Monday , 20 September 2021
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Affiliate marketing verticals

Even if you’ve got into affiliate marketing only recently, you’ve probably encountered the term “verticals”. Many newcomers think that the definition of “vertical” is choosing a niche. A once-in-a-lifetime decision. If you start working with nutra offers, you’ll never be able to switch over to sweepstakes.

But that’s not at all true. And most affiliates not only know the inner workings of different verticals but also work in multiple ones simultaneously. Though, that doesn’t mean you can’t be more efficient when specializing on a specific one, and a considerable part of our sector’s specialists work purely within their favorite niche.

We finally decided to dot the i’s. And break down both the meaning of the term “vertical” and the principle behind the market subdividing into similar elements. And most importantly, we’ve prepared an overview of the most popular affiliate marketing verticals in 2021.

What are affiliate marketing verticals

Almost every business out there has its own verticals. Using this type of division model lets you single out clear and structured niches, making working with them easier. How so? Like this:

  • the vertical allows you to focus your attention around a certain category, which means that you can study all the techniques and development mechanisms inherent in this area. After all, you won’t have much luck selling cars based on the principles used to sell chocolate;
  • reducing the level of potential competition.  Your main competitors are other car-dealers, not just anyone who sells goods or services;
  • more effective opportunities for delivering information to the client. After all, they themself will look for information in a certain vertical, as opposed to just scouring the entire market.

At the same time, there is also a horizontal subdivision, by which we mean people with the same income level. And it doesn’t matter that the person wants to buy a garage, let’s offer them a laptop! Sounds silly, right? That’s why dividing the market into verticals, or niches, characterized by the promotion of goods or services of a similar nature is currently the most effective model.

Verticals are even more important when it comes to affiliate marketing. Since without them, it would be impossible to single out individual effective methods, bundles or tools. And the users themselves would be worse off getting irrelevant ads instead of something they’re genuinely interested in.

What’s also important is that affiliate marketers often pick out 2-3 niches that they’re comfortable working in. They study all the main factors, their potential target audience, suitable GEOs and average campaign budgets. They use that to create their own work models that are called affiliate strategies. And use them to design all subsequent ACs, creating them according to the same formula. There are only a couple of changes that are needed to personalize the offer for the client.

Can you switch over to other verticals? Sure, no problem. At first, you will have to adapt to new bundles and even market laws, but an experienced affiliate will easily pass such a test. Actually, many affiliates have tried out all kinds of verticals over the years.

But it isn’t as simple for a beginner. After all, they need to find some place to start. And here it is important to take into account everything from personal skills to the AC budget size, to the GEO, to the offers that suit the chosen vertical. Which is why we recommend you approach the matter of choosing your first niche very seriously. We wrote a whole article about the first steps in affiliate marketing, you are advised to read it.

List of affiliate marketing verticals

There’s actually no strict classification. Which is why any area, any niche that grows to considerable sizes is often granted the status of vertical. While some categories are grouped into one vertical. For example, we can technically count offers that drive traffic to game design Patreon accounts that develop eroge demos as a separate niche. But why do that when there’s an entire gaming vertical? That’s why for the purposes of this review we’ll take a look at the most popular verticals as well as a few new ones that have unexpectedly made a lot of noise in 2021.

E-commerce

E-commerce
E-commerce

One of the most popular verticals this year. This is due to large trade brands increasing their online presence as well as them “getting rid” of their competitors. In its region, Amazon strangled hundreds of projects similar to itself, while Aliexpress and similar Asian companies smashed the cheap goods market to pieces.

Basically, e-commerce is the agent-performed sale of goods from large and middle-level brands. By promoting your AC you seduce the buyer with how lucrative the purchase is and redirect them to the service’s landing page, be it about airline tickets or  Aliexpress jewelry.

But if we are talking about small firms that sell non-widespread goods that are unique for their segment (more due to them not being promoted as much, rather than to their cool content), then it’s closer to the commodity market. Think of it as a separate vertical or just a category of e-commerce. And another important feature is that e-commerce is a strictly white-hat affiliate marketing niche.

