Education Affiliate Marketing: How To Maximize Your Earnings [+10 Best Affiliate Programs]

Oleksandr Rohovnin
Content Marketer
14 minute read
Oleksandr Rohovnin
Content Marketer
14 minute read

Never has a student’s digital toolbox been so diverse and education affiliate marketing opportunities so ample. As the post-pandemic world drifts online, the right e-learning affiliate program can make you hundreds of thousands of dollars and even more.

E-learning is so that you’ll easily find advertising opportunities for yourself. You can even dare to explore the darkest side of it – like paid essays – just to know what exists out there (make no mistake, I’m against any unethical practices).

Source: GIPHY

To make money with education affiliate marketing, though, I’ve compiled this guide for you.

How Does Education Affiliate Marketing Work?

Anyone familiar with affiliate marketing basics will gladly embrace its online education avenue, as the underlying rules are the same: publishers and affiliates promote advertisers’ education affiliate programs, online courses, and eLearning opportunities in exchange for a commission.

Here’s what sets education affiliate marketing apart from most niches:

Prolonged Decision-Making Taking an online source is a significant commitment, so education referrals tend to meticulously weigh all the pros and cons before taking action. For affiliates, this translates into the necessity of proving the long-term value of the education affiliate marketing program in question.
Higher Average Check Online courses range from a few dozen to a few thousand dollars. For example, stock market courses may cost thousands of dollars. As an affiliate marketer, you must go the extra mile to convert such high-ticket referrals.
Recurring Commissions Most online courses operate on a subscription basis, so affiliates can earn recurring commissions if the program allows. This means you often have to nurture the referral beyond the first conversion.

The nuances vary from one eLearning niche to another. For example, undertaking an online doctoral program is usually a much more complex decision for the student—requiring persuasive marketing—than taking a photography crash course or attending a language workshop.

Take a Tour

The Most Popular Niches for Education Affiliate Marketing

Online education is considered a high-ticket niche because of its higher-than-average customer lifetime value and check. Affiliate commissions in online education reach 30%, with an ROI of up to 900% for publishers able to snatch purchase-prone referrals from competitors.

But then again, every education sub-niche has its pros and cons, so you might want to scrupulously analyze the product you are going to advertise before unrolling the campaigns.

For the general market analysis, I’d suggest this table as your starting point:

Comparing eLearning niches for education affiliate marketing by 5 parameters: target audience, demand, commissions, competition, and difficulty

Some sub-niches might be a tough nut to track. For example, healthcare education, legal studies, and scientific training might require special knowledge, so it might be reasonable to focus on what you know best or at least ensure you have the right creatives and promo materials.

Let’s Talk Numbers: CPA, CPL, and CPC for the E-Learning Niche

One of the most burning questions is how much you need to spend to acquire or sell one customer. This is where metrics like cost-per-action, cost-per-lead, and cost-per-click kick in.

Here’s the average online education CPC for Google Ads search advertising:

Statistics on the average CPC in Google Ads search advertising for online education by country

Source: Statista

Customers from the United States will cost you times more than the rest of the world, a trend that is true for almost any other market. CPA-wise, you might expect to pay around $10 per 1,000 impressions to Google or Facebook, whereas using an agency will double or triple this price.

Read also: Does Pay-per-Lead Marketing Provide a Winning Formula for Businesses?

At the same time, acquiring a lead in online education costs around $120 on average, with around 4.5% of these leads converting, including a 10% visitor-to-trial conversion and a 24.80% trial-to-paid conversion.

And now the gist: the lifetime earnings from one lead in online education exceed $7,000, an incredible 500% ROI. You might have to spend around $1,500 on converting a client, but this will pay off five times over within the lead’s marketing lifespan.

Take a Tour

Education Affiliate Marketing: Markets, Niches, and Audiences

Not only is online education extremely profitable for affiliate marketers, but it’s growing across all avenues—online learning platforms, online university education, and professional certificates—and is expected to amount to almost $280 billion globally by 2029.

