Partner Marketing Vs. Affiliate Marketing: What’s The Difference Between The Two?

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Partner Marketing vs. Affiliate Marketing: What’s the Difference Between the Two?

Companies have been looking to proactively promote their services and products for thousands of years, and that trend remains the same today. As a matter of fact, businesses are constantly looking for innovative channels to advertise their solutions today, which is one of the reasons why digital marketing has gained so much popularity. That said, there are many types of online marketing and some of them are often mistaken for one another, like partner marketing and affiliate marketing.

While both of these techniques pre-date digital marketing, they are two of the preferred promotional methods used by companies across the globe. That said, it’s important to understand their definitions, how they work, and the differences between the two in order to choose the best alternative.

At lemonads, we’ve connected countless marketers with leading companies across numerous industries, so we’re very familiar with the different types of promotional techniques available today. In this article, we’ll discuss the definitions of partner marketing and affiliate marketing. We’ll also compare the two and give you advice on choosing the best one for your business.

Defining Affiliate Marketing

Before discussing the difference between partner and affiliate marketing, we need to understand the basics of each one. Affiliate marketing is a type of promotion where companies (advertisers) rely on independent marketers to help them promote their products and services.

The independent marketers, known as affiliates, don’t work under the advertiser’s supervision, so they choose how to promote the goods. That said, remember that affiliates always have to adhere to the rules set forth by advertisers in order to claim commissions for the work they do.

Affiliates focus on generating conversions, which consist of specific actions that advertisers want users to take. For example, some affiliate programs only require that marketers collect email addresses to receive payouts. In other cases, affiliates may have to generate sales in order to collect a commission. Again, these requirements are set by the advertisers and they appear in the affiliate program, which also contains all other details that marketers need to generate valid conversions.

Who Are the Stakeholders in Affiliate Marketing?

The affiliate marketing ecosystem is home to a huge collection of stakeholders, but not all of these participate in every single affiliate program there is. Above all else, affiliate marketing is flexible, which means that it can be adjusted according to your specific needs.

That said, there are usually four main stakeholders that participate in almost every single affiliate relationship, so understanding the role that each one plays will help you achieve success later on.

In affiliate marketing, the stakeholders that almost always play a role are:


As with traditional marketing, consumers are the most important variable in the affiliate ecosystem because they help define virtually everything about the promotional materials being developed. For example, consumers help define the best time to run ads, the content that appears on them, and the channel through which the campaigns are launched.

The most important thing to understand about consumer trends is that they are constantly changing, which means that affiliate marketing requires constant research as well as data analysis. Just make sure that you have a reliable tracker in place to collect accurate and updated information about your potential customers.


Advertisers are the companies looking to promote their products and services. Furthermore, advertisers are also the stakeholders that create affiliate programs, which are agreements that contain all of the details that affiliates need to generate conversions and get paid for them. Remember, advertisers can be in any business because affiliate marketing is extremely versatile and is suitable for almost all verticals.

Although they don’t attempt to attract customers by themselves, advertisers need to pay close attention to consumer trends to make sure that the affiliate program is properly set up. For instance, if you’re an advertiser that has experienced a sudden boost in product demand, don’t be afraid to increase payouts slightly to increase your revenue.

Affiliate Marketers

Affiliate marketers are independent promotion specialists that help advertisers connect with consumers. Simply put, affiliates can leverage any digital marketing channel to promote the advertiser’s products or services, as long as the platform is allowed in the affiliate program.

There are many types of affiliates including media buyers, publishers, influencers, and more, but all of these specialists strive to create lasting bonds with the audience by gaining their trust. Moreover, there are countless affiliate marketers out there, so you need to make sure that you partner with an expert that has a proven track record in your industry and enough experience to launch a campaign unsupervised.

Affiliate Networks

An affiliate network is a platform that specializes in helping advertisers promote their affiliate programs and find the top marketers in their industries. Rather than having the advertiser invest its internal resources, affiliate networks relieve pressure by managing the entire affiliate program, from the affiliate selection to the payout process and everything in between.

