While marketing trends have changed and evolved over the years, the fact remains that starting an affiliate business can be done on a small budget. It does take quite a significant time investment to set it up.
Is it worth exploring opportunities in affiliate marketing? Did anything change in 2021? Is it still a profitable endeavor? Let’s find out.
Top Affiliate Marketing Statistics (Editor’s Choice)
- Affiliate marketing grew from a simple idea to a $12 billion global industry.
- 81% of brands already use affiliate marketing to boost their sales.
- The largest affiliate networks have a minimum of 100,000+ affiliates.
- 67.32% of affiliate marketers use social media to connect with customers.
- 48.36% of affiliates generate less than an annual median personal income.
- The global interest in affiliate marketing increased by 200%.
- US affiliate marketing spending is projected to reach $8.2 billion by 2022.
State of Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular strategies to garner new customers and it’s only getting more prominent among the marketers in 2021.
1. Affiliate marketing grew from a simple idea to a $12 billion global industry.
When William J. Tobin came up with the idea to launch one of the first ecommerce services called PC Flowers, Inc., and essentially create affiliate marketing in the process, he probably wasn’t expecting it to become a $12 billion global industry.
Affiliate marketing revenue has come a long way since 1989 and is now one of the most profitable ways to make money on the internet.
2. Smartphones are dictating new trends in affiliate marketing.
When it comes to mobile affiliate marketing in 2021, statistics show a shift towards smartphones because more and more people get their daily online intake via their handheld devices.
Pew Research reports that 81% of Americans use smartphones, but even more impressive is that one in five Americans exclusively use smartphones to browse the net.
This increased connectivity makes affiliate marketing for smartphones even more critical regarding sales—especially if consider the number of sales completed directly through these devices.
3. The budget for affiliate marketing in the US saw an increase of 44% between 2016 and 2020.
Reports imply that in 2016 retailers spent $4.7 billion on affiliate marketing, which was a dramatic shift compared to previous years.
Affiliate marketing statistics show that—since 2016—retailers have been steadily increasing the resources they invest in this marketing type, so it’s no surprise that eMarketer predicts that the budget for affiliate marketing in 2020 will grow to $6.8 billion.
4. Mainstream media publishers are becoming the driving force behind affiliate marketing.
While most publishers still heavily rely on traditional advertising, they’ve come to adopt affiliate marketing as a fruitful means of revenue generation and are now helping to endorse it.
Today, affiliate ad revenue accounts for around 15% of the total revenue mainstream media publishers generate.
5. Affiliate marketing generates as many ecommerce orders as email campaigns.
The latest affiliate marketing report from Business Insider indicates that affiliate marketing is just as effective as email campaigns when generating ecommerce orders.
Email marketing used to be the go-to channel for advertising ecommerce companies. Affiliate marketing has surpassed both display advertising and social commerce.
6. Affiliate marketing facts show this strategy is responsible for 16% of all online orders.
As affiliate marketing puts more products in front of potential customers, it’s no surprise that 16% of all online orders come from affiliate marketing.
Only paid and organic search are currently generating more online orders at 21% and 20%. Affiliate marketing advertising has come a long way.
7. Fashion is the best niche for affiliate marketing.
In 2015, AM Navigator conducted thorough affiliate marketing research and displayed the results by niche. To no one’s surprise, fashion came on top, with 18.70% of affiliate campaigns focusing on fashion-related products.
Sports and outdoor ranked second with 14.60%, and the health/wellness and beauty niche placed third with 11.10%.
8. 81% of brands already use affiliate marketing to boost their sales.
Affiliate marketing stats indicate that the strategy is gaining popularity among advertisers as more than four in five brands have already adopted affiliate programs as an essential part of their advertising strategy.
Because affiliate marketing is a performance-based form of marketing that uses strictly defined and measurable goals for receiving compensation, it is very attractive for advertisers to use.
9. Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to monetize content.
Another affiliate marketing industry report by Viglink gave us valuable insight into what publishers and retailers think of affiliate marketing.
While larger publishers with over 100,000 unique monthly views still rely on display advertising as their primary income source, smaller ones with fewer than 5,000 unique monthly views make most of their money from affiliate marketing.
Furthermore, 73% of retailers reported that they were satisfied with their affiliate programs’ sales.
10. Affiliate marketing trends show that almost seven out of ten affiliate marketers use SEO to gain traffic.
According to Blogginx, SEO accounts for 69.22% of all traffic sources for affiliate marketing. Social media placed second with 67.32%, followed by blogging with 64.48%.
