Digital Marketing Vs Affiliate Marketing

In the short time that the internet has been around, huge industries have cropped up, social media giants like Facebook and eCommerce behemoths like Amazon… and billions of people interact and earn from its digital platforms and websites.

Digital Marketing Vs Affiliate Marketing
A breakdown of the difference between affiliate marketing and digital marketing

Most likely have heard many words and phrases associated with making money online, but, what actually do they mean, are they the same, are they different, and most importantly, how to know the difference between digital marketing vs affiliate marketing in the online world?

Main Takeaways: TLDR

Affiliate marketing has been around since before the internet and is the process of promoting a company’s products in exchange for a percentage commission of the sale, only payable on a completed sale.
Digital marketing is the main category of marketing activities online, covering things like Google Ads, SEO, Social media marketing plus others.
Most affiliate marketing programs are payable per commission per sale, eg: 50% of a sale of a product.
Affiliate marketing for a company’s products can be promoted using digital marketing strategies to ensure sales of the products are made, track your marketing efforts, and ensure a much easier promotional landscape.

If you know the basics then let’s have a look at digital marketing, as this is where everything really starts as you will find out in a moment…

Comparison Between Digital and Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing Digital Marketing
What is it?This is where people promote a product (not their own) for a percentage of the sale price of that product, ranging from 1% – 75%.This is the broad category name for a range of marketing activities carried out online, like Facebook Marketing, SEO, etc.
CategoriesThere are 3 main people involved in affiliate marketing, the customer, the affiliate (you), the product owner.There are a huge amount of digital marketing categories, with each sub category hold multiple components themselves.
What do you own?Once a person signs on as an affiliate to promote a product they must utilize their marketing skills to sell the product to earn a commission.As a digital marketer you can own your own product/service or be an affiliate of other peoples that you market to make sales.
How big is it? Affiliate marketing is a sub-category of digital marketing and is about the sale of products for commission. Digital marketing covers a wide range of marketing strategies, that covers the whole of the internet and its platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.
What skills to gain? To be a good affiliate marketer you must have a chosen digital marketign stretagey, but also, the ability to convince people to buy the products you are promoting, whether in text, audio, or visual.To be good at digital marketing you must become good at (analytics) understanding about how people interact on the platfroms (Facebook, Website, Ads, etc) you are using to market your products.

Digital Marketing Categories

You have a brief overview of what digital marketing is, but how does it work?

When you hear people say they are digital marketers – that is a very broad term for what digital marketing actually is.

It would be the same thing as someone saying they were an athlete or a business person, there are just so many subcategories within these fields that it is hard to pin it down without someone saying exactly what they do.

  • Athlete is to pole vaulter
  • Business person is to haulage
  • Digital marketer is to Facebook Marketer, Facebook Ads Marketer, Facebook Organic Marketer, etc…
list of digital marketing categories

Digital marketing is broken down into many categories, and those categories are broken down into further categories and so on.

To give you one example, one skill set that I possess, but also is a sub category of digital marketing is called Search Engine Optimization.

This is the practice of getting websites to the top of the likes of Google and Bing for particular keywords.

People would call me an SEO, or a Search Expert, or a Search Engine Optimization Specialist, etc., etc…

But this is only one part of digital marketing…

Have a look at the following image realted to Marketing, each one of the in the top line are digital marketing categories, and underneath that you see the different elements related to the category of Paid Media.

how to become a better digital marketer

It should be your goal to pick a category like shown and then become brilliant at all of the sub categories of that.

So let’s have a look at the breakdown of some of these digital marketing categories so you can get a much clearer picture.

Search Engine Optimization

As mentioned SEO is part of digital marketing, it is the practice of getting websites to the top of the search engines for keywords related to what you are selling or offering. This marketing method is key to the long-term sustainable growth of websites and free website visitors (which is seen as the holy grail of online marketing).

It could quite happily be my favorite digital marketing skill set, yet most people look at it as a dark art.

It’s not really that diffiuclt, it’s more a simple process that when followed will get you results no matter what niche you enter. It is also the strategy that I teach in the Beating the Giant Affiliate Formula.

