Affiliates and e-commerce stores write content to generate sales, but they both have to serve different audiences and steps in the customer journey. As a result, we tend to use both forms of content for lead generation and conversion, but with slightly different strategies in mind.

This article will explore the differences between both types of content and the best situations where each type of content is used.

What’s the Difference Between Affiliate and E-Commerce Content?

Bias

Affiliates can show up on Google or encourage people to share on social media when comparing two products or two brands. And, because the affiliate is a third party, it is considered “unbiased.”

On the other hand, an e-commerce store or service provider is seen as biased because they are the provider.

Copy and Reviews

Reviews on e-commerce sites share lots of information about the experience with a product, but they are from users and are generally short. However, they may add trust and close the deal as an affiliate review does.

Affiliate reviews are built with much more detail and have to fall into Google’s Quality Rating Guidelines E-E-A-T to build trust with both the visitor and the search engines. While a store has the product on hand, an affiliate has to demonstrate they know the product and likely own it. This includes:

  • Original photos
  • Non-manufacturer uses
  • Unique pros and cons that don’t exist elsewhere
  • Details about how long it actually lasts and the issues, which only someone who actually has the product or used the service will know

CTAs and Voice

A third difference when writing content for an affiliate site is that an affiliate needs to provide solutions. Once the affiliate website becomes an authoritative destination, they build a brand that readers will trust and shop with.

Affiliates and e-commerce stores may both write “how to” style content, but the e-commerce store tries to funnel traffic to their checkout, and affiliates need to get a user to subscribe and click through a link to shop. This means the calls to action and voice have to change.

Brand Restrictions and Legalities

One of my favorite parts of writing for affiliate websites is that the affiliate is not held back by red tape and brand restrictions. Of course, affiliates must follow the law, and if they want to build trust with consumers and become a destination, they also have to be honest. But they can say what defects exist, that there are better options, and affiliates can link to multiple vendors.

When a store or service provider writes website copy, they have to make sure the copy meets distributor and manufacturer standards. For example, they may not be able to say defects and downsides because of branding or legal team restrictions, and the copy has to go through a review process which can make the store last to market.

Flexibility

One final difference between affiliate content and e-commerce content is that affiliates have full flexibility.  When you’re an e-commerce store, you’re stuck with your page. So if there’s no space for video, you don’t get video.

Want FAQs because customers ask questions? Then, you have to build that in.

Affiliates have templates, but they are different from an e-commerce store.

If they want to add a video because it complements the content, works great for the niche on social media and YouTube, or can also be fed into TikTok and Instagram, they can do it.  It’s normally a direct embed or a simple plugin they can install.

In sum, this makes affiliate content richer and more engaging and gives affiliates more opportunities to drive traffic to their sites.

Pros and Cons of Affiliate and E-Commerce Content

One of affiliates’ biggest advantages is their its to be agile with content and publish quickly. That means they can piggyback off of Google News and trends and be first to market covering a topic, which is a great asset for an SEO campaign manager.

That freshness can get in front of people on social media much quicker than a brand waiting for 24 to 48 hours for approval. So while the brand is stuck on approvals, the affiliate could boost their post and gain attention.

Nevertheless, e-commerce copy is much easier to control because you’re focused on the products, topics, and personas reaching your store. When you’re an affiliate, you may see a shift in sales for new products or niches because Google showed your page for a month for a new phrase–which causes you to fall off track.

When you work for a store, you focus on the customers that keep you afloat. However, you can start down another path when you are an affiliate because you see success and go too far too fast. Once you do, you’ll focus on creating content that will cause more harm than damage.

Unfortunately, irrelevant content kills your readership because they came for the original topic, not the new one. You mess up your content silos which can take away from topical relevance, and once the spikes from that post fall–because Google’s algorithm changed–you’re left worse off than when you started.

What Do Affiliates and E-Commerce Stores Have in Common?

One thing both affiliates and e-commerce stores have in common is that they can both build backlinks easily. For example, affiliates can show their knowledge and expertise via in-depth guides and reviews, while brands can use a pitch about their years of experience with a niche, the topics they covered on their blogs, and how many customers they serve for backlinks.

Both build and show authoritativeness on various subject matters and can be critical in developing thought leadership content.

Additionally, affiliate and e-commerce content are similar because they both need to drive conversions.

One is a direct conversion into the shopping cart; another needs to convert the reader into a subscriber and get the person to shop.

In sum, both play a vital role in the customer journey when done correctly, requiring skill and art.

About the Author:

Adam Riemer is a marketing strategist with 20+ years of experience in both affiliate marketing and search engine optimization.  With a core focus on user experience, he helps all touch points in the sales journey for e-commerce, service providers, and publishers alike.

 

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