A Complete Guide to CBD Affiliate Marketing in 2020

CBD Brands are turning to affiliate marketing to help improve their revenue and return on marketing spend. But what does it take to be an affiliate marketing in 2020?

Why Do CBD Brands Like Affiliate Marketing

CBD Oil and other CBD products have experienced quite a boom in the past few years, quickly becoming some of the most talked-about supplement with a variety of applications. However, the digital environment that supports so many other industries hasn’t materialized for CBD, in part because it’s considered a legal gray area. Popular platforms such as Facebook, Google and Outbrain will not allow CBD content or have extremely limited solutions on what can be promoted. Enter affiliate marketing, a relatively fast and inexpensive making of building income online for CBD brands and CBD affiliate marketers. But what is affiliate marketing? And how does it work? The OneQor Digital team has put together a full guide on how CBD affiliate marketing works in 2020. Learn why so many brands are turning to platforms like ours to grow their business.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a popular marketing channel where an affiliate (an entity with web traffic) earns a commission (a percentage of a sale) for marketing an advertiser’s (an entity with products or services) goods. From a different perspective, affiliate marketing involves one entity promoting a product or a service from another entity. In this scenario, a media website like Well + Good or influencer like Kendall Jenner may promote a subscription to Shutterstock or CBD Oil from WhisperCBD (full disclosure, that’s an affiliate link, more on that later). These promotions are tracked via affiliate links. These are normal links with a few parameters at the end of the URL to indicate who sent the traffic, what platform it came from and a few other details. Affiliate links look something like this:


To the visitor or person that clicks on the link, affiliate tracking links don’t appear to be anything other than a normal text link or banner. However, this link magic helps track sales from one website to another. This flow of driving consumers through affiliates to take any action on a brand or advertiser’s properties and all the tools and systems involved in the tracking of this activity is known as affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is also referred to as partnership marketing or performance marketing. 

Earn Money From a Top CBD Network

Refer customers to a huge selection of CBD brands and earn as much as 30% of the customer’s first purchase. Sign up today to become a part of the fastest growing CBD affiliate network.

  • Earn unlimited commissions while promoting a healthy product.
  • Custom creative targeted to your audience and platform
  • A dedicated account manager and CRO specialist to support your efforts

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Affiliate Marketing is often referred to as partnership marketing by marketers as it effectively breaks down the responsibility for product marketing, traffic generation and sales to multiple stakeholders. In a true network effect, affiliate marketing parlays the efforts of multiple parties marketing and promoting a shared goal. In turn, the parties share in the profits. At its core, affiliate marketing involves at least three parties, but in reality, this can mean many different channels:

  • Advertisers or Brands, Those that Create
  • Affiliates, Usually Publishers or Influencers
  • Consumers, Those That Convert

Let’s look a little further into the relationship between these three entities and why affiliate marketing has been such a smash hit, particularly in industries like CBD and hemp.

Advertiser or Brand

The advertiser or brand is the entity that is selling something. This includes physical products like a CBD tincture or a service such as an e-course on CBD marketing for affiliates. Another way to look at the role of the advertiser in the affiliate market is that they will pay affiliates for driving conversions in their program. While most advertisers are invested in promoting their offering, not all advertisers are actively involved in the marketing side. 

Affiliate or Publisher

Sometimes referred to as the publisher (but very rarely brand), the affiliate is the entity that does the heavy lifting in the affiliate marketing relationship. The affiliate identifies different methods to present the advertiser’s goods in a desirable format to drive customer actions (such as a sale or email sign-up). Affiliates can be an individual on a laptop or even a large media publication with a team of 80. When the customer does complete the desired action, the affiliate receives a commission or a portion of the conversion value of the action.

For example, if an affiliate drives a consumer to purchase CBD oil valued at $150 by clicking their affiliate tracking link (remember these?), that affiliate will receive a percentage of that sale for assisting in the marketing. This percentage, known as the payout or commission, can vary from as little as 5% to as much as 50%. CBD brands typically have some of the higher payouts in affiliate marketing, usually between 25 – 35% commission.

Most affiliates have a very specific audience that they engage with, such as a fashion blogger or an entrepreneurship website. These defined niches are what make the affiliate so valuable to the entire funnel. The right affiliates will place products or services in front of the consumer most likely to act on the offering. This, in turn, helps drive more conversions and higher commissions for publishers.  


The end game of all affiliate marketing activity is to drive conversions of some sort, typically a direct sale of a product. The end consumer may not even be aware that they are a part of this funnel (although the FTC requires affiliate relationships to be disclosed). Affiliates share these offers through every channel, from blogs to email to social media and their own websites.

