Integrating your Influencer and Affiliate Strategies

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By Alex Fitzpatrick

There are two external personas you can use to market your brand reliably and effectively. For social media, there’s the brand influencer who leverages their highly engaged audience to create awareness of your brand and what you offer. And then there’s the professional opinion, where affiliate marketers will recommend your brand in articles

Both methods work well because it’s third parties that are recommending a brand. As long as consumers trust the source, they’re likely to trust the brand. Plus, having someone else push your product is much easier to accept for the consumer.

There’s a lot of overlap between influencer and affiliate strategies. While one is geared toward social traffic, the other toward organic online traffic, both seek to build awareness and drive conversions. But which one should your brand use? The answer may be a combination of the two. Read on to find out how.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Before hammering out the details, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page. Influencer marketing is the use of social media influencers to bring awareness to your brand or product. Typically, companies will pay a single fee per post (or a larger sum for a series of posts). The influencer will then make an original post, tag your brand, and mention a few key points about why they prefer your company.

The idea behind influencer marketing is to make the post look as natural and fluid as possible. This often involves allowing the influencer control over the content they share instead of trying to determine how or what they say

It’s a powerful way of communicating, and 89% of companies claim equal or better ROI than with other forms of marketing. Most brands are jumping on this bandwagon with 17% of companies spending half or more of their marketing budgets on social influencers alone.

How to Use Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing takes advantage of social media marketing. This type of marketing is best suited for building awareness. This isn’t to say social media marketing doesn’t drive sales, because it does, but it places consumers at a different point in the sales funnel. When deciding on what type of posts you want influencers to create, think about the audience that follows the influencer. 

Are you interested in the audience…

  • Learning about your product and buying it?
  • Discovering your brand for the first time and thinking of you as a future option when your product is desired?
  • Clicking on your website link to learn more about your brand?

While yes, every company would love to see their marketing result in direct sales, it’s not that simple. Customers have the power of infinite choice. Whatever your product is, they could buy it from twenty different brands with one quick Google search. The real question is, why would they choose your brand over everybody else?

This is what influencers can help answer. By providing a brand influencer with keywords and company ambitions to include in their post, you can create a positive brand image. 

For example, Ten Tree is a clothing company that plants ten trees for every product purchased. For them, using influencer marketing is incredibly beneficial. They have a great message and campaign behind their products that make them stand out among the thousands of clothing companies bombarding social media platforms through influencers.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Instead of going through influencers on social media, brands can also build awareness and drive traffic through other websites. Blogs, reviews sites, coupon sites, and partnerships are different affiliate marketing sites you can use to push your brand or product in front of consumers. For each conversion or traffic one of these sites sends your way, they receive a cut of the sale.

Benefits of Affiliate Marketing

While social media and influencer marketing are great for awareness, affiliate marketing emphasizes conversions. Four out of every five brands are using affiliate marketing because of its ability to drive traffic to their website. And these click-through rates are only one of the many benefits:

  • Performance-based marketing – Brands only pay based on how much traffic or sales are generated. This is different from influencer marketing where you pay the lump sum upfront and aren’t guaranteed a return on investment.
  • Reputation boosters – Most sites, to urge their customers to click, will champion your brand and present it in the best possible light. For example, affiliate marketers will place your brand as one of the top spots in their opinion lists. Think “Top 5 ____ To Fit Your Busy Lifestyle.”
  • Broadens audience – Often affiliate sites will have a diverse range of customers accessing their information. This can help target audiences to which you would have otherwise been blind.

How to Combine Influencer and Affiliate Strategies?

To make each marketing dollar go further, brands can combine the best of both marketing strategies. Mainly, merging the conversion-driven results of affiliate sites with the influencer’s depth and reach.

Most influencer placements will be a one-off, either in exchange for your product or a flat fee. Instead, attempt to re-engage those partners, allowing them to sign up for your affiliate software and continue posting for commissions. This will change the incentive behind each post. If they successfully drive traffic toward your brand, they’ll be compensated beyond a single payment.

