Besides traditional college degrees, online courses and bootcamps have gained popularity in this age of digitization. 

The COVID-19 pandemic paved the path to receive education and learn skills online.

The National Center for Education Statistics reported a positive trend in online classes, with an increase from 36% learners in 2019 to 75% students in 2020.

Since then, there has been a rise in the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for the low-cost courses it offers.

Forbes states that e-learning platforms such as Coursera saw an immense increase in individuals using the platform, going to 92 million users.

The global e-learning market is set to have a great impact on education, with a forecasted growth of 14% during 2020 to 2030.    

As a result of rapid growth and availability of online courses, it has become difficult to have your course standout. 

Have you struggled to market your online courses to an audience?

What marketing strategies have you used for your course?

The greatest challenge faced by course creators is improving the reach of the content and connecting with an ideal set of learners.

However, in order to get more sign ups, you will need to invest in multiple marketing tools which means dedicating a large chunk of your profit.

Marketing strategies such as pay per click (PPC), emails or using influencers to promote your course can incur high costs. 

We have a smarter solution for you. Affiliate marketing is built on the concept of sharing the marketing responsibility between the owner and the marketeer.

On average, affiliate marketing brings a 12:1 return on ad spend, eventually benefitting all parties.

Let’s look into affiliate marketing and how you can use it to promote online courses.

We will review the top six strategies of affiliate marketing and teach you how to launch an affiliate program.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is an advertisement model where publishers are compensated for generating leads or sales. 

An affiliate promotes a third-party company or user’s product or service using a dedicated affiliate link, and in turn receives commission for it. 

To boil it down, affiliate marketing is based on four pillars, namely, an affiliate, a retailer, a consumer and the affiliate network that oversees the whole process.

This particular type of marketing has been growing, and is expected to reach $15.7 billion by the end of 2024.   

affiliate marketing process

6 Affiliate Marketing Strategies to Promote Your Online Course

  1. Provide Affiliate Marketing Materials
  2. Optimize Your Course Landing Page
  3. Offer Competitive Commissions
  4. Implement Retargeting Campaigns
  5. Host Joint Webinars or Workshops
  6. Provide Affiliate Training and Support

1. Provide Affiliate Marketing Materials

The first step in establishing an affiliate program for your online course is investing in affiliate marketing assets for a successful campaign. 

Begin by designing a platform for your online course, preferably a website or an application where new users can be directed to by the affiliates.

A subdomain should be dedicated to the affiliate program to keep it organized.

Some affiliate marketing software you can look into to manage the system better are Post Affiliate Pro, Kartra, Pay Kick Start, and Referral Factory. 

We will guide you on using minimal tools to build an ultimate affiliate marketing program.

The course outline should be carefully crafted to display the unique selling points, while highlighting the most relevant information about it. 

Next, affiliates should have a personalized tracking link which can be shared on various platforms.

On the backend, it allows you to monitor their performance, sign-ups for the course, and growth metrics. 

Since affiliates post and promote content on public forums, it is better to provide them with pre-written templates for emails, social media, and blog posts.

This ensures consistency in marketing and reduces the chances of misinformation. 

Provide your affiliate team with banners that can be used on different platforms. These can include the following types:

  • Static Banner Ads are graphic images with a simple call-to-action button
  • Pop-up Banner Ads appears a s separate tab when clicked on an action button 
  • Animated Banner Ads 
  • Pop-up or Pop-under Banner Ads that appear a s separate window or behind the main tab
  • HTML5 Banner Ads can be made interactive 
  • Video Banner Ads

Offering your affiliates with a comprehensive package of promotional material ensures they have thorough knowledge of the course and any upcoming changes to it. 

2. Plan and Structure Your Course Landing Page for Conversions

A goal-specific landing page determines the conversion rates and eventually determines the number of enrollments on your course.

According to a report, about 55% of visitors spend fewer than 15 seconds on a landing page.

This means, the part of the page above the “fold” which is visible without scrolling is of utmost importance.

When planning out the layout, the goal should be to have the targeted audience sign up for the course after a visit. 

Here is a checklist that you should always adhere to for a well-designed landing page:

The landing page should have the least possible elements to keep the focus on the course

A headline that sums the content of the entire course is the best way to sell your product without taking much time from potential users

Placement of the CTA in an easily clickable location

Include form fields to capture user’s details such as email address, name and phone number

Ensure brand or company’s logo placement is adequately sized and visible on the page

The online education market is projected to reach US$185.20 billion in 2024.

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3. Offer Competitive Commissions

Commissions in affiliate marketing are the bases of the business model. On average, an affiliate can earn anywhere between 5% and 30%.

This is variable depending on your niche, the magnitude of your e-learning platform, and overheads.

A commission that is too low will not motivate affiliates to market your course, and one that is too high will have you paying the shares from your profit.

We recommend that you start the commission rate on the lower end, giving your platform room to grow and increasing the share of affiliates over time.

4. Implement Retargeting Campaigns

Retargeting marketing is targeted at an audience that was interested in your product. It convinces hesitant visitors to turn into potential customers. 

