Influencer Affiliate Marketing: Channels, Strategies, and Tips

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Driving sales through influencer affiliate marketing requires a clear strategy that helps you to recruit the best affiliate partners and choose the most effective channels for promoting your products. As a savvy digital marketer, you’ve done enough research to know that affiliate marketing is a key sales strategy that benefits eCommerce brands, but now you need some guidance for how to work with influencer affiliates as part of your affiliate marketing strategy. That’s where we can help! In this article, we’ll explore why working with influencer affiliates is key to taking your affiliate program to the next level. You’ll learn about the main channels, strategies, and tips for creating an affiliate program that converts! 

We’ve outlined the initial steps you need for planning an influencer affiliate program in our blog on getting started with affiliate marketing. Once you’ve addressed the most important questions about setting up your program, you can turn your attention to learning the best practices for affiliate marketing

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Choosing affiliate marketing channels

Affiliate programs consist of affiliate partners sharing purchase links with their online audiences to generate sales on behalf of a company in return for a percentage of the profits. It is a key paid media channel for brands that can generate sales for their eCommerce store beyond their ‘owned’ channels (eCommerce website, brand social media channels, and email lists). Affiliate marketing helps brands to reach and convert new customers through external partners known as affiliates. 

When it comes to hiring the best affiliate partners for your business, you also need to take into account which channels will be utilized to promote your brand’s products. When affiliate marketing first started out, blogs were the main source of traffic for affiliate links. People established themselves as influential experts in a certain industry niche by creating a blog and publishing insightful content. As the audience for blogs grew, bloggers saw the opportunity for monetization by creating sponsored posts that included affiliate links for relevant products within their content, and so the affiliate marketing model was born!

In recent years, brands have tapped into the value of authentic partnerships with affiliates, ambassadors, and influencers for promoting their products to a new, larger audience than they could previously reach through their own blog, social media, or ads. Indeed, recent changes to EU law banning some types of targeted ads, and Google’s plans to phase out third-party cookies by 2023 have encouraged many marketers to start reaching bigger, relevant audiences through influencers and affiliates. As affiliate marketing has grown, so has the number of potential platforms for sharing affiliate links. 

Let’s explore the most relevant affiliate marketing channels:

  • Blogs

Blogs still remain highly relevant as a platform to share affiliate links. When planning big purchases such as a pram, a holiday, or the latest kitchen gadget, people still turn to blogs as a source of reliable and honest information about the latest products out there. Planning your summer vacation? You’re likely to come across affiliate links for hotels and flights, like in this article Incredible Places to Visit in 2022 for a Great Escape from CultureTrip. Or perhaps it’s time to buy some accessories for your Crock-Pot? Then you might end up buying them through the affiliate links shared on the blog Café Deluxe. Working with bloggers as part of your affiliate program is a great way to start driving traffic to your links. There are blogs for pretty much any niche including tech, travel, food, parenting, and even B2B. 

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  • Influencer marketing 

Working with influencers has become a popular strategy for boosting brand awareness and online sales. Combining the wide reach of mega or macro-influencers with affiliate links creates a shorter and smoother purchase process that’s a surefire way to generate revenue for your brand! 

Once upon a time affiliates were more or less anonymous, but now brands can tap into well-known influencers who use their unique personalities as a way to build up a loyal following and engage audiences. Working with influencers as part of your affiliate program combines the best of both worlds. They can promote your brand with entertaining content on TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube through funny skits or a how-to video, then publish their affiliate links within their posts to capitalize on their vast engagements to drive sales for your brand! 

A typical scenario could be an influencer posting the affiliate link in the YouTube description of their video, in the Twitch live chat during a live stream, in an Instagram Story sticker, or directly in their social media profile page. 

  • Social media 

As well as using influencer content on social channels as a way to post affiliate links, affiliate partners can also tap into other aspects of social media. They can post content with affiliate links using their own public social media profiles. Creating active and engaged groups or threads around a certain topic is a good way to have a readymade audience. Your partners can post affiliate links in Facebook groups they run or on Pinterest for example. 

  • Email newsletters

Influencer affiliates who have set up their own blog or website may have also invited their visitors to sign up for a newsletter. It’s a great way for affiliates to continue nurturing their relationship with their audience and offers an extra channel for distributing affiliate links. Newsletters might be tailored to particular niches or themes for better targeting, depending on the range of products an affiliate will be promoting. Or they might prefer a monthly round-up style newsletter, which provides an overview of their recent content and includes their current affiliate links. 

  • Podcasts

Audio content is currently a very popular format that can definitely be leveraged for promoting affiliate links. Some bloggers and thought leaders may launch their own podcast as an additional content channel and use it as a platform to talk about brands in an authentic way to their audience. They can then post affiliate links directly in the podcast description, or simply link back to their affiliate site or blog. 

  • Live selling

Video continues to be an engaging and high-converting format, especially live video. Live social selling began as a popular trend in China and is now becoming an important sales channel for brands in the West. Live social selling, which is essentially promoting and selling products through a live-streamed video became popular during the pandemic when in-store shopping wasn’t possible. Live videos where products are showcased and demonstrated like on QVC add an extra interactive element that shoppers are missing out on when doing regular online shopping, hence its growing popularity

Affiliate partners can tap into this trend as a key strategy for generating sales using their affiliate links. While using a platform such as YouTube or Instagram creators can promote their products live to their audience while publishing affiliate links in the live chat or creating shoppable buttons that include an affiliate link. This strategy is great to use with influencers and well-known creators who people will tune in to watch.  This will increase the number of people who can be persuaded to buy during the live stream. 

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Leveraging the authenticity and honest recommendations that come from influencers and affiliates will help brands to sell more with live video. Live social shopping is becoming more mainstream in the West, with Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube hosting live shopping events with popular creators during the 2021 holiday season, paving the way for even more live social selling streams! 

Top tips and strategies for influencer affiliate marketing

As a business embarking on affiliate marketing programs this year, here are a few things to keep in mind. 

  • Work with affiliates across different channels. The best way to get the most from your affiliate marketing is to try and test different channels until you find the ones that work best for you. Maybe you’re selling a high-tech vacuum cleaner that would benefit from a live demonstration through live social selling? Or perhaps you’re targeting health-conscious moms for your organic baby food brand, in which case parenting blogs are a great choice to invest in first. Don’t be afraid to expand your affiliate network across the different channels mentioned above until you find the best-performing strategy for your brand. 
  • Hire your customers as affiliates! We all know the power of word-of-mouth marketing which can be increased ten-fold when you turn your influential customers into affiliate partners. Your real customers are authentic creators who can effectively promote your products using their genuine experiences to convert other people. We broke down the best ways to integrate customers into your affiliate recruitment strategy in a recent blog. 
  • Prioritize ROI. When looking to collaborate with new partners it’s important that brands do their due diligence and analyze performance metrics when choosing new affiliate partners. Make sure you’re making a worthwhile investment by looking at these KPIs for potential partners: conversion rates, net weekly, monthly, or yearly sales, click-through rates, and total sales value. This will give you a good indication of how well your affiliate partners will perform for your brand. 

Take the next step in your influencer affiliate campaign with this guide to Building an eCommerce Affiliate Marketing Strategy.

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