Having tripled since 2017, online education is becoming ever more profitable for affiliates:

Statistics on the global online revenue expectations for online learning platforms, online university education, and professional certificates

Source: Statista

However, the average check varies dramatically by the type of service. An average check for enrolling in an online university program is around $3,900 versus $80 to $90 for an online certification program.

Here’s the visualization of the disparity:

Statistics on the average revenue per user by online education type - online learning platforms, online university education, and professional certificates

Source: Statista

But then again, it doesn’t mean promoting university programs is more beneficial per se. While the margin for big programs might be higher, persuading applicants to enroll is way more difficult. I’d recommend playing to your strengths rather than pursuing the check.

Location-wise, I won’t reinvent the wheel by saying that the United States remains the best GEO for education affiliate marketing by a huge margin.

Here’s how online education in the United States stands against the global market:

Comparing online education worldwide vs. the United States by 5 parameters: 2024 revenue, per-user 2024 revenue, 2024 total users, 2029 market volume, and 2024-2029 CAGR

Focusing on e-learners from the United States might be even more beneficial in the long run since online education marketing in the US is expected to develop faster than the global average.

Audience-wise, I’d consider analyzing the current online educational programs in the United States. The most popular buyers include adult students and transfer students (those switching institutions). At the same time, only 25% of programs consider students from other countries.

Statistics on the target population of online education programs in the United States

Source: Statista

Last but not least, if you’re willing to dig deep into the data, here’s the National Center for Education Statistics report on the students enrolled in degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the United States in fall 2021 and fall 2022:

The National Center for Education Statistics report on the students enrolled in degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the United States in fall 2021 and fall 2022

Source: NCES

Organic Demand in Online Education: What U.S. Consumers Search For

Now that you know the United States is your number one market, it might make sense to analyze the organic demand. In Ahrefs, you can do it in just a few minutes by typing the target keywords like “online education” and “eLearning.”

Here are the top 15 USA-based requests around the topic of “online education:”

Top 15 USA-based search queries on the topic of online education

You don’t have to become an SEO professional to see that higher and elementary online education are the two dominant requests for the group. If your business matches any of these, do further research to find some high-volume, low-competition keywords of the kind.

And here’s the same data for the “eLearning” keyword:

Top 15 USA-based search queries on the topic of eLearning

If the “online education” group is dominated by generic keywords like “online education degree” or “online master’s in education,” the “eLearning” group is rife with branded keywords like “uf elearning,” a double-edged sword for an affiliate marketer.

And here’s why: Although branded keywords help you zero in on potential partners – like the University of Florida – these keywords are almost useless for any other purpose. Users searching for an online degree from the University of Florida are quite unlikely to buy anything else.

Related read: Check out these SEO tools for affiliate marketing.

AI and Education: Game-Changer or a Trojan Horse?

On the one hand, 65% of students believe artificial intelligence (AI) will improve learning. On the other hand, 85% of undergraduate students said they want AI tools to be vetted by trusted academic sources.

There are even more concerns among teachers and pundits: the insufficient depth and quality of learning, loss of human interaction, data privacy, and biases.

The pros and cons of AI in education

Where does this leave us? I have no idea, nor has anyone else.

Even Elon finds it tough:

 

I can only say with clarity that AI will continue reshaping online education by allowing students to consume dozens and hundreds of times more data than before. As for the challenges, the biggest one, in my opinion, is ensuring this data is truthful, reliable, and unbiased.

Your 10 Best Education Affiliate Programs

Udemy

Udemy homepage - an online learning platform that offers an affiliate program for online education

Monthly Visits Page Per Visit Time On Site Bounce Rate Direct Traffic Search Traffic Paid Referral Traffic Referral Traffic Mail Traffic Social Traffic
101,295,364 7 590 0.37 67.53% 18.67% 1.71% 1.84% 3.43% 6.81%

Udemy is an online learning platform that offers the most wanted online courses across business, tech, personal development, and more, alongside an affiliate program for websites with at least 500 unique monthly visits and 500 followers on social media.