Compared with other marketing strategies, retargeting campaigns can bring up to a 1046% lift in your turnout. 

There are two primary campaigning methodologies that you can adopt:

  • Pixel based retargeting for anonymous visitors.
  • List based retargeting is for users you had previously gathered contact details of.

Retargeting campaigns give you a chance to recapture interests of potential learners and introduce your courses to the audiences in a personalized manner.  

5. Host Joint Webinars or Workshops

Running a successful affiliate program for your online course also depends on how regularly you engage with your affiliate. 

Webinars offer versatility for both, content creators and affiliates in sharing updates on course outlines, networking sessions, training affiliates and Q&A sessions.

This creates a closely knit community where affiliates can bring up their shortcomings and discuss strategies with other affiliates. When you value your affiliates, you motivate them to contribute to the course’s success.

6. Provide Affiliate Training and Support

Affiliates are your partners in business and deserve transparency and mutual respect. This means providing them with additional support such as arranging ongoing training sessions for new and existing affiliates.

Given their association with the customer base, their feedback on customer turnout carries immense importance and tells you when a tweak in the course is necessary.

21% Of Businesses Choose to Work With an Independent Digital Marketing Agency in the U.S.

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How To Launch An Affiliate Program For Your Online Course

If you plan to start an affiliate marketing program dedicated to your online platform, we have five strategies that can align expectations and goals.

1. Choose the Right Affiliate Marketing Software

Now that you know the basics of affiliate marketing, it is time to choose an affiliate marketing software that fulfills your marketing requirements.

We will discuss five highly rated affiliate marketing softwares and their selling points for your e-learning platform.


Everflow affiliate marketing software
  • Pricing: $750 per month
  • QR codes: provide affiliates with shareable and trackable QR codes 
  • Coupon codes: affiliate links can become redundant over time. Coupon codes can be used by users signing up, and the performance will be recorded and tabulated against the affiliate ID.

Prevent affiliate fraud: It notifies you of suspicious activity, such as bots using the affiliate’s links to improve engagement. 


refersion affiliate marketing software
  • Pricing: An annual subscription offers $99 per month, with a 14-day free trial of the software.
  • Bulk payments: you can pay affiliates altogether with Paypal integration 
  • Affiliate marketplace: you can connect with like-minded bloggers and creators and invite affiliates to join your platform

Automatic email marketing: this keeps affiliates updated with scheduled emails regarding payments and engagements.

Referral Factory

referral factory software
  • Pricing: $95 per month, with 15 days free trial
  • Ease of use: You do not have to be a pro at affiliate marketing. This has a simple outlook that can be integrated with a CRM. 
  • Referral program templates: You can choose free customizable templates to be shared with affiliates depending on your niche.

Post Affiliate Pro

post affiliate pro
  • Pricing: flat rate model offered at $129 per month, with one month of free trial
  • Various types of commissions: Lifetime Commissions, Multi Tier Commissions (Multi Level Marketing – MLM), Performance Rewards, Recurring Commissions, and Split Commission
  • Multiple Currencies
  • Run Private Campaigns

Pay Kick Start

pay kick start
  • Pricing: $99 per month, with free trial
  • Partner Contracts: Set individual terms of payments and make payments for affiliate partners
  • Automated payments: sending immediate and scheduled payments via Paypal, Payoneer, Wire Transfers, E-Checks

2. Determine Your Commission Structure

Commissioned payouts are largely linked to the industry you belong to.

For reference, education offers 20%, financial sectors give upto 40%, and beauty industry offers 15 to 20% of sales rates.

Commission rates are not fixed. To strike the right balance and offer a good commission rate, the following factors come into play:

Decide on an affiliate’s commission conditions to fulfil before payout

The type of commission you will offer: basic rate or flat percentage.

  • Percentage-based: You can offer a percentage of the course price as a commission in your affiliate marketing program. These are preferred by affiliates because they offer room for scalability. On the contrary, it may come from a share of your profit.
  • Flat rates: This option is suitable for an e-commerce brand with thin profit margins and works for per sale.

Average Customer Life Time Value = Average annual profit earned from a customer * Average number of years someone has been a customer – Initial cost of customer acquisition per customer

  • Since commissions are part of your cost to acquire new customers, it should be well below the average customer lifetime value to make your business sustainable. 

Consider your direct competitors and research the rates they offer.

Offering commission bonuses to your top affiliates can keep the competition high.

These can be done in the following ways:

  • One-time bonuses at the of the year for bringing the highest number of signups
  • Recurring bonuses are helpful if your course is subscription based, where commission is offered on a running basis
  • A tiered commission structure takes into account sales milestones and incentivizes affiliates to generate more leads. 

3. Recruit Affiliates

Affiliates are the backbone of your marketing strategy, and their proactiveness forms the basis of your sign-ups.

Carefully select a group of affiliates who share knowledge about e-learning platforms and are aware of different social media platforms.

It always helps to have affiliates who are popular in the industry, have a huge following, and can generally impact followers. 

Evaluate based on awareness regarding WhatsApp Business, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, and Snapchat.