  • how difficult it is to start – technically, not at all hard. But you need to know the market well, as well as your target audience. So – average level difficulty;
  • relevance – given the sheer number of the goods and services being offered, there’s always demand. But when working with a specific category, say, fishing-related goods, you’ll have to play around the demand levels that will fluctuate depending on the specific period. Meaning it’s best not to focus on just one area;
  • target audience – depends entirely on the offer. But according to statistics, the main users of such websites are people from 25 to 35 years old, they make up over 50%;
  • cost of traffic – you will mainly need premium and expensive white-hat traffic. But again, it depends on the offer. You can also drive traffic to Aliexpress from India at the lowest click price;
  • main traffic sources – SEO, ANs, social media;
  • offers – strictly white-hat;
  • payout models – the CPA model is the usual choice here. But more frequent is its CPS/PPS category;
  • GEO – depends on the brand. The traffic you drive to Amazon should all be TIER 1 – the US, Canada and the main countries of Europe. Taobao will also except traffic from Asia or the CIS region.

Nutra (health and beauty)

Nutra
Nutra

Various immune system-enhancing, health and beauty care products and often decorative cosmetic products. The vertical’s distinctive feature is that such goods rarely have counterparts in the face of brands. At the same time nutra products aren’t medical drugs as one might think. It’s often considered a somewhat gray-hat vertical. Because there’s rarely any proof of the effectiveness of these remedies.

At the same time, storytelling is usually the preferred promotion method, being one of the most effective tools for specifically this vertical. It should separately be noted that the payouts here are usually quite large. But this is due to the whole treatment course costing the client a pretty penny.  Which means the affiliate will have to put in considerable effort, they’ll also need some experience working in this sector as well as a high level of competence.

  • how difficult it is to start – you’ll need a decent budget and affiliate marketing experience, level – normal/difficult;
  • relevance – the pandemic resulted in a surge in demand, all sorts of immune system-enhancing products are just flying off the virtual shelves;
  • target audience – the bulk of the audience (up to 75%) are people over 35. But there’s also men and women aged 25-35;
  • cost of traffic – usually the ideal choice is white-hat TIER 1 traffic, expensive;
  • main traffic sources – SEO, emails ads, ANs, social media and contextual ads often ban nutra ads;
  • offers – mostly gray-hat, but there’s also plenty of white-hat ones;
  • payout models – CPS/PPS;
  • GEO – Australia, USA, Canada, UK, Germany and France. Some offers allow TIER 2 traffic.

Sweepstakes

Sweepstakes
Sweepstakes

Sweepstakes are one of the oldest affiliate marketing verticals. It includes two categories. The first is a contest used to collect user data. In other words, only the latter have value. Later, that data will be used to send target ads to the user. The second are genuinely different kinds of sweepstakes, which give off a certain “gambling vibe”. But the main prizes aren’t just money, rather it’s various devices: smartphones, laptops, gaming consoles, accessories, etc.

This vertical is relatively easy to learn and is moderately relevant. Not the brightest crayon in the box, but at almost all times it manages to satisfy the needs of gamblers. We all love to win, and the person is still 100% guaranteed to win on the landing page.

  • how difficult it is to start – easy;
  • relevance – average, not as relevant as the most popular affiliate marketing verticals, but still is somewhat stable;
  • target audience – such offers mainly attract teenagers and young people aged 15-25, there’s also a “senior” audience (45-60);
  • cost of traffic – driving traffic from TIER 2 or even TIER 3 countries to such offers is more than reasonable, meaning the cost of traffic is low. But driving TIER 1 traffic will also get you higher rewards;
  • main traffic sources – ANs, email ads;
  • offers – mostly gray-hat;
  • payout models – SOI/DOI and sometimes CC;
  • GEO – almost any.

Installs (mobile apps)

Installs
Installs

A relatively young vertical that started gaining ground only during the past 5 years. The offers are often a way to promote an app, software, that have both free and paid features. The advertiser’s link often sends the user to the PlayMarket. But this is the case if we talk about white-hat offers. Sometimes, the offers can be more than gray-hat, in which case the user downloads the app from a separate website.

