Buzzfeed Affiliate Marketing 1

How BuzzFeed Mastered Affiliate Marketing

It all starts with a social media post. A fun but intriguing title.

I click on it. You click on it. We all click.

And just like that, we suck ourselves up. We mindlessly scroll through products we don’t need and probably will never need.

That’s the power of affiliate marketing at Buzzfeed.

This article will examine how BuzzFeed has mastered affiliate marketing and has become one of the most effective marketing channels for mega e-commerce retailers like Amazon and Walmart.

About BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed.com is a digital media company focused on producing original viral content for millennials, including articles, news and entertainment, quizzes, Buzzfeed reviews, and videos based on interest and pop culture topics. Popular with college students and millennials alike, the institution was founded in 2006 by Jonah Peretti and John S. Johnson III. Now, Kenneth Lerer, co-founder and president of Huffington Post, is its executive chairman.

The site is best known for its “Lists”. The term may be foreign.

You probably know what it is. The content is part article and part list. Consider articles like “5 best moisturizers for oily skin” or “10 Things You Need for Winter”.

This is BuzzFeed.

And their content strategy has worked pretty well for them, with a global audience of over 520 million and over 3 billion content views per month.

BuzzFeed’s Affiliate Marketing Strategy

Posts with affiliate links have a disclaimer inserted between the title and the article.

  • We hope you like the products we recommend! All independently selected by our editors. As you know, BuzzFeed may receive a share of sales or other compensation from links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI – prices are correct and items in stock at the time of publication.*

Affiliate links play an important role in BuzzFeed’s overall strategy. 7 out of 10 users say Buzzfeed content inspires them to make purchasing decisions, and in 2019 BuzzFeed generated more than $425 million in directly attributable transactions. But beyond being a source of income, the BuzzFeed co-founder says it’s a way to change the entire marketing ecosystem.

The two most important players in this chain are the publisher, which encourages the consumer to take action, and the companies that actually deliver the product. But most of the profit is captured by digital intermediaries, who do not create much value.

This strategy highlights the benefits of affiliate marketing such as:

  • Connecting the consumer directly to the company
  • Being an alternative to high advertising costs on Google and Facebook
  • Creating content that has value and engages audiences

How is BuzzFeed content great for affiliate marketing?

BuzzFeed content has proven particularly effective for affiliate marketing. The site has become a specialist in developing unique content with added affiliate promotions, rather than just showing the product and providing a link. They are killing the game when it comes to affiliate marketing.

An important aspect of BuzzFeed’s content is that readers learn. While sometimes trivial, the content is informative and interesting at the same time.

For example, they know that viewers aren’t interested in an article about home loans. However, they would be drawn to titles like “10 Ways to Save Money by Fooling Yourself.” Using memes and single lines, this article is an easy read for the audience while it includes a walkthrough on how Bank of America can help with finances.

BuzzFeed also creates engaging content.

This is especially true for BuzzFeed Exams. With about 8 tests published every day, the content made users addicted. So much so that 96% of users who start BuzzFeed quizzes actually finish them.

With affiliate promotions strategically placed in the test, this content builds brand awareness and directs users to purchase the products they choose during the test.

BuzzFeed has attracted big brands for affiliate promotions, from finance like American Express and Bank of America to automotive like Volkswagen and Toyota and casual fashion like H&M and Kohls.

The site has even formed exclusive partnerships with Walmart through their Tasty cooking video series. The partnership includes creating recipes with ingredients that readers can purchase through Walmart’s online grocery shopping. Additionally, in November 2020, Buzzfeed joined forces with Belessa in a strategic partnership that uses affiliate marketing, original products and media sponsorship with the sex and love categories.

But above all, the most significant brand presence in BuzzFeed comes from Amazon, the largest e-commerce retailer.

The relationship between Amazon and BuzzFeed

Amazon products have become a fixture in BuzzFeed’s content. There are even dedicated tabs and shopping features that direct customers to purchase via affiliate links.

