Digital Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing

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Whether you are an online business or own a big retail store in the market, you need to advertise your products or services. In other words, your business exists because you advertise it. Otherwise, no one would know about it. Marketing is the ultimate solution for the growth and success of your business in a highly competitive market.

There are multiple marketing methods that you can use depending on several factors. Each type of marketing has its own distinct features and advantages. 

Businesses use both digital marketing and affiliate marketing to raise brand awareness and growth. Although affiliate marketing falls under the category of digital marketing or marketing through online channels. However, there is a difference between the two. 

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is the use of online mediums to promote a product or service through the internet, or smart devices. It involves the use of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and websites for advertising a business. Digital marketing also uses emails and SMS campaigns to let more people know about a business. 

Digital Marketing and its Various Components

Digital marketing involves many components in the advertising campaigns that make it challenging to stand out in the competition. These components are Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay-Per-Click, Social Media Marketing, Email and Content Marketing. 

SEO is the most important component of digital marketing. SEO is used to increase the visibility of websites in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Having a good SEO strategy improves your brand’s visibility on search engines like Google and attracts a wide and targeted audience. The different types of SEO are On-page, Off-page, and Technical SEO.

Social media marketing is another important component of digital marketing. This type of marketing uses platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter to improve the online presence of a brand. Digital marketers use different tools such as Hubspot to distribute content across multiple online platforms and boost web traffic. 

Through Pay-Per-Click, businesses can run their ads on Facebook and Google. Advertisers get paid when someone clicks on their ads. 

Types of Digital Marketing

The world has become increasingly digital. Customers start their buying journey online. So, it is important for every business to have a good digital marketing strategy. Different types of digital marketing are:

  1. SEO
  2. Pay-Per-Click
  3. Content marketing
  4. Email marketing
  5. Social media marketing

Benefits of Digital Marketing for Businesses

The advantages of digital marketing are: 

  1. It offers a global reach to businesses.
  2. It improves the local visibility of brands.
  3. Digital marketing is cost-effective.
  4. It can help in brand recognition and awareness.
  5. Digital marketing allows you to customize your campaigns according to the target audience. 
  6. It gives you quantifiable results.
  7. The content personalization feature in digital marketing results in higher conversion rates. 
  8. Digital marketing also improves customer engagement via two-way communication. 

To know more about the benefits of digital marketing and avail them, visit www.nawazishtawab.com for consultancy.  

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing means promoting products or services offered by other brands in return for a cut of sales. Affiliate marketing mainly comes under the domain of digital marketing. Although the marketing efforts are focused on commissions. So, it is a good way to earn passive income. The main purpose of affiliate marketing is to direct traffic to direct advertising and sales methods. 

How Affiliate Marketing Works

To make affiliate marketing work for the success of a business, strong persuasion skills are required. The ability to build relationships also works well for affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketers establish connections with potential customers to promote and sell products from other businesses. In exchange, they get a commission for the number of products sold. Affiliate marketers do not have ownership of the products or services they promote. 

how affiliate marketing works

Affiliate marketing involves three components; the marketer, the client, and the business owner. Affiliates need to understand the value of the product they are promoting and the target audience. 

In affiliate marketing, businesses use bloggers or influential people who spread information about their products or introduce them to a new audience. These affiliates are being paid by the businesses for each product that is sold through their link. 

Types of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing has different types and to choose which type of affiliate you want to become, it is important to understand each type.

types of affiliate marketing

Unattached Affiliate Marketing

As the word indicates, unattached digital marketing means the marketer or seller is not attached to the product or service he is prompting. They have no knowledge or experience with the product or the niche. Affiliates doing this type of marketing run Pay-per-click ads on search engines with the affiliate link and if anyone clicks on that link and buys through it, the affiliate gets a commission. 

Related Affiliated Marketing

In related affiliate marketing, you promote products that you haven’t used but are only related to your niche. You can use different mediums to promote the products. One of the drawbacks of this type of affiliate marketing is that if your follower buys a product that you prompted and it turns out bad or low-quality, you will lose your credibility.  

Involved Affiliate Marketing

Involved affiliate marketing means affiliates have personally used the product and can vouch for it. It is the safest form of affiliate marketing. Consumers buy the product if they trust the influencer or affiliate promoting it. The reputation of the affiliate depends on whether the product comes out to be of good quality or not. 

Benefits of Affiliate Marketing for Businesses

The benefits of affiliate marketing are:

  1. Affiliate marketing helps businesses to broaden their audience and target new audience through affiliates.
  2. It requires low cost to start your marketing efforts. The ongoing cost is also not high as most of the marketing activities are done by affiliates. You only have to pay them for the sales they bring in.
  3. There are low risks involved for business owners in affiliate marketing. 
  4. Affiliate marketing has a higher chance of bringing quick results.
  5. You can increase your brand exposure with the help of affiliates that have a huge fan following and good reputation in public such as influencers and followers. 
  6. You do not have to worry about your marketing skills as you rely on affiliates to use their expertise to promote your products. 
  7. It boosts the reliability of your brand. If the audience trusts an affiliate and he or she promotes your brand, the audience will automatically see your brand as trustworthy. 

Digital Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing

There are a few differences in how digital and affiliate marketing work.

digital marketing vs affiliate marketing

Cost Structure

The cost structure of digital marketing and affiliate marketing is created differently. In digital marketing, investment is required for the tools and content creation. The cost of digital marketing depends on the type of content and platform chosen for advertisement. 

