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Affiliate marketing or influencer marketing: Which route should you take?
Every day we're online we see something vs another thing and usually, it's two similar things fighting for control. This is where affiliate marketing and influencer marketing come into the discussion since everyone wants to get the word out about their services and websites, but they aren't always familiar with what the best plan of action would be. Online marketing agencies won't give you a straight answer because they likely don't know exactly what to say, and I should know because I run one of these agencies lol. I try not to get into affiliate marketing vs influencer marketing when talking to clients because there are a ton of moving parts and they likely won't know what I'm talking about, which wastes a lot of time that I could be using in order to boost their rankings lol.
What people forget to think about, when talking about influencer marketing and affiliate marketing, is which would be best for you based on the goals you are trying to achieve.
Depending on where you are at with your company will usually choose if you are going to be better off with affiliate marketing, if you should be using influencer marketing or if you should be using both at the same time.
Affiliates can be like your sales team
Let's talk about Amazon for a second, they are a massive company with almost 310 million monthly customers. That's a staggering amount, but they likely wouldn't have that many customers if they didn't have any affiliates. You may have even signed up for Amazon through an affiliate link you found online since there are millions of websites that are dedicated to pushing Amazon affiliate links.
If you aren't sure what an affiliate is, they are people who sign up to a company's program and get a link to advertise. This link is attached to the affiliates account and once a person clicks on it, they get a cookie placed on their computer which tracks their sales. If an affiliate is sending potential buyers to a website, they will get a commission when someone eventually purchases and has the cookie on their computer.
A ton of big companies like Amazon have affiliate systems for anyone to use, but the difficult part is cracking into a niche and getting link clicks in order to make a commission.
The downside to affiliate marketing is that there are a lot of bad programs you can sign up for. There is no vetting when it comes to having a website set up for an affiliate program, so you'll need to be cautious when pushing traffic through your affiliate link for a company and hoping they will pay you after you get some commissions. There are horror stories of people having $5,000+ in their account and then the company bans them, deleting any commissions they might have had.
If you're going to be using an affiliate system to increase your sales, you'll want to pay them at scheduled intervals so they don't get antsy and think you're simply scamming them. You can set up an affiliate system using a 3rd party service or even a plugin for WordPress, but the good ones for WordPress usually cost a bit of money because they are constantly updated with new features and bug fixes.
When you want to use an affiliate system, you'll need to have a decent sized profit margin in order to entice affiliates to work with you. If you're offering a 5% commission because you only make 7% of every sale, you won't get that many affiliates. If you're selling digital goods or services, you'll be able to increase the commissions to 50% or even 75% since it's a one time commission usually and you will be able to build your list up easier this way.
Using an Influencers authority to boost your own
I'm sure you've been on a social media platform and saw someone posting about a specific industry, but not really being involved with any specific business, right? These are called social media influencers and they are a great way to increase your own authority and sales, but for a price.
They have a very deep reach when it comes to pulling in potential clients, and these people could make or break your company with a simple post. This is just like having a so-called "guru" posting about your company and saying it's the best thing they've ever seen. Do you think your sales would skyrocket or do you think it would have been a pointless post? If you said it would be amazing, you're right!
B2B and B2C companies are both catching onto what influencer marketing is all about and they are investing a massive amount of money into building up their client base. Some of the bigger platforms for influencers are Instagram and YouTube. Each influencer will have a different amount they want to be paid per post, different time frames for posting and how often they will post for one company.
Influencer marketing is best if you have a decent amount to invest towards multiple influencers and not a single one. You'll need to throw out a lot of lines if you want to catch the big fish, and the big fish are the people who will purchase from you
How to determine if you should work with affiliates or influencers
There isn't a better or worse type of marketing in this comparison, the only thing that makes one of these better than the other is what you need to be done and how quickly it should be finished.
Knowing your target audience
If you understand your audience, you're one step closer to increasing your ROI through affiliate marketing or influencer marketing. Affiliates can get your items or services in front of the right people by providing their affiliate links in hopes of getting a commission. On the other hand, if your goal is to get your products or services in front of a massive amount of millennials, you'll probably be drawn more towards influencer marketing. The younger generation prefers hearing a positive recommendation online from someone they follow rather than seeing an affiliate link with some random text in front of it.
Know your budget
Both affiliate marketing and influencer marketing have their ups and downs, and your budget could be the deciding factor of which one you will choose to target. Affiliate marketing is rather cheap, and the only things you'll likely have to pay for are the affiliate system itself and a little bit of advertising to bring in affiliates in hopes of getting them on board. When it comes to influencer marketing, you have to pay for every single post that is made, and there's no guarantee that any of the posts going out will be successful at capturing any sales.
Why not use both?
Many companies will use both affiliate marketing as well as influencer marketing in order to boost their sales and bringing on new clients. If you can create enough visually stunning advertisements for both your affiliates and your influencers, you can usually have the best advertising combination possible right now.
You can even partner up with influencers and entice them to become your own affiliate, which would be an amazing combination since you would not have to pay for each post up front, you only pay for the number of conversions the person is getting from their social media profiles
Your budget will really determine if you're going to be using affiliates or influencers to push your products. Affiliates are much cheaper to bring on board since they'll make money from their conversions, not up front like an influencer. Obviously, you'll have to get the right affiliates and influencers in order to have the best traffic coming in, but that will come in time after your website and business become more popular.
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