In-App Affiliate Marketing

In-App Affiliate Marketing: A Beginner’s Guide

Anywhere where there’s traffic, there is an opportunity for affiliate marketers to earn a commission. This means that as an affiliate, you aren’t limited to your website or social media channels. In this guide, we’ll introduce you to in-app affiliate marketing as a tool to add to your passive income arsenal.

In-app affiliate marketing is less used, but by no means less effective than building a website or social media presence. This makes it a good opportunity to earn an income because there’s usually less competition than in the crowded affiliate website business.

In-App affiliate marketing overview


Before we dive in, let’s take a moment to make sure we are on the same page here. So what do we mean by in-app affiliate marketing? And what makes it such an interesting opportunity for business and affiliates?

What is in-app affiliate marketing?

In-app affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing where an affiliate promotes a business’s products or services within an app and earns a commission for each successful conversion. This type of marketing is a way for app developers and businesses to monetize their apps.

Of course, those same businesses and developers can leverage affiliate marketing for their promotion and drive more sales or leads through referral marketing.

So, to sum up: in-app affiliate marketing can either mean:

  • Using affiliate marketing to monetize an app, by offering products or services to your users and getting a commission from sales
  • Leveraging affiliate marketing to promote products amongst users of an app, or even using an affiliate network to promote the app itself

In this guide, we’ll look at both. We will take a look at the steps involved in setting up a successful in-app affiliate program, different methods for tracking conversions, and the benefits of using in-app affiliate networks. At the same time, we’ll discuss all the factors that businesses need to take into account to make successful use of affiliate marketing to promote their products or services.

Being successful with in-app affiliate marketing

If you’re already an affiliate marketer, you know that it’s far from an easy road to success. Whether you choose the path of building an SEO-friendly website, monetizing a newsletter, or building an audience on YouTube, Pinterest, or any other social media platform: it takes time to truly attract the traffic that will earn you an income.

Leveraging in-app affiliate marketing is no different. So let’s take a look at the steps you need to take to be successful.

Choosing your audience and products

The first step in setting up a successful in-app affiliate program is to identify the products or services that you want to promote within your app. This could be a physical product, digital product, or service.

If you already have an app, you could simply search for offers that fit well with your existing audience. What are the types of products, discounts, and services they would likely buy if you promote them? From which desires or problems did they start using your app in the first place?

When it’s your goal to create an app to attract users for monetization, you should start with what audience you wish to attract. Where do you see an opportunity, originating from a gap in the market or a topic you’re particularly knowledgeable in? Try to develop an app that fits a desire or necessity for your intended audience, and then find the products and offers that fit in there.

Let’s say you want to help people to better manage their budget and save more money. You could develop an app that helps them keep track of their daily expenses in a way that is not only clear but also fun, increasing the likelihood that they follow through. You could then choose to promote offers for opening an investment account or custom-made piggy banks.

The key takeaway is that you should focus on providing value for your intended audience. Always put the audience first, and base the products you promote on them, instead of choosing products and then trying to push them on an unwilling audience.

Tracking conversions

Next, you will need to set up a tracking system to track conversions. This can be done through the use of unique referral links or codes. These links or codes are used to track the number of clicks, leads, and conversions that you provide. This will be used to determine the height of commission that you are entitled to.

A popular method is through the use of cookies. Cookies are small text files that are stored on a user’s device and are used to track the number of clicks, leads, and conversions that your affiliates generate.

If you’re a business that tries to leverage in-app affiliate marketing to promote your products, making sure that your tracking is in order is at least as important. It’s the only way you’ll be able to analyze which affiliates are your best promoters and which offers do or do not work.

The benefits of using existing affiliate networks

The easiest way is to subscribe to an existing affiliate network that takes care of all this technical stuff for you. You can then simply select the products or services you wish to promote from amongst the hundreds or thousands of businesses in the portfolio of the affiliate network. The network’s software will take care of generating your unique URL or traceable code for you, and also keep track of every click and conversion you have generated through their platform.

These networks provide access to a wide range of products and services, as well as a variety of commission structures. This means that you usually have a choice to either focus on providing as much actual sales as possible or wish to earn a commission for every visitor you realize. The commission per visitor is easier to actualize, but also lower than a commission per sale.

Additionally, affiliate networks offer a variety of tools and resources to help you track and manage your affiliate program. Some of the benefits of using affiliate networks include access to a wide range of products and services, a variety of commission structures, and access to tools and resources to help you track and manage your affiliate program.

Tactics to drive traffic and optimize conversions

Several tactics can be used to drive traffic and optimize conversions. One popular tactic is to use social media platforms to promote your app and get more installs and users for your in-app affiliate program. This can be done by creating a social media account and promoting your app through posts and ads.

Other tactics include email marketing, content marketing, and influencer marketing. Getting influencers to promote your app is a great way to get started when your app is brand new and you don’t have a lot of reach and exposure as of yet.

Analyzing the value of incentivizing affiliates

This one is particularly interesting for businesses that are leveraging affiliate marketing to sell their products. Remember what we said about tracking and analyzing who your best promoters are? Here’s why.

