Digital Marketing vs. Affiliate Marketing: Which Is Better?


If you have ever browsed the internet, chances are you’ve come across these terms “Digital Marketing and Affiliate Marketing.” But what exactly do they mean?  It’s no hidden secret that both of these marketing strategies are constantly making waves in the online business world. 

These two approaches to promoting products and services each have their unique strengths and advantages, leaving entrepreneurs and marketers with the question: Which one is better?

In this inspiring article, we’ll break down the differences between digital marketing and affiliate marketing, and help you decide which route to take for your brand.

So, whether you’re an entrepreneur looking to promote your business or an aspiring marketer seeking the best path to success, join us as we delve into the world of marketing like never before!

What is Digital Marketing?

digital marketing
digital marketing

Digital marketing is all about promoting and selling products or services to potential buyers through digital channels such as search engines, websites, social media, email, and mobile apps. It encompasses various tactics aimed at attracting, engaging, and converting potential customers using digital technologies and data-driven insights.

With traditional marketing focusing on print ads, billboards, and TV commercials, digital marketing has revolutionized the way businesses promote their products and services. The possibilities are endless, thanks to the vast reach and accessibility of the internet. Today, businesses can connect with their target audience globally, transcending geographical boundaries.

Some key aspects of digital marketing include search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. I’ll be explaining each of these components for a better understanding.

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO involves optimizing a website’s content and structure to improve its visibility in search engine results. By targeting relevant keywords and providing valuable information, businesses can increase their organic traffic and enhance their online presence.
  • Social Media Marketing: Social media platforms have become hotspots for businesses to engage with their target audience. By creating engaging content, running paid advertisements, and interacting with customers, companies can build brand awareness, generate leads, and even drive direct sales.
  • Email Marketing: Despite being around for a while, email marketing still holds its ground. It involves using email campaigns to nurture leads, build customer relationships, and promote products or services. Personalization and segmentation of the email content can significantly impact its effectiveness.
  • Content Marketing: This approach focuses on creating and distributing valuable and relevant content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. Through blog posts, videos, infographics, and more, businesses can position themselves as industry experts and drive traffic to their websites.
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) Advertising: PPC advertising allows businesses to display ads to their target audience on various online platforms. Advertisers pay a fee each time their ad is clicked, ensuring their message reaches potential customers effectively.

With various tools and analytics at your disposal, you can track your campaign performance, monitor customer behavior, and also make data-driven decisions to optimize your marketing strategies.

Learn more about Digital Marketing here.

Who is a Digital Marketer?

A digital marketer is a professional who specializes in promoting products, services, or brands through various digital channels. They utilize a range of strategies and tactics to attract and engage target audiences, drive website traffic, generate leads, and ultimately convert them into customers.

A digital marketer’s role typically involves planning and implementing marketing campaigns across platforms such as websites, search engines, social media, email, mobile apps, and other digital channels. They analyze data, track metrics, and measure the success of their marketing efforts to optimize performance and achieve marketing goals. 

What is Affiliate Marketing?

affiliate marketing
affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing strategy in which individuals or businesses (known as affiliates) promote products or services of other companies. Essentially, it is a way for these affiliates to earn a commission for every sale or lead they generate through their marketing efforts.

The concept of affiliate marketing is quite simple. Affiliates sign up for affiliate programs offered by companies, and once approved, they receive a unique affiliate link or code. They then use various marketing techniques, such as content creation, social media promotion, or email marketing, to drive traffic to the company’s website. When a sale or lead is made through their affiliate link, the affiliate earns a percentage of the sale or a fixed commission.

One of the great things about affiliate marketing is that it allows virtually anyone to become an entrepreneur without needing their own product or service to sell. All you need is a passion for a particular niche, the ability to create engaging content, and the drive to build connections with your audience.

However, it’s important to note that affiliate marketing is not a “get rich quick” scheme. Like any other business endeavor, it requires time, effort, and dedication to become successful. Affiliates need to build trust with their audience, provide valuable content, and select products or services that align with their niche and target audience’s interests.

Read More: How To Start Affiliate Marketing For Beginners

Who is an Affiliate Marketer?

An affiliate marketer is someone who promotes products or services on behalf of a company and earns a commission for every sale or action made through their promotional efforts. Being an affiliate marketer means you don’t necessarily have to own a product or offer a service yourself, but rather become a bridge between customers and companies.

Affiliate marketers essentially act as brand ambassadors. They utilize various online platforms such as websites, blogs, social media, email marketing, or even YouTube channels to reach potential customers. By creating engaging content and strategically placing affiliate links within their promotions, they drive traffic to the company’s website or sales page.

What are the key differences between digital marketing and affiliate marketing?

differences between digital marketing and affiliate marketing
differences between digital marketing and affiliate marketing

Digital marketing and affiliate marketing are both forms of online marketing, but they differ in some ways. Here are some of the major differences between them;

1. Business Relationship

In digital marketing, businesses directly promote their own products or services to customers. In contrast, affiliate marketing involves a partnership between the business and independent affiliates who promote the products or services for a commission.

2. Targeting Approach

Digital marketing employs various techniques like SEO, social media targeting, and email marketing to reach and engage a broad target audience. Affiliate marketing relies on affiliates who have their own niche audiences and target specific demographics or interests.

3. Control 

With digital marketing, businesses have complete control over their marketing campaigns, messaging, and branding. In affiliate marketing, businesses rely on affiliates to create and distribute content, giving the affiliates more control over the messaging and approach.

