Your Guide on Digital Marketing vs. Affiliate Marketing

Your Guide on Digital Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing

There are more than 1.09 B websites on the internet in 2024, and a new website is built every three seconds. With these striking stats, just imagine that 93% of website traffic comes from search engines. 

Therefore, many businesses start their online journey with a couple of questions in mind, and depending on their goals and business model, one is more evident: digital marketing vs affiliate marketing – which is better? 

Both are popular strategies for increasing awareness, reaching their target audience, and generating revenue. Understanding the main differences between these two is essential to know how to use them to your advantage. 

Thus, read further and find out. Today’s article discusses anything you need to know about digital marketing vs affiliate marketing, such as core components, differences, use cases, and more. 

Digital Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing at a Glance 



  • Digital Marketing: Promote a brand’s products or services; 
  • Affiliate Marketing: Promote other companies’ products and earn commission on sales; 


  • Digital Marketing: Broad range of online marketing activities; 
  • Affiliate Marketing: Focused on promoting specific products through partnerships; 


  • Digital Marketing: Builds brand awareness, loyalty, and sales; 
  • Affiliate Marketing: Generates sales and commissions for the affiliate marketer; 

What is Digital Marketing? 


Digital marketing refers to all the online extensions a business uses to reach, engage, and convert its target audience via digital channels, such as social media, email, content marketing, and more. 

Digital marketing aims to reach broader audiences based on specific demographics and track the campaign’s results. Therefore, it is cost-effective for driving leads, conversions, and sales. 

To ensure the success of digital marketing campaigns, businesses should start with a clear digital marketing strategy and combine different digital channels to meet their audiences where they are, nurture their buying journey, and convert them non-invasively. 

Top 5 Digital Channels of Digital Marketing 


There are around ten digital channels businesses can use, but today, we discuss the essential ones to start a business. These digital marketing channels can target your audience at each step of the buyer’s journey, but let’s get into the details. 

1. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) 

PPC, or Pay-Per-Click, uses paid advertising tools on different digital channels to attract and convert prospects. Indeed, PPC is often used on search engines but can also be seen on social media platforms.  

You’ve probably seen those Sponsored marked posts on Instagram, Facebook, or Google search, right? 

coinzilla google ads ppc

PPC is a short-term digital marketing approach using paid bids for visibility. The advertiser pays whenever a user clicks on the ad. 

This approach works on a keyword-based system, and as a result, businesses target their audience based on what keywords they are most likely to search for. Thus, knowing and understanding your target audience is mandatory. 

2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 

Now that you’ve created your keyword list and started running PPC ad campaigns, you must create organic content for your keyword strategy.  

As such, you will improve organic search engine ranking, generate traffic, and nurture your prospects based on your content marketing approach. 

With an SEO-optimized and user-friendly website, you increase your chances of appearing in the first search results based on the relevant keywords used on your website’s homepage, blog pages, and other pages.  

Don’t panic if you aren’t quite familiar with the concept. However, please remember some SEO core components:  

  • Backlinks; 
  • User intent; 

With the right mindset, anything can be learned, and nobody says it is daunting, so we recommend checking out The importance of SEO and PPC in SEM for a detailed approach. 

3. Social Media Marketing (SMM) 

Social media marketing is more than unthinkingly posting something just to be posted, as this digital marketing extension requires a well-thought-out strategy. 

Moreover, depending on your business, you can build strategic customer relationships that align with your target audience through social media platforms, build trust, and nurture loyal relationships. 

The key here is to analyze your target, including demographics, and see where they gather and form a community. It would be best if you then advertised your brand there.  

Another thing is don’t brag about your brands, as audiences are more inclined to go towards authenticity and trust. 

Depending on your business, SMM’s goal is to inspire your community to offer user-generated content, meaning they can post on their behalf but mention your brand through keywords, hashtags, and others. 

4. Email Marketing 

Email marketing is considered one of the marketing channels with the highest Return on Investment (ROI), especially when it can be hyper-personalized and thus offer a sense of exclusivity. 

Moreover, email marketing can also be used to build long-lasting and nurturing relationships with prospects and customers, often helping with retention. 

Based on your segmentations, you can email different offerings and educational content to help your prospect move from one stage to another, which is even better if you use marketing automation tools and processes. 

5. Content Marketing 

Content marketing involves the planning, creation, publication, and distribution of different types of content that educate, attract, and convert your target audience. 

If PPC targets a specific keyword, content marketing also includes your brand’s contextual value, helping businesses grow healthily and sustainably.  

Additionally, your content marketing strategy should complement your overall digital marketing strategy, and all these approaches should work together as a flywheel, not racing between them.  