Technically, this affiliate marketing vertical is closely connected to the gaming one, with the largest category within the latter being none other than smartphone apps. In all other aspects, these two are quite similar. Though, these apps are rarely used for entertainment, but rather for work or the purpose of facilitating mundane tasks. That’s why the audience here is a bit unique.

how difficult it is to start – if you don’t have any experience working with regular gaming offers, you’ll have a hard time here. The entire AC should be tailored specifically for a mobile audience and not every affiliate is used to that;

  • relevance – high;
  • target audience – apps are mainly downloaded by women (up to 70%). For gray-hat offers, the target audience is over 30, for white-hat ones – 15-30;
  • cost of traffic – there are rarely any strict traffic requirements from advertisers, meaning the traffic isn’t too expensive;
  • main traffic sources – In App networks and ANs, for white-hat offers – search engines;
  • offers – примерно пополам серые и белые;
  • payout models – various models, but in 80% of cases, it’s CPI;
  • GEO – any.

Gambling/Betting 

Gambling and betting
Gambling and betting

Gambling rules the world. Popular Vegas casinos will always attract thousands of clients. Nothing seduces people as effectively as a chance to make serious bank. And that’s the reason gambling and betting establishments will continue to prosper. These are various online casinos or similar services camouflaged as something more legal or innocent. Over the past 5-6 years betting websites, that let users bet on sporting events, have also been gaining ground. Moreover, they cover both traditional sports and events and exotic ones, say, women’s volleyball in Zimbabwe. Some websites even allow users to place bets on the outcomes of popular TV shows.

Cybersport deserves to be mentioned separately, as it’s currently on the rise. And these events are also something people bet on.

how difficult it is to start – difficult, there’s plenty of offers but they usually have serious requirements. Plus, the topic itself demands the affiliate to not only understand affiliate marketing, but human nature as well. Not to mention the “salesman” skills needed to convince people to perform the target action (which is making a considerable-size deposit);

  • relevance – average level;
  • target audience – mainly TIER 1 and 2;
  • cost of traffic – slightly above average;
  • main traffic sources – ANs, emails ads, SEO;
  • offers – the niche is predominantly filled with gray-hat offers;
  • payout models – the most popular model is payment per deposit, but affiliates (understandably) prefer RevShare, in which case they receive a lifetime cut of the profits the establishment makes off the attracted client;
  • USA, UK, France and Germany. Also popular in the CIS region.

Adult

Adult
Adult

This is both a vertical and a category. There are purely adult websites, usually in the form of video databases or video-sharing services. They offer paid subscriptions or sell files directly. Or they might be conventionally free and offer VIP features, like the sector’s undisputed juggernaut – Pornhub.

As a category, adult overlaps dating, gaming and several other verticals. It can also be sub-categorized into webcam and livecam. Currently, resources that allow users to directly trade 18+ content by paying to subscribe to specific models. Something like OnlyFans.

The adult vertical is multi-faceted and always relevant. In fact, it’s the most popular vertical on the market.

  • how difficult it is to start – relatively easy for a basic AC, but certain categories will be too tough to crack for affiliates with no experience. For example, adult gaming;
  • relevance –  highly relevant at any given time period. In 2021, even more so that in previous years;
  • target audience – 80% male, the offers most often target people between 25 and 45. This is the “tastiest” segment, the one that’s willing to pay;
  • cost of traffic – depends on the offer. But more than half of advertisers want to work exclusively with TIER 1 countries. But there’s still more than enough offers aimed at cheap traffic;
  • main traffic sources – ANs, SEO, while social media and search engine traffic is usually restricted;
  • offers – 90% likely to be gray-hat;
  • payout models – most often SOI/DOI, the occasional PPL, as well as the general CPA option (the target action usually being purchasing VIP access);
  • GEO – mostly TIER 1 countries, but around 40% of offers also accept traffic from other regions, including India and Africa.