Offering Influencers a Slice of the Pie

The last thing you want to do is reveal what’s behind the curtain. If an influencer suddenly turns into an advertising machine, churning out posts for your brand, people will look at them less as a person and more as a marketing tool. 

Instead, create goals and objectives that are meaningful to your influencers and develop custom contracts within your affiliate software to support those goals. 

Ideally, you’d like to find influencers whose lifestyle fits neatly with your brand. That way, they can tag your brand nonchalantly. But if the influencer thinks it’s best to be upfront about their relationship with the brand, be open and receptive to this. Audiences want to engage with brands who are supporting the same people they support. They just don’t want to be tricked into doing it.

How Influencers Boost Affiliate Marketing?

The reason brands should consider combining these two marketing strategies is due to the nature of influencers themselves. They’re a particular type of “celebrity.” Maybe they live an exciting life, or they produce compelling content. Whatever it is, people are drawn to them. Although, because they haven’t quite reached the status of untouchable, the way a movie star feels foreign to most people, they’re still seen as personable.

By setting up an affiliate strategy with influencers, you’re offering them skin in the game. Plus, by leveraging their celebrity, they can provide many benefits.

  • Bond with their followers – The trust between influencer and follower can be incredibly deep. Because influencers (especially micro-influencers) create a rolling dialogue about their life, followers are able to contribute and continue conversations with the influencer. This encourages repeat engagement and a true bond to form.
  • Multiplying your social media presence – Imagine having fifteen influencers on an affiliate deal. If each contributor posts twice a month, you’ll have a social media presence hitting a targeted, engaged audience every single day. Combine this with your own social media, and the effects multiply.
  • Niche audiences – Why does somebody follow an influencer? There’s any number of reasons that would answer this question. Maybe some people think they’re funny, others like the way they dress, others think their content is aesthetically pleasing. What brings the audience together isn’t necessarily the same thing that would bring people to your brand’s site. This is ideal; you want to reach audiences outside your normal scope.
  • Creative posts – Every influencer is different. They each have their unique viewpoint of the world and their own way of speaking, which comes out through their content. By allowing influencers the freedom to share on their schedule, they’ll be able to come up with creative, imaginative posts that drive traffic toward your brand.

Rise of Micro-influencers

Perhaps one of the biggest game-changers in the influencer scene is the rise of micro-influencers. Micro-influencers exaggerate the benefits of being a social media influencer by leveraging their position.

  • Fewer followers, more engagement – With follower counts between 1,000 and 100,000, micro-influencers are better equipped to create those engaging, personal conversations. They may receive as few as thirty to fifty comments per post, which they can then respond to and create that rolling dialogue.
  • Cheaper per post – Because micro-influencers have fewer followers, their posts are cheaper per follower than bigger influencers. Instead of investing in one or two macro-influencers, smaller brands can fund 10 to 15 micro-influencers to reach unique audiences and spread awareness.
  • Paid less, more trust – Because micro-influencers aren’t getting life-changing amounts of money per post like a celebrity influencer typically does (and users know this), they’re likely to pair with types of brands that matter to them personally. This natural bond between influencer and brand comes across in the posts, making consumers eager to engage with the brand as well.

Best of Both Worlds

Utilizing a multi-platform marketing strategy is key to competing in today’s climate. With the rapid expansion of digital marketing strategies and various social media, brands have countless channels from which to drive traffic. By using affiliate sites, social media, SEO, and other content marketing strategies, you can reach massive audiences and control the messaging around your brand.

Influencers are a powerful way to do this. They are trusted individuals on social media who have sway over which companies are worth doing business with. By offering social influencers skin in the game—the way brands do with affiliate marketing sites—they’re likelier to produce quality content to meet your brands’ goals.

 

 

Sources:

Big Commerce. The State of Influencer Marketing: 10 Influencer Marketing Statistics to Inform Where You Invest. https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/influencer-marketing-statistics/#10-most-important-influencer-marketing-statistics-for-2019

Media Kix. 8 Affiliate Marketing Statistics Every Marketer Must Know.  https://mediakix.com/blog/affiliate-marketing-statistics/