What’s the difference of Affiliate marketing and referral marketing?

When you look at both affiliate and referral marketing, you would easily spot its similarities. Some people think that they are the same but they aren’t. Let me tell you more about their difference that many people fail to spot.

A lot of businesses aim to drive more traffic to their website, they use affiliate and referral techniques in order to achieve this. Yes, both could achieve it but what are their differences?

The Difference Of Affiliate Marketing and Referral Marketing

Referral marketing has everything to do with word of mouth. In order to achieve this you have to make a good expression to your customers. What you’re aiming for here is for your customers to recommend you to their family and friends because you have made them happy.

Affiliate marketing is based on gaining financially. Advocates don’t necessarily know the customers they refer because they aim to promote the brand even if they haven’t tried it. They usually have unique links that they post with their promotion of your brand and the customer they are promoting it to clicks on that link and buy from there.

Whenever there are successful purchases the affiliate earns a commission.


Affiliates usually sign up from schemes that are dedicated to it that rewards them for every successful customer. They usually promote through emails, social media, and sometimes even their own website or blog. Every customer a brand receives from an affiliates link will be monitored until proven successful then the affiliate would be rewarded.

Referral marketing works by compiling customers that have been coming back and are more likely to invite their family and friends to try the products or services. Referrers are sometimes also called brand ambassadors, they are given a link that they could use when referring someone, and everything is tracked from that link. When they use the link and their friends sign up from that link then they get something in return.


  • Affiliates would only have to be paid when a sale was successfully made.
  • Affiliates have the ability to choose a marketing strategy that would work for them (Email campaigns, SEO, Social Media, etc)
  • Companies could have different affiliate partners to help them gain more customers.
  • Expenses when using this type of marketing strategy becomes low while it increases you sales.
  • When you use referral marketing, you are taking advantage of word of mouth. You are building a larger network from your customers that are satisfied with your product.
  • Statistics show that referred customers could hit a 60% mark.

Tips to Achieve Success

  • Don’t forget your target audience
    Make sure that your affiliates could meet your needs and that you both share the same type of audience in order for it to be more successful.
  • Make sure you are trustworthy
    Customers would have to trust your brand before promoting you. So make sure that being trustworthy is on the top of your agenda. Too many ads and promotions everywhere could lessen your trustworthiness.
  • Relevance is also important
    Online marketing could be moving and changing all the time, but you have to make sure that your promotions and advertisements are all relevant to each other. You also have to keep up to date with all your other previous sales and offers.
  • Customer
    You have to state the type of customers or target audience clearly in order to make the campaign or program more successful.
  • Give and Take
    The goal is to keep your customers satisfied, and in order to do that you should follow up whenever you offer any support before you ask the for help. When a customer is satisfied, it makes the chance of them to be more willing to help you out higher.
  • Give rewards
    When a person is satisfied with you, and you add rewards to your offer, it will just encourage them more to promote you. The more rewards you offer the more motivated your affiliates or ambassadors would be.


Affiliate marketing and referral marketing are two marketing strategies that people think are the same. As this post ends, I hope we have helped you understand more about how they are different but still both very effective marketing strategies.

5 Response to "What’s the difference of Affiliate marketing and referral marketing?"

  1. Comment From Karyl Thompson

    I have always thought affiliate marketing and referral marketing was the same. Thanks to this article I know better now.

  2. Comment From Dianna Courtney

    Thank you for the tips. Would definitely keep this in mind.

  3. Comment From Karl Rogers

    Good article. It’s simple but it’s built with information. I’m still starting my affiliate program and I would definitely follow this.

  4. Comment From Jenifer Cooper

    Good article. I have been following your blog posts and they are all filled with useful information.

  5. Comment From Joey Cruz

    I have been reading this blog for a long time already and never have I ever read anything bad or uninteresting. Good job!

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