Affiliate Marketing vs Lead Generation: What’s The Difference?

affiliate marketing vs lead generation wide

Affiliate Marketing and lead generation are booming topics in the business and digital marketing world.

In fact, affiliate marketing takes up as much as 15% of the total digital advertising revenue.

And 85% of B2B marketing experts see lead generation as the most important factor in content marketing.

But what is the difference between affiliate marketing and lead generation?

Affiliate Marketing is a strategy where you sell the products or services of other businesses and take a percentage of the revenue.  Lead generation, on the other hand, is the process that converts strangers into potential buyers for your products and services.

Make sure to read on until the end to understand:

  • What is Affiliate Marketing and Lead Generation and how they differ
  • The Pros & Cons of each
  • Best Affiliate Marketing Programs & Best Lead Generation Tools
  • Which one should you choose?

Now it’s time to jump on in and get started.

Affiliate Marketing vs Lead Generation: What’s the difference?

Let’s first define more clearly what each type of business is.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a strategy that comprises of 3 main factors:

  • The business/entrepreneur who has a product or service and wants to sell it;
  • The customer who is going to buy the product or service;
  • The advertiser (affiliate) who will mediate the entrepreneur’s contact with the customer.

In affiliate marketing, the advertiser can be anyone who makes a customer get in touch with a product or service offered by the business or entrepreneur.

And all one needs to do to become an affiliate is to join an affiliate program offered by a company. Most require zero investment to join, while others require a small fee of entry.

Especially throughout the last decade, the internet has become a fertile environment for entrepreneurs and even for those who are not fully inserted in the business world but are looking for opportunities to earn some money online. And affiliate marketing is a great answer to that.

The great part about affiliate marketing and one of its advantages is that all you need to focus on is driving traffic.  For a lot of people though, driving traffic to promote affiliate offers can seem like a daunting task that’s difficult to master.

However, it doesn’t have to be difficult to drive traffic.

One of the big things that you need to do to successfully drive traffic is to focus on one platform to promote and create content one.  The more you focus on one thing, the less you’ll be distracted and spread yourself thin.

A few ways to drive traffic to affiliate offers are:

  • Facebook Groups
  • Youtube channel
  • TikTok
  • Instagram
  • Blogging with SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Answering questions on Quora
  • Paid advertising
    • Google Ads
    • Facebook Ads
    • Pinterest Ads
    • Instagram Ads
    • Native Ads
    • Twitter Ads
    • LinkedIn Ads
    • Youtube Ads
  • LinkedIn
  • Reddit

Once you’ve picked a traffic source, it’s best to choose one affiliate program to focus on promoting when starting out.

Take a look at my list of the best affiliate programs if you’re interested.

What Is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is the process through which a company captures the contact information of potential customers, who at some point showed interest in the company’s products or services.

In other words, lead generation is a strategy practiced by companies to attract potential customers and develop a lasting relationship with them.

In order for the prospect to become a lead, it is necessary that he/she voluntarily provides some means of contact, such as a cellphone number or e-mail address. After that, the company will be able to reach out to this lead and convert it into a buying customer.

Simply put, lead generation is the process by which companies acquire information about potential customers for their products or services.

And a lead is a person who, in some way, has an interest in some product or service of your company.

Pros And Cons Of Affiliate Marketing And Lead Generation

Let’s take a look now at the pros and cons of affiliate marketing and also the pros and cons of lead generation as a business model.

Affiliate Marketing Pros & Cons

Here are some of the pros and cons of affiliate marketing as a business model.


  • Low investment cost: Virtually all affiliate programs are free, which means you can sign up and start working right now.
  • You don’t need to create a product: You simply take something that someone has already created a product and then advertise it with your affiliate link. You receive commissions on the sales you generate without having to create anything.
  • Work from anywhere: Considering that the affiliate’s job is to advertise products on the internet, this means that you can work from anywhere. All that you need is an internet connection.
  • Total control: The entire work process is the sole responsibility of the affiliate. That is, you are the one who controls your own schedule, strategies, places to advertise on, etc. You decide how you work.
  • Product variety: There is a wide variety of products for you to choose from. Because of it, you will be able to choose a niche that best fits you personally or a product that is easy to sell.

  • You don’t need products in stock: In the case of a digital product, you won’t have to worry about having stock. In the case of physical products, the producer is often responsible for the product and delivery, not you.