This is always most obvious on Amazon Prime Day. For the big sale, Amazon has taken over the site entirely, with a massive amount of content, Prime Day-exclusive listings, to drive traffic to BuzzFeed’s shopping page.

In the weeks leading up to Prime Day, BuzzFeed experimented with content, optimizing its content strategies and focusing on promoting high-converting products. Their experiments resulted in huge numbers of more than 904k content clicks in 2 days.

Additionally, Buzzfeed has its own branded Amazon store that earns them an affiliate commission even if you go directly to the page. Above it is a scrollable story bar with short quotes about products and lists of different categories, including “TikTok made me buy” and “Amazing Amazon Finds.” You can easily find the best Amazon products to buy here, according to Buzzfeed.

If you click on any of the categories, you will see a drop-down menu with images and prices of the products. You can click on any of them to buy. Simple, right?

But how does Buzzfeed achieve its affiliate marketing strategy so effectively?

Buzzfeed specializes in persuading their readers to buy something using social proof, and that marketing is powerful. Up to 88% of consumers trust user reviews as well as personal recommendations. And Buzzfeed nails it.

social proof

Any shopping-themed list always has different products.

At the beginning of each article is a list of popular items. Doing this is a great trick for the subconscious mind. Makes you think other people are buying this product so it should be fine.

The popular products list gives you the option to go directly to the product or see it in the list. Social proof example 1:

Below each product image is the price, with a short description describing the product, a promising review from a happy customer below, and a link to Amazon. Promising reviews are from Amazon itself and are not reviews by Buzzfeed staff. Buzzfeed does this because they know people trust other users. Social proof example 2:

If that wasn’t enough to convince you to buy something using a Buzzfeed affiliate link, if they’ve reviewed a product, they’ll link to the product just below the promising review, thus providing more social proof to their readers.

Clicking on the link takes you to a comprehensive review of the product, written by someone who has tried the product, and this includes any social proof. In short, Buzzfeed is convincing. Social proof example 3:

Making it as simple as possible for people

When convincing someone to buy anything, making the process as simple as possible is one of the main ways to persuade people to buy. Buzzfeed is an absolute master at this and has optimized their website to make it easy to buy.

Not only do the products have affiliate links that you can click and go directly to the product on Amazon, but many items also have a bright pink button below each item to add to your wishlist. It stands out and people are likely to click. It also means you don’t have to stay or save an article to find the products you want to buy, because everything is saved in one place.

Clicking “Add to wishlist” adds the product to a Buzzfeed list that you can access when you’re logged in, making it super easy to purchase. Everything you like in one place. Then all you have to do is click “Get” and go directly to the item on the website. Simple, clear and fast.

Not only that, at the end of each article they invite you to sign up for their newsletter where they will send products to your inbox, so you don’t even have to go to Buzzfeed to find something. You can just click on your email.

Buzzfeed Shopping page optimized for sales

Buzzfeed’s shopping category is optimized for selling products. When you click on the shopping category, you will be taken to a special page. Here you can find all the different articles and popular products listed.

The shopping category, designed to create a desire to buy, is persuasive. Browse articles, popular products, and editors’ picks.

Articles convince you on some level and popular products tell you what others have bought. Shows popular articles in any category that the editor chooses. The whole page is screaming “buy something”.

If you’re looking for a gift, there are even Buzzfeed gift guides.

Buzzfeed has mastered affiliate marketing strategies by consolidating everything in one place, simplifying it, optimizing the website for sales, and providing social proof that is truly compelling.

Inferences from BuzzFeed

Their self-reported insights showed that BuzzFeed’s commerce business, which includes affiliate links and product licensing, grew to 21% of total revenue last year, up from 9% in previous years.

On top of that, BuzzFeed has expanded its affiliate business to Japan, Australia, UK, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and India. Expanding globally provides more opportunities for BuzzFeed to promote international brands and reach wider audiences using social proof, simplicity and optimization to maximize their potential revenue.

BuzzFeed’s growing affiliate strategy – coupled with the vested interests of big brands – sends the message that affiliate marketing is permanent.


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