What’s the Difference Between Influencer Marketing and Affiliate Marketing?
If it’s been years since you’ve earned your marketing degree, or you’ve taken a long hiatus from your marketing career or your small business in the recent past, you might be finding it challenging to get up-to-date on all the latest marketing trends, techniques and buzzwords. Two of the most important marketing trends right now are influencer marketing and affiliate marketing.
If you’re working to promote a brand, a service business or just about any other type of business, both types of marketing will be useful for you to know about. There are quite a few similarities and areas of overlap between these types of marketing, but there are also distinct differences. Let’s take a look at the most important similarities and differences between influencer marketing and affiliate marketing.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
When a brand pays internet celebrities, subject matter experts or other influential individuals on an upfront basis to post promotional content on their own social media channels, websites or blogs or on the brand’s web properties, that’s influencer marketing. In many cases, brands make an effort to work with influencers who are already their enthusiastic customers, which makes that type of influencer marketing a fresh new internet-based twist on word-of-mouth recommendations.
This website has already covered influencer marketing in depth. Be sure to check out these important posts on the topic:
- Everything You Need to Know About Influencer Marketing
- 5 Tools to Boost Your Influencer Marketing Efforts
- 4 Essential Influencer Marketing Tips for 2018
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
When a merchant or business pays content creators for the successful referral of sales or leads to the business, that’s affiliate marketing.
Similarities Between Influencer Marketing and Affiliate Marketing
In both cases, you’ll be trusting other people to create content that promotes your brand. They’ll usually be posting the content on their own social channels, blogs or websites.
In some cases, there is actually overlap between these two marketing niches. This is because it is possible that you might be able to recruit some prominent influencers to sign up for your affiliate program. Then you can enjoy some of the benefits of influencer marketing while only paying for successes. See How influencers are changing the affiliate marketing game for more details.
Differences Between Influencer Marketing and Affiliate Marketing
Payment is one of the key differences between these two types of marketing.
Influencers are typically paid upfront. There is no set amount that influencers earn; this is something your brand must negotiate with the influencers you’re interested in working with. The money you pay is not directly tied to the outcome of the campaign, and there are no guarantees that the campaign will result in the results you want. Brands typically use this type of campaign to increase brand awareness.
Affiliate marketers are only paid when someone in their audience takes an action that you’ve committed to pay for. If you’ve committed to pay a commission for sales, they’ll only get paid after they actually drive sales. 5 percent to 10 percent commission rates are common, although commissions on products like electronics tend to be lower. If you’ve committed to pay for qualified leads, you only have to pay when they refer a lead that meets the qualifications you’ve specified.
The costs of affiliate marketing are directly tied to actual outcomes. This type of campaign is typically effective for driving website traffic, increasing sales or bringing in new leads.
Brands are using both types of marketing effectively. Both channels are useful for boosting a brand’s business and market share, so don’t feel as if you have to limit yourself to one or the other. If you aren’t already incorporating both influencers and affiliates into your marketing strategy, you’re missing out on some of the best possible opportunities to grow sales and brand awareness.
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