Affiliate Marketing vs Digital Marketing: Which Is Better In 2024?

Updated on: February 26, 2024

minute reading time

Affiliate Marketing vs digital marketing

Eddy Ballesteros, CEO, All of our content is fact-checked. Learn More

Key Takeaways

  • Digital marketing uses different online strategies, including SEO, content marketing, and advertising. While affiliate marketing focuses on earning commissions by promoting products you don't own.
  • Affiliate marketers earn commissions by promoting products within a chosen niche and using marketing channels to generate sales. Digital marketing involves control over various promotional strategies and direct interactions with the marketing campaigns.
  • Both affiliate and digital marketing offer potential for income, with affiliate marketing providing a potential passive income stream based on performance and digital marketing enhancing revenue through brand promotion, increased engagement, and customer loyalty.

Think starting an online business is a guaranteed path to success? Not so fast!

Many people want to start their own business but aren't sure how to begin. That's why it's important to get the lowdown on the affiliate marketing vs digital marketing face-off.

Affiliate marketing might make it easy for beginners to make money online, promising earnings for promoting products.

However, it's not just about sharing links; it's about strategy and audience connection.

On the flip side, digital marketing is the big picture, from social media buzz to email campaigns.

This article will guide you from the pitfalls and towards a profitable path in the digital marketing versus affiliate marketing showdown.

Affiliate Marketing vs Digital Marketing: Biggest Differences

Affiliate Marketing and digital marketing differences

Let's start with the basics of what digital marketing makes up, which includes the following:

  • Social media marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing
  • SEO
  • Affiliate marketing

It’s a collection of techniques designed to promote brands and target potential customers using the power of the internet.

This is focused on multiple digital channels, while affiliate marketing operates at a more specialized level.

It’s a business model where affiliates earn commissions by promoting a seller’s products or services to potential customers.

The primary tasks of affiliate marketers include finding products within a chosen niche and promoting them through various marketing channels to earn commissions.

Affiliate marketing is a part of digital marketing, focusing on partnerships and earning commissions.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a way to make money by promoting other people's products and earning a commission for sales made through your efforts.

What is Affiliate Marketing

It's a low-cost business model that can bring in a good return on investment because of its targeted approach.

Trust me, I've been doing this as a one-person business, offering me many opportunities.

To be a successful affiliate marketer, you need more than just sharing a product link. Affiliate marketing relies on making sales and using the right products that match your interests and target audience.

The key to doing well in affiliate marketing is getting your promotions in front of people who are interested and ready to buy.

This means doing keyword research, working with a legit affiliate network, and creating content around the problem your audience faces.

I've gone over this in my tips for affiliate marketing guide that you can read and continue learning from.

What is Digital Marketing?

In comparison, digital marketing is way more comprehensive than starting an affiliate business.

Digital marketing focuses on email, social media, and online ads to promote brands to potential customers.

What Is Digital Marketing?

Many digital marketing skills like SEO, PPC advertising, content marketing to attract and keep customers, personalized email marketing, and social media marketing help build relationships with potential buyers.

Digital marketing is powerful because it can:

  • Find and interact with potential customers on different digital platforms
  • Turn them into buyers
  • Market in a cost-effective way
  • Reach people across large areas
  • Give clear results
  • Allow for more customized communication

So yes, there are a lot of digital marketing channels someone can go down which can feel overwhelming than just being an affiliate and promote products.

Which Has More Control and Ownership?

As for control and ownership, significant differences exist between digital and affiliate marketing.

In digital marketing, marketers take charge of the marketing process.  They plan and launch campaigns across online channels. 

They might own the products they promote or work for the product owner, but either way, they guide the entire marketing campaign.

Affiliate marketers, on the other hand, have less control.

They promote products they don't own and rely on the product owner's brand marketing.

Digital marketing is about direct control and ownership, while affiliate marketing is more about earning through partnerships and using online marketing tactics without managing the product.

The Affiliate Marketing Model: A Closer Look

The affiliate marketing model involves three main components: Merchants or Retailers, Affiliates, and Customers.

It’s a well-oiled machine where each part plays a significant role.

Affiliates are given custom affiliate links by brands or affiliate networks, which you need for tracking sales and attributions. But how does it all work?

Understanding Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs are the backbone of affiliate marketing campaigns. You can find most affiliate marketing programs by scrolling down to the footer of a site or joining a platform.

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To thrive, affiliates must choose programs offering high commission rates and customer-centric services to ensure satisfaction and minimize refunds.

Effective affiliate link tracking is essential, as it credits sales accurately and ensures fair compensation.

Selecting the right affiliate program involves understanding its terms, such as payment thresholds, return policies, and cookie duration, to prevent disputes and guarantee rightful earnings.

