3 Ways Influencers Are Changing the Affiliate Marketing Game

Companies like Nordstrom are using affiliate marketing technology to connect with a number of “influencers” to promote their products. Learn how today's affiliate programs are leveraging influencers for massive success.

3 Ways Influencers Are Changing the Affiliate Marketing Game

The term “influencer” has become such an overused, over-hyped trendy name for internet celebrities that you may not see them as a serious aspect of online marketing.

Almost anyone can call themselves an “influencer” or its previous incarnation, “thought leader,” but what is the difference between someone who is an “influencer” versus a mere “affiliate”?

The exact definition of influencer for your brand really depends on your target market. If you have a wide demographic you are trying to reach, an “influencer” may be someone with tens of millions of followers.

But an “influencer” for a more obscure hobby such as adult model train collecting will likely have a much smaller online footprint.

Influencer vs. Affiliate

We will generally label an “influencer” as someone with an online presence who has achieved a certain level of “fame” for their target audience.

Your affiliates, on the other hand, are generally anonymous people who are promoting your products and services through affiliate links.

Influencers can also be affiliates, but they are often prepaid for product placement as opposed to paid per transaction as most affiliates are.

Influencers are probably the most effective when it comes to Instagram-friendly types of products such as clothing and beauty products. Fashion is big for influencers – but will influencer marketing work as well for, say, a pillow company? Probably not as much.

How Influencers Are Changing Affiliate Marketing

Here are just some of the ways that influencers are affecting affiliate marketing:

1. Affiliate Marketing Is Getting Less Love

Because influencer marketing is one of the latest in online marketing trends (soon to be replaced by something else, no doubt), affiliates are in some ways being a bit neglected.

However, you can take advantage of this by beefing up your affiliate outreach, especially in markets where a few influencers seem to be taking all the air out of the room. Your competitor may already have a promotional deal with that influencer, but you can reach all the “little people” (affiliates) they are ignoring now.

2.Influencers Are Changing Metrics

A product placement with an influencer can’t be as easily tracked as an affiliate link in an old-school affiliate marketing program. This is due to the social media black hole of analytics (as some refer to it). Influencer campaigns have shifted away from vanity metrics such as likes and shares and towards engagement metrics and conversions.

However, because online marketers love analytics and data, we can expect to see more creative and technology-driven ways to track hard-to-quantify branding efforts, especially those used by influencers. Influencer marketplaces like Traackr and Klear are leading the charge by giving individual influencer metrics that allow marketers to scale successful influencers.

3.Affiliate Programs Are Targeting Influencers

Companies like Nordstrom are using affiliate marketing technology to connect with a number of “influencers” to promote their products. These types of hybrid programs that focus on cultivating select “famous” influencers versus online marketers is also a great way to track the actual impact of influencers while using existing affiliate infrastructure.

Building long lasting relationships with influencers who are driving affiliate success can be a challenge. A brand may activate hundreds of smaller influencers to drive sales through their affiliate program. How that brand deals with communication with influencers and payment can make or break the long-term success of those partnerships.

In a recent webinar with affiliate industry professionals, Tipalti CMO Rob Israch explained that, “74% of freelancers would or already have dropped a marketplace because of a payment issue. It’s a huge number, and so if you think about your experience for your freelancers you know from onboarding them, and getting them going, giving them training, interaction with your app or your product, all the way through the end of the process, you know getting a customer and satisfying that customer, the payment experience is arguably, based on some of this data, the most important touchpoint you have with them and so you really have to focus on that not just from getting them paid on time or accurately but the whole experience around it.”

Influencers and Affiliates Can Co-Exist

Influencers are trendy, and we’ll probably be talking about something else in a few years. (AI influencers? Perhaps.) And getting set up with a very high-powered influencer can take money and connections. Don’t worry: Affiliate marketing is not going anywhere.

About the Author

Richard Bertch

Richard is a contributing finance author at ChamberofCommerce.com and freelance writer about all things business, finance and productivity. With over 10 years of copywriting experience, Richard has worked with brands ranging from Quickbooks to Oracle creating insightful whitepapers, conversion focused product pages and thought leadership blog posts. Richard can be reached at richardbertch@gmail.com.

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