If you are new to the marketing industry, scouting affiliates on your own can be difficult.

With no means to judge an affiliates commitment to work, there is always a chance of hiring the wrong group.

Thus, an affiliate recruitment agency will assist you in finding talented affiliates that you can recruit for your online course marketing.

They can not only negotiate the terms of an affiliate’s contract on your behalf but will also track their growth performance.

You can also pay a sign-up fee for an affiliate network website, which provides a platform and a directory of existing affiliates along with their work profiles.

However, you may also be required to commit a certain amount to each sale.

This seems like a big investment, but it single-handedly governs the success of your online course.

Let’s look at a real-life example from the most popular affiliate campaigns:

Amazon Associates

amazon associates 

One of the most successful affiliate programs, Amazon Associates allows individuals to sell a product of their choice.

Affiliates researched about the products and executed marketing strategies through dedicated blogs and websites to generate sales.

Amazon offers a fixed flat commission rate for each category, with a special commission category for some.

Since the rise in e-commerce practices, the affiliate program earnings grew by a compound annual rate of 10% up until 2022. 

Another source reported that the national average salary for an Amazon affiliate is $77,893 per year. 

For most individuals, this is a source of passive income which requires little effort.

Thus, affiliate marketing has immense potential to help you grow your e-learning platform in little time.

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4. Manage your affiliate partners

Seeing affiliates as equal partners in your marketing plan is important in fostering a long-term relationship.

If you want them to stay loyal to your online course, schedule regular check-ins, actively listen, and address the challenges you encounter.

Ensure all affiliates have adequate educational resources and equal support to be able to grow your e-learning platform.

Understanding each individual’s preferences in promoting the content, be it more hands-on or personalised, is necessary.

It is equally important to track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as page visits, clicks, coupon code use, and conversions in real time.

For example Rocket Languages uses Commission Junction to manage their affiliate partners:

Have an open communication with an affiliate who is not showing growth.

Lastly, respect your team of affiliates by paying them timely and rewarding them for their efforts.

Remember, consistent effort brings renewed subscriptions and purchases to your online courses over time.

5. Launch and Promote Your Affiliate Program

With all requirements in place to launch an affiliate program, how can you kick start the platform to gain maximum traction? 

Posting on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook is an initial step in publicizing it but it does not allow you to target experienced affiliates. 

Another way to familiarise yourself with the top affiliates in your niche is by joining affiliate forums and posting on groups.

Instead, a focused strategy to attract affiliate sign up is using search engine optimization.

The landing page for the affiliate marketing program for online courses should use popular keywords. For example, use “guitar learning course affiliate program” as the heading.

Google Ads is another tool that helps target potential affiliates.

Using this, you can ensure that your advertisement reaches a specific demographic and target market. When using this service, you can advertise your commission rates to attract partners.

You could invest in influencer marketing, by collaborating on advertising the landing page and keeping you trending in the e-learning industry.

These can be students looking for a passive income, teachers or expert educators. 

Who Are the Ideal Candidates to Partner with as Affiliates for Your Online Course?

When onboarding affiliates for your online course, you’d want people associated with the online education niche. 

To make it easier for you, we have listed down the best affiliates for your affiliate marketing program:

Existing students

Getting your existing student to promote your course is probably the best approach to getting new students to purchase your course.

People are likely to be interested in your course if someone who has already taken your course recommends it.

Experts from the education industry

Experts related to the course you’re selling can also be ideal affiliates to promote your course. 

For example, if you’re selling a course on cooking, you can onboard chefs in your affiliate program.

Industry experts can use their own websites or social channels to explain why your course is worth purchasing to their audiences.

Teachers or instructors

You can also partner with teachers and course instructors who you think to have knowledge regarding your course.

Instructors and teachers have credibility and authority on the subject matter. They can use that to recommend your course to their audiences.

Can Online Education Affiliate Programs Enhance the Effectiveness of Online Courses?

Over 90% of marketeers are investing in affiliate programs as part of their strategy. 

Affiliate marketing requires little investment and promises continuous returns if executed correctly. This performance-based paradigm will be highly profitable and cost-effective for your online course.

You can recover your cost investment because this model relies on sales and course sign-ups.

Such a marketing strategy, promoted by multiple affiliates and collaborators, tends to endorse the reliability of your online course. Individuals are more likely to visit your website with consistent shares. 

Affiliate marketing prevents your online course from being saturated in the market. This allows you to explore new platforms, promote your brand’s unique selling points, and connect with like-minded skill learners to grow your community. 


Affiliate marketing has become a go-to marketing strategy for e-commerce owners and course content creators. Affiliates can use personalised links, QR codes and blogs to promote the online course. 

It offers equal benefits for all parties involved, with affiliates earning commission on each sign up and course creators benefitting from the growth. 

Prior to launching an affiliate marketing program for online courses, ensure transparency in communication, a competitive commission plan with bonuses, and an opportunity to build a network. 

Starting an affiliate program requires commitment, and we, as an online course promotion agency, are here to guide you at every step of the way!