January 19, 2017

Comparing Influencer and Affiliate Marketing

Two sides of the same digital coin?

Running a travel blog has its perks, being sent away on discounted (sometimes even free) holidays, being associated with top notch brands, living the life of luxury… that being if you’re in the top 3% of bloggers who have made it to that point. For my travel blog LBexplore, I’m not quite there yet, but with my 14.5k Instagram followers it’s definitely a starting point. The most challenging aspect of being an amateur travel blogger is connecting with other brands; most emails sent out to brands are never answered, or when they are answered they usually come with terms and conditions around the regularity of posts.Social influencers have become such a prevalent part of digital marketing, brands want to connect with influencers but are unsure where to start. It’s Influencer Marketing agencies who are there to connect and guide the journey between influencers and brands. Similar to Affiliate Marketing where networks act as a meeting space between the brands and affiliates, the Influencer Agency acts as the middle man to manage the process. The major difference between the two is affiliates are paid commissions on every sale, and influencers are rewarded with being able to say they’re “ambassadors” for brands.The brands who are in touch with Influencer Marketing agencies are not necessarily focused around driving immediate sales, rather brand exposure. These brands are wanting to reconnect their once loyal customers, and put their brand on customers’ radars. Traditional marketing can be incredibly expensive, and more often than not brands don’t have the budget available for commercial advertisements. It’s here that influencers pay a key role, as generally speaking, the lower grade influencers who have accrued an average of 5k-10k followers, are more inclined to accept no payment in exchange for being affiliated with a brand, whereas affiliate marketing pays the affiliate on a cost per acquisition basis. Influencer Marketing can therefore create reach without significant cost.Mind you, it’s not a lucky dip when it comes to being associated with brands, there’s criteria that must be met by the influencer (or as some Influencer agencies refer to them as “boosters”) that’s created by the client, and given to a group of influencers. If the influencer’s answers match the ones the client has asked for, then the influencer is accepted into the promotion and required to meet the details of the promotion. This differs to how bloggers are selected for affiliate programmes, as there’s no questionnaire the affiliates need to fill out in order to be eligible for a given programme, rather they apply, and it’s up to the client or agency that manages the programme to decide whether they are suited. The similarity between Affiliate Marketing and Influencer Marketing however, is both are looking for strong influencers who have significant followers and site visits, who can drive traffic to the site.Influencer Marketing is a cost-effective way to increase brand engagement, track and monitor content, and have unique content across a number of social media platforms. However, the content is only valuable and visible for a short period of time as content is shuffled away by the interest algorithms of social media platforms. Whereas with Affiliate campaigns, content can be visible for an extended period of time (often for years) therefore impact can be extended too and the influencers are rewarded for their efforts continuously.Laura Anschau, Digital Media Executive

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