Affiliate marketing is performance-based marketing and the payments depend on the results. Business owners have a flexible budget for the affiliates depending upon the sales they generate. In affiliate marketing, you do not have to spend a lot of money or an advertising team to begin your marketing efforts. You are dependent on your affiliate to design the advertising content and bring organic traffic. 

Control Over Marketing Efforts

In digital marketing, business owners have complete control of their marketing efforts. They can choose which medium and which strategy to choose. Digital marketers can control which ads to run and how to monitor the results. All the efforts in digital marketing are focused on increasing brand awareness and website traffic. In affiliate marketing, you just act as a middleman. All the efforts are focused on generating commission by selling the advertised products. 

Digital marketing efforts involve having a good command of SEO, content marketing, and social media marketing. Affiliate marketing efforts aim to maximize the exposure of products in the market. 

Target Audience Reach

Digital marketing allows you to use so many strategies and run campaigns on multiple platforms at the same time. It is flexible and you can always modify your marketing strategy to upgrade the marketing efforts. This flexibility enables you to target a much wider audience. You can also run paid ads to target audience according to your preferences such as specific gender, age group, or geographical area.

Affiliate marketing is a narrow concept. It does not give affiliates much flexibility and margin. In affiliate marketing, you can use only a few channels to promote products. So, it limits your target audience reach. Through affiliate marketing, you can target only that audience which the affiliate caters to. In other words, if you hire an influencer to promote your product on Instagram, your product will most likely reach only that specific influencer’s followers. 

Conversion Rates

Businesses use several marketing strategies and tools to reach audiences and increase conversions in digital marketing. The target audience is wide and diverse which results in a high conversion rate. 

However, the conversion rate for affiliate marketing tends to be lower because most often affiliates lack the required digital skills or expertise for marketing. Moreover, their audience is also limited with little to no diversity. 

Relationship with Customers

As far as the relationship with customers is concerned, you can build it more effectively in affiliate marketing. Affiliates have already built trust and engagement with their followers. Audiences see them as a reliable source for product recommendations. If you get your products advertised through the right person, customers are more likely to purchase the product. 

In digital marketing, you have to focus your marketing efforts on winning the public trust. It is time-consuming and difficult to make people believe that your brand is reliable and trustworthy. So, affiliate marketing is a more effective way of gaining public trust rather than direct sales or marketing. 

Level of Involvement in Sales Process

In digital marketing, the seller or business owner is directly involved in the sales process. He creates and executes the campaigns. He has full involvement in the entire sales process as customers directly reach the website and order. So all the sales have to be managed directly.  However, after the purchase, the involvement ends unless there is an issue with the product. 

Affiliate marketing relies on third parties for the sale of products. Affiliates promote products on behalf of other businesses. Affiliates are only responsible for directing traffic to the brand’s website through specific affiliate links. They are not directly responsible for the entire sales process or post-sale issues. All the other things are handled by the business owner himself. 

Future Trends in Digital Marketing and Affiliate Marketing

In the future, both digital marketing and affiliate marketing will incorporate Artificial Intelligence in their marketing campaigns.  All the operations will be streamlined through AI revolution and content optimization will drive better results.

Some of the key trends in digital marketing that will change its landscape will be voice search, virtual reality, chatbots in marketing, personalized email marketing, and short-form video content.

One of the trends to watch out for affiliate marketing in upcoming years is the increased reliance on nano and micro-influencers. Affiliate marketers will focus more on mobile prioritization and optimize content for mobile phones. A few other trends would be ethical and sustainable affiliate marketing, establishing niche-specific affiliate networks, and enhanced tracking models. 

You can subscribe to the YouTube channel of digital marketing geek Nawazish Tawab to get all the information on future marketing trends.


To sum up everything that has been stated so far, each kind of marketing comes with certain pros and cons. Each type has its own strengths and none of the marketing types are superior to others. It all depends on your means and goals. Multiple factors have to be considered while choosing a marketing strategy. These are control preferences, budget, marketing objectives, target audience dynamics, long-term and short-term impacts, etc. 

Both can be a good investment and both can serve your marketing purpose. For making the right choice, understanding the pros and cons of each type of marketing is necessary. 


Which one is better affiliate marketing or digital marketing?

Both kinds of marketing are effective if the right strategy is used. You can create the best strategy depending on your goals and budget. If you want to reach a wider audience and have the skills for digital marketing, then it is the best option. However, if you do not want to own the entire marketing process and just want to earn passive income, affiliate marketing will suit you better. 

Can a digital marketer do affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is basically a form of digital marketing. Digital marketing is a broad concept and affiliate marketing comes under its umbrella. Digital marketers can definitely do affiliate marketing as one of the strategies to advertise a business. Affiliate marketing is not possible without having the digital skills required to understand customer behavior and ways to promote products. 

What is better than affiliate marketing?

Digital marketing is a better option than affiliate marketing but only if your goal is to boost brand awareness, lead generation, and target a wide range of audience. If you have resources for digital marketing, no other option can be better than this. 

Which is better affiliate marketing or social media marketing?

The answer to this question entirely depends on business goals and resources. Social media marketing generally requires a broader skill set and budget. For start-ups or small businesses that cannot execute full-fledged marketing, affiliate marketing is a better choice. 


Picture of Nawazish Tawab
Nawazish Tawab

Google and Meta Certified Digital Marketing Expert

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