Incentivizing your most valuable affiliates can be a great way to drive more conversions. This can be done through the use of bonuses, cashback, or other rewards. By offering incentives, you can encourage your affiliates to promote your products or services more actively.

Examples of in-app affiliate marketing

The easiest way of monetizing in-app affiliate marketing is by promoting affiliate links amongst the users of your app to monetize your traffic. You could also use in-app affiliate marketing in more creative ways to boost your reach and increase your number of users.

Examples include the following types of apps:

Product review app

Include product reviews, how-to information, and industry news to help your audience make shopping decisions and stay informed about new products and trends.

An example of a highly successful review website and app is CNET.

CNET app on Google Play

The idea to create CNET was born in 1993 by Halsey Minor and Shelby Bonnie, and the company went public on July 3, 1996. In 2008, CBS acquired CNET, and in 2020 Red Ventures bought CNET from ViacomCBS for $500 million.

CNET’s top monetization methods are affiliate marketing and ads.

Their app has been downloaded more than 1 million times on Google Play. Although we cannot see their download statistics on the App Store, they have over 2.4K ratings (averaging 4.4/5.00) which suggests their app is also popular on that platform.

CNET uses many platforms to reach its target audience, not only its app. They have around 67 million website visitors (51 million from the US) and get 90 million video views monthly. And as if that is not impressive enough, they have 14 million social media followers.

Travel app

Provide users with price comparisons on flights, hotels, and car hire to help them make informed decisions and prevent them from overpaying. In addition, have an in-app affiliate marketing component, paying users a commission when they sign up as an affiliate and getting others to use the app.

Kayak is an example of a highly successful travel comparison site and app in the travel niche.

Kayak was founded in January 2004 by Steve Hafner and Paul English, who invested $1 million each in seed capital and raised an additional $5 million from General Catalyst.

In July 2012, Kayak became a public company and was acquired later that same year by Priceline (now called Booking Holdings) for $2.1 billion.

The Kayak app searches hundreds of travel sites, showing users travel choices on flights, hotels, and car hire. And there are special app-only deals that allow users to save more.

The app also sends notifications to your phone when prices for your next trip have dropped and status alerts on flights and check-in changes.

Kayak monetizes its app through affiliate marketing and ads. In addition, they have an affiliate program that pays affiliates up to 50% commission on bookings for flights, hotels, cars, and holiday packages.

With over 10 million downloads and 261K reviews (averaging 4.6/5.0) on Google Play and a 4.8/5.0 rating on App Store after 363K ratings, this app is a favorite for many travel enthusiasts and frequent flyers.

Shopping app

Partner with merchants and provide users with coupons, and enable them to earn cashback or discounts on their purchases. Users could also earn rewards if they share the app with their friends through a referral link and their friends proceed to download it.

An example of a successful cashback website and app is BeFrugal.

BeFrugal was founded in 2009 by Jon Lal as an online coupon and introduced cashback rewards in 2011. By 2017 the company hit $1 billion in sales, saving consumers an average of $27 per order.

Today, BeFrugal offers up to 40% cash back for online purchases at 5,000+ stores and coupons for over 50,000 stores, including the top 500 online stores in the United States.

Cashback payment methods include checks, direct deposit, PayPal, and gift cards.

BeFrugal monetizes its app through affiliate marketing and ads.

The app has been downloaded over 100K on Google Play and is rated 4.2/5.0 after 3.4K reviews. And they have over 5.9K ratings (averaging 4.7/5.0) on the App Store.

Additional ideas

The above examples only scratch the surface of in-app affiliate marketing. Here are some additional ideas on how to get your users to promote your app:

Mobile gaming app – Include in-app purchases for virtual currency or extra lives. You could allow players to earn rewards in exchange for promoting the app to their friends through a unique referral link.

Educational app – Allow users to earn access to premium content by sharing the app with their friends through a referral link.

Fitness app – Enable users to earn credits or discounts on fitness gear by sharing products or the app with friends through a referral link.

By now, you probably have one question: How do I create an app suitable for in-app affiliate marketing?

Building an app from scratch typically requires extensive coding experience or a large budget.

For example, creating an app similar to Kayak can be time-consuming and prohibitively expensive. And you should probably not even consider building a gaming app unless you are passionate about the gaming niche and have deep pockets.

However, there are app templates available that you can customize without any coding experience. And if you get stuck or the app does not meet all your requirements, you’ll find the creator is usually more than willing to do custom design work.


In-app affiliate marketing is an effective way for businesses to monetize their apps and drive more sales or leads through referral marketing. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can set up a successful in-app affiliate program, track conversions, and utilize in-app affiliate networks to connect with a large number of potential affiliates.

Additionally, by using tactics such as social media, email marketing, content marketing, and influencer marketing, you can drive more traffic to your app and optimize conversions. Remember that incentivizing affiliates can also be a great way to drive more conversions. In-app affiliate marketing can be applied to a variety of industries and apps, from mobile gaming to shopping, education to travel, and many more. As you have seen from the examples provided, the possibilities are endless.

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