After such a great response from our blog about ambassador programs vs affiliate programs, we have had many requests for a blog post that covers influencer marketing vs affiliate marketing. As you may have guessed, all of these types of marketing are very closely related. Here are some of the differences between influencer and affiliate marketing, and how they can be used together.
Influencer marketing vs. Affiliate Marketing
Influencer marketing is the concept of partnering with key influencers (people who have an online following of your target audience), to help promote your product or service. With the rise of social networks, influencers can come any many shapes in sizes - from YouTube stars with hundreds of thousands of followers, to your friend from the gym with a couple thousand followers, to animals that have millions of followers (think boo the dog and grumpy cat). After spending years running influencer marketing campaigns for clients, I find “micro-influencers” to be one of the best options (click here to learn more about micro-influencers).
You can partner with these influencers in a variety of ways. Most commonly, you will pay them a set amount in exchange for them agreeing to complete a specific number of posts featuring your product. Another option can be the influencer agreeing to post about your product or service in exchange for receiving it (this works well for more expensive items). If you want more information on how to partner with influencers check out our blog on how to start influencer marketing.
The last way that you can compensate the influencers is through affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is when you partner with another individual or entity to promote your product, in exchange for the giving them a commission when your products are sold. Originally affiliates were other companies and websites that would promote your product in general online.
Now, with the rise of influencer marketing, this tactic has been used as another way to provide compensation to the influencers. This can be a great win-win, because the influencer only gets paid if they perform, and the brand only pays if their product sells. Although this seems like a great combination, there are a few downsides.
Downsides of using affiliate marketing for your influencers.
- Need sufficient margins - If you are paying your influencers entirely based on sales, it can actually de-motivate your influencers if your affiliate program is not enticing enough. For example, if you have a low margin product, this may not be a good option because you won’t be able to pay the influencers enough per item to keep them motivated. For this you may want to couple an affiliate program with a flat fee.
- Tracking - If you have done any digital marketing in your life, you know that tracking attribution can be extremely difficult. The most common affiliate marketing tracking happens through coupon codes or trackable links. The problem with these solutions is that it takes many touches before a consumer makes a purchase- meaning they can see an influencer post about a product in August and not buy it until December. This makes it hard to trace.
- Management - The more affiliates you have, the more time it takes to manage and properly pay them out. There are programs out there that can help you with this, but make sure you figure the program cost into your budget.
As you can see, influencer and affiliate marketing can happen together or independently of each other. If you need help figuring out how to build a program that is right for your company, contact Statusphere to talk to an influencer marketing specialist.