The competition for customer conversions has become a major challenge as more brands use digital marketing to reach an ever-changing marketplace. As businesses continue to seek out new strategies, the success of affiliate marketing remains one of the more popular ways to generate brand awareness, nurture customer engagement, and create a stream of passive income.

Affiliate marketing targets influencers and publishers to help promote a brand’s product or service with links from their social media accounts. If the clicks result in sales, they receive a set percentage. According to a Forrester report commissioned by Rakuten, 81% of advertisers and 84% of publishers use affiliate marketing. In addition, over half of the publishers surveyed earned more than 20% of their annual revenue from this method.

Amazon remains the leader in affiliate marketing with an impressive 900,000 influencers. According to, Amazon’s share of overall U.S. e-commerce sales will grow from last year’s 39.8% to a new high of 40.4% in 2021. Its 0.6%gain will be larger than that of any other company. But in April 2020, the retail giant cut its affiliate commission rates by nearly 60% for program members and it created a significant loss of revenue for participants.

A potential challenge to Amazon’s hold comes from new affiliate programs offered by Instagram and Shopify. Instagram, with its billion users, now allows influencers to link products uploaded into the app’s convenient, two-tap payment system called Instagram Checkout, and receive a commission from any sales. In our KM101 series, we offer ways to engage your audience by using Instagram’s best features and seven tips to help boost your marketing strategy on the app.

Shopify has recently moved forward on collaborations with major digital media publishers. The e-commerce platform holds 20% of the market share with one million retailers, mostly small businesses, and its affiliate marketing program has driven up sales by 659%. Its recent partnership with BuzzFeed, whose impressive audience of 200 million readers, could help Shopify businesses generate new revenue. The challenge remains being noticed by these large media companies, so brands need a clear strategy for their social media marketing and PR.

Affiliate programs can offer another powerful digital marketing opportunity in tandem with a website, SEO, SEM, blog, video, podcast, e-mail, social media channels, and a collaboration with influencers. These specialists know their audience and have built trust from their loyal followers to attract and retain customers. Our article offers examples of why influencer marketing is more important than ever and tips on how to make it work for your business.

Creating a variety of digital marketing strategies with a solid PR team can help your business remain competitive. Our KM101 article series offers more ideas on how to maximize your creative relationship with a PR agency, and the tools you need to give them so your campaigns will thrive. If your business needs additional guidance, reach out to us at Kahn Media, and we can discuss solutions to best suit your brand or service.