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Affiliate Marketing vs. Digital Marketing: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 8, 2024
Affiliate marketing is promoting products for commission, while digital marketing encompasses all online marketing efforts, including affiliate marketing.

Key Differences

Affiliate marketing is a focused aspect of marketing where individuals or companies earn a commission for marketing another brand's products or services. It's a performance-based approach that relies on the promotion of products through various channels. Digital marketing, on the other hand, is a broad term that covers all marketing efforts using digital channels, including social media, email, search engines, and websites. It encompasses a wide range of strategies, including affiliate marketing as a subset.
In affiliate marketing, affiliates earn money by promoting products and driving sales or leads for a business. They use affiliate links, and their compensation is typically based on the performance of these links. Digital marketing, however, involves strategies to attract and engage customers through digital channels, which can include content marketing, SEO, PPC advertising, social media marketing, and more. It's not limited to performance-based results and often focuses on broader brand-building and customer engagement.
The primary goal of affiliate marketing is to generate sales or leads through affiliate promotions, with a direct emphasis on measurable outcomes. Affiliates are usually independent marketers or bloggers who leverage their audience to promote products. In contrast, digital marketing aims to build brand awareness, engage with customers, and drive sales through various online channels. It can target a wider audience and has goals beyond just sales, such as increasing brand loyalty and online presence.
Affiliate marketing mainly uses tools like affiliate links, networks, and platforms that track sales or leads generated by affiliates. Strategies often include content creation, like writing product reviews or creating promotional videos. Digital marketing, conversely, uses a broader set of tools like email marketing platforms, social media management tools, analytics, and SEO tools. It employs diverse strategies like social media campaigns, email marketing, content creation, and online advertisements.
The business model of affiliate marketing is based on a partnership between the affiliate and the business, where compensation is tied to performance. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship where businesses gain sales, and affiliates earn commission. Digital marketing is more comprehensive, encompassing various relationships between a business and its audience, other businesses, or marketing platforms. It includes strategies that may not be directly tied to sales but are crucial for overall digital presence and customer relations.

Comparison Chart


Promoting products for commission
All online marketing efforts


Narrow, focused on product promotion
Broad, covering all aspects of online marketing

Main Goal

Generate sales or leads
Build brand, engage customers, drive sales

Strategies and Tools

Affiliate links, networks, content creation
SEO, social media, email, content, analytics

Business Model

Performance-based commission
Diverse, not necessarily performance-based

Affiliate Marketing and Digital Marketing Definitions

Affiliate Marketing

Performance-based marketing of other brands.
He uses affiliate marketing on his website, earning each time someone buys through his links.

Digital Marketing

Strategies to market products/services online.
The company's digital marketing includes regular blog posts and social media updates.

Affiliate Marketing

Earning by generating sales or leads for others.
His affiliate marketing strategy involves sharing product links on his YouTube channel.

Digital Marketing

Using digital media for marketing purposes.
Their digital marketing efforts include targeted Google ads and influencer collaborations.

Affiliate Marketing

Commission-based online product promotion.
Her affiliate marketing income comes from fashion product endorsements on social media.

Digital Marketing

Building online brand presence and interaction.
Digital marketing helped them increase online engagement through content marketing.

Affiliate Marketing

Promoting third-party products for a profit.
Through affiliate marketing, she reviews gadgets and links to online stores.

Digital Marketing

Online tactics to attract and engage customers.
They boosted sales using digital marketing tools like SEO and email campaigns.

Affiliate Marketing

Marketing products/services for a commission.
She earns through affiliate marketing by promoting skincare products on her blog.

Digital Marketing

Promoting brands through digital channels.
Their digital marketing strategy includes a strong social media presence.


What are key tools in digital marketing?

SEO, social media, email, content, and analytics.

How do affiliates earn money?

Through commissions from sales or leads they generate.

Is affiliate marketing part of digital marketing?

Yes, it's a subset of digital marketing.

What is affiliate marketing?

Promoting products/services for commission.

What's crucial for successful affiliate marketing?

Effective promotion and a good audience reach.

What does digital marketing encompass?

All marketing efforts using digital channels.

Can digital marketing exist without affiliate marketing?

Yes, digital marketing includes many other strategies.

What role does content play in digital marketing?

It engages and informs the audience, driving interaction.

Can digital marketing be done offline?

No, it's exclusively online.

Can digital marketing increase brand loyalty?

Yes, through consistent engagement and content.

How does digital marketing attract customers?

Through engaging content, SEO, social media, etc.

Are affiliate marketers company employees?

No, they are usually independent promoters.

What’s a key benefit of affiliate marketing?

Cost-effective promotion with performance-based pay.

Is affiliate marketing suitable for all businesses?

It works best for products/services with broad appeal.

Can affiliate marketing be a full-time job?

Yes, for successful affiliates with large followings.

How does digital marketing support sales?

By driving traffic, generating leads, and building brand.

How do SEO and email fit into digital marketing?

They enhance online visibility and direct engagement.

What skills do affiliate marketers need?

Marketing, content creation, and audience building.

Why is analytics important in digital marketing?

For measuring campaign effectiveness and ROI.

How do businesses track affiliate performance?

Using affiliate links and tracking platforms.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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