It’s important to understand that some advertisers choose to manage their own programs, so networks are not always part of the ecosystem. That said, most companies, as well as affiliates, are opting to work with networks because these provide an additional layer of security while simplifying the process for everyone involved.

What’s Partner Marketing?

Partner marketing is a form of promotion where two advertisers form a partnership that helps both of them achieve their goals. Rather than working with someone in the same industry, most partner marketing ventures involve two companies that are not in the same vertical but share some sort of similarity, even if it’s just the audience they target.

Despite the fact that one of the stakeholders in partner marketing may be an advertising specialist, this approach doesn’t usually involve a promotion specialist. Instead, the marketing team of each partner works together to develop a joint campaign, which is then launched individually by each business through independent channels.

Who Are the Stakeholders in Partner Marketing?

Unlike affiliate marketing, partner marketing usually features two single stakeholders, which are the businesses that are joining to develop the promotional campaign. In most cases, these two businesses join forces in the name of a cause, whether it’s a social goal or purely marketing venture. This means that both stakeholders have control over the content being developed, which results in both companies sharing the spotlight equally.

Advertisers and Partners

Remember, partnership marketing projects are usually one-time, short-lived promotional campaigns that consist of two main advertisers. In a few select cases, you may also find partner marketing campaigns with one main advertiser and one or more partners promoting their services or collaborating on the project. That said, there are always at least two parties and both of these invest resources into developing superb marketing materials.

Partner Marketing vs. Affiliate Marketing: What’s the Difference Between the Two?

Understanding the Difference Between the Affiliate Marketing vs. Partner Marketing

Now that we’ve discussed the definition of each, let’s go over the difference between affiliate marketing and partnership marketing.

Even though both of these rely on collaboration, affiliate marketing is a promotional approach that involves one advertiser and one or more affiliates. The affiliates work on promoting the advertiser’s products and generate conversion in order to get paid a commission for each individual interaction.

Partner marketing, on the other hand, consists of two advertisers that want to promote their individual services or products (or branding!) through one single promotional campaign. Rather than hiring each other, these two advertisers collaborate and invest resources into developing joint campaigns that are then distributed through independent channels.

Which One Is Better for Your Business?

One of the most important things you should remember when choosing the best type of marketing for your business is that every company is different. There is no one-size-fits-all solution or exact formula for success. Instead, you need to analyze your target audience and the resources you have available to determine the best plan for your business.

With the above in mind, more and more companies are opting for affiliate marketing because it provides a set of great benefits that range from granular control to cost-effectiveness and scalability.

Some of the benefits of developing an affiliate program for your business include:

Controlled Risks

Launching an affiliate program is regarded as a low-risk move because advertisers only pay when marketers generate conversions. Advertisers decide what they want to consider a conversion. This means that you can launch a campaign to collect leads from a certain location or demographic and only pay your affiliates whenever they generate a potential customer.

Suitable for All Industries

Today, affiliate marketing is used by 4 out of every 5 businesses on a global scale, making it one of the most popular forms of advertising in the world.

The reason for this is that affiliate marketing is compatible with all industries, including B2C as well as B2B specialties. Consumers are used to turning to the internet to find the best products and services regardless of what they are looking for, which makes affiliate marketing one of the most effective methods available.

Proven Form of Advertising

Affiliate marketing has been around for decades, pre-dating the existence of the internet by at least 50+ years. In simple terms, affiliate marketing is one of the oldest forms of promotion and the reason it’s been around for so long is that it’s effective. If you want to find out more about affiliate marketing or developing a program for your business with the help of a network, contact lemonads today.

Want to Start Your Own Affiliate Program? Get in Touch with lemonads Today

There are many forms of marketing you can opt for, but not many provide the same combination of performance and cost-effectiveness as affiliate marketing. With that in mind, you should take the time to understand all the types of marketing at your disposal.

We hope that our article above clearly explains the difference between partner marketing and affiliate marketing and that it helps you make a better choice for your business.

To learn more about starting your own affiliate program, contact lemonads today and we’ll be glad to help.

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