Affiliate Marketing: How Does It Work

Nearly three years ago, a small vegan manufacturing company hired me to start its planned affiliate marketing program. Like most people, I was not familiar with the concept. So I attended the Affiliate Summit convention in New York not only to understand the concept but how I would incorporate it into a company that effectively did not have a sales force.

Affiliate marketing is the concept of where a person with a website, mobile service or another digital platform such as an e-commerce store (known as an affiliate) promotes the product or services of a company (known as an advertiser). The advertiser supplies the affiliate with marketing content, such as links or banner ads, such as these ads that my department created:

ha_barley_max-250x250  ha_jotg_kit-250x250

The affiliate puts the banners, links, logos or text on websites, blogs, emails or text messages for audiences. When consumers clicked on the link or image, they went to the company’s e-commerce store where they can buy the product. In return, the affiliate received a percentage of the commission of the sale (15 percent for up to $100 in sales transactions; 20 percent for sales of more than $100).

However, the most important part of our program was the ability to store cookies on customer browsers. The cookies provided the company with useful consumer information, such as shopping preferences, buying patterns and when allowing our ads to appear on other engine searches. The information was useful in creating sales campaigns and holiday promotions. Eventually, our program grew to where he gave our affiliates toll-free numbers with their personal IDs embedded as another way to track sales.

As a sales technique, affiliate marketing is a fast-growing way for companies to expand their audiences while reaching new audiences. Global e-commerce had a projected sales number of $1.5 trillion in 2015 as European programs are trying to break into the North American market (Glazer, para. 12).  The benefits of an affiliate marketing plan are that it is a low-risk, pay for performance marketing strategy that leverages time efficiently.

Affiliate marketing poster.jpg
(SOURCE: Prestige Marketing)

If your company has not started an affiliate marketing plan, you may be missing out on an effective way of reaching new clients and understanding their marketing needs.


Glazer, R. (2015, Jan. 28). “Five affiliate marketing trends for 2015.” Acceleration Partners. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from

Karr, D. (2014, Jan. 31). “The benefits of affiliate marketing.” Marketing Technology blog. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from



Race and Social Media

Many people use social media platforms such as Facebook for more than sharing personal updates. They now have become go-to outlets for news stories, particularly for younger generations. In a Media Insight polls review, 57 percent of millennials said that they get their news content from Facebook at least once per day (American Press Institute, para. 5).

However, there are differences in how groups use social networks. A 2014 Pew Research Center survey shows that Instagram is a more popular platform for Latino and black users while Pinterest is more popular among white users:

Latino use of social media

Moreover, another study by the Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor shows similar results. According to the survey, 60 percent of people on social media platforms share information about a local event or issue. However, the study showed that white respondents were more likely to post about events or entertainment while black users were most likely to share information about education or schools while Hispanic respondents were most likely to share news about crime or public safety (Zhou, para. 6).

As marketers, it is important to know how social media plays a big role in how groups learn about the world. Reading content is not a passive or random choice, and understanding where and how groups make decisions on content depends on which social media platforms that members of groups consider to be reliable. Marketers need to take conscious steps in making sure they create content where minority groups play an active part in participating in the engagement process.

Because while social media may not always facilitate conversation, it does play a factor in how that conversation starts.


American Press Institute (2015, Aug. 21). “Race, ethnicity and the use of social media for news.” Retrieved January 24, 2016, from

Krogstad, J. (2015, Feb. 3). “Social media preferences vary by race and ethnicity.” Pew Research Center. Retrieved January 24, 2016 from

Zhou, L. (2015, Oct. 5). “How race influences social media sharing.” Atlantic. Retrieved January 24, 2016, from


Building for the Moment

I remember when I bought my first smartphone, an Apple iPhone 3.5, in 2012. I remember inspecting the phone and after looking at the screen, I told my wife, “This is more like a small computer than a phone. Why would anyone pay $100 per month for this?” Fast forward to today, I use my smartphone to check my emails, surf the Internet, sending text messages. You name it, and I’m on it.

Consumers are using their smartphones to find answers for what I call “those I-want-to-know, I-gotta-buy, I-want-to-do moments.” Google reported that more people are performing more searches on mobile devices than on desktop computers in 10 countries (DeMers, para. 5). Statistics show that media time on mobile devices is the norm:

Mobile media trends

From a marketing perspective, not reaching an audience or through mobile search or display can be detrimental to your business. A 2015 study by eMarketer shows that mobile advertising accounts for 24 percent of all media seen by consumers, but yet advertisers spend only 8 percent of their budgets on mobile ads (Bosomworth, para. 10).

Without the web and more specifically, mobile, you might not have made that sale.


Bosomworth, D. (2015, July 22). Mobile marketing statistics compilation [infographic]. Retrieved January 18, 2016, from 

DeMers, J. (2015, Sept. 29). “The top 7 online marketing trends that will dominate 2016.” Forbes. Retrieved January 18, 2016, from