Two-tier programs exist in the minority of affiliate programs; most are simply one-tier. Referral programs beyond two-tier resemble multi-level marketing (MLM) or network marketing but are different: Multi-level marketing (MLM) or network marketing associations tend to have more complex commission requirements/qualifications than standard affiliate programs.[citation needed]

The success of an affiliate marketing strategy depends on how many referrals you’re able to send to merchant sites and how well these referrals convert (hence the bolding of these factors above). The more relevant and appealing the offers you highlight on your site, the higher both your click and conversion rates will likely be. If you’re running a travel blog, you probably don’t want to be featuring affiliate offers for baby products; replacing them with affiliate links to cruise packages would probably result in a higher referral rate.

Cost per click was more common in the early days of affiliate marketing but has diminished in use over time due to click fraud issues very similar to the click fraud issues modern search engines are facing today. Contextual advertising programs are not considered in the statistic pertaining to the diminished use of cost per click, as it is uncertain if contextual advertising can be considered affiliate marketing.

Website conversion is also a big issue. Affiliates often determine how much effort they will devote to promoting your product based on the Earnings per Click (EPC) that the merchant generates for them. This calculation is based on their commission rate and the conversion rate of your website. If you have a website that converts really well (gets people to make the purchase), you may be able to offer lower commission.


From time to time, we may impose limits on Associates’ opportunity to earn Standard Program Fees or Special Program Fees. For the avoidance of doubt (and notwithstanding any time period), Amazon reserves the right to discontinue or modify all or part of any limitation at any time. For Program Fee Limitations, please see the Appendix (“Program Fee Limitations”).


Affiliate marketing is commonly confused with referral marketing, as both forms of marketing use third parties to drive sales to the retailer. The two forms of marketing are differentiated, however, in how they drive sales, where affiliate marketing relies purely on financial motivations, while referral marketing relies more on trust and personal relationships.[citation needed]
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