Content Marketing

Just like SEO, content marketing is a sub-category of Digital Marketing, and as the name might suggest it is the act of creating content for the digital world.

Notice I didn’t say website here, because content marketing isn’t only about creating content for websites, it is about creating content for all the different platforms that are available on the internet, the likes of Facebook, YouTube, Instagram etc…

content marketing category

The main goal of content marketing is to entice people who are reading or watching that content to do something while consuming that content, a few examples of this would be:

  • Download the content they are reading,
  • Get a free PDF or video course,
  • Get a discount coupon,
  • Contact the website,

Plus, many other actions… and that is why before you start creating any content you, must understand what your KPI is (key performance indicator).

You must know your KPI so you can measure the effectiveness of the content you are producing.

But, that is a bit advanced for this lesson, so let’s just say, content marketing is the sub category of digital marketing that is the act of creating content with the sole purpose of the reader taking an action on that content.

Social Media Marketing

So you know what social media is, the likes of Facebook and Instagram, Tik Tok, etc., and the digital marketing side of this is actually utilizing these kinds of platforms for marketing purposes.

Social Media Marketing

There are a few different ways that you can also use digital marketing on these platforms. One would be to use free methods, like content creation and videos, etc., and another would be to use paid advertising methods.

It is far better to be using social media to make money than spending your life scrolling through your feed.


PPC or Pay Per Click as it is also known is another sub-category of digital marketing and this is the act of creating, managing, and optimizing paid advertising on many of the different platforms and channels that allow adverting on them.

pay per click marketing or ppc

Some of the ones I use for PPC marketing include Google Bing, Yahoo, YouTube, and Facebook. When I place an ad on the likes of Google and someone sees the ad when they search for something, if they click on that ad I pay Google money, if they don’t click I don’t pay, hence pay per click.

Affiliate Marketing

This is what you have been looking for in the digital marketing vs affiliate marketing debacle. Yep, affiliate marketing is actually part of digital marketing, and just like the other things I have spoken about, it is just one sub category of it, but here is the beauty of affiliate marketing…

affiliate marketing category
It is the monetizing of a company’s products or services by recruiting people called affiliates to promote their products for them using digital marketing strategies like the things I have mentioned above.
  • These affiliate marketers (who you will potentially become) sign up to promote a product.
  • They then act as a salesperson for that product or service without being employed.

The difference also is this, they only make money if they make a sale, and also, they can sell pretty much any way they want.

This enables product owners to create huge armies of affiliates to promote products. It also enables YOU to find products that you love and promote them in any way you want.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is another area within the digital marketing landscape. And as the name suggests this has to do with how someone utilizes emails to build their business and make sales.

The idea is based on collecting email addresses of people related to your business niche and then emailing them with great informative emails, along with selling them on your products and services and potentially also products that you are an affiliate of.

using email marketing to build relationships is part of digital marketing

You have seen this pop up on this website here, this is used to collect email addresses. The premise is to swap real value for the email address and then build a relationship with that person.

Affiliate Marketing Breakdown

So finally we have gotten to the section that is related to affiliate marketing.

Already you have a good understanding of what digital marketing is, and you know that affiliate marketing is actually part of the digital marketing landscape.

So over the next few points what I want to do is I want to share with you exactly what affiliate marketing relates to you and how you can get involved in affiliate marketing.

affiliate marketing how to

Now just like I mentioned above when you become an affiliate marketer you will be utilizing digital marketing techniques to actually increase your affiliate marketing sales, so let’s get into what it actually is so you can understand it better.

How Does An Affiliate Marketer Make Money?

Basically an affiliate marketer is a person who advertises other people’s products for them, and in return that person (You) gets a percentage Commission of every single sale that is made.

Sounds pretty cool huh?

How to Become an Affiliate Marketer?

Basically if you want to become an affiliate marketer you should find a product that you know something about, this is the best way to start by the way… (products that you know about).

Then you would sign up for what is called an affiliate marketing program.

Now there are different things called affiliate marketing Networks, that basically have hundreds if not thousands of affiliate marketing products on them, I’ll get back to this in a moment…

You will sign up for the affiliate program of the product that you want to promote, and what you will be given is a unique link called an affiliate link or a Hoplink.

