Affiliate marketing is a fairly straightforward concept: Brands use other people to promote their products by offering financial incentives for leads or sales.
Despite its conceptual simplicity, affiliate marketing as a whole is still misunderstood — just 22 percent of CMOs feel as if they’ve mastered it [although strictly, affiliate marketing is only relevant for transactional ecommerce]. Part of the disconnect has to do with how brands approach their affiliate partnerships. Many affiliate program managers reach out to affiliates with consumer-focused messaging (e.g., XYZ Company has really great products that you should promote!). This approach rarely resonates because the affiliates aren’t the audience you should be trying to sell your products and services to; it’s their audience you want to reach. You have to look at affiliates as an indirect sales force and then approach them as such.