The complete guide to influencer affiliate marketing for eCommerce businesses.
It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that the world is now ruled by social media. From kickstarting cultural trends to informing mass behavior, today, the evolution of consumer tech companies such as Meta has enabled what we might call the hashtag age. And with diminishing attention spans, the competition to capture the audience’s mindshare is getting cut-throat with each passing day. To win on social, and ultimately, as a business, brands must evolve as well.
Enter influencer affiliate marketing – a tactic not many deploy successfully, but those who do, successfully, see their bottomline soar virally. In one of our last articles, we talked in depth about the different types of affiliate marketing plays available at a business’s disposal. So it’s only natural that we explore the one most popular within the arsenal. Without further ado, let’s begin.
So, what exactly is influencer affiliate marketing?
In a nutshell, influencer affiliate marketing is when an influencer acts as an affiliate for your brand. They promote your brand through their massive social media following and communities to help spread the word, resulting in more sales, sign-ups, or clicks for you, and commissions for them.
Chances are, you have very well come across one of these on display by yourself. However, now is the best time to kind of deploy the same for your own brand to get an upper hand on your competition. With the current state of influencer affiliate marketing platforms, it might almost seem effortless to set up, track, and measure the efficacy of one such program.
Why should brands care about influencer affiliate marketing?
Now that’s a fair question to ask anyone who wants you to bet their money on it. Afterall, don’t Gen Z audiences already find influencers to be boring? Something they don’t vibe with? You’d be surprised.
There are so many reasons you should not explore influencer affiliate marketing, ranging from your budgets being too tight to experiment to being in a space where it’s not entirely legal for people to vouch for your products in exchange for a commission. We will, however, in this section, focus on some of the pluses influencer affiliate marketing can bring to the table for your marketing strategy.
1. Influencers are the thought-leaders of social media
Social media is a highly dynamic space to be in, one where trends and patterns change almost overnight. One thing that all influencers do really well that a brand or marketer would not be able to do by themselves is to keep track of the latest and greatest in what’s making the news. With years of experience doing it, influencers have now kind of developed a sixth sense to gauge what will work with their audiences. In that sense, influencers truly are the thought-leaders on social media.
2. People are becoming increasingly accepting of influencers
There was a time, not so long ago, when consumers would look down upon influencer marketing or paid partnerships. All because it was purely driven by how much money each of the parties would be able to make off of it, but not anymore. Today, thanks to a plethora of influencers who have prioritized transparency over the dollar to ensure they promote the products and brands they truly believe in. As a result, people are becoming increasingly accepting of the whole influencer thing.
3. You get to unlock a new channel for brand distribution
As a marketer, you choose the channels that serve your goals. As a consumer brand, however, you have the same mix like the rest of the market, and not much room for expansion. Embracing influencer affiliate marketing as a channel, then, unlocks a new distribution method for your brand’s marketing efforts. You get to increase the reach you have been getting on social media organically, or through digital-focused efforts. And that’s a big win!
4. Influencer content engages 8 times higher than usual
Yep, you read that right. When influencers create content for brand partnerships, it engages at least 8 times higher than usual social media content. All because it attracts eyeballs the right way. The target audience for your brand is now being exposed to two entities at the same time, one it trusts fully, and one it is beginning to. You’d say that’s reason enough for a brand to care about influencer affiliate marketing, no?
5. Easy to track and measure the return of your efforts
If consumer technology is evolving rapidly, so is enterprise software. Today, you have a plethora of platforms at your disposal to manage and track the efforts of virtually all marketing efforts you invest in as a brand. And same is the case with the state of influencer affiliate marketing in 2023. You’re no longer paying influencers to produce vanity metrics for you in return for a big chunk for your marketing budget, rather, real partnerships where you get an equal outcome.
How to get leading influencers to work with you as affiliates?
You’re sold on the idea of getting an influencer as an affiliate on board for your brand, but getting the top ones to partner with you is the real deal. There’s a huge deal of difference between choosing one that is great and one that is good enough. For your brand’s long-term goals, you want one that is great in all aspects, and not just one. Fret not, in this section, we’re going to talk about everything you need to know about getting them onboard.
