5 Reasons Affiliate Marketers Are Better Digital Marketers


It’s no secret that some of the best digital marketers in the world have a background in affiliate marketing. Much of the technology, strategy, and principles we use today as online marketers have their roots in the early days of adult affiliate marketing.

These are the same people that were building and perfecting methods and strategies before tools like:

  • Analytics and Woopra
  • WordPress and Drupal
  • SpyFu and MixRank
  • Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer

had even existed.

The developments in these areas were all driven by money and ROI, and became the default tools and mindset of budding online marketers.

When I first started building websites  in 1996, there were no fancy titles such as “growth hacker”, “CRO”, or “SEO”. You were either a good marketer or a horrible one.

You spent your own money ( not your company’s or client’s  ) to find out what worked with your campaigns.

When you start putting your own paycheck on the line, you stop “clocking out” at 5pm and actually start developing ways to improve ROI constantly. Things tend to change when your livelihood depends on you walking the walk.

So why are affiliate marketers better digital marketers?

1. Natural “Lean” marketers.

Most successful affiliate marketers have spent a large part of their career living the “lean startup” way of life before Eric Ries made the term popular.

What are a few things most affiliates do better then the average digital marketer?

  • Create minimum viable products of their landing pages and advertising methods
  • Practice continuous deployment of all improvements of their display placements and bidding strategies
  • Constantly split-test landing pages and ads to see what wording and calls to action improved checkouts and CTR’s
  • Track the most needed actionable metrics and use hard data to determine if they are successful
  • Pivot to other offers, messaging, and traffic sources when needed based on that data.

An affiliate marketer has largely depended upon themselves to be an expert in all phases of their marketing plan as a bad plan could mean not eating for a month or getting evicted.

2. Broader skill sets.

Having to largely depend on yourself and funding campaigns on your own dime forces you to not only fail a lot, but also push the comfort zones on your skill sets.

Most affiliates can:

  • Create their own landing pages
  • Code their own scripts
  • Negotiate contracts
  • Plan entire marketing budgets
  • Hire and manage VA’s and outsourced contractors
  • Optimize sales funnels
  • Routinely create additional revenue streams

Most average marketing strategists ( and even Director/SVP level marketers ) struggle with just a few of these concepts.

3. Deeper marketing skill sets.

When marketing feeds your family, you tend to invest more time into it.

When an affiliate marketer invests $10k of their own money into building a landing page and traffic strategy, they have to make a sizable return back. This isn’t a game for entry-level PPC marketers or people who don’t understand the basics of Ca$hvertising.

Being an expert in conversion optimization, emerging channels such as mobile, lead nurturing, remarketing, and marketing automation all play a sizable role in being a profitable affiliate marketer. Most digital marketing strategists lack these skills or leave them to others on their team to handle.

4. Big picture thinkers, small focus experts.

Many times online marketers get hung up on the smaller details like which split tests to run or the correct messaging on an ad.

These are important tasks to stay on top of, but focusing on smaller tasks that don’t make a huge impact on the larger goal can unwind even the best of marketing plans.

Affiliate marketers generally push through small issues easily and get back on the goal of increasing revenue and leads. They understand the grand picture of what the business is trying to accomplish and can often make suggestions that tie into larger goals which will make an impact.

5. Master Specialists.

When it’s time to go in for that triple bypass surgery, do you want the general surgeon on staff or a heart specialist?

Most affiliate marketers are master experts  in 1 or 2 areas.

They typically master 1 huge traffic source ( PPC or SEO ) and can run circles around other digital marketers in that space. Many of them specialize in just Facebook or media buys on Alexa top 1,000 websites.

Whatever their specialty, they have invested large sums of money into figuring out every inch of it and can outperform others who may just dabble or work 9-5 within that same space.

They typically have inside contacts and special relationships that you would never be able to obtain on your own starting out that will benefit them when needed.

In Closing

How could a digital marketing strategist compete against someone who is an affiliate marketer? They realistically can’t.

If a billion dollar company like Google spends all of it’s time trying to outwit affiliate marketers and constantly fails, what makes you think you can do any differently on your own?

Affiliate marketers are not interested in office politics, micro managing co-workers, or even what fruit dip to bring to the company party. They care about ROI and what it takes to achieve it, period

They spend their late nights and weekends concerned on how to scale and grow ROI.

As a growing company looking to hire more marketing staff, wouldn’t it make sense to have someone with this experience and drive on your team?

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Hi! I'm Jason Brown and I’m a 36 year old digital marketing intrapreneur living in beautiful Louisville, Kentucky. I've been involved with the Internet since 1996 and have personally made millions online with my creative marketing tactics and persistence. I blog about marketing, money, and motivation. Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Stuart   •  

    Come from an affiliate background myself, very true words Jason :)

  2. Oliver Pilon   •  

    All i can say is i’ve tried affiliate marketing for 9 years (with seo traffic),
    got the traffic but i never been able to achieve any decent conversion/sales.
    Real affiliate marketers to me are as intelligent as Einstein compared to me.
    It is so damn hard I never been able to achieve even a basic level of success
    (except for the odd sale every 10 days or so).

    I would be interested in seing the IQ of successful marketers.
    It must be super sky high.
    Kudos to those that are that good, youre from another world
    (or im really retarted).

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