Since social media began, influencers have been using it to make money. Of course, how they earn has evolved dramatically since then, but affiliate marketing has always been part of the mix.
Affiliate marketing has been around since the mid-90s (before influencer marketing exploded in popularity with brands). It was one of the “original” methods for making money on social media because a brand paying a commission for every sale referred is simple and easy for everyone to understand.
How brands can use influencer and affiliate marketing together
There are plenty of ways to work with influencers, and more and more brands are jumping on the influencer bandwagon. Influencer affiliate marketing is growing in popularity, and it’s easy to see why.
There is a significant benefit to working with an influencer using the affiliate payment model. It enables you to access two different sets of data. You get vanity metrics (likes, reach, engagement, etc.) from the influencer and data on sales metrics that show which influencers drive the most sales and which campaign types drive the most revenue.
Having two buckets of data means that you can be much more strategic as a brand with who you choose to work with, and you can adapt your influencer marketing strategy to focus on driving more sales.
Tips to increase sales from influencers for brands
There are several ways to increase sales from influencers when you work with them on an affiliate basis. Using any of them makes measuring influencer marketing easier. They include:
- Influencer-specific links
- Co-branded landing pages
- Influencer and affiliate-led campaigns
Creating trust with an influencer’s audience starts with the first click. Their audience needs to know they are in the right place before being willing to part with their money. Why? Because the influencer has recommended a product to them, and they want to buy it from the right place. Having a specific vanity URL for your influencer helps create a sense of trust in your brand.
Additionally, using influencer-specific links makes it easier for people to remember, increasing the chances of conversion. If they know that the last part includes the influencer’s name. For example, https:// www.yourbrandnamehere.com/glo is easier to remember than https://yourbrandnamehere.com/best-summer-jackets
With customized influencer links, or even UTM links, it makes it easier to see the traffic & other impact per creator. You'll be able to separate each traffic source in Google Analytics, or your marketing dashboard tool of choice.
Co-branded landing pages
Alongside a vanity URL, a co-branded landing page can help to increase conversions. Having a co-branded landing page helps the potential customer to know they are in the right place and encourages them to purchase. A good co-branded page will include a mix of your website and the influencer’s branding, plus a special offer or coupon code that they can’t find elsewhere on your website.
Having a co-branded page effectively says “the influencer endorses us” in a way that isn’t intrusive for the customer.
Influencer and affiliate-led campaigns
Working with influencers and affiliates works best when you give them creative freedom to create their content campaigns. They know what works with their audience and converts.
A significant benefit to this is that you get heavily targeted advertising instead of something that is less of a fit and doesn’t land well with their audience. A bad campaign reflects poorly on the influencer or affiliate and can negatively impact their audience numbers.
Giving them the creative freedom to create something their audience will love primes their audience to buy in a better way for everyone and can increase your conversion rate. Keep this in mind when putting together an influencer creative brief for your campaign.
Tip: A great idea to drive more sales is to provide the influencer with a personalized coupon code for their audience, giving them more incentive to buy.
How to compensate influencers vs. affiliates
Traditional affiliates work on a commission basis for every sale they refer. Depending on what you decide with your affiliate, you can offer extra bonuses and freebies for better placements in their content. In some cases, they will ask for payment to write the post or content (especially if your brand is the main focus.) You can negotiate with them and give a higher commission rate in exchange for a smaller fee.
With influencers, it’s a whole different ballgame. There are several other payment options you can choose from (and it depends a lot on the influencer’s preferences as to how they get paid).
These are some of the payment options that influencers can offer.
- Pay per conversion: This is the affiliate payment model where you pay a percentage (or set dollar amount) for each conversion directly referred by your chosen influencer.
- Pay per click (PPC): You pay a set amount based on the number of clicks.
- Pay per post: You pay an influencer a set amount to post.
- Flat rate for the campaign: You pay a set rate for a more significant campaign with multiple posts or stories.
- Cost per engagement: A set amount of money per engagement. For example, likes, comments, or views.
- Hybrid model: This is a mix of payment methods. For example, you could pay a set rate for the post and pay per conversion.
It’s essential to choose something that works for you as a brand that still makes the influencer happy. It is a good idea to work with a hybrid payment model where you pay a flat rate per post (or campaign) with the affiliate payment model. And don’t be afraid to try and negotiate a lower price per post or campaign for an increased commission rate.
How you can become an affiliate if you’re an influencer
The lines between influencer and affiliate are blurry - many influencers become affiliates because it opens the door to more semi-passive income. Once a social media post is created, it’s there forever, enabling people who are scrolling to use your affiliate link to purchase.
These days, more and more brands are looking for influencers to work with them and adding affiliate marketing as a payment method.
If you want to become an influencer affiliate, here’s how you can get started.
1: Find affiliate programs of the brands you love & apply
When you are an influencer working with affiliate marketing, it is essential to find brands that you genuinely love. This makes any promotion you do authentic. You need to search for the brand name with the word “affiliate program” next to it.
Then, sign up, wait to get accepted and grab your personalized link.
2: Contact affiliate program managers to discuss upcoming campaigns and create relationships
You could start promoting the brand right away, but instead, it’s a fantastic idea to contact the affiliate program manager to start creating a great relationship with them. That way, you will be someone they will think of when they are running their subsequent influencer affiliate campaigns.
Additionally, it’s great to pitch them a campaign idea and tell them how you would promote them. This shows you’re proactive, familiar with the brand, and they don’t have to do all of the heavy lifting.
You can use several methods to increase your revenue as an influencer affiliate.
Link in bio: The most obvious is to include your affiliate links in your bios (or YouTube descriptions) and regularly share your coupon codes in your stories. Plus, Instagram now enables links in stories, which means you can make it simple for people to go on and purchase.
Don’t only stick to social media: If you have other places you want to share your affiliate link, you aren’t only limited to your social media channels. If you have blogs, email lists, or other content sites, you can add your affiliate links (or banners) there. This way, you have a higher chance of earning more as your audience is broader than using only your social channels.
Always negotiate commission rates: If you can offer an advertiser a more prominent promotion (in multiple places, for example, always negotiate your commission rates up for the campaign duration. A good benchmark is between 1-10% depending on the extra promotion you can give.
Be proactive and organized: Get as much information out of your affiliate program manager as possible. Ask them to share their top sellers, upcoming campaigns, and anything they can provide to help you to increase your sales. If you know that dresses are their top-selling category, and one specific dress is popular, you can push that on your social channels. This will help you increase your revenue because more people will buy, and you will earn a commission.
Start with affiliate marketing today
Affiliate marketing can be a great tool to help brands track the actual revenue from influencer campaigns, and paired with the vanity metrics your influencer can provide you, and it means you can be strategic with who you work with and how. Focusing on the affiliate payment model enables you to negotiate a little more with influencer pricing.
To drive more revenue, some great tactics include using personalized URLs, co-branded landing pages, and influencer-led campaigns to increase trust and target your ads effectively.
For influencers wanting to become affiliates, it can be a reliable way to drive semi-passive income. Find the brands you love, create great relationships with your affiliate program managers, and boost your income using additional promotional spots to increase commissions. Learn as much as you can about the top-selling products and promotions coming up from the advertiser, and use it to your advantage.
Whether you are a brand or an influencer, these tips will help you get started with affiliate marketing.