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Even though the marketing world has seen some significant new trends and technologies, one strategy has impressively risen in popularity in recent years: affiliate marketing.

While affiliate marketing has been around for years, it has recently taken a front seat in the media as a “side hustle.” Millennials and Generation Z have taken a recent liking to the idea of earning money passively, and affiliate marketing has proven to be a tried and true method for doing so.

And why is it so popular? I’ll give you two big reasons:

  1. It’s easy for brands and businesses to manage.
  2. Financially speaking, it’s a win-win.

Let’s break down how affiliate marketing reached this point and the benefits your brand could miss.

Related: 5 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Boost Their Visibility with Affiliate Marketing

The origin of affiliate marketing

First, a little history lesson. If you didn’t know, the concept of affiliates came from the PC Flower and Gifts founder, William J. Tobin, originating in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But it wasn’t until Amazon that the program became more fleshed out and open to the public.

Amazon’s idea was to allow individuals to promote their products and earn commissions on sales generated through their referrals. This concept, of course, was revolutionary as it introduced a performance-based marketing approach, where brands only paid for actual results, such as sales or leads.

Over time, this model gained traction, and when paired with our current technological advancements, it became a mainstream marketing strategy that brands couldn’t afford to participate in.

Related: 3 Tips to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing

The reasons behind the craze

Enter the current day, and affiliate marketing has exploded in popularity. Its current rise can be linked to several key factors.

First, the exponential growth of e-commerce over the past decade has been a significant motivation for affiliate marketing, with more people shopping online than ever. More online shopping has created more opportunities for creators or affiliates to promote the products and services they love while also gaining a little commission.

For marketers and brands — especially small businesses – affiliate marketing is attractive thanks to its low cost and low barriers to entry. On a tight budget, affiliate marketing is a great way to maximize ROI without breaking the bank.

Top that off with the rise of dependency on social media for creators and brands – specifically influencer marketing. It’s easier than ever for people to build an audience online and generate more revenue both for themselves and for brands through the simple process of promoting products and services.

With all that in mind, it’s no surprise the affiliate marketing industry is growing so rapidly, being worth over $17 billion today. Now, let’s look at why the rise of affiliate marketing is a win for brands.

Related: When the World Goes Dark, Will Your Business Keep the Lights On?

Benefits for brands

Brands have much to gain from participating in affiliate marketing and a lot to lose by ignoring it. Here are just a few of the reasons why…

Firstly, it is a great extension of their marketing team — using their affiliates to connect with new and eager audiences at a lower cost.

Secondly, it enhances a brand’s credibility. Positive reviews and recommendations from trusted affiliates can significantly boost a brand’s reputation.

Consumers tend to trust product endorsements from individuals they follow and admire. Think about it – when was the last time you purchased something solely because you saw it in a video or a photo?

Furthermore, affiliate marketing can improve a brand’s SEO efforts. Backlinks can act as roads to your website. With backlinks ranging from a variety of affiliate websites, you end up creating a large roadmap of products that ultimately lead to your website and improve your visibility efforts.

What’s next for affiliate marketing

With all of that said the future of affiliate marketing looks highly promising.

We will likely see a surge in personalization efforts. With tracking systems and the evolution of content marketing, brands can tailor their affiliate marketing strategies to individual consumer preferences to deliver a more personalized and engaged shopping experience.

Additionally, we have seen new social media platforms pop up quickly in recent years — the more, the merrier. More platforms = more opportunities for success.

Lastly, the future of affiliate marketing will be shaped by evolving consumer preferences and online shopping behaviors. With an increasing number of consumers relying on online platforms for their shopping needs, affiliates and brands will continue to have new opportunities to drive interest and improve ROI.

As brands continue to realize the benefits of this marketing strategy, it is likely to remain a prominent fixture in the marketing landscape. By leaning on their affiliates, brands can expand their reach, improve credibility, and drive revenue while providing affiliates with a profitable and flexible income source.

So, should your brand embrace affiliate marketing? The answer is clear: YES!