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Online Advertising and Affiliate Marketing Best Practices

Online advertising and affiliate marketing begin with some fundamental planning. However, this road can lead to a complicated and expensive set of rabbit holes. The essential planning is similar to what the business does to open in the first place. With some effort and thought, companies can maximize their advertising budgets to boost sales.    

Establish Your Goals

What is your target?

If the business goal is to grow by reaching a big audience that will buy a product, larger platforms are the right way to go. However, if the goal is to reach a specific niche advertising within a particular area, then a mass marketing platform may not be the right place. For example, suppose the business wants to target kombucha drinkers who frequent San Francisco Bay Area farmer’s market shoppers. In that case, a targeted social media ad campaign may be the way to go.    

Find Your Customer

Once you determine who your customer is, and where they are, go to them with your advertising. Do not waste your time in a place where your customers are not. Careful market research can tell one who and where the customers are.    

How much can you spend?

Know Your Budget

If the business does not have much money to buy ads, a mostly free approach may be the way. The business website will be an essential tool, bloggers can help, and online word of mouth will contribute to the campaign. Businesses must make the advertising dollars stretch, and there are countless ways to find value.    

Find Advertising Channels

There are countless places to advertise, such as search engines, social media, and email, to name a few. Most come with some cost. The cost of each channel depends on the structure. For example, with pay-per-click, businesses pay each time a user clicks the ad.  Paid advertising could be a problem if leads do not convert into sales. Companies can also pay to have an advertisement on another site. That is money spent just to be seen. On the free side of the spectrum, content marketing and blogging is a great way to attract followers to advertise to at the cost of your time alone.    

Affiliate Marketing  

“Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting another company’s product (or service). You find a product, promote it to others, and earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make.”

(Flynn, 2020)

Affiliate marketing is a middle ground between paying and trying to scrape together free sources.  Affiliate marketing allows a business to leverage a network of marketers, rewarding them when helping the company make a sale. Businesses who use affiliate marketing have a range of options to form affiliate partnerships. What follows are best practices of affiliate marketing.  

Follow Basic Advertising Considerations  

As described above, a business must clearly understand its business to interact with affiliates successfully. In addition to the items listed above, one must know the product margins, perceived value, channel costs, and channel partner compensation. If one does not know the numbers, you are bound to miss your affiliates’ commission targets. Pay too much, and you lose money on the deal. Pay too little, and you lose money by not closing deals.    

Find Affiliates  

Businesses interested in affiliate marketing must find affiliates. A well-designed web page is the first step in finding affiliates. A good web page is optimized for SEO and easy to find by anyone, including search engines. Once there, the web page should be attractive, engaging, and easy to use. Find affiliates in your customers, turning them into marketers for your product (Woo, 2020). Once you have them, you must work to keep them.    

Pay On Time  

Whatever commission one pays, keeping the money flowing is vital. Nothing will drive a partner away faster than not getting paid. Experts recommend paying on a Net30 payment schedule, calculating payment based on the average over the last 30 days (Patel, 2017).    

Use Data   

Tools like Google Analytics can help a business see where traffic is coming from and if it is converting into sales. Suppose a company sees traffic is not converting, and there is a high bounce rate coming from a specific affiliate. There could be a problem with how the page is loading, causing customers to leave without interacting with the page.   


With careful planning, online advertising can help a company stretch its money and reach customers.  Options are everywhere, ranging from free to paid with a vast spectrum in between.  Please comment below with your thoughts and experience.   


Flynn, P. (2020, August 17). Affiliate Marketing – How to Increase Your Income by Recommending Products and Services. Retrieved October 28, 2020, from https://www.smartpassiveincome.com/guide/affiliate-marketing-strategies/ 

Patel, N. (2017, July 6). What is Affiliate Marketing And How Can You Leverage It. Retrieved October 28, 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZrSmfo16sk&feature=emb_logo 

Woo, R. (2020, May 22). 15 Best Practices for Affiliate Marketing. Retrieved October 28, 2020, from https://blog.refersion.com/15-best-practices-for-affiliate-marketing-b24d87c0fb7f 


  1. Antonio, this was a great summary of affiliate marketing and your writing style is easy-to-read. You were able to take a fairly complicated topic and create actionable items that can help small business owners and new entrepreneurs.

    I think it is important that you mentioned the use of Google Analytics. This is a great way to ensure website links are working properly. Google Analytics can help new merchants monitor their efforts and make changes if needed. As you mentioned, affiliate marketing is a great option for new businesses since it is nearly free. Another benefit is that affiliate marketing helps businesses to be able to scale their businesses. Affiliates can help merchants reach any size of audience (so long as they can pay for it), and they can even scale up or down during different times of the year. For example, a company may want to pay to reach a larger audience during back-to-school or holidays (Kim, 2020).

    One thing that you did not mention was fraud. Hundreds of fraud cases were tracked by researcher and former Harvard professor Ben Edelmen. Affiliate fraudsters have made millions of dollars by stuffing affiliate links into eBay customer’s cookies, while others have been caught sending links with hundreds of merchant tags to customers. There are many ways that fraudsters have taken advantage of affiliate marketing (Fou, 2020). This is just something that business owners need to be aware of as they explore affiliate marketing options.


    Fou, A. (2020, June 10). How Has Affiliate Fraud Evolved To Rip Performance Marketers Off? Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/augustinefou/2020/06/11/how-has-affiliate-fraud-evolved-to-rip-performance-marketers-off/?sh=71c878e76e41

    Kim, G. (2020, October 5). Council post: Four keys to success in affiliate marketing. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinessdevelopmentcouncil/2020/09/21/four-keys-to-success-in-affiliate-marketing/#7277ec2937e3

  2. I really hadn’t gotten down the level of fraud. My research did talk about some “drawbacks”, but not in that much detail. I read the articles you cited. It is amazing how “creative” people can be in the service of a dollar.

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