Dating

Dating
Dating

Dating implies, obviously, various dating websites. They are conventionally subdivided into mainstream and adult ones, with the sector’s offers being split practically equally between the two. The line between mainstream and adult is often incredibly thin. And some offers even design 4-5 landing pages depending on what the incoming client is expecting to receive. This means the affiliate will also have to pick out creatives of all sorts of levels. For Facebook, something innocent, no erotica, for a specialized AN, the most provocative fantasy-arousing ads you got.

Dating services are widespread in almost all countries. Promoting such websites is often too difficult for local advertisers alone. These are serious projects, meaning the clients need to be appropriate. While you can maybe sometimes sell your TIER 2 traffic, few offers accept users from TIER 3 countries.

  • how difficult it is to start – pretty difficult, newbies should go for simple offers without additional requirements;
  • relevance – high;
  • target audience – 75% male, 25% female. Around 50% aged 20-30. Also, males aged 45-60 make up around 20% of the audience;
  • cost of traffic – above average;
  • main traffic sources – social media, ANs, email ads;
  • offers – mainly white-hat;
  • payout models – SOI/DOI, CPI for dating apps, CPA for websites with paid subscriptions or VIP access;
  • GEO – almost all of Europe + USA, Australia and Canada.

Gaming

Gaming
Gaming

This is one of the most popular affiliate marketing verticals. If the industry’s heavy-hitters were widely promoted via affiliate marketing, this vertical would be an undisputed leader. After all, as of today, over 2 billion people play some form of games.

Naturally, most full-fledged desktop games are promoted through their own ad campaigns and by purchasing traffic from top-level influencers. But as for mobile gaming, indie projects as well as adult games – there’s plenty to go around.

At the same time the gaming vertical can boast decent payouts, but the requirements are also high. , Unless we’re talking about adult content, any non-white-hat promotion methods are off limits.

  • how difficult it is to start – difficult, you need to have experience both in the field and understand the gaming environment;
  • relevance – high;
  • target audience – the audience is mainly 15-20 years old – almost half of the market. But there’s plenty of solvent adults too;
  • cost of traffic – high;
  • main traffic sources – ANs, In App, SEO, AdSense and social media;
  • offers – mainly white-hat;
  • payout models – CPA, CPI, CPS;
  • GEO – TIER 1, except for adult offers.

Finances

Finances
Finances

Affiliate marketing verticals usually incorporate multiple categories. But they rarely differ drastically from each other. Unless we’re talking about the finances vertical. After all, some offers are serious broker and investment projects, dealing centers and banks. They all offer money management services, deposits or secured loans. And the deposits here are usually very large, so the rewards are appropriate.

The other half are microloan organizations. Small “until the next paycheck” loans at an insanely high interest rate but otherwise practically condition-free. No credit history, no guarantors. And these are the offers that focus on TIER 3 audiences, meaning the rewards will also be significantly lower.

  • how difficult it is to start – average level;
  • relevance – average, has been increasing since 2019;
  • target audience – wealthy clients aged 25 to 45 for the first category and almost anyone for the second;
  • cost of traffic – again, either premium traffic, either really the cheap kind;
  • main traffic sources – social media, SEO, ANs;
  • offers – almost all offers are entirely legal, no violation;
  • payout models – payment for a deposit or for the purchase of loan services;
  • GEO – TIER 1 for the first category, TIER 3 for the second.

Traveling

Traveling
Traveling

A vertical that was popular in the past and that in 2021 is regaining lost ground. As more and more countries reopen their borders, people, longing for rest and tourism, are in a frenzy to travel to foreign countries. Not to imply that their own country’s resorts remain deserted.

The core of this affiliate marketing vertical are services that sell airline tickets, city tours, manage intercity transportation, book hotels and provide tourist guides. Meaning you need to really dive into the topic, otherwise your bland landing pages and creatives won’t be enough to attract a seasoned traveler.

  • how difficult it is to start – average level, you need to study the sector;
  • relevance – currently, around average;
  • target audience – mostly women from 25 to 45 years old, a large percentage are family men, as well as constantly traveling businessmen aged 30-45;
  • cost of traffic – high;
  • main traffic sources – ANs, social media, email ads;
  • offers – white-hat;
  • payout models – mostly PPS and CPA, but you may stumble upon offers with CC;
  • GEO – USA, key European countries, Australia and Canada. The vertical is also popular in the CIS region and a couple of Asian countries.