The baseline commission is 10% of affiliate sales, increasing based on performance. The cookie duration time is 7 days: even if the referral hasn’t made a purchase immediately, you still have 7 days for them to buy the product in question and receive a commission.

Udemy Education Affiliate Marketing Program – Application page

 

MasterClass

MasterClass homepage - an online educational platform that runs an affiliate program for online education

Monthly Visits Page Per Visit Time On Site Bounce Rate Direct Traffic Search Traffic Paid Referral Traffic Referral Traffic Mail Traffic Social Traffic
7,940,773 2 108 0.62 30.98% 62.60% 1.40% 1.18% 1.13% 2.70%

MasterClass is an online educational platform that provides classes by renowned experts and niche professionals across industries. It also runs an affiliate program through Skimlinks and Impact affiliate networks for various GEOs.

  • Skimlinks: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, the UK, and the US
  • Impact: Global coverage

The commission is the same 25% of the order sale amount on Skimlinks and Impact. The cookie window is 30 days on Impact.

MasterClass Education Affiliate Marketing Program – Application page

 

Teachable

Teachable homepage - an online eLearning platform running an affiliate program for online education

Monthly Visits Page Per Visit Time On Site Bounce Rate Direct Traffic Search Traffic Paid Referral Traffic Referral Traffic Mail Traffic Social Traffic
14,834,307 4 285 0.48 64.87% 9.50% 0.46% 9.62% 5.10% 10.44%

Teachable is a platform where everyone can create and promote online education courses, coaching services, and helpful digital materials. Likewise, Teachable runs an affiliate program that offers up to 30% commission with a 30-day cookie duration.

The best thing about the Teachable affiliate program is that it offers recurring payments, meaning you can earn commissions repeatedly from the same referral as long as they keep making purchases. The platform also offers tested marketing materials and tracking links.

Teachable Education Affiliate Marketing Program – Application page

 

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning page - an online platform running an affiliate program for online education courses

Monthly Visits Page Per Visit Time On Site Bounce Rate Direct Traffic Search Traffic Paid Referral Traffic Referral Traffic Mail Traffic Social Traffic
1,874,665,475 8 453 0.26 71.96% 23.05% 0.03% 2.11% 2.10% 0.74%

LinkedIn Learning enables over 15,000 various online courses that anyone with a LinkedIn affiliate account can promote to earn a 10% commission on a free trial sign-up and 35% on the online course purchase. The cookie duration is 30 days.

The advantages of the LinkedIn Learning affiliate program are that it’s available globally, and the courses are in seven languages, so you effectively cater to Europeans—German, Spanish, French, Portuguese— Japanese, and Chinese.

How to apply for the LinkedIn Learning Affiliate Program

 

Skillshare

Skillshare homepage - an online educational hub that runs an affiliate program

Monthly Visits Page Per Visit Time On Site Bounce Rate Direct Traffic Search Traffic Paid Referral Traffic Referral Traffic Mail Traffic Social Traffic
5,460,464 4 167 0.5 53.65% 30.56% 1.76% 1.56% 3.03% 9.44%

Skillshare is an online educational hub for practical learning and community collaborations. The platform runs an affiliate program that offers up to 40% commission – up to $67 – for every referred customer.

Skillshare’s library provides over 29,000 online classes and 60,000 student projects, including monthly special offers, so you always have plenty of promotional opportunities. The cookie duration is 30 days, and all publishers can track their referrals in real-time.

Skillshare Education Affiliate Marketing Program – Application page

 

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone homepage - an eLearning platform that runs an affiliate program

Monthly Visits Page Per Visit Time On Site Bounce Rate Direct Traffic Search Traffic Paid Referral Traffic Referral Traffic Mail Traffic Social Traffic
2,720,456 8 526 0.39 60.26% 27.79% 1.21% 4.45% 2.78% 3.50%

Rosetta Stone is a well-known language learning platform where publishers can advertise products to 25 language groups through an affiliate marketing program. The commission is 7% per order, and the cookie lasts 30 days. The minimum payouts are not set.

