
The whole idea of SEO is to rank number 1 for your target search terms.
But it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do that with more competition, complexity in SEO and a lot of the top search results being given away to ads.
For example, if I search “best hosting for WordPress” in Google, I find that the top 4 search results are all ads.
Niche Authority is Important
A few years ago, affiliate marketing was more about finding the highest-paying affiliate offers and then hunting down the best ways to present them.
However, niche authority has now become one of the most important factors for success in affiliate marketing.
The Internet is a much-more cultured space now with the average user understanding what affiliate offers are and why someone might be incentivized to recommend a product.
This is why it’s important to establish yourself as an authority in one niche so people can trust you.
Authority in your niche, coincidentally, also happens to be a major ranking factor for SEO.
In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that there’s almost no space for “general” affiliate marketers in 2021.
So, is Affiliate Marketing Still Worth it?
Yes, I’d say it is. But it’s important to first learn how it works and understand the basics of conversion and SEO.
Affiliate marketing is no longer as easy as it used to be, but there’s space for people who can add value.
If you’re just starting out as an affiliate marketer, remember to play this game for the long-run. Focus on improving your skills and understanding the dynamics of the industry.
Over time, affiliate marketing can help you build fascinating sources of semi-passive income if you use the right techniques.
This is a guest post from Caroline Kite, if you would like to be considered for a guest post please contact me.