One of the most common questions I see asked online is “Does affiliate marketing still work or is it dying?”
In this article I will look at why people think this way and whether people who say it is dead or dying are right or wrong.
I will give reasons why I think they have a point and reasons why I think they are wrong.
I will then give my own personal opinion on what 2020 holds for affiliate marketing.
4 Points Against Affiliate Marketing Still Working In 2020
People Think It’s A Scam
There are still a lot of people who think that affiliate marketing is a scam or simply doesn’t work.
This is simply not true, but I do see why this opinion is as widespread as it is.
Since the very beginning people have promoted it in completely the wrong way.
It developed, and still has, a reputation as some kind of “get rich quick” scheme.
This is due to self proclaimed “Gurus” creating and selling courses with dubious, and usually outdated, techniques.
This usually leads to people becoming frustrated as the techniques they, and many others are using, become obsolete as search engines start to class them as manipulating search results.
These same people also market it in such a manner that only arouse’s suspicion.
We all know the drill, whether you are a complete noobie or seasoned affiliate marketing veteran.
“If you buy my course I can show you how to quit your job and live a lifestyle most people only dream of”
A guy will spout as he lounges by his mansion pool or as he gets into an exotic sports car with a super model level girl fawning over him.
“12 months ago I was buried in debt and living on my friends couch, until I discovered a secret system that changed my life”
“You can learn the secrets that the worlds top affiliates use to make millions by buying my course”
“For only $75 you can fire your boss and live the life of your dreams!”
Cut to shot of him sipping champagne with 6 bikini clad models on a beach with a huge grin.
We all know the drill.
Even the less astute of people will look at that and have scam alerts pinging in their brain.
Truth of the matter, in most, not all, cases, is that everything you see is rented for the day, models and all.
The person is not a millionaire yet.
Not until he has sold x amount of his $75 courses and recouped the money spent on the video to market the course.
It’s old news, but stuck in the mindset of most people.
In years past, you could approach a friend and say, “Hey, did you know you can make money online by referring other peoples products” and the person would be very interested in hearing more.
Today, you can approach a friend and say the exact same thing and the answer will usually be “Yeah, one of those get rich quick scams. No thanks.”
This is a huge hurdle for the industry to navigate.
In my opinion, it requires a huge re-branding effort by the industry that will not appear in 2020.
People Have A Short Attention Span.
People today are addicted to instant gratification.
Literally hardwired for it.
Everything at the click of fingers or a mouse.
Because of the life of convenience and ease we currently live in, people simply do not want to put in the required time and effort needed to be successful.
I acknowledge that some people are and will work as hard and for as long as it takes to attain success.
Most, however, will give up in very short order if they do not get results they either desire or are promised.
Again, I link this back to Gurus and their marketing techniques in years gone by.
Tell someone that they can be cavorting with models and driving exotic cars within a few months and there are very unrealistic expectations in place.
This kind of marketing technique attracts people with a severe instant gratification mindset.
These are not the kind of people who are going to spend 100’s, if not, 1000’s, of hours working on a project with no immediate results or the guarantee of any at all.
A lot of these people are often looking to get themselves out of their current lifestyle because they are heavily frustrated with their situation/job etc.
Is it any wonder that already frustrated people with an instant gratification mindset feel fleeced and angry after 3 months of work and not a model or mansion in sight?
Frustrated and angry people are usually very vocal.
It’s an old saying that a happy customer will tell their friends about how great your product is.
An unhappy customer will tell EVERYONE that will listen about how bad your product is.
But to be fair to the Gurus, just how many people would buy their courses if they marketed in the following manner.
“You can make a lot of money from affiliate marketing, but it is going to take a large amount of hard work and may take a long time to reach notable levels of income.”
Cut to a shot of someone hunched over their computer surrounded by empty energy drink cans and bags under their eyes from staring at a computer screen for months on end.
An old saying is “Work smart, not hard”
My answer to this is, “Work smart and hard if you want real success.”
Affiliate marketing is a long term business model, not a get rich quick scheme.
Again the industry needs to re-brand to counter this mindset and reputation.
People Do Not Trust Links.
We are all aware and very cautious of clicking on links from sources we are not familiar with.
We can thank the scammers and pranksters of this world for that.
Years back, and still today, there are plenty of stories who ended up clicking on a bad link and endured all the problems that came with it.