The affiliate marketing content use has grown by 175%.
11. Amazon Associates has a market share of 42.87%.
The number of affiliate campaigns on amazon is growing by the day. With over a million members from across the globe sharing products to their audiences, Amazon Associates has been the main driving force behind affiliate marketing.
12. The largest affiliate networks have a minimum of 100,000+ affiliates.
As pointed out previously, Amazon Associates is—by far—the largest among the programs, with over 900,000 active affiliate contracts.
Other programs with a substantial number of affiliates are, as follows:
13. There are enormous opportunities for affiliate marketing in the gaming industry, according to statistics.
The gaming industry is worth more than $113 billion and is currently one of the fastest-growing sectors out there. As video content creators and streamers bring in millions of views, it’s only natural that hardware and gaming equipment sponsorships follow.
Big names such as Razer, Alienware, and Nvidia were among the first to recognize video game affiliate marketing potential and successfully launched their affiliate programs.
14. Click fraud still plagues affiliate marketing even in 2021.
The most significant downside of affiliate marketing is click–fraud, as marketers lost more than $9.2 billion because of fraud activity in 2017.
Affiliate marketing fraud statistics in 2021 show signs of improvement, but fraud remains the number one challenge for both brands and marketers. Additionally, bots affect paid traffic sources, giving brands a false sense of how their campaigns perform.
Affiliate Marketing in Social Media Statistics
When it comes to affiliate marketing, there are no better channels to use than social media to promote products—figures clearly indicate it.
15. 67.32% of affiliate marketers use social media to connect with customers.
Affiliate marketing trends for 2021 imply that 67.32% of affiliate marketers rely on social media as their primary customer acquisition channel shows the importance of an excellent online presence.
Additionally, it’s the most cost-effective method of getting into affiliate marketing, so it’s no coincidence most new marketers start their business on social media platforms.
16. Facebook is still the best social media platform for affiliate marketing.
Facebook affiliate marketing is increasing rapidly. Despite being overshadowed by some of the newer platforms, Facebook has approximately 2.5 billion monthly active users, making it the go-to social media for advertising products.
Low costs, together with the great insight that the platform provides, make it the number one choice for aspiring affiliate marketers.
17. Instagram has over one billion active users.
Affiliate marketing industry statistics highlight Instagram as another great platform to promote products and services. Instagrammers with a large following sign up for affiliate programs and use their profiles to familiarize their followers with various products and services.
Especially with the swipe-up feature for Instagram stories, influencers can guide their followers to affiliate links with ease, as Instagram stories statistics show.
18. YouTube has six billion hours worth of views every month, making it a fantastic channel for affiliate marketing.
Video content creators and YouTube influencers are gaining celebrity-level fame, so it’s no wonder they utilize their large viewer base to promote products. YouTube affiliate marketing is on the rise and is changing the industry landscape at a swift pace.
YouTubers create tutorials, product reviews or gain sponsors for their regular video content. As they reach millions of potential customers, YouTubers can make a sizable additional income using affiliate marketing.
Affiliate Marketing Income Statistics
The average income from affiliate marketing varies significantly—the numbers are different due to the industry that’s promoted, the affiliate program, number of products, etc.
19. 48.36% of affiliates generate less than an annual median personal income from their typical affiliate commission rates.
While there are incredibly successful stories of marketers making six-figure sums from their affiliate businesses, you have to keep in mind that those are a minority.
It’s essential to have realistic expectations and understand that most affiliates will make less than an average person will make working a regular job.
According to affiliate marketing statistics, approximately 48.36% of all affiliates will bring home less than $20,000 every year. Only 3.2% make more than $150,000 per year.
20. Most affiliate marketers choose to promote between one and ten different products.
Recent affiliate marketing stats show that most affiliate marketers choose to promote between one and ten products.
Having a smaller amount of products to promote allows them to focus on a specific audience and tailor their content more precisely, leading to better conversion rates and revenue.
Aside from fashion products, the top affiliate products to promote are VR headsets, drones, 3D printers, and phone accessories.
21. Some affiliates are bringing in millions of dollars every year.
While the average affiliate marketing income is below $20,000, a few forward-thinking entrepreneurs have made millions promoting products for big brands.