Home improvement

Home improvement
Home improvement

Since the end of 2019 up till now, many affiliate marketing verticals have seen their status elevate. And this is one of them. What used to be a mere category has since become insanely popular due to the pandemic. It’s only natural that billions of people that were forced to stay home started looking for something to occupy their time. After all, decorating one’s home or fixing up the place is something we all ​​usually postpone until “better times”. And social isolation turned out to be those better times. And even after things returned to normal, people just couldn’t leave their home-decor endeavour half done.

  • how difficult it is to start – easy to get started;
  • relevance – high;
  • target audience – mostly women from 30 to 55 years old. As for men, the audience ranges from 40 to 55. But there’s also plenty of 20-30 year olds, both male and female;
  • cost of traffic – high;
  • main traffic sources – ANs, social media;
  • offers – white-hat;
  • payout models – CPA, CPS;
  • GEO – USA – absolute #1, closely followed by Canada and Australia. In Europe, first place goes to the UK, then Sweden, Norway, France and Germany.

Astrology

Astrology
Astrology

This vertical is still a bit green behind the ears. Yes, there have always been many channels used to promote various horoscopes, services that predict the future, financial forecasts and relationship tips.  But using affiliate marketing for promotional purposes is a relatively new feature. With the advent of individual foretellers who are promoting themselves using social media.

Basically, this sector is aimed at a naive and impressionable target audience, so you can’t really say that demand is through the roof. But competition isn’t as stiff as in, say, gambling. But, accordingly, there aren’t too many offers either, keep that in mind.

  • how difficult it is to start – easy;
  • relevance – compared to other verticals – low;
  • target audience – mainly women aged 30-55, and males aged 25-40;
  • cost of traffic – average;
  • main traffic sources – social media;
  • offers – gray-hat;
  • payout models – CPA;
  • GEO – mostly TIER 2 countries, also performs well in TIER 3 ones.

Utilities, VPNs, antiviruses

Utilities, VPNs, antiviruses
Utilities, VPNs, antiviruses

Various auxiliary programs that are often used to protect computers from malware as well as to camoflauge a user’s online presence. There are offers both for mobile phones and desktop PCs. It should be noted that while in recent times there’s been a noticeable increase in the volume of mobile traffic,   most clients of this vertical still purchase such products for their desktop devices.

When promoting such software, keep one thing in mind – it’s often used by more or less tech-savvy users. Which is why a 50+ year old housewife rarely downloads an antivirus to convert ad formats. You don’t actually expect her to get a VPN, do you? If a person is using a proxy, it means they know the place they want to access. Meaning, that regular creatives and landing pages aimed at exploiting a person’s naivety are definitely not the way to go.

  • how difficult it is to start – above average, not the best vertical to start with. You can learn about the best affiliate programs for beginners in our review;
  • relevance – a little below average, but accordingly, the level of competition is also lower than in more relevant verticals;
  • target audience – age groups: 15-25 – 65%, 25-35 – another 20%;
  • cost of traffic – depends on the offer, but more or less – slightly above average;
  • main traffic sources – SEO above all else, and ANs too. Other sources perform a bit worse, you can try social media;
  • offers – white-/gray-/black-hat ones, some offers are aimed at persuading the user to install blatantly malware on their devices;
  • payout models – CPA, CPI, CPS;
  • GEO – almost all of them, but the most popular choices are Asian countries, the CIS region, the USA and India.

Cryptocurrencies and binary options

Cryptocurrencies
Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies are at the pinnacle of their popularity. Ever since bitcoin started growing again, dragging all other cryptocurrencies up with him along the way, user attention to this area spiked. There are offers both from exchanges that offer free trading services and investment projects into cryptocurrencies.