4. Costs

Digital marketing often requires a significant investment in tools, advertising, and expertise. Affiliate marketing, on the other hand, is performance-based, meaning businesses typically pay a commission to affiliates only when a sale or desired action occurs.

5. Scalability

Digital marketing can scale quickly through paid advertising, as businesses can allocate larger budgets to reach a wider audience. Affiliate marketing’s scalability relies on building relationships with high-performing affiliates who can refer more customers over time.

6. Credibility and Trust

Digital marketing allows businesses to build direct relationships with customers, establish brand authority, and foster trust through content marketing and social proof. Affiliate marketing leverages the credibility and trust already established by affiliates within their niche.

7. Metrics and Measurement 

Digital marketing relies heavily on data collection and analysis to measure success through various metrics like conversion rates, click-through rates, and customer acquisition costs. Affiliate marketing focuses on tracking affiliate performance metrics such as conversions generated, sales made, or leads generated.

Which is Better; Digital Marketing or Affiliate Marketing? – Our Verdict

In the ongoing debate of “Digital Marketing vs. Affiliate Marketing,” it is important to recognize that both marketing strategies have their own unique strengths and advantages. The better choice ultimately depends on your specific goals, resources, and target audience. 

While digital marketing offers a comprehensive approach to reaching a wider audience and building a strong online presence, affiliate marketing focuses on leveraging the influence of your existing audiences and brands to generate sales more quickly.

Our Verdict? If you have a well-defined target audience and are looking for a scalable and cost-effective approach, affiliate marketing may be the better choice. On the other hand, if you aim to build a strong brand presence, and also engage directly with your audience, digital marketing may be the preferred option.

Ultimately, it’s important to assess your objectives, target audience, and available resources to determine the most suitable approach for your business. Better still, you can combine both strategies for an optimal result.


Which strategy offers better control over the marketing efforts?

In digital marketing, businesses have complete control over their marketing efforts. They can choose which channels to focus on, what content to create, and how to engage with their audience.

On the other hand, in affiliate marketing, the control lies in the hands of the affiliates who promote the products or services. While businesses can provide guidelines, they have limited control over how affiliates market their offerings.

Which strategy offers better scalability?

Digital marketing provides businesses with unlimited scalability. They can reach a global audience at any time, as long as they have an internet connection. With affiliate marketing, scalability depends on the number and effectiveness of affiliates. However, if businesses manage to build a strong network of affiliates, the potential for scalability is significant.

Which strategy is more cost-effective?

Digital marketing can be cost-effective, especially when compared to traditional forms of marketing. Businesses can choose to allocate their budget to specific channels or campaigns based on their goals and target audience.

On the other hand, affiliate marketing requires businesses to pay a commission to affiliates only when a sale is made. This means that businesses only pay for actual results, making it a potentially cost-effective option.

Which strategy offers better brand exposure?

Digital marketing allows businesses to create a strong online presence and establish their brand identity. With the right strategies, businesses can reach a wide audience and increase brand exposure significantly.

Affiliate marketing, on the other hand, relies on the network of affiliates to promote the brand. While this can lead to exposure among new audiences, it may not have the same impact as digital marketing in terms of brand building.

Which one offers better targeting options?

Digital marketing provides a wide range of targeting options, allowing businesses to reach specific demographics, interests, locations, and more. With tools like audience segmentation and advanced analytics, businesses can tailor their marketing efforts to reach the right audience at the right time.

Affiliate marketing, on the other hand, relies on the affiliates’ ability to target their own audience effectively. This can be beneficial if the affiliate has a highly relevant and engaged audience.

Which one offers better ROI?

Determining the better return on investment (ROI) between digital marketing and affiliate marketing depends on various factors, including your business objectives, industry, and target audience. Digital marketing provides measurable metrics and analytics that allow businesses to track their ROI accurately.

On the other hand, affiliate marketing offers a performance-based model where you pay only when a sale or lead is generated, potentially resulting in a higher ROI.


Regardless of whether you decide to go with affiliate marketing or digital marketing, your success is determined by how much effort you’re willing to put in. 

Maybe it’s through actively engaging with affiliates, creating captivating content, optimizing campaigns, or staying up-to-date with industry developments, embracing a proactive mindset and putting in the necessary effort will pave the way for long-term success and growth in your online marketing journey.


Are you a digital marketer, or an affiliate marketer? Kindly share your common experiences in this role below, so others can learn from it. 

About the author

Afenuvon Gbenga

Meet Afenuvon Gbenga, a full-time blogger, YouTuber, ICT specialist, tech researcher, publisher, and an experienced professional in e-commerce and affiliate marketing. Are you eager to kickstart your online business, then you're in the right place. Join us at techwithgbenga.com, where you'll uncover the insider secrets to starting and scaling a successful online business from the best!

Before blogging which started as a side project in 2019, Gbenga successfully led a digital marketing team for a prominent e-commerce startup. His expertise also extends to evaluating and recommending top-notch software solutions to boost your online business.


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  • I have been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never
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Afenuvon Gbenga

Meet Afenuvon Gbenga, a full-time blogger, YouTuber, ICT specialist, tech researcher, publisher, and an experienced professional in e-commerce and affiliate marketing. Are you eager to kickstart your online business, then you're in the right place. Join us at techwithgbenga.com, where you'll uncover the insider secrets to starting and scaling a successful online business from the best...

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