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9 Types of Affiliate Commission Models in Affiliate Marketing

In the realm of affiliate marketing, there’s no need for a one-size-fits-all approach. Embracing diverse affiliate commission models allows you to tailor incentives for your ambassadors according to the specific needs of your affiliate program.

Adopting the right commission model for your affiliate program will help you easily motivate affiliate partners and also achieve the desired outcome.

Explore different types of commission revenue models in this blog before deciding what is the right fit that will suit your peer recommendation marketing campaign.

Adopting different commission models to reward affiliates can streamline spending. Set commissions based on affiliate program requirements using Afflr.

What is an Affiliate Commission Model?

An affiliate commission model helps set the right commission rate for the affiliates associated with your affiliate marketing program. You can get the most out of your affiliate partnerships with a well-designed commission structure.

In affiliate marketing, a business recruits an affiliate to help them in their marketing efforts. Unlike traditional sales-focused approaches, the objectives extend beyond mere transactions. From driving traffic to encouraging sign-ups, installations, and subscriptions, this type of marketing embraces different outcomes to amplify brand reach and engagement.

Given the varied outcomes in this word-of-mouth marketing, selecting an affiliate commission model that aligns logically with the desired results is crucial. This ensures that referral partners are appropriately incentivized, receiving rewards that match their efforts and contributions to the affiliate program’s objectives.

Apart from selecting the appropriate affiliate commission model, setting the right commission rate is imperative. This can be determined based on the budget of the affiliate marketing campaign ensuring a reasonable return on investment.

1. Pay Per Sale

This affiliate revenue model stands as one of the most prevalent. Under this arrangement, affiliate partners receive a commission for the sales they generate.

These commissions are usually structured as either a percentage of the total order value or a predetermined fixed amount, established through an agreement between the business and ambassadors.

The benefit of this type of affiliate commission model is that payments are disbursed solely upon successful sales, rendering it a cost-effective spending approach.

This structure not only minimizes upfront costs but also aligns the interests of referral partners with those of the brand, encouraging them to drive high-quality leads and conversions.

2. Pay Per Lead

This is a type of affiliate commission model for which an affiliate is rewarded for bringing in new leads. A lead may not directly translate into a customer but represents a potential prospect requiring further persuasion.

Leads typically involve individuals who express interest in a business by sharing their contact information through form submissions, agreeing to demo calls, signing up for trials, or participating in surveys. By rewarding customer referral partners to cultivate such leads, businesses can significantly expand their network of potential clients.

This approach not only broadens the business’s reach but also nurtures relationships with prospects, increasing the likelihood of conversion in the future.

3. Pay-Per-Click

Affiliate marketers are paid every time their affiliate link is clicked in this type of affiliate commission model. The click doesn’t necessarily have to be followed by sales.

Unlike other affiliate commission models that prioritize conversions, this approach focuses on driving traffic to the business’s website or landing pages.

Since the desired action is simply a click, the commission rate for this type of affiliate commission model is typically lower compared to others. However, the ease of achieving a click makes it an attractive option for businesses seeking to increase their online visibility and expand their audience reach.

Using this model, businesses can enhance their brand exposure, attract potential customers, and ultimately improve their conversion rates over time.

4. Pay Per Impression

In this type of Affiliate commission model, affiliate marketers earn affiliate rewards based on the impressions garnered through their affiliate links.

Impressions means the total number of times the link is clicked, including both unique and repeat clicks. This type of affiliate commission model provides businesses with flexibility with commission rates, as the anticipated outcomes may be less predictable due to the nature of impressions.

This approach allows companies to manage costs while still rewarding customer referral partners to drive traffic and promote brand awareness.

5. Tier Commission

This affiliate commission model is also known as performance-based commission. You can increase the commission rate of the affiliate based on performance efficiency.

For example, consider the initial commission is set at 5% for the affiliate but after overall sales cross over $1000, the affiliate commission can be increased to 10%, and following $5000 sales it can be set to 15%.

This is a very efficient way of setting a commission rate as it keeps affiliate partners motivated to perform better at the same time commission rate grows proportionally to match what businesses earn.

Reward affiliates based on performance to motivate them. Afflr will help you structure the commission according to the affiliate efficiency.

6. Cost Per Action

Affiliate marketers receive compensation for each action taken by the customer that benefits the business, whether it be a sale, installation, sign-up, or any other desired outcome. This affiliate commission model offers referral partners numerous opportunities to earn income, as the potential outcomes are diverse and plentiful.

Businesses can further optimize this type of affiliate commission model by setting varying commission rates based on the specific action.