1. Zero in on the ones that align extremely well within your niche
This one can not be stressed enough. You don’t want just any influencer who has a wide reach, number of followers and other metrics take precedence over the niche or topic you want to focus on to get in front of your target audience. So, before you even think about what you need to keep in mind about reaching out to one, make sure you’re picking the right one.
2. Identify what your brand would bring to the table for them
Just as you are clear on what goals you want to achieve through a working partnership, have a clear list of deliverables your brand will be able to provide for the other party. Remember, it is a two way street, and not all influencers are loaded with money just because this business seems like one with a lot of coin. By being upfront about what’s in it for them, you increase your chances of a successful connect multifold.
3. Make your ask as specific and detailed as possible
Working with an influencer is very much like working with a marketing agency. If you do not provide the kind of clarity that is distinguishable, you’re setting the whole partnership up for a failure. When reaching out to influencers, make sure you keep your briefs as specific, detailed, and clear as possible. That’s it, that’s the simple tip you need to keep in mind at all times.
4. Never suggest lowball offers in place of vanity tangibles
Just because the influencer marketing affiliate business is all about people working with one another, not for one means you’re out thrift shopping. To make sure you don’t start off on the wrong page, or end on a worse one, try not to suggest exploitative compensation structures or pay for any partnership you’re exploring. No matter the popularity of your brand, or the size of an influencer’s community as a function of being niche-specific.
5. Be proactive in your approach and never fail to follow-up
At the end of the day, you’re working with people, and a little professionalism goes way longer than you’d imagine. Just as you’d work internally within your company, make sure to uphold the same standards of communication with your influencer affiliate marketing partners as well. Being proactive, punctual, and transparent are just the basics you need to do, the more you do the better for all parties involved.
4 things to consider when you’re exploring influencer affiliates as a channel
Given that influencer affiliate marketing is still a nascent practice, there are not a lot of best practices available out there that one might know about. However, for the success of your own programs, there are a bunch of considerations you should have made prior to kickstarting an engagement. In this section, we cover four of those.
1. What does your payment structure look like?
Will it be on a project-to-project basis, on-going, performance based or something else? Payment structures are the most important aspects of your partnership with an influencer affiliate. Since this is not a one off thing, you have to ensure that both the parties are amicable in accepting the terms. Thanks to platforms like Enlistly, you can have real-time insight into the performance of your campaigns and efforts without wanting to pull your hair out.
2. What kind of content are you going to produce?
Depending on the kind of topics they cater to, influencers make a wide variety of content. However, not all content is created equally. For your brand, you should zero in on the kind of content that your audience will be able to associate with your brand. If your brand is known for in-depth videos, do not work on making quick reels. You get the drift.
3. How will you define the goals for your campaign/partnership?
Goal setting is another important consideration to make, not just here, but across your marketing strategy. Just much more here given how much money you might be spending. Before you begin an engagement, make sure you have got a buy-in from your influencer partner on what the goals are going to be. In fact, you should have them included in your contract as well, with clauses for missing milestones. Afterall, you have to justify the return on investment.
4. What will your communication style be?
Influencers work on their own terms. Not to say they’re not professional, just that they might align well with your corporate sort of working style. For some brands, that can become a roadblock. If you do happen to have found an influencer that you feel your brand’s style of work does not align well with, make sure to think about how you are going to manage your communication with them. Because you know, you do not wanna give up on a great partnership due to lack of alignment in softer regards.
Managing your influencer affiliate marketing partnerships for the win!
In this blog, we were able to unpack a lot about why you need influencer affiliate marketing as a channel for your brand. It’s still early days, if you’re looking at it from a 30000 ft. view, because influencer marketing is here to stay as long as social media keeps growing.
The success of your affiliate marketing depends on how well you’re able to manage a program, and adopting new technologies is one way you can be sure of getting ahead. With platforms such as Enlistly, it becomes a breeze and a cakewalk, both at the same time.
Get started with influencer marketing for your Shopify store today!