One of them is Jason Stone, a famous Instagrammer who’s managed to bring in $7 million in just one year. Jason amassed a massive following on his profile @millionaire_mentor and turned his life around by making intelligent and timely decisions.
22. The average Amazon affiliate conversion rate is anywhere between 0.5–1%.
This is just an average in a vast pool of affiliates—however, a significant number earns a higher percentage on a regular basis.
What is specific about the Amazon affiliate program is that one can earn a commission, not only if the exact product they promote is purchased, but anything else bought alongside it and purchased through that same link is counted in the fee.
23. eBay affiliate program offers 50–70 percentage of the profit.
Considering that the platform gives affiliates at least one-half of all sales profits, this is one of the greatest opportunities to earn money through this strategy.
It’s important to note that the 50% refers to the eBay’s pure profit, not the overall sales amount.
World Affiliate Marketing Statistics
While the US is undoubtedly the biggest market for affiliates, other countries are catching up to the trend at a high pace.
24. Google Trends indicate the global interest in affiliate marketing increased by 200%.
This climb in the search interest on Google was steady in the period of 2015–2020.
Affiliate marketing growth statistics hint that pandemic has only increased the interest, as people are spending more time online, and—given the state of the employment and economy—affiliate programs seem like a good way of earning some much-needed additional income.
25. Affiliate marketing spend is worth $96 million in India.
Affiliate marketing statistics in India highlight Flipkart as the largest player in the affiliate marketing scheme. Its commissions range from 1–15% of the price.
The travel and tourism industry has been one of the earliest adopters of affiliate programs and marketing strategies.
26. Affiliate marketing stats for the UK show that £1.6 billion is spent by companies there.
This translates to roughly 2.21 billion USD.
At the same time, the global affiliate spending is projected to be worth a total of $14.27 billion—marking a consistent 10.1% affiliate marketing growth on a yearly basis, indicating growing trust marketers everywhere put into this strategy to grow their sales.
27. Statistics show that US affiliate marketing spending is projected to reach $8.2 billion by 2022.
By reaching this particular mark, affiliate marketing spend will have grown by over 34% since 2017, when advertisers reportedly spent $5.4 billion on this strategy.
Considering only $2.5 billion was spent in 2012, it means that the overall growth during the last decade will be almost 70%.
Is Affiliate Marketing Worth It?
Affiliate marketing has been around for a while now, but it’s still growing steadily, as we can see from the global affiliate marketing statistics. It’s performance-based, cost-effective, and worldwide, allowing retailers to explore less contested markets and gain new customers from across the globe.
The main challenge for marketers is coming up with a good strategy and creating compelling content that doesn’t just advertise products and services, but also offers value to the people consuming it.
If you’re looking to get into affiliate marketing, understand that it is a significant time investment. Getting noticed is not an easy task, and there’s no winning formula that you can follow. However, once you’re all set up and find a network or program that fits your vision, success will follow. If you manage to succeed in this branch, affiliate marketing can be a great source of passive income.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Given that the coronavirus outbreak has affected all aspects of marketing, many aspiring entrepreneurs and marketers debate whether affiliate marketing is still a profitable endeavor.
Retail giants such as Amazon have lowered some of the commissions, making some niches less promising than others.
Nonetheless, affiliate marketing remains an excellent way to make money online. According to the latest figures, the revenue will increase in the future.
The income in affiliate marketing is not a guarantee and can vary a lot. There is money to be made, but it is essential to have realistic expectations. Commission rates depend on the niche. According to the affiliate marketing average income statistics for 2020, less than 50% of affiliates will make somewhere around $20,000.
Amazon used to offer commission rates ranging from 1% to 10% of product revenue; however, Amazon lowered these as of April 2020. Their affiliate program remains one of the most successful, lost-cost, and newbie-friendly programs on the market.
Conversion rates depend on the industry and usually hover around 1% on average. Having a 3% conversion rate is considered very good.
While Amazon remains the go-to affiliate program for most, there are other options out there, some of which are even more lucrative. These include H&M, JNCO Jeans, MVMT Watches for fashion, Madison Reed, Avon, BH Cosmetics, Sephora for beauty and makeup, and FanDuel, Sports Memorabilia, Under Armour for sports. Web Hosting, travel, and fitness affiliate programs are also popular and among the highest paying.
Affiliate marketing statistics show that the average conversion rate for Amazon affiliates is approximately 1%. Conversion rates and sales velocity are key metrics that affect your ranking on Amazon.