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Tips & Guides — 27 Mar 2023

Top Affiliate Marketing Traffic Sources

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  • Affiliate Traffic Sources: 10 Paid and Organic Ways to Generate Traffic

Affiliate Traffic Sources: 10 Paid and Organic Ways to Generate Traffic

Affiliate marketing, aka performance or partner marketing, allows you to earn money while you advertise someone else’s website and products. 

Following in Amazon’s footsteps, most retailers, big or small, are offering performance-based marketing to improve their bottom line. It is becoming perhaps one of the most important branches of digital marketing. 

Your marketing strategy is dependent on the sources of your traffic. It’s important to optimize your strategy for high-quality traffic. Before you implement traffic driving tactics, though, it’s crucial to understand traffic sources.

Affiliate traffic sources

What is a Traffic Source?

A traffic source can be any platform that takes potential customers to the affiliate site, blog, or social media page. While it is recommended to have a website to send your traffic to, many affiliates and bloggers do work via their social media accounts.  

It takes time and money to develop traffic from any traffic source, and to ensure the incoming traffic is high-quality. Doing so, though, is what will lead to business success.

Types of Traffic Source

Traffic sources can be divided into two broad categories: Paid and organic.


Any traffic you get from direct marketing is paid traffic. It’s a result of a paid ad campaign or pay-per-click (PPC) ads. Paid campaigns are very effective in getting more visitors to your affiliate sites. Google Ads (formerly, AdWords) is the most popular paid traffic generator.

Paid traffic does have an initial cost attached, but it can help create brand awareness when you start working as an affiliate partner. You can make targeted campaigns and measure your advertising efforts via tracking tools to monitor things like cost per click (CPC), cost per action (CPA), and cost per thousand impressions (CPM). A statistical analysis can show if your paid marketing effort was worth it and you can tweak it accordingly.  


Organic traffic is free. Therein lies its biggest benefit. 

Organic search traffic most often comes from the unpaid section of a search engine’s search results. It can be a gold mine, because once you’ve optimized your website for Google search, you’ll find your conversion rates increasing. Content marketing and search engine optimization are time-consuming and labor intensive, but worth the trouble.

If you’re building quality content on your social media pages, or making videos and tutorials on YouTube, you not only gain followers but are also able to drive other organic traffic for an affiliate program

The major downside of organic traffic is that search engines and social media services often update and change their ranking algorithm, making it tough to keep up.

Affiliate traffic sources: Paid vs. organic

4 Considerations When Choosing a Traffic Source

Both paid and organic traffic have many options to consider. Take into account the four criteria listed below to decide where you would like to spend your time, money, and efforts.


  • 1

Every type of traffic has a certain cost. Whether that be upfront or ongoing.

Paid vs. Organic

Paid traffic is better if you’re looking for quick results, but organic traffic is more cost-effective. You can reduce the cost of a paid campaign by performing landing page optimization and testing elements like CTAs exhaustively.

The cost associated with organic traffic is usually related to outsourcing your SEO and social media marketing efforts. SEO tools cost money, too, so the method is not entirely free. Organic traffic is also time-consuming to earn, and time is money.


  • 2
    Amount and Quality of Traffic

Paid campaigns bring in short-term conversions, while organic traffic is great for long term ROI. Paid campaigns will only bring in traffic directly proportional to the budget invested. Organic traffic can keep highly qualified prospects coming in for years. 

Paid campaigns drive more initial traffic and immediate conversions, but investing your time and efforts in increasing organic traffic will pay dividends in the long term, especially by establishing brand authority. Organic reach typically brings in the best traffic.

No matter what kind of traffic you pick, tracking your results is essential to success. In order to get the most out of your data, you need to pick good affiliate tracking software. With good tracking software, you will be able to attribute your results accurately, see all your data and visualize it, and see what is working and what is not. If you are not sure what to look for and what features you need, check out our guide on picking the best affiliate marketing software for you.


  • 3

Every traffic source has guidelines and regulations. Google is especially strict about keyword stuffing and plagiarized content, for instance.

Paid traffic is limited by the number of characters in every ad campaign and also severely limited by your knowledge of the right keywords. Small mistakes can cost you dearly, and since you are limited by a budget, it is hard to compete with bigger players in the market.