Computers were frozen, details were stolen, people were redirected to shocking images.
The list goes on and you do not need me to elaborate to make my point.
People have to really trust the website or social media account that is presenting the link to them.
This, of course, can be a serious obstacle for the budding marketer who is just starting out.
It can lead to low or non existent results vs effort in the early days of their venture.
Combine this with the instant gratification and you have a recipe for a vocal detractor as described above.
Platforms Clamping Down.
Make no mistake, social media is absolutely amazing for affiliate marketing.
But, thanks to the scammers and people following dubious techniques from Guru courses, various platforms are clamping down.
Personally I blame people who blast link after link after link all day long within unrelated hashtags and topic threads.
I personally have seen link after link tweeted promoting some dubious cream or product within a hashtag that is fiction book related.
They do this because the hashtag is trending and getting a lot of attention.
So, in their mind, and usually from techniques they learned in a “course”, they are simply putting product in front of eyes.
Yes, but people reading a thread about a book release are not looking for a cream that makes your ingrowing toenails disappear overnight or some other such nonsense.
They are not the target customer, so spamming hell out of them is not only futile but only adds to peoples negative perception of affiliate marketing.
Needless to say, a lot of the main platforms are clamping down and some are flat out banning affiliate links.
Unfair to the legitimate marketers in my eyes, but hardly surprising.
After all, if you had a company worth billions and with stockholder to satisfy.
Would you want your platform to look like an online bazaar for shady and tacky products?
The Case Against Conclusion.
I think that 2020 will be no different for any previous year with regards to affiliate marketing.
The general perception of the industry will remain as one of distrust and less than favorable.
The industry really needs to look at how to re-brand itself and to counter the negative stereotypes that linger due to historical trends and practices.
People with the wrong mindset will come in and fail or have bad experiences due to chasing quick money stemming from the way the industry was portrayed to them by Gurus.
I will now proceed to list 4 points as to why I think 2020 will potentially be a great year for affiliate marketing.
4 Points In Favor Of Affiliate Marketing Still Working In 2020
Some of the biggest companies in the world already have affiliate programs in place to promote their products.
Can anyone really argue that it’s a scam if you have companies such as Amazon using as a core part of their business model?
Be truthful with yourself.
Do you honestly think they see it as a shady practice with which they can scam a few people into buying dubious products?
No, of course not.
They see it as a viable practice that can drive huge amounts of traffic, and therefore revenue into their site.
Most of the big name sites and brands you can think of either have established programs in place or are busily looking into setting one up.
Make no mistake, the online business model is the way of the future and they are going to not only need, but crave, people to drive traffic to them.
Global reach equals access to global revenue.
Which brings me to my next point.
When the internet started, most people were dubious of buying products online, and especially about entering card details etc. (Thank the scammers for that again)
However as time progressed and reputable brands set up sites that were secure and trustworthy, public perception changed.
I literally do not personally know anyone now who hasn’t made at least one purchase online.
Most people I know shop online extremely frequently.
It is no secret that a lot of traditional high street stores have closed in recent years simply because they cannot compete with online retailers.
In fact a lot of stores now complain of a practice known as “Show rooming.”
This is where customers go into a traditional real world store and try a product.
They will try and compare various products to see which one they prefer.
A salesperson will often be approached to help them with regards to telling them about the various features and benefits of the products.
Once the customer has come to a firm conclusion on which product they are going to buy, they leave the store and order it online from a website due to price difference.
As you can imagine, companies do not like this as it is a waste of the salesperson’s time and the company does not make a penny of revenue.
Match this against the overheads they have such as, retail space rental, staff wages, insurance, cost of physical inventory and advertising.
They are not too chipper when people use them as a show and tell showroom but another company gets the revenue instead of them.
This does, however, show us that people are more than comfortable with buying products online.
In fact, they are starting to prefer it.
This will lead to even more companies setting up online sales presence.
Which of course is becoming extremely competitive.
Which is definitely not a minus towards the increased demand for affiliates to drive that highly sought traffic to their products.
Mobile Phone Culture.
Let’s get this out the way.
It’s a running joke, and some would say concern, that everywhere you go now people are transfixed by their phone.
Let’s be honest.
The vast majority of the population are addicted to their phone.