Whenever consumers purchase the product or service, both the advertiser and affiliate share a portion of the profit. The best relationships are ones where the affiliate discloses their relationship. When affiliates are transparent that the consumer’s purchase helps them make money, the advertiser benefits from the brand association.

Today’s savvy customer would never pay more for the product purchased through affiliate marketing. Thus, the affiliate’s share of the profit is included in the sale price.  The consumer will complete the purchase process and receive the product as normal, unaffected by the affiliate marketing system in which they are a significant part.

While the advertiser, affiliate, and consumer form the basis of all affiliate marketing programs, there can be other players in the process. For example, affiliate networks charge advertisers to host their programs on the affiliate network and work with publishers. There are affiliate tracking tools that help to ensure that traffic in an affiliate network is not fraudulent. There are even agencies that manage either advertiser or publisher relationships or both. While the affiliate marketing space can be complex and is full of various players and roles, understanding the basic relationship is the key to affiliate marketing success.

Next, we’ll explain a little further how affiliate marketers get paid, as not all affiliate programs work in the same way.

How Do CBD Affiliate Marketers Get Paid?

Compared to most avenues for digital monetization, affiliate marketing is a relatively quick and inexpensive method of making money online. There is no need to manufacture and warehouse products. There is no shipping process or customer returns to deal with and little to no need to have an office and staff (for most affiliate marketers). Without these aspects, the question is how do affiliates get paid? We know this only happens after a consumer converts on the advertiser’s web properties. However, in reality, the answer varies by program. An affiliate program is a term used to describe an advertiser’s offering.

In many instances, the consumer doesn’t necessarily need to buy a product for the affiliate to get a kickback. For example, some brands will pay to have consumers sign up for their mailing lists or even for downloading a cool app. Here are the most common ways an affiliate marketer gets paid in 2020.

Pay Per Sale or CPS (Cost Per Sale)

Cost per sale is the most universally common approach to affiliate marketing. In most CPS programs, the advertiser pays the affiliate a percentage of the cart after the consumer completes a purchase for the goods or services on the advertiser’s site. Cost Per Sale does not only apply to physical products but can extend to digital ones like a subscription to the New York Times. Typically, CPS programs use a last-click attribution model. In this model, the affiliate must be the last source to send the customer to the advertiser’s website via their tracking link to get credit for the conversion (I.e. to get paid).  

Pay Per Lead or CPL (Cost Per Lead)

Pay-Per-Lead programs are becoming increasingly popular offerings in affiliate marketing. In this payment type, affiliates will drive the consumer towards completing an action that qualifies as a new lead. For example, customers can complete a quote request, sign up for a demo, subscribe to a newsletter or even downloading an ebook about CBD (this link is an example of a CPL affiliate link).

Pay Per Click or CPC (Cost Per Click)

These programs are likely the most similar to standard advertising or media buying campaigns. Affiliates will incentivize their audience to go from their properties to the advertiser’s websites. Affiliates are then paid for the web traffic that came via their unique affiliate links. While less common, advertisers will use CPC programs to drive high-quality traffic from niche or premium affiliates. For example, a brand like CBDFx could pay for traffic from the CBD Distillery as it attracts an audience highly interested in CBD recipes and CBD products.

Pay Per Impression or CPM (Cost Per Mille)

CPM programs are becoming increasingly rare in the affiliate marketing space. However, many CPM offers still exist, especially with larger media sites such as The Independent or the Muse. CPM programs typically require an affiliate to host a banner with a special affiliate tracking link on their website, newsletter or other owned digital property. Advertisers then pay affiliates an agreed-upon rate for every 1,000 views of these banners. CPM works best for affiliates with extremely large amounts of high-quality traffic, where visitors will spend a lot of time on each page or visit multiple pages in a single session.  

Earn Money From a Top CBD Network

Refer customers to a huge selection of CBD brands and earn as much as 30% of the customer’s first purchase. Sign up today to become a part of the fastest growing CBD affiliate network.

  • Earn unlimited commissions while promoting a healthy product.
  • Custom creative targeted to your audience and platform
  • A dedicated account manager and CRO specialist to support your efforts

Common Types of Affiliate Marketing Channels

Most affiliates share a few unique methods to ensure that their audience is continuously engaged and open to acquiring promoted products. However, not every affiliate promotes their product in the exact same way. As time has passed, there are a few tried and true marketing channels that the majority of affiliates may leverage to market CBD brands.