Affiliate Link

This is your unique identifier link that you place on the different digital marketing platforms like Facebook and Google on your website on Instagram and tiktok and if a person clicks on it and purchases from your link you make a sale.

Every single affiliate marketer has a unique affiliate marketing link, and every product that has an affiliate program has hundreds if not thousands of affiliates each with unique identifier links.

So once you have signed up for the affiliate marketing program, you will then go and save that affiliate link and make sure that you do not lose it. I prefer to make a list of all of the affiliate products I promote is a document called an asset register.

You can download an asset register template here to store your new affiliate marketing links… GET ASSET REGISTER TEMPLATE HERE

Here is an example of how I keep my affiliate details.

asset register download

But what if you don’t want to be an affiliate marketer, and actually want to become a person who recruits affiliates to promote your products… well then you would need to become a product owner.

Product Owner

If you want to utilize affiliate marketing from the other side what you need to do is have or create your own product.

When you do this, you can recruit people who will become affiliate marketers for your products. You will be called a product owner/product creator, or Merchant.

How to become a merchant/product creator?

A lot of times people will have a good knowledge of their marketplace and are able to then create things that other people want. This is basically what being a product creator is, creating something that has a demand in a market.

If you have the idea. Then you don’t even have to create it yourself, you can outsource it. I created a product in my market place about digital marketing and affiliate marketing called Beating the Giant. I have an affiliate program that affiliates sign up for to promote my product.

When an affiliate marketer makes a sale for me they make a commission from the sale of my product.

Beating the Giant Price $97
Commission 50%
= $48.50 per sale

Now while I created this product myself based on my own knowledge and experience, there are many sites that you can find people that are experts in product creation that you can hire to create your product, like:

  • Upwork.com
  • Freelancer.com
  • Rentacoder.com

And then when it is created you can use affiliate marketers to promote and sell your product…

A great place to find lots of affiliate products to promote, and even potentially add your new product to yourself are called Affiliate Networks.

Affiliate Networks

Earlier I spoke of affiliate marketing networks, these are places that people like you and me can go and sign up to. There are sometimes thousands of products on these networks that affiliate marketers can promote once they have signed up to these networks.

how affiliate marketing networks actually work

The most widely known example of an affiliate marketing network would be someplace like Clickbank (which is a digital marketplace), or CJ.com, which is a mix of physical and digital marketplace, where people can sign up and find products to promote.

Amazon itself is also a form of affiliate network, where you can sign up for their affiliate program and sell all of their products.

Digistore, Another one, that I use as a product creator is called digitstore24, they sell digital products, like beating the giant.

People can sign up to promote products via Digistore products by going to a link like this.


This is the link to promote the Beating the Giant product, which I recommend, obviously.

You can also cheak out the affiliate page with all of the resources to help you get started promoting and making profit.

Main Differences Between Digital and Affiliate Marketing

The main differences between digital marketing and affiliate marketing are this…

Digital MarketingAffiliate Marketing
Digital marketing is the act of actually doing things as an action, like doing social media marketing in the hope of achieving a result from it, like making sales. Affiliate marketing is the actual sales of the product itself, whether you are doing it, to make money or you are utilizing it to make sales of your own product.

Conclusion of Digital Marketing Vs Affiliate Marketing

So there you have it, digital marketing vs affiliate marketing. You now know that you need to do digital work to work with affiliate work, and vice versa. If you want to get involved in both of them, where I show you how to use digital marketing to promote affiliate products then let’s get you started…

Get free access to my training program, where you can learn how to go from zero to 5 figure months utilizing digital affiliate marketing, grab it in the sidebar there, enjoy.

PS: If you want a deeper look at affiliate marketing then check out my guide on what is affiliate marketing and how does it work which will bring you through everything you want to know.

About Ciaran Doyle

Hi, I'm Ciaran Doyle, I help ordinary everyday people escape the 9-5 and build a long-term sustainable business using the power of the internet. I hope you find what I am doing here interesting, if so, drop me a message and say hello. You can also check out my new Affiliate Marketing Training Course called Beating The Giant.

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