It is mainly social media such as Facebook and platforms such as YouTube that dominate their attention.
But it is really reaching shocking levels if we are to be honest with each other.
But, we are not here to discuss societal issues.
We are here to discuss revenue potential in 2020.
Let’s be honest, the phone addiction trend is an absolutely astounding opportunity for revenue if harnessed correctly.
Combine the amount of attention the average person directs at their phone and combine that with people willing to shop online without a second thought these days.
An attention captive global base of potential consumers for products that be purchased with a few clicks.
Remember what I said about people wanting instant gratification and convenience?
Click, click, and it’s shipped to your door.
Mo trudging malls (Unless you are show rooming), no parking, no carrying boxes, no irritating salespeople, no crowds, and usually cheaper.
Online shopping is snowballing and in my opinion, we are due an avalanche of global revenue from online shopping.
Estimated global online sales for 2019 is $3.5 trillion and is projected to rise to $6.5 trillion by 2023.
Companies are going to be craving affiliate marketers to help them get as big of a slice of that multi trillion dollar pie as possible.
With such projections stating that revenue potential is going to almost double in 4 years, to think that affiliate marketing is dead or dying, is in my opinion, ludicrous.
Mobile phones are going to be center stage from here going forward.
The irony is not lost on me hat I have just been touting the massive potential for economic growth mere sentences above.
Yet my very next point in favor is about a declining economy.
Hear me out.
A lot of jobs today are being outsourced, obsolete, more automated, etc.
This is going to lead to people being laid off from their jobs or having hours reduced.
Its a bleak truth and currently a reality for an ever increasing number of people.
These people are going to need to find replacement income.
Most will head off to find a new job, others will perhaps start their own business.
Some however, will come across the concept of making money online working from home.
*Hopefully they encounter a reputable and professional training course before some guru on a jet ski wows them with his fantastical claims.
As I mentioned above there will be an increased demand from companies who are looking for affiliates to help them get at the multi trillion revenue pie.
This will lead to more genuine success stories and help change the face and reputation of the industry.
Or at least, it has the potential to.
An increasing number of people I know avoid going to the mall these days.
It is for a variety of reasons such as price, crime, parking, crowds, etc
I’ll be honest, I despise going to malls.
Once upon a very rare occasion I may venture into one.
If it is for a good reason such as a specific product, but it is as rare as I can make it.
The majority of things I buy are purchased online.
I know that a lot of malls are in decline in both traffic and with businesses ending their leases leading to empty stores.
People are still shopping, but online from their phones and laptops.
This will trigger a lot of businesses to increase their online presence and thus create an increase in demand for affiliates.
Even when an economy is in a recession, there are still people shopping for various things.
It may not be high-end clothes or jewelry, but they will still be shopping for what they can afford.
People love to shop, but as I mentioned, an increasing amount do not like shopping in a mall/physical location environment.
This is, in my opinion, favorable towards the future of affiliate marketing.
Taking the above points into consideration I believe that affiliate marketing will continue to grow in 2020, but will also still struggle with public perception as an industry.
I honestly cannot see any kind of major shift in this perception because I do not see any efforts in the industry to cause a shift.
There are still Gurus touting their courses in the same manner as they always have and perpetuating the stereotypes I mentioned above.
As I said, I cannot blame them for targeting the instant gratification mindset crowd with promises of quick riches.
After all, there is a hell of a lot of money to be made with this set of techniques and models and mansions get attention to their products.
I personally think that the big affiliate networks and brands need to update their image and also market that new image as hard as the Gurus market theirs.
When the industry takes public perception seriously, then they will stand a chance of the public taking the industry seriously.
On the plus sides, I think due to the increase in online shopping, and therefore an increase in demand for affiliates, the future looks amazing for affiliate marketing.
I think that there will be a lot of people making significant money and this will lead to success stories.
Real ones, not just the same old rehashed Bugatti’s and beaches theater that seems to endure.
If the industry capitalizes on these success stories and puts them center stage as genuine evidence of the power of affiliate marketing, then I think public perception will change.
Again I do not see this anywhere in the realm of possibility to occur within 2020.
To conclude on a positive note, as the global revenue projections state, the scope for earning money in this industry will increase in 2020 and onwards.
Affiliate marketing is a viable business model and people who dismiss it as a scam are simply missing out on an incredible opportunity.
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