What is Affiliate Marketing? 


Affiliate marketing is a practice in which third parties promote and advocate for your brand’s products in exchange for a commission. 

This performance-based marketing works with bloggers, vloggers, influencers, and publishers to promote a brand’s offerings through their own marketing channels, such as websites, social media, blogs, emails, and others. 

When the user performs the actions and converts, the affiliates are paid a percentage, as initially established. 

Key Components of Affiliate Marketing 

Everyone involved in affiliate marketing gets benefits, and here is how: 

  • Sellers: They own the products and pay the commission to those who help sell their products; 
  • Affiliates: These are those who sell the brand’s products to their audience through specific links; 
  • Customers: They purchase the advertised product through the affiliate link and often could gain a discount; 

Just imagine that the average affiliate marketer makes around $8,038 per month. Moreover, the average ROI of $15 for every dollar invested in affiliate marketing is 1400%. Pretty neat, right? 

Top Affiliate Marketing Types 

Since affiliate marketing involves advertising your brand’s products, there are three main types. In the following chapter, we discuss them so you can decide which is best for your business. 

As the name suggests, related affiliate marketing involves promoting a brand’s product on a related website. For example, if your business is a shoemaker, you’ll affiliate with other fashion influencers to promote your brand’s product and benefits. 

Moreover, affiliate marketers aren’t limited to a specific platform, as the niche, target audience, and other factors directly influence this. As a result, the promotion can be done via social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, or Facebook or through video content on YouTube and others. 

2. Unattached Affiliate Marketing 

Unattached affiliate marketing works differently. The marketer lacks knowledge within the product niche, yet it promotes the product through PPC campaigns on search engines. 

3. Involved Affiliate Marketing 

When discussing affiliate marketing, we must say that the marketer is closely related to the brand and has expertise in the product or service. 

Often, their audience is built on trust, yet their reputation is based on whether the product delivers. 

Digital Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing: Key Differences  


As both digital and affiliate marketing fall under the advertising umbrella, learning about the essential differentiators is crucial for promoting your business’s products and services. 

Target Audience Reach 

Digital marketing is an extensive concept that involves different marketing channels. It also offers increased flexibility, allowing advertisers to reach a broader audience.  

However, the next step is to ensure the reach is relevant, and depending on the marketing strategy, a few tweaks can be made. 

Expertise and Authority 

Indeed, digital marketing can be complex and challenging, as it requires developing a strategy, creating content, and promoting it through social media or PPC campaigns. Besides this, there are also tracking results, meaning you must take notes and optimize better to reach the desired audience. 

On the other hand, affiliate marketing requires less tech knowledge to work with or as an affiliate marketer. 


Digital marketing requires ownership of the entire process, from top to bottom, and for the whole buyer’s journey, besides nurturing and reporting. 

However, this isn’t the case with affiliate marketing, as the business doesn’t control the marketer or vice versa, and the affiliate marker is just a mediator. 

Digital Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing: Similarities 


Targeted and Measurable Advertising 

Both digital marketing and affiliate target audiences are based explicitly on demographics, interests, and online behavior. Moreover, analytics, ROI, and other KPIs can measure the campaign’s success. 

Flexibility and Creativity 

Within the advertising world, flexibility and creativity make the world go round, and both approaches should offer flexibility when setting up a campaign through customization, scalability, and targeting options. 

Cost-Effective Advertising 

Digital marketing can be done with small and big budgets, yet the results depend on them. The same goes for affiliate marketing. Furthermore, the budget can increase with time and results, but you don’t need $$$ to start organically and grow and expand. 

Choosing Between Digital Marketing vs. Affiliate Marketing 


Business Goals and Target Audience 

Digital marketing is ideal for building brand awareness, driving targeted traffic, and nurturing leads for your products or services. In contrast, affiliate marketing effectively generates sales and commissions by promoting established products to a relevant audience. 

Resource Allocation and Budget 

Digital marketing requires investment in various tools, platforms, and marketing teams for content creators, SEO specialists, and others, compared to affiliate marketing, which has less upfront cost. However, success hinges on your time and effort in building an audience and promoting effectively. 

Control and Scalability 

If control and scalability are your main objectives, digital marketing offers complete control over messaging, branding, and audience targeting and scales well with budget and team growth. But if we flip the coin, affiliate marketing has limited control over the product. Yet, you control your promotional methods and audience.  

Final Thoughts 

So, as we can see, digital and affiliate marketing offer powerful tools for reaching, educating, and converting your target audience and achieving your business goals. 

However, it is essential to understand the differences and similarities between these two to choose the approach that best suits your needs or leverage both strategies in tandem for a well-rounded marketing approach.