Influencers or Content Creators

Influencers are considered individuals who have the ability to impact the decision-making of a large segment in a given population. That decision may include a purchase, which makes most modern-day social influencers a natural fit for CBD affiliate marketing. Most have a strong social following and an innate ability to connect with audiences makes it easy for them to direct consumers to a brand’s products via social media posts, blogs, email and other conversations with their followers. In this model, influencers act as publishers and receive a share of the profits they help to create.

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While bloggers and influencers are often used interchangeably, bloggers tend to have a stronger appetite for creating content on their own websites. As a result, they tend to rank organically in search engine queries in ways that the conventional influencer will not. Bloggers review a brand’s product or service in an enticing fashion and drive traffic back to the brand’s website. Standard reviews may include comparisons of competitors or in-depth considerations in a text or video format.

Similar to the influencer, bloggers are rewarded for leveraging their influence to evangelize the product or service and increasing the brand’s sales. Unlike the influencer, a well-optimized blog post can continue to drive traffic to the brand long after its initial creation date.

Hemp Magazine is an example of a popular blog that covers CBD and hemp news and culture.

Paid Media Focused Microsites

Microsites still have their place in the modern affiliate marketer’s lexicon. These sites are typically promoted via a partner site, paid search or social media ads. While they typically include some elements of the partner brand, they are distinct enough and separate from both the affiliate’s and partner’s main website. Instead, these sites offer a dedicated experience that is more focused on a specific audience or niche (such as CBD products for young women), which often leads to increased conversions due to less clutter on the page.

Mailing Lists

We are not talking about postal mail here. Email marketing remains one of the most profitable and sustainable channels of digital marketers and this is true for affiliates as well. Many affiliates have email lists of people interested in new products or offerings where they can promote a brand’s product. Others will have a weekly newsletter with an opportunity to integrate a brand into their content or drive traffic to another landing page. Yet still, others slowly build lists to specific vertical overtime to sell unique products from several brands. Regardless of the method, email-focused affiliates collect subscribers by the boatload to market new products or services.  

Large Publisher Sites

Most large publisher sites are designed with a niche or a focus that can appeal to / attract millions of potential visitors a month. For CBD brands, these large publisher sites may be health and wellness sites, product review sites or even pop culture sites. Large publisher sites typically use banners, social posts, contextual affiliate links (in their content), sponsored content or even mailing lists to drive new offers from brands to their massive audiences. As their audience is built to trust the brand and any product recommendations, large publisher sites provide strong conversion rates and the most revenue for everyone involved. Looking for an example of a large publisher or media site? Think Goop for wellness or Men’s Fitness for physical training. 

Why Be a CBD Affiliate Marketer?

With the many ways an individual or company can make money online, what are the top reasons to be a CBD affiliate marketer? There are quite a few, some of which we have highlighted below:

Residual or Passive Income

While most have some sort of regular or stable job to drive most of their money, affiliate marketing allows publishers to make money at all times. For an individual, making money while you sleep is a reality with affiliate marketing. Similarly, for a larger organization, affiliate marketing can help to offset business costs or even be a primary driver of revenue. While most affiliate campaigns involve some upfront investment in adding banners or links to a website or sharing coupon codes, that time typically will drive revenue for days, weeks and even months to come. Even when your work has finished, others searching the web may still come across your banners or links, earning a steady flow of income almost passively.

Passive Income from CBD Affiliate Marketing
Affiliates can earn revenue passively while promoting a number of different CBD brands.

No Product or Service Management 

Unlike advertisers, who in most cases have to manufacture or stock products or build and support services, affiliates typically are not involved in the production. Affiliates can build marketing funnels to guide visitors to products or services without much cost or hassle. Additionally, affiliates don’t have to worry about customer service or managing returns and refund requests either. For the bulk of affiliates, this is a very cost-effective and low expense stream of revenue.

Operate from Anywhere

As an affiliate, there is no set time to report to “work”, no “office” to go to each day or “boss” to report to. Affiliates can easily launch new campaigns and receive revenue from advertisers they prefer to work with or represent. For most affiliates, this allows for work to be done anywhere. Whether from home, at a coffee shop or an airport terminal. Combined with residual income, affiliate marketing can be very lucrative.

Performance-Based Earnings

Most affiliate programs have no limitations on performance. In comparison, earnings from most salaried jobs do not change whether working a forty or sixty-hour work-week. Affiliates see more growth as they attract a larger audience and drive more sales, usually without limits. The more sales an affiliate makes, the more they earn.

Convenient and Flexible

Affiliates can set their own goals and cherry-pick which products or services they want to promote. They can choose when and typically where (with some restrictions) they promote their advertisers. For example, a beauty influencer might choose to promote a brand’s nourishing CBD skin care cream, but won’t be as interested in promoting their 500mg CBD oil. Affiliates not only have their choice of advertisers but can work with multiple advertisers and different programs simultaneously at their choosing.