There’s also lots of e-commerce offers for miners that have recently soared in terms of popularity. You’ve probably seen graphics card prices. Also, many ICOs have become popular and are actively looking for people to promote them specifically at this time, while cryptocurrencies are on the rise.

As for binary options, let’s just say something is rotten in the state of Denmark. The demand here isn’t as roof-breaking, after all, this is entirely a gray-hat area. Not in terms of offers – the entire sector is gray-hat. And most of the services only allow you to benefit from expiration, not actually selling anything.

  • how difficult it is to start – quite difficult, if you lack sector-specific knowledge, you stand no chance;
  • relevance – high;
  • target audience – the main focus is aged 25 to 45. But since currently almost everyone is diving into cryptocurrencies, which means you can target a wider audience and not be bounded by this specific age/sex group;
  • cost of traffic – expensive;
  • main traffic sources – ANs, social media (except gray-hat);
  • offers – cryptocurrency offers are mostly white-hat (but there’s enough exceptions), binary options – gray-hat;
  • payout models – CPA, most of the time this means payments per deposit. SOI/DOI models are used less frequently. On a separate note, payouts can occasionally reach $500-800 per lead with very high limits. Which means this vertical has plenty of money to offer affiliate marketers;
  • GEO – trictly TIER 1; European TIER 2 traffic, and the CIS region can also be suitable for binary options offers.

Essay

Essay
Essay

These are various offers that offer remote educational services. In other words, remote courses that help people improve their skills or acquire completely new ones. Online lessons that teach motivation, financial literacy or provide people who already are professionals with new cases. Different remote forums as well as tutors helping people with specific subjects.

Currently, it’s actually a super popular affiliate marketing vertical, and a very promising one at that. Even in TIER 2 countries, decent training courses cost around $2-3 thousand, with competent private tutors charging $40-50 an hour. Do the math, if you attract a couple of students for such tutors while working through the RevShare model, you’ll be getting a nice stable passive income all throughout their educational journey. There’s plenty of examples of affiliates making $200-300 a day on just passive income alone.

And as is the case for many other verticals, the pandemic made this sector incredibly popular. And it will only keep growing, this is a new trend, an idea that isn’t going anywhere. More and more services of this kind are migrating online.

  • how difficult it is to start – normal;
  • relevance – high, and forecasts claim it’ll only get higher;
  • target audience – almost all age groups, 15 years old and up. The largest age group here is 17-25;
  • cost of traffic – above average;
  • main traffic sources – ANs, social media, SEO, email ads;
  • offers – white-hat;
  • payout models – SOI/DOI, CPA, RevShare;
  • GEO – Europe, USA, the CIS region, parts of Asia, Australia and Canada.

Why verticals benefit everyone

We had a look at the main affiliate marketing verticals. Now, let’s establish why exactly is such a segmentation model extremely beneficial to all the participants involved, all parties to the transaction.

  1. Verticals are needed for ad campaigns. After all, it lets you design certain templates, ACs that follow a specific formula. And by specializing on a specific affiliate marketing sector, the affiliate becomes an expert at quickly creating ACs for it. In other words, it benefits the affiliate;
  2. Companies and advertisers also need affiliate marketing verticals. They allow them to work with professionals who specialize in promoting a particular product. Besides, the presence of vertical niches allows you to specialize in your own segment;
  3. Both advertisers and affiliates need verticals because they allow them to reduce the level of competition to an acceptable minimum;
  4. Clients benefit from verticals because through them they receive relevant ads, something that may genuinely be of interest to them.

Conclusions

So, what are our findings? Affiliate marketing cannot exist without verticals by definition. And a good affiliate needs to thoroughly study at least onу. You can specialize in a single branch or a dozen, it doesn’t matter. But you need to be an expert in your niches, this is the only way to create effective ad campaigns. Which means think twice before moving on to a new vertical, before you become a pro in your current one. Unless of course, it hit the seasonal popularity and value jackpot and the payouts are 300% above the market average – in that case, you should give it a try.

Author: Elmira Nikiforova

Social media and digital marketing professional with over 5 years experience working at Leadbit. I love comedy and dream of visiting 100 countries of the world.

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