Affiliate marketing is a widespread method to drive sales and generate online revenue.
This marketing channel is growing in popularity and legitimacy as it becomes more widely accepted, used, and understood.
Affiliates earn a commission when a qualified customer referral makes a purchase. Read on for an industry overview.
25 Affiliate Marketing Statistics
1. Global E-Commerce Grows as Markets outside of U.S. Accelerate Adoption of Online Shopping
E-commerce retail sales have continued to grow in the last five years, and it looks like it will continue along this path. This shift opens opportunities to expand sales to countries where the growth rate for e-commerce penetration previously lagged. 
2. Influencers over Bloggers
Affiliate marketers have been influential bloggers who write and manage blogs with a dedicated following. Although bloggers may continue to benefit the affiliate marketing sector, current trends suggest social media influencers will comprise a larger relative share of the market through the 2020s. 
3. Instagram Makes Affiliate Marketing Accessible to Everyone
With this change, all Instagram users can share links in Stories, eliminating the threshold of 10K followers for actionable content. Instagram is already the leading social media platform for influencer campaigns, helping increase brand recognition and drive sales. 
4. Brands’ Social Media is Even More Persuasive than Friends’
According to Business Insider and Epsilon research in the United States, a retailer’s social media channels persuaded 29% of US shoppers to try a new brand or product. That figure was 28% for social media channels operated by brands and – somewhat counterintuitively – 22% for social media channels belonging to the consumers’ friends. Thus, while social proof is essential, reputable sources and recognizable brands may be privileged over “regular joe” social media sources.
5. 94% Of Consumers Use Coupons
Up to 94% of customers will bring digital coupons when shopping in-store. More than 39% of shoppers will purchase a product much sooner if there is a coupon. In addition, 92% of millennials use print coupons, while 88% use paperless coupons through mobile devices or loyalty cards. 
6. Employed Affiliate Marketers Earn a Median Salary of $51,639 per Year
According to PayScale, the median salary for an affiliate marketer is $51,639 per year. Base salaries range from $38,000 to $72,000 before taxes and deductions. These figures don’t include bonuses, benefits, or other commissions 
7. Some of the Most Profitable Affiliate Programs Are for Web Hosting
This field is hugely competitive, and service providers compete online for digital products. This competition changed the way that hosts market themselves. All hosting providers need to offer rewarding affiliate deals. A perfect example of this is Bluehost, whose affiliate partners made over $5 million in 2018.
8. Mobile Compatibility Boosts Conversions
More than 51% of users state they are more likely to purchase online products from a site whose publisher has optimized for mobile navigation. Therefore, Google gives favorable ratings for mobile compatible sites 
9. CDNOW.com and Amazon Are Responsible for Taking Affiliate Marketing Mainstream
The BuyWeb program launched in 1994 was the first program to host affiliate marketing. In July 1996, Amazon used a version of this exact formula for its Amazon Associates 
10. Affiliate Marketing Suits a Wide Age Range
Most affiliate marketers are aged 24 – 54 (at 81% of total), but any age group can use affiliate marketing. However, only 12% of all affiliate marketers are over the age of 55 
11. It Can Take Up to Six Months for a New Affiliate Marketer to Make Money
It can take up to six months before you start making any money from affiliate marketing. The amount you make will depend on the quality of the content you create and your SEO optimization. Unlike affiliates, influencers may earn a fixed sum for each post, with strict content standards and control. However, according to Damico, affiliate marketers have more flexibility with their content and more creative freedom. 
12. More and More People Own Mobile Devices
Around 97% of people in the United States own a cellphone, and 85% have smartphones. As a result, affiliate marketers can reach more people through their cellphones and host more affiliate marketing campaigns. 
13. 94% Of Publishers Rely on More than One Network
Using more than one network will increase your reach. Approximately 39% of publishers subscribe to at least three networks to earn products and earn commissions. Around 20% are said to subscribe to five networks or more. 
14. 81% of United States Advertisers Use Affiliate Marketing
Rakuten Marketing has commissioned a report from Forrester Research demonstrating the sharp uptick in affiliate marketing usage by advertisers in recent years. While this tended to represent a minority of total revenues (up to 20%), the growth prospects are clear. 