Multiple Channels for Marketing

Just as affiliates can choose which brands, what products or services and when they promote, affiliates can also choose with channels to use. With a few exceptions, most advertiser programs allow affiliates to promote their offers across virtually every digital platform.

Influencers or content creators may prefer to promote their affiliates via social channels. A fitness influencer would create a post for CBD-infused coffee via Instagram Stories. An online magazine may create a sponsored blog post comparing the top must-have CBD facial serums. This blog post can even be featured on their homepage and via Pinterest. Another affiliate may manage a list of 35,000 email subscribers and include offers in their weekly roundup. A video-focused affiliate would include a few CBD brands they love in their YouTube videos.

Affiliates can choose from several channels to promote their offers. On the OneQor Digital Affiliate network, affiliates can easily promote offers from the best CBD brands online and even offline.    

What are the Top CBD Affiliate Marketing Trends of 2020?

Each year, affiliate marketing becomes more and more advanced as new laws, rules, and regulations change the field on what can and cannot be measured in different markets. For cannabinoids, the increasingly divisive digital environment over where CBD brands can and cannot advertise has led to increased investment in influencer-focused affiliate programs in particular.

Diversification of Attribution and Tracking

For a very long time, most affiliate platforms (and most paid media platforms as well) ran with last-click attribution. This is when the source driving the last click before the conversion would receive 100% of the credit (I.e. the commission) for the conversion. However, this is slowly changing. As affiliate platforms become more sophisticated and advance their ability to analyze data, the ability to see cross-channel performance improves as well. In this way, brands can see if the final conversion involved traffic from one or more affiliates or was truly the result of a single affiliate.

Influencer Marketing Increasing in Value

Specifically for the CBD vertical, influencer marketing has increasingly become an important channel for promoting CBD products. In the past, large affiliates would be able to leverage coupon sites and media platforms to drive traffic to a near-infinite number of advertisers. As the internet becomes more fragmented by community and niche, these practices are slowly becoming less valuable. Influencers, on the other hand, are uniquely positioned to leverage their targeted following for successful affiliate marketing campaigns. While traffic volumes and overall reach per influencer may be lower, conversion rates should see a lift from a more willing and digitally active audience consuming their content.

Data Collection Laws Have Increasing Impact

The General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR (which went into effect in May 2018) and the California Consumer Privacy Act or CCPA (which went into effect in January 2020), are just two of the more recent laws affecting how affiliates and advertisers can collect and store personal information about a customer. These laws push some affiliates to change how they collect user data, requiring opt-in consent even if it’s not necessarily European traffic. Furthermore, these laws layer over FTC guidelines and CAN-SPAM regulations, which already aggressively require consent and disclosure permissions for advertising. With such zealous data collection laws and more on the horizon, affiliates are becoming increasingly judicious with offers they accept.  

Private Groups Allow for More 

Private Groups are the new frontier for social media, as it heightens the sense of community and increases the sense of trust and privacy that social media once promised. Even Zuckerberg has famously agreed that the future of social is private. Increasingly, brands are turning towards private groups as a way to control or further their message, whether through direct ownership of the group or an advocate. Private groups typically are highly focused around a particular topic, such as the best CBD products for anxiety and rarely have other conversations concurrently.  

Chatbots Drive Increased Attention to CBD

Messenger marketing has continued its meteoric rise in popularity. The market is led by the increasingly popular Facebook Messenger, ever-prominent WhatsApp and others like Telegram and WeChat. This increased usage places increased pressure on brands to be responsive in multiple channels, leading to an explosion in the use of chatbots or some form of AI to communicate with clients or customers. Chatbots can be used to funnel traffic to ideal landing pages for CBD affiliates, increasing the chance of conversion due to ever-present, high quality AI curated recommendations. 

What Marketing Strategies Do CBD Affiliates Employ in 2020?

Every year, new tools and capabilities fall into the laps of affiliate marketers. Some of these tools are in response to new regulations affecting established affiliate marketing tactics. 2020 should be no different and based upon the top marketing trends, affiliates will likely employ a mixture of new and proven tactics to improve their conversions in competitive markets like CBD. Here are some of the top affiliate marketing strategies we see affiliates employing in 2020.

Be Mindful of Paid Channels

Particularly for affiliates that leverage paid media, certain popular media sources are very aggressive in restricting ads regarding CBD products. Facebook, Google, Reddit, and Twitter are just four such platforms. These limitations in exposure through major platforms are part of the reason so many CBD brands are turning to affiliate marketing to grow sales. However, many affiliates are starting to identify workarounds to continue driving targeted audiences from paid channels to convert on offers.