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Types of Affiliate Marketing Tactics

Affiliate marketing can be categorized into three main types: Involved, Related, and Unattached.

Involved affiliate marketing entails marketers promoting products they have personally used and believe in, offering authentic endorsements but risking their reputation if issues arise with the product.

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This type offers a personal touch and often leads to higher conversion rates due to the trust factor.

On the other hand, related affiliate marketing involves promoting products or services within the marketer's own area of expertise.

While the marketer may not have direct experience with every product, they use their established authority and knowledge to recommend items to their audience.

There are a few types of affiliate marketing, which include:

  1. Affiliate marketing through content creation, where the affiliate creates valuable content to attract and engage a target audience and then promotes products or services within that content.
  2. Affiliate marketing through email marketing, where the affiliate builds an email list and sends promotional emails to their subscribers.
  3. Unattached affiliate marketing, where the affiliate runs PPC campaigns to generate traffic for the merchant’s site without establishing a reputation or trust with an online community.
  4. Affiliate SEOs: This is by ranking on various search engines such as YouTube and Google. This is my favorite type since SEO is always evolving.

Each type has its pros and cons and requires different types of marketing strategies for success.

Maximizing Earnings as an Affiliate

What steps can one take to optimize their earnings as an affiliate?

Here are some affiliate marketing tips to consider:

  1. Track key performance indicators like click-through rates and conversion rates. Use A/B testing to optimize your marketing efforts for higher conversions.
  2. Focus not just on promoting products but also on improving search engine optimization to increase organic traffic.
  3. Create comparison pages to help your audience make informed purchasing decisions.
  4. Repurpose your content across different platforms to reach a wider audience.
  5. Please check and fix any broken affiliate links to ensure the efficacy of your marketing efforts.

You can maximize your earnings as an affiliate marketer by implementing these online marketing strategies.

Another way to boost earnings is by picking high-demand niches and good commissions and promoting popular products.

Using different blog post templates like reviews, comparison pages, and lists of tools can help readers and lead to more affiliate sales.

Also, using email lists and podcasts to build a community and guide them to affiliate links in your content and notes can help.

Lastly, you can direct traffic to sites in the user's language and use simple URLs for your affiliate links to get more clicks and sales.

The Digital Marketing Model: A Closer Look

Now, digital marketing includes the following:

  • SEO
  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • PPC advertising

The effectiveness of digital marketing practices in enhancing revenue generation by increasing brand awareness, generating leads, and boosting overall sales for a business is noteworthy.

But what are the different types of digital marketing tactics, and how can you earn through digital marketing?

The effectiveness of digital marketing practices in enhancing revenue generation by increasing brand awareness, generating leads, and boosting overall sales for a business is noteworthy.

But what are the different types of digital marketing tactics, and how can you earn through digital marketing?

Types of Digital Marketing Tactics

Digital marketing’s appeal lies in its variety, including other digital marketing strategies and internet marketing techniques like video marketing.

You can use several tactics, each serving a unique role in your marketing plan.

Content Marketing focuses on creating and sharing valuable information to attract and keep a clearly defined audience, ultimately driving profitable customer action.

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, makes your website and online content appear higher in Google for relevant keywords. As you all know, search engine marketing is one of my favorite ways to get in front of your target market or audience.

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Social Media Marketing uses social media platforms to connect with your audience, build brand awareness, and get leads and sales.

Pay-per-click (PPC) Advertising is about running online ads that you pay for only when someone clicks on them.

Email Marketing involves sending emails to your audience to promote your products or services, build relationships, and get leads.

Lastly, Influencer Marketing is about working with influencers to promote your products or services to their followers. Analytics & Reporting is for tracking and analyzing your marketing data to measure the success of your campaigns and make smart decisions.

These methods are key in building an online brand and effective digital marketing strategy.

Making Money As A Digital Marketer

What avenues exist for making money as a digital marketer? Let’s find out.

There are several avenues you can consider. You can start as a freelancer, offering specialized services in areas like SEO, content marketing, or social media marketing.

But the smart thing to do here would be to get hired at a marketing agency doing well. 

Here, you’ll gain hands-on experience, learn from seasoned professionals, and build a strong foundation.

For those dreaming of running their own show, starting a digital marketing agency could be smart.

It's a chance to be your own boss and make decisions about your work life. But it's not just about being in charge.

Your pay as a digital marketer can depend on a bunch of things, like:

  • How much you know about digital marketing
  • Your marketing abilities
  • Your job experience
  • Your job title
  • The size of the company you work for
  • How much money the company spends on marketing
  • The company's goals
  • The type of business
  • Where you live and work

So, whether freelancing, working for someone else, or starting your own agency, learning digital marketing techniques can lead to high-income skills that get paid at a job.