  • 4
    Who it Reaches

Paid traffic can be targeted down to the most minute details. If you have information about your target audience, in terms of age, gender, location, etc., you can run ads specifically for that target group. 

Measure and track your organic traffic to know who your customers are. Use website traffic analysis tools to define your target audience. Once you have those parameters and demographics, you can target the right searchers or social media users.

Affiliate traffic sources

Top 7 Paid Affiliate Traffic Sources

These are a few of the best paid traffic sources available. All have some pros and cons, and some might suit your niche more than others.

Paid Search Advertising

You directly market your website on search engines. You only pay the search engine when someone clicks on your ad, and bid for keywords that you think will be in potential customerssearch queries

You’ll have traffic from people who are searching for popular keywords in your niche. Google Ads is most popular for PPC advertising, followed by Bing and Yahoo.

Contextual Advertising & Display Media Buying

Contextual advertising is also known as displaying banner ads on other ecommerce partner websites, chosen according to the content of the site. This is a great option for a performance marketing campaign. The ads are chosen by an automatic system and are shown to people who are interested in the affiliate program niche.

Native Advertising & Discovery Content

Native advertising is a subliminal digital marketing technique where the ad is integrated into the theme of the site. There are no distracting banners or pop-ups that can increase bounce rate. 

Native ads don’t cause a sense of rejection in readers and more intelligently drive traffic to your website. The engagement of users in the case of native ads is 40% higher than with conventional banners.

Social Media Advertising

You can pay social networks like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter to display your ads. When the user clicks on a Facebook ad, they’ll be directed to your Facebook page or website landing page.

Mobile Advertising

Mobile is the fastest growing traffic source, and mobile video advertising is dominating this sector of the advertising world especially, because of dedicated ad networks

Mobile users convert differently from desktop users, so make sure your banner ads on your website or other websites are optimized for mobile use. Mobile advertising is a cheaper ad spend but the returns are high.


Retargeting shows ads to leads and customers, but on third-party sites. It helps return a user who is familiar with your affiliate products and leads to high conversion rates with minimal effort.

Affiliate traffic sources: retargeting

Video Marketing

Just like social media sites, you can post ads on video platforms like YouTube and TikTok. Many influencers and affiliate marketers have YouTube videos related to the products they’re trying to market. They post ads directing people to these videos and later convince viewers to visit the merchant’s site.

3 Organic Affiliate Traffic Sources

Generating organic traffic might sound simple, but it’s a lot of hard work. Work that’s often worth it, however. 

Organic Search (SEO Traffic)

Search Engine Optimization allows you to appear at the top of search engine results. SEO takes into account the hundreds of variables on which your ranking is dependent. Optimizing your web content to satisfy the search engine algorithm can help you get lots of lovely, (essentially) free, targeted traffic.

Affiliate traffic sources: SEO

Social Media

Simply maintaining an engaging presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms can increase organic traffic to your affiliate site. If your content is noteworthy and engaging you’ll easily be able to convince people to click on your links. Social media campaigns increase brand awareness and consumer motivation. 

As well as Facebook pages, Facebook groups are also a free way to direct traffic to your affiliate website. Blogging on Facebook is free, and one of the best ways to reach some audiences. Younger demographics, though, are more likely to be found on TikTok or Instagram.

Email Marketing

Email marketing can be another useful free traffic source. Start building an email list, and send out weekly newsletters with built-in links to your affiliate site and other elements to promote your affiliate offers.      


Performance marketing is a tricky business. Choosing the right traffic source can change everything. You also need to pick the right referral marketing software. Whether your primary source of traffic is a search engine or a social network, paid or organic, make sure you dedicate enough time to your campaigns so you can later scale them up.

Study the metrics of every campaign, and use CPAPI to transfer data from all your marketing campaigns. Choose a mainstream network if you’re starting out and want to monetize your content. Organic traffic supported by paid website traffic is an ideal way to generate quick growth in traffic. You could also use Affise BI for managing unstructured data from all your marketing channels, especially Google Ads, and turning it into business insights.

Make sure, too, that your affiliate network is on Affise Reach, so you can be part of a global platform where brands and agencies meet, and learn marketing from the best in the business.

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Affise is a partner marketing platform for brands, advertisers and agencies to scale via all possible performance marketing channels. Synergy of technology and our long standing experience lets you expand your partnerships, automate every step of the campaign lifecycle and make data-driven decisions.

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