Promote Products from Multiple Advertisers

Early on, affiliates tend to stick to one to two advertisers they know. As they become more familiar in the space and comprehend what drives conversion for their audience, they slowly shift to working with multiple brands. This helps buffer audiences against repeatedly being exposed to the same brands. Additionally, affiliates diversify their revenue stream, so they aren’t stuck with one brand’s commissions, landing pages or conversion funnels. 

Recommend Only Trusted or Well Reviewed Products

Affiliates are only as valuable as their audience, so maintaining trust with their audience is paramount to success. Recommending products that have been poorly reviewed or are a poor fit for the audience are two of the fastest ways to lose trust. Recommending products they have never used before also damages their audiences’ trust. In general, affiliates that perform well do not push their audience to purchase products they don’t believe in. The goal as an affiliate is to provide helpful recommendations for high-quality goods and services. This will encourage visitors to repeatedly seek out their expertise.    

Test and Optimize Conversion Rates 

The best affiliates never consider their work to be over. For example, if an affiliate gets 10,000 visits each month to their promotion site at a 1% conversion rate, they drove 100 conversions. To double their conversions, the affiliate can either acquire twice as many visitors or increase their conversion rate to 2%. Which would be more challenging? Instead of buying ads or doing months of organic search optimization work to increase their traffic, the affiliate can just increase their conversion rate by 1%. Key areas to examine are dropoffs in user funnels, testing different calls-to-action, landing pages or even making the page load faster. These activities, collectively known as conversation rate optimization, are part of the toolkit for the top CBD affiliate marketers. By continuously testing and optimizing their sites, the best affiliates drive far greater results with far less effort.  

Benefits To Joining the OneQor Digital Affiliate Program

If you’re an affiliate looking to promote CBD brands or at least learn more about why CBD affiliate marketing is so lucrative for affiliates in the space, here are a few benefits to joining the OneQor Digital Affiliate program

OneQor Digital Affiliate Dashboard
OneQor Digital’s Affiliate platform allows for easy tracking and management of affiliate campaigns for both advertisers and publishers.

High Industry Commissions

The OneQor Digital affiliate program typically has commissions in the range of 15 – 20% and as high as 25% for select affiliates with no cap on commissions and no limits on earnings. OneQor Digital uses a high-value 90-day conversion window, allowing affiliates to earn more on sales for up to three months. Affiliates also have no obligations and minimum commitments to join the program with premium support to all our partners.

Strategic Growth & Support

In the OneQor Digital affiliate program, there are no favorites. Your account manager will always take the time to connect with you and understand any challenges you may have to help you grow and drive more sales. You will have access to an affiliate expert whose focus will be to understand your business and goals.

Our team includes conversion optimization experts who can work with you to maximize your commissions and earnings per click. We provide 1 to 1 support for scheduled calls and emails and regularly connect with our affiliates to highlight new opportunities and offers.

Whether you manage a blog, mailing list or large social audiences, our goal is to help you continuously grow and increase your affiliate earnings.

Robust Tracking and Analytics

Our affiliate tracking platform keeps tracks of your clicks, tests, sales, and commissions. You can take confidence in knowing your performance at a glance and devise new methods to grow around the clock. Within the same dashboard, you can see your earnings and schedule payments as well as get approved for new programs.

Easy Promotional Tools

Our affiliate tracking platform allows publishers to easily access coupon codes, custom banners, emails and text links to promote via websites, social media or email programs. OneQor Digital’s Affiliate program is designed to make marketing your affiliate offers as seamless as possible. 

Join the OneQor Digital Affiliate Program

If you have an audience interested in purchasing high-quality CBD products, learning about the best CBD brands or simply want to learn more about how versatile cannabinoids can be in improving their overall health, we encourage you to apply for the OneQor Digital Affiliate program. Our team carefully reviews every application, to ensure only the highest quality affiliates are approved. But once approved, you will receive access to our affiliate platform for tracking, payments, reporting, and other critical functions. You’ll be able to see offers you can apply for and easily get links you can immediately begin promoting to your audience. At OneQor Digital, we are committed to the success of our affiliate partners.

Earn Money From a Top CBD Network

Refer customers to a huge selection of CBD brands and earn as much as 30% of the customer’s first purchase. Sign up today to become a part of the fastest growing CBD affiliate network.

  • Earn unlimited commissions while promoting a healthy product.
  • Custom creative targeted to your audience and platform
  • A dedicated account manager and CRO specialist to support your efforts

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