Starting Your Journey in Digital or Affiliate Marketing

Digital marketing and affiliate marketing both have an easy way of starting, but which should you choose?

I'm going to give you exactly what you need to start affiliate marketing or a digital career.

Launching an Affiliate Marketing Business

Launching an affiliate marketing business involves a few important steps.

First, it's important to choose the right niche. This means finding a balance between what you're interested in, what can be profitable, and the level of competition.

Once you've picked your niche, which you can use motion invest for to find niches making money now, the next step is to find trustworthy affiliate products or programs that offer good commission rates and fit your niche.

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Next up is setting up your affiliate marketing traffic source.

This could be by starting a blog, social media account, or YouTube channel, depending on where your audience hangs out and what you're most comfortable using.

You'll also want a user-friendly website, like one built with WordPress, where you can provide helpful content. I also share my favorite blogging tools that you can read later.

The following step is to create high-quality content that targets your audience and incorporates keywords that aren't too competitive.

This is the foundation of a successful affiliate marketing effort.

Promoting products effectively can be done through channels like social media, blogs, and email marketing, always keeping audience trust in mind.

Finally, engaging with affiliate marketing communities and networking can provide insights into what's working for others and uncover new opportunities.

Building a Business in Digital Marketing

Starting a business in digital marketing means picking a niche like SEO, PPC, or content marketing. You can improve your skills and then create a portfolio to show off your work.

Meet people in the industry, and look for jobs at marketing agencies or companies to get experience. Make sure your resume fits each job you apply for to get into digital marketing.

In entry-level digital marketing jobs, you'll learn a lot, do research, do data entry, and work with a team.

You'll get more independent as you get better at targeting your audience with search engine optimization and other key strategies that digital marketers focus on.

What Are The Income Potential For Affiliates And Digital Marketers?

The income prospects for both affiliate and digital marketers are promising, yet they fluctuate based on elements like commission structures, audience size, and the effectiveness of marketing tactics.

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Affiliate marketing provides a way to generate income passively, creating a revenue flow that doesn't require continuous active effort.

Digital marketing increases earnings by enhancing a company's visibility, attracting potential clients, and driving sales forward.

Earning Through Digital Marketing

Digital marketing uses different online skills to help businesses spread the word about what they do in a way that doesn't cost too much.

This helps businesses make more money by:

  • Getting more people to buy things with better online sales methods.
  • Keeping customers coming back by talking to them in ways they like.
  • Reaching more people, both all over the world and nearby, which means more customers and more sales.

Digital marketing also makes a business more well-known, which brings in new customers.

If a business keeps in touch with people online in a good way, those people are more likely to stay customers and help the business make more money.

Plus, digital marketing is good because it lets a business:

  • Check how well their online ads are doing.
  • Change their ads quickly if they need to.
  • Improve their future ads by learning from what works and what doesn't.
  • Fix any mistakes right away.

Using these simple steps, businesses can easily reach the right people and make more money.

Which One Is Right For You?

In conclusion, the showdown of digital marketing vs affiliate marketing reveals that each has distinct advantages in generating revenue and building a brand.

Digital marketing offers a comprehensive approach with direct control over branding and customer engagement, making it ideal for businesses focused on establishing a strong, long-lasting market presence.

Affiliate marketing, while a subset of digital marketing, specializes in partnership-based strategies that can effectively generate revenue on a commission basis.

The winner in this marketing duel depends on your goals: if brand creation and full-spectrum marketing control are the priorities, digital marketing takes the crown.

However, affiliate marketing can be a lucrative business idea for those looking to monetize through strategic partnerships without brand management responsibilities.


What is better, digital marketing or affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is great for promoting products, while digital marketing suits those with skills in website design and SEO.

Can a digital marketer do affiliate marketing?

Yes, a digital marketer can incorporate affiliate marketing into their strategies as it falls under digital advertising and involves promoting products online to earn a commission.

Is there a downside to affiliate marketing?

Yes, there are downsides to affiliate marketing, such as inconsistent earning potential and high competition leading to low conversion rates in many niches and markets. This can result in earning less than expected.

I'm new, is affiliate marketing or digital marketing better for beginners?

Affiliate marketing has a lower barrier to entry, but success heavily relies on promoting good products & building an audience. Digital marketing offers more control & diverse career paths but requires broader skillsets.

Eddy is an AI, SEO, and personal finance blogger who uses and tests products to help others improve their lives through AI and financial literacy. With years of experience in online business, he deeply understands the latest AI and SEO trends. Eddy is also well-knowledged in personal finance and committed to sharing his knowledge and expertise with his readers.

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