Rosetta Stone Education Affiliate Marketing Program – Application page

 

The Princeton Review

The Princeton Review homepage - an online education platform that runs an affiliate program

Monthly Visits Page Per Visit Time On Site Bounce Rate Direct Traffic Search Traffic Paid Referral Traffic Referral Traffic Mail Traffic Social Traffic
1,811,966 4 174 0.51 39.29% 53.38% 0.45% 3.08% 1.84% 1.96%

The Princeton Review is an online education platform that prepares students for standardized college entrance tests like SAT, LSAT, ACT, GRE, and more. As an affiliate, you can earn up to a 7% commission on referral sales within the Princeton Review affiliate program.

The commission percentage might not seem big, but the average sale of $900 makes it around $65 per sale, a decent amount compared to other educational affiliate programs. However, not all products pay equally well, starting from 3% for admissions counseling and going up to 7% for live online courses.

Princeton Education Affiliate Marketing – Application page

 

Udacity

Udacity homepage - an online learning platform that runs an affiliate program

Monthly Visits Page Per Visit Time On Site Bounce Rate Direct Traffic Search Traffic Paid Referral Traffic Referral Traffic Mail Traffic Social Traffic
1,747,526 7 438 0.4 60.52% 26.07% 0.64% 4.69% 2.45% 5.63%

Udacity is an online learning platform dedicated to technology and innovation, catering to newcomers and professionals willing to advance their skills and knowledge. The education hub runs an affiliate program that pays 24% of the enrollment fee, with a 30-day cookie window.

The Audacity affiliate program is tiered: publishers earn 1% of the sub-publisher’s commissions—$100 per every $10,000 made by sub-publishers—and climb up revenue share tiers to earn up to 10% of commission from sub-publishers.

Udacity Education Affiliate Marketing Program – Application page

 

Coursera

Coursera homepage - an online education platform that runs an affiliate program

Monthly Visits Page Per Visit Time On Site Bounce Rate Direct Traffic Search Traffic Paid Referral Traffic Referral Traffic Mail Traffic Social Traffic
57,596,644 9 653 0.39 63.21% 23.05% 1.53% 2.01% 3.86% 6.34%

Coursera is an eLearning platform that offers degree programs, online courses, and professional certificates in partnership with renowned universities and educational organizations.

Affiliates can earn up to a 15% to 45% commission on over 4,000 online courses, with a cookie duration window of 30 days. Recurring commissions included.

Coursera B2C Education Affiliate Marketing Program – Application page

 

Kaplan

Kaplan homepage - an online learning platform that provides an affiliate program

Monthly Visits Page Per Visit Time On Site Bounce Rate Direct Traffic Search Traffic Paid Referral Traffic Referral Traffic Mail Traffic Social Traffic
738,739 4 321 0.6 46.35% 38.16% 0.24% 9.75% 4.24% 1.25%

Kaplan is a well-known global provider of language courses and educational programs that offers an affiliate program through FlexOffers. Now, the old program has been terminated and replaced with a new one: Kaplan Test Prep Affiliate Program, which offers up to a 5% commission per sale and a cookie duration window of 30 days.

Application page

Read also: 18 Top Affiliate Marketing Software Suites for Affiliate Management

Take Your Education Affiliate Marketing to the Next Level With Lynx & Call Logic

It’s not only the niche and the partners that determine your affiliate income but also how well you handle your campaigns: the accuracy of attribution, the knowledge of your target audience, whether you issue affiliate payouts on time, and many other nuances.

Take a Tour

To streamline it all without breaking a sweat, we at Phonexa developed Lynx – affiliate marketing software that covers affiliate campaigns through and through, unlocking incoming and outgoing traffic for you and automating the process.

