A Guide to Influencer Marketing vs. Affiliate Marketing

February 23rd, 2021 by

Reviews, referrals and word-of-mouth are still some of the most powerful forms of promotion a business can receive. In today’s digital landscape, two efficient and proven ways to create these recommendations for brands or products are through influencer marketing and affiliate marketing. But, what is the difference between these two strategies? Keep reading for our ultimate guide on affiliate marketing vs. influencer marketing.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a strategy that has a goal of driving traffic and generating leads and acquisitions for businesses. This strategy provides digital users (the “affiliates”) with unique URL IDs or promotional codes that reward affiliates with commission when they bring in new customers or sales. These IDs are called affiliate links. 

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Almost anyone can sign up to be an affiliate, although some affiliate programs have key requirements. Typically, those with a large and engaged following benefit most from affiliate-type programs. 

Businesses that choose to adopt an affiliate marketing approach don’t have to invest a lot of time or money. Creating unique affiliate codes that track traffic, KPIs and rewards is relatively straightforward. Affiliate marketing is quicker than influencer marketing to implement, and the results are more direct. 

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is the act of using a social media personality to create content to promote a brand or product. Brand sponsorships and collaborations act largely as a word-of-mouth promotion, designed to remote a specific message, product or service in a way that is most receptive to an influencer’s audience.

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Influencers occasionally use affiliate links within their content or bios to offer their followers promotional codes, but these are included in a wider influencer marketing strategy. Influencer marketing allows brands to stay in full control of the messaging and voice behind sponsored content, something they don’t have with affiliate marketing.

Influencer marketing vs. Affiliate marketing 

Now we’ve covered the basics, here is a step by step guide to affiliate marketing and influencer marketing. Affiliate and influencer marketing are both helpful tools by themselves, but when used together they can be incredibly powerful.

influencer marketing vs affiliate marketing

By using influencers in your affiliate marketing, you are unlocking a new marketing channel. Influencers have pre-existing followers and can put your brand in front of your target audience on their preferred social media channels (for example, YouTube, Instagram or TikTok). In addition, using influencers adds social proof to promotions. Audiences trust influencers, and eight out of ten consumers have purchased after seeing a recommendation from an influencer. Affiliate links will make it much easier for your brand to see which influencers are most beneficial to your brand, and which products interest different audiences best. 

Influencers create engaging content that consumers trust. They can create content that is more valuable and authentic than traditional ads, including tutorials, product reviews or influencer commentary. Through this engaging and authentic content, audiences often perceive influencers to be their friends, and hence trust their judgement and word.

Amazon’s Affiliate and Influencer Programs

Amazon has created two programs to support affiliate and influencer marketing. The Amazon Associate Program helps content creators, publishers and bloggers monetize traffic through their affiliate links, that direct their audience to recommended products. When an audience member makes a purchase using these affiliate links, the associate earns up to 12% commission from the purchase. These affiliates have active websites, blogs, applications and YouTube channels.

Amazon’s Affiliate and Influencer Programs

Although a fair amount of associates are also influencers on Amazon, not all influential accounts are associates. Amazon’s Influencer Program is an extension of the Associate Program, where influencers have their own Amazon profile page, with a specific URL they can use to provide customers with their recommended products. It drives additional traffic to Amazon, and is great to use when hyperlinking isn’t an option (e.g. in an Instagram caption or video).

To qualify for the Amazon Influencer Program, influencers must have a YouTube, Instagram Twitter or Facebook account. Amazon then analyses the follower totals and engagement rates the influencer has.

Amazon Influencer Program

Typically, Amazon influencers aren’t the perfectly curated and edited influencers you see on Instagram; they are more relatable and real. Amazon influencers are real people, giving their honest reviews. They are able to group their recommended products by themes, and post videos showcasing or reviewing products, and post shoppable pictures.

If you have tried using a combination of affiliate marketing and influencer marketing and aren’t seeing the results you hoped, you should consider working with a qualified and trusted influencer marketing agency that can help you create an affiliate and influencer marketing campaign that will drive positive results.

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