5 Affiliate Marketing Trends for 2021

2021 Affiliate Marketing Trends

It goes without saying that 2020 brought massive change for almost every industry. The shift in consumer behavior and buying journeys challenged many go-to marketing strategies. Adapting and adjusting became the new reality, with most of us having to think outside the box when it came to promoting our products and services online.

As marketers, there’s a few key concepts we can take from the experiences of the past year to create new opportunities for affiliate marketing. In this article, we’ll cover new affiliate marketing trends and ways you can incorporate them into your 2021 strategy.

This includes:

  • Feature more affiliate content
  • Use social media to educate instead of influence
  • Explore alternative social media channels
  • Highlight your brand, not just products
  • Offer bonus commissions to stand out

Let’s get started!

1. Feature more affiliate content

For years, affiliate links have been discreetly placed in blog articles with little, if any, acknowledgment of affiliate relationship with the brand being promoted.

But as they say, times they are a changin.

Affiliate marketing has grown significantly. The rise of self-publishing tools and social media platforms has led to more publishers looking to monetize their content. And the shift customer’s expectations for engaging, worthwhile content has resulted in advertisers looking for new ways to promote their products and services.

Add in top affiliate marketing tracking softwares, and affiliate marketing is now a fixture in marketing strategies, just like email campaigns or display ads.

In fact, 81% of advertisers and 84% of publishers in the U.S. have turned to affiliate marketing in recent years. That being said, there’s no longer the need to shy away from your affiliate-driven promotions.

Feature your affiliate partners.

Leverage affiliate-generated content on your site.

Promote your affiliate program and highlight your offers.

Attract more affiliates and get more people promoting your brand.

2021 Marketing Trends - Amazon

Amazon partnered with creators as part of their Amazon Associates/Influencer Program to create content that is featured directly on their site. Using live stream videos, the affiliates promote products specific to their niche and include links to buy the featured products in the Amazon marketplace. Amazon uses this content throughout their site on product pages, category pages and holiday promotional pages.

Some affiliate content ideas to feature on your site includes:

  • Livestreams with Q&A sessions about products
  • Video tutorials and how-to guides
  • Curated product feeds such as a gift guide or wish list
  • In-depth product reviews and testimonials

Given that this content is being used as part of your site, consider using different commission structures. You can offer a higher commission or bonus incentive for affiliates that create content for your site.

2. Use social media to educate instead of influence

Used by 93% of brands and showing no signs of slowing down, influencers will continue to play a major role in affiliate marketing. But as the industry continues to grow and evolve, you can expect new things for influencer-led promotions in the coming year.

Trends like video and micro-influencers will remain.

The big shift will come in influencer content. Given the dramatic societal changes of the past year and audience’s ability to spot paid promotions, highly-curated influencer content will no longer have the same effect as it previously did.

Audiences want to see more authentic, real content that provides value.

2021 Affiliate Marketing trends - tiktok

Cerave achieved this by partnering with top estheticians like @makeupforwomenofcolor to create content around their skincare products. Despite having large niche audiences, the partners are not simply holding up a product and telling their followers to buy it — instead they use their position as industry leaders to create in-depth, educational content around the products they are promoting. They discuss how to use the product, what skin conditions they target, and why the ingredients work.

The focus is less about their popularity and more about their expertise.

This type of content has become increasingly popular on social media platforms like Tik-Tok and Instagram Reels. This content is also fitting for Live streaming, Q&A sessions, and blog content (both onsite and offsite).

Tips for creating this type of content for affiliate promotions include:

  • Finding top influencers in your specific niche — the more specific, the better
  • Looking beyond just follower counts, more on expertise
  • Providing influencers with free samples or product previews to review
  • Allowing influencers to have more control over their promotions

It’s important to keep in mind that the influencers you partner with may not necessarily be the proto-type “influencer”. But don’t limit yourself. Audiences want to see real people and quality content. Accredited professionals, industry analysts, brand employees, and niche experts can all be excellent influencers.

3. Explore new social media channels

Big social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have always been go-to channels for affiliate promotions. But as we mentioned above, audiences are looking for content that is more authentic and provides value.

Alternative social media channels like Reddit, Quora, and Medium offer a new way to share affiliate content and promotions.


These platforms tend to be more niche-focused with communities built around a common interest so you have a better chance at reaching your target audience. Additionally, much like we talked about before, this content is highly-educational and a resource for many potential customers.

This is also a great opportunity to put your brand at the center of the conversation. This could be affiliates providing reviews and links to your products. Or it could be a way to find high-qualified affiliates to join your program. Either way, you can spark interest in your brand and build brand awareness.

As an added bonus, this will help your SEO efforts and expand your online presence.

4. Highlight your brand, not just products

Brands who highlight who they are, not just their products, will thrive in 2021.

Consumers want to buy from brands they like.

87% of consumers say they would switch from one brand to another if the other brand were associated with a good cause.

They want to feel good about who they are buying from and where they are spending their money. They care about brands being environmentally conscious. They like to read stories about employee wellbeing. They find it important to see diversity and inclusion.

2021 Affiliate Marketing - Brand focus

Blogger WildishJess shares products on her blog that align with her goals of keeping a more sustainable household. Featuring products like shampoo bars, the blog provides a detailed description of how the product uses less single-use plastic and why this is important for the environment. This offers a new angle and appeal to readers who care about this issue.

Share any brand-related content with your affiliates so they can use them as part of their promotions. You can send this in your newsletter, marketing materials (such as images or graphics), and on your website.

Great brand-related content for affiliate marketing includes:

  • Company initiatives
  • Social Issues (i.e. Black Lives Matter)
  • Non-profit sponsorships
  • Local outreach efforts (i.e. volunteering at Food Banks)
  • Company backstory and founding
  • Office culture (i.e. paid paternity leave)

5. Offer bonus commissions to stand out

With more and more brands turning to affiliate marketing, attracting affiliates can be tough.

Bonus commissions will help you stand out among your competitors. This gives you an extra edge, and provides an extra incentive to affiliates to promote your product.

2021 Trends - Bonus offers

As a way to promote their affiliate program, Coursera highlights their bonus offer. They give a baseline commissions between 10% – 45% on any eligible purchases users make within 30 days of clicking a qualified link, then include bonuses for strong performance.

Some instances where bonuses would be useful include:

  • New product or features launches
  • Seasonal and holiday sales
  • Decreased sales periods
  • End of the fiscal quarter or year

Tapfiliate’s Pro Plan lets you customize bonuses around target goals, bonus amounts, bonus periods, and bonus tiers.

Get Started

There are plenty of opportunities to grow your affiliate program in the new year, and Tapfiliate is here to make this possible. Be sure to follow our blog for more affiliate marketing updates in 2021.

Want to start an affiliate program? Try all the features: 👉get a 14-day free trial here

Jessica Rangel

Spending my days writing marketing content, cycling around canals in Amsterdam and attempting to master the Dutch language.

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