Here are the three key benefits you will get with Lynx:

  • Real-time performance tracking. Whether buying or selling leads, you run real-time performance analysis on advertisers and affiliate offers, doubling down on the most profitable traffic channels and eliminating ones dragging you down.
  • Referral journey control. As an affiliate, you can use centralized management for all your offers to ensure your traffic meets the advertiser’s expectations—or simply choose matching advertisers for your leads.
  • Exhaustive lead insights. Knowing your leads’ demographics, psychographics, and history of interactions can help you generate and convert more of them while focusing on the most prospective clients.

Here’s more about Lynx:

 

Here’s a snapshot from the dashboard:

Phonexa Lynx's dashboard insights

As you can see, there are other solutions in the bundle, one of which is Call Logic, a must for pay-per-call affiliate marketing.

Call Logic is effectively the “Lynx for call leads,” enabling the same features for callers that Lynx enables for web leads. Not only will you drive your callers to the best buyer or make sure you get the best calls, but you will also collect profitable caller insights down the road.

Here’s more about Call Logic:

 

Synergize Education Affiliate Marketing With Other Traffic Channels

Last but not least, I’d like to mention the importance of coordinating your education affiliate marketing campaigns with organic search traffic and paid traffic acquisition channels: email marketing, PPC, social media, native ads, online webinars & workshops, and more.

Naturally, most affiliate marketers diversify into other-than-affiliate traffic channels:

Statistics on marketing channels for online education

Source: Promodo

Without a doubt, leveraging all available traffic channels is the best you can do, whether you are a publisher or advertiser. If you are good at SEO, SMM, or any other marketing avenue, make sure to capitalize on it to the fullest.

Luckily, you can get far ahead in managing heterogeneous campaigns with a comprehensive affiliate and performance marketing software suite like Phonexa.

Fine-Tune and Automate Your Education Affiliate Marketing Efforts

As good as affiliate software Lynx is on its own, it’s even better if coordinated with seven of Phonexa’s proprietary lead management products. The all-encompassing toolkit covers everything from organic to paid campaigns to buying or selling leads in online education and other high-ticket niches—all brought to a single dashboard.

Phonexa will make you the king of the lead jungle:

 

Here are the eight tools you get at a single price (use this online price calculator):

LMS Sync Lead tracking & distribution software
Call Logic Call tracking & distribution software
E-Delivery Email & SMS marketing software
Cloud PBX Cloud phone system
Lynx Click tracking software
Opt-Intel Suppression list management software
HitMetrix Use behavior recording & analytics software
Books360 Automated accounting software

Build your plan now to grow your affiliate income, or book a demo to learn more about Phonexa.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best GEO for online education affiliate marketing?

Among the best target locations for promoting online education products are the United States (with a clear lead), the United Kingdom, Germany, Singapore, Australia, and other high-income countries. However, much depends on the particular product and the current market momentum.

What are the pros and cons of AI in education?

There are positive and negative effects of AI in education. AI systems like ChatGPT speed up learning and make it available in the comfort of your home, but such systems might be sub-optimal for learning about ambiguous topics because of inaccuracies and biases.

How might AI and ChatGPT affect education?

AI and machine learning in education will continue to automate education while impersonalizing it. AI can be a powerful tool to grasp general concepts about things, but expert guidance and help are still irreplaceable for a well-rounded education.

Got Questions?

Get in touch! We are available 24/7.

Oleksandr Rohovnin avatar
Oleksandr Rohovnin
Content Marketer

Oleksandr Rohovnin is a Content Marketer at Phonexa. His passion is digital marketing, innovative technologies, and – above all – distilling vast amounts of complex information into engrossing narratives anyone can relate to. At Phonexa, Oleksandr stokes passion for marketing automation and lead generation in every story he curates.


Education: Zaporizhzhya National Technical University

Expertise: Digital marketing, affiliate marketing, call tracking, lead tracking, insurance

Highlights:

  • 8+ years of writing and editing experience in B2B and B2C

  • Unconventional synergy of writing talent and technical knack

  • Avid proponent of sports, gaming, and reading

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