15. Search Interest in “Affiliate Marketing” Continues to Rise Sharply
Google Trends shows an increase of more than 200% since 2015 in searches for this specific key phrase. While the industry may have started as a niche, it clearly continues to become more and more mainstream. This ever-growing visibility means it is still accessible for newcomers while enjoying the legitimacy of an established sector 
16. 85% of Online Shoppers Consult Google before Purchasing
The Tel Aviv-based marketing software expert, Skai (formerly Kenshoo) has released a research paper demonstrating that 85% of online shoppers check Google before purchasing anything. This fact means that high search visibility is critical for affiliate marketers – even more in light of these prospective customers searching with such a clear purchase intent 
17. $1.4 Billion in Affiliate Marketing Fraud Occurred in 2020
It’s not the positive news we want to read, but it’s essential to have a clear-eyed view of the sector. In its “Dark Side of Affiliate Marketing” research, CHEQ AI Technologies concludes that approximately $1.4 billion in fraud occurred within the Affiliate Marketing industry during 2020 alone. The research project covered more than 39 industry sectors with more than a trillion impressions (customer interactions). The bright side is that CHEQ considers more than 90% of activity in the sector to be entirely legitimate. 
18. Organic Search Is the Most Ideal for Conversions
Organic visitors are up to 5.66 times more likely to convert to a sale than paid traffic. Earning top status in paid searches only means you have the most money to spend. Customers trust blogging platforms and are the best at attracting organic visitors 
19. Fully 84% of Publishers Now Include Affiliate Marketing in their Marketing Mix
According to the Forrester Research report Rakuten commissioned, even more publishers are becoming comfortable relying on affiliate marketing than advertisers themselves. Fully 84% actively include Affiliate Marketing in their marketing mix, with another 7% planning to do so soon. So it is now safe to say that nearly everyone in the publishing sector is using Affiliate Marketing 
20. Affiliate Marketing Incentives Are Aligning Positively
Let us explain: The old fear was that affiliate marketers suffered from so-called “perverse incentives” to convert customers and sell products/services no matter what. HubSpot breaks down an example of the new paradigm in which commissions only accrue on sales of products that aren’t returned (a case study of the Wirecutter by New York Times). This shift has enhanced customer experience, improved the industry’s legitimacy, and created real value for the global economy 
21. Affiliate Marketing Makes Up As Much as 15% of All Digital Media Industry Revenue
It may be impossible to nail down an exact figure. Still, Business Insider posits that Affiliate Marketing’s contribution to the revenue picture for all digital media businesses may be as high as 15%. Moreover, we know that as this share continues to rise, it creates more and more opportunities for savvy business owners on both sides of this transaction. 
22. The Perception of Affiliate Marketing Is Increasingly Positive
In Rakuten’s report by Forrester Research, an unnamed executive at a US-based web publisher simultaneously describes the recent historical view of Affiliate Marketing as “spammy bottom-feeder websites” to a modern situation of “great user experience” and CEOs agreeing that Affiliate Marketing is “really delivering.”.
23. Affiliate Marketing Holds Less Risk than Other Advertising Models
Janine Robertson of Forbes points out that affiliate programs, by definition, have relatively low risk. We can describe this model as performance-based or “pay-when-there-is-a-sale.” Robertson also indicates that commissions often range from 10-20% per sale, depending on the industry and product category. This underscores the legitimacy and opportunity in the industry for committed businesspeople. 
24. Longer Cookie Lifespan May Increase the Chance of Commissions
HubSpot briefly breaks down the lifespan of a tracking cookie and its impact on revenue. Put simply, it depends on the sales life cycle. If customers always buy quickly (in consumable items like food or makeup, for example), a 30-day cookie life is generous. However, in web hosting, software, or professional services, the customer journey could take weeks or months, so a 60-day or longer cookie lifespan could transform the revenue prospects. Therefore, affiliate marketers must consider the cookie term/lifespan and not only the revenue share when evaluating partners. 
25. Affiliate and E-Mail Marketing Make up 16% of all United States E-Commerce Orders
According to research from Custora and Business Insider, affiliate marketing and e-mail marketing are collectively responsible for 16% of all US e-commerce orders. While the study doesn’t clearly disaggregate these two, it is clear that affiliate marketing is a significant and growing contributor to the e-commerce revenue picture in the United States and worldwide. 
Once upon a time, affiliate marketing might have had a negative public perception because of poor practices and customer experience. Today, it provides a great customer experience and is responsible for a significant proportion of all online commerce.
While there are still issues to fix in the industry, more than 90% of affiliate marketing traffic is legitimate. Accordingly, the vast majority of advertisers and publishers have accepted affiliate marketing into their marketing mix.
No matter which side you’re on, the sector’s rapid growth and change create enormous opportunities for businesses like yours.