Affiliate marketing has been around for many years. I’d bet that if you have ever faced the challenge of increasing traffic to your website, acquiring new users, retaining those users and/or increasing conversions, you’ve most likely already mastered, tried or at least heard about affiliate marketing.
Social media and behavioural changes of the new generations have empowered influencers with a voice with a powerful impact. Influencer marketing has become a way of communicating with your target audience in a much more authentic and engaging way. These social leaders have the ability to inspire conversation and influence their loyal followers in way that can not be achieved by any other marketing channel.
And the great thing is that you don’t need to pick one over another. You can easily combine the old and the new and get the best of both worlds. Affiliate marketing will help you attribute the results of your campaign. Influencer marketing will help you humanize your brand message and generate credibility through real people that endorse your brand with original and creative content, and still, drive results.
You can think of influencers as really effective affiliates.
At Lemmonet, we call the combination of these two strategies Brandformance marketing. And I’d like to give you some practical tips for you to start using it right away!
Where should I start?
1. Generate unique affiliate links or coupon codes for your influencers.
If you already have an affiliate program in place, this should be business as usual for you. But in the case you are new to affiliate marketing, you can follow the steps here to learn how to generate these unique tracking links.
In the case your app or website has the feature to redeem a coupon code, this is even better. In this way you will be able to attribute 100% of the conversions to the influencers collaborating with your brand.
Influencers will include these affiliate links and/or coupon codes while endorsing your brand in their social channels. The best suited social formats to use affiliate links are either Instagram stories, where the influencer can include your link for the user to “swipe up” (Pro tip: You need to collaborate with influencers with over 10K followers to have this feature enabled), or Youtube videos. Here the influencers can include the tracking links in the video description. You should have in mind that if you ask an influencer to include your affiliate link in an Instagram feed post, it won’t work.
Note that Instagram does not redirect traffic out of its feed.
The best marketers take full advantage of this tactic by offering a special discount or promo to the users that follow these affiliate links or coupon codes - this is their incentive to take action.
Take, for example a campaign we have recently launched in Brazil with Shell, the oil and gas company. The campaign goal was to get new users for a new app that allows you to pay for gas directly from your phone. The brand provided affiliate tracking links and unique promo codes for the influences to promote the app in their social channels.
What made the campaign really effective was that the users who installed the app and used it to pay for their gas, received a discount on their first payment. With this