  • Delayed payments: In most platforms, commissions are released for withdrawal 30 days after the sale is completed. Some companies do offer an advanced withdrawal option for quicker withdrawal, though it generally requires a payment to do so.
  • You cannot control the price and payment methods: The producer is responsible for setting the price and payment methods that will be accepted. So it is up to you to accept the definitions before you start promoting the product.

  • It’s not a fixed salary: Your income will depend only on you. Thus, if you do not make an effort to advertise the product, your earnings may be lower than expected.

Lead Generation Pros & Cons

Here are some of the pros and cons of lead generation as a business model.


  • Productivity increase: It is much more productive to sell to someone who has expressed an interest in buying your product or hiring your service, compared to cold prospects who have not shown previous interest in your product or service. This will free up time and space by not contacting and reaching to people who have a much lower chance of buying.
  • Conversion rate increase: Selling to a person who has previously shown an interest in your product or service is a much simpler job. Because of this, your chances of selling a product and your conversion rates will be much higher when working with a lead.


  • Long-term results rather than short-term results: Despite being an activity that boasts an impressive return on investment rates, they do take a while to ramp up and be a significant differentiator in your business. In fact, it might take 3 months for most of your leads to purchase from you!

Best Affiliate Programs To Join

I have an entire list of the best affiliate programs you can check out, but I wanted to also provide a few of the main affiliate programs that I recommend here as well.

Here are some of the high ticket and monthly recurring revenue affiliate programs that I recommend.

1. ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is an email marketing software that I actually use to run my own online business.  You can check out my full ActiveCampaign review if you’re interested.

Commission Payout: 20-30% commissions depending upon number of referred affiliates

2. Legendary Marketer

Legendary Marketer is a training program to help you launch your online business in 15 days with the 15-day online business builder challenge.

You can read my Legendary Marketer review here if you’re interested.

In order to become an affiliate, you need to get through the challenge and then submit your affiliate application to be approved.

Commission Payout: You can earn up to 60% commissions and commissions on $9500 products. 

3. ClickFunnels

ClickFunnels is a sales funnel builder software that costs $97 per month or $297 per month.

The great part about being an affiliate is that you can qualify for up to 40% commissions on all of the products that ClickFunnels offers.

Commission Payout: 20%-40% commissions

4. Bluehost

Bluehost is a web hosting software that pays its affiliates well.  I recommend Bluehost to anyone starting a new website or blog.

You can read my full Bluehost review here.

Commission Payout: Up to $100 per sale

5. Project 24

Project 24 is a blogging course that teaches you everything you need to know about building out niche websites to generate organic traffic using SEO.

Commission Payout: 30% commissions

Best Lead Generation Tools

1. Instapage

Instapage has been around for many years but has recently been redesigned to make its user interface look better, easier to use, and to load your landing pages faster.

It works through the “click and drag” model. What this means is that Instapage can be easily used and understood by anyone, even those who have never created a landing page before.

All you have to do is click and drag the different aspects and parts of your landing pages. It is easy and intuitive to use.

This tool also facilitates the performance of A/B Tests and allows you to create responsive landing pages.

It also offers three options for publishing your landing page:

  • Instapage’s own domain, if you don’t have one (although it is recommended to get your own);
  • Directly in your personalized domain;
  • Or through WordPress, using the Instapage plugin.

It has a free option with some limitations and a basic plan for $29 per month.

2. ActiveCampaign

Having an e-mail marketing tool is essential to anyone who wants to engage in lead generation campaigns. They’re necessary to let you create email lists and easily manage and contact them whenever needed.

And there’s no better choice for it than ActiveCampaign.

A slightly more advanced tool email marketing, the ActiveCampaign platform allows you to segment your campaigns based on location, user behavior, and even social media information.

It offers a good editor of email templates and also has form layouts especially created to adapt easily to mobile devices.

Another feature worth noting is the possibility to send SMS to your contacts, which can give your business an important competitive edge.

Affiliate Marketing vs Lead Generation: Which One Should You Choose?

Affiliate marketing and lead generation are not opposites to each other.

In fact, they’re often run together.

If you’re starting as an affiliate business, for instance, you’ll want to generate leads who might be interested in the chosen products.

Lead generation is a great addition to the marketing and advertisement strategies of any business that grants great profits and benefits in the long term.

Affiliate marketing, on the other hand, is a great way to start the said business. You can do it without investing a single penny into it and start making money right away through social media and organic marketing.

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Affiliate Disclaimer

I hope you enjoyed this post.  This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission if you make a purchase.

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