Utilizing an affiliate marketing app tailored for Shopify stores can greatly help the implementation of such structured commission rates, streamlining the management and tracking of affiliate activities.

7. Recurring Commission

In the recurring commission model, affiliate marketers receive commissions over an extended period depending upon specific conditions set by the business.

Typically, these conditions revolve around actions such as membership renewals, reorders, or other predefined criteria specified by the business. This model offers customer referral partners the opportunity to earn ongoing commissions as long as the conditions are met.

The recurring affiliate commission model encourages affiliate partners to prioritize quality referrals and maintain engagement with their audience, contributing to sustained growth and profitability for both brand ambassadors and the business.

8. Lifetime Commission

Under this affiliate commission model, affiliates receive ongoing commissions for as long as the customers they refer remain connected to the business.

This arrangement ensures a continuous stream of passive income for brand ambassadors, providing them with financial stability and long-term affiliate rewards. Brand collaborators are particularly drawn to this model.

This not only benefits affiliate marketers by guaranteeing ongoing earnings but also strengthens the business’s customer retention efforts and fosters loyalty within its customer base.

Overall, the longevity and reliability of this affiliate commission model make it a preferred choice for referral partners.

9. Multi-Level Marketing (MLM)

In this revenue model, the affiliate not only earns a commission on the sales they bring but also a certain share of the sales of the affiliates they recruit. This works in the hierarchy of a pyramid.

This affiliate commission model will encourage the brand ambassadors more as it has a huge scope for scalability. The affiliate marketers will not only work to pursue sales but also recruit more brand collaborators to add to your existing affiliate network.

This will help the business build a community and expand the reach of the business.

How to choose the right model for Affiliate commission?

To choose the right model for Affiliate commission, you ought to decide the anticipated outcome of the affiliate program and marketing budget you are going to work around.

You can consider the following steps before finalizing an affiliate commission model:

Goal: You can decide on the right commission model for your customer referral program depending on the result you are expecting at the end of the program. For instance, if you value the number of new members joining your team then you can motivate affiliate partners to bring more conversions by paying them using the Pay per install affiliate commission model.

Budget: Following the discussion about the goal of the customer referral program, decide on what part of the budget you are willing to part away from as commission for the affiliate. This will help you narrow down the right revenue rate and ultimately help you choose the right affiliate commission model.

Industry Standards: Some niches are more popular than others. Hence you must be aware of the popularity of your market, its size, and what your competitors are paying for the same marketing service. You can choose the affiliate commission model that can give you an edge over others in the industry.

Review and Reassign: In business, you, sometimes, don’t tend to make the right decision the first time. So, it would be wise to review the customer referral program regularly by tracking its performance using affiliate marketing apps and also feedback from affiliates to optimize the program and reassign the affiliate commission model or revenue rate.

Fix commission that aligns with the nature of your affiliate program, motivating affiliates while also maximizing benefits. Explore various commission models using Afflr.


Narrowing down the right affiliate commission model can make a huge impact on your marketing returns as well as appeal to affiliate marketers to be associated with you. It is one of the important elements to finalize before you begin your affiliate marketing campaign.

This blog provides you with a comprehensive guide on different commission models for affiliate programs that can help you make an informed decision.

Further Reading:

What is an affiliate commission?

An affiliate commission is a type of reward that a business pays to affiliates for promoting their products or services and driving sales or conversions through their referral efforts. The commission typically is a percentage of the sale or a fixed amount agreed upon between the affiliate and the merchant.

What is a good affiliate rate?

The good affiliate rate varies depending on factors like industry, product price, and profit margins. However, a good affiliate rate usually ranges from 5% to 30% of the sale value. You can choose from different affiliate models for commission and set affiliate rates accordingly.

How to calculate affiliate cost?

To calculate affiliate cost, multiply the total number of sales generated by affiliates by the agreed-upon commission rate. For example, if an affiliate generates 100 sales at a 10% commission rate for a product priced at $50 each, the affiliate cost would be 100 * $50 * 0.10 = $500.

How to set the commission rate?

To set the commission rate, consider factors such as the product’s profit margin, industry standard, and the value affiliates bring to your business. It should be competitive enough to attract brand collaborators while ensuring profitability for your business.

How are affiliates paid?

Affiliates are paid through various methods such as:
– PayPal
– Cash
– Gift cards
– Coupon

What is the affiliate fee model?

The affiliate fee model is a marketing model through which affiliates earn rewards or commissions in return for bringing sales or conversions for a business. There are various affiliate commission models through which the commission is determined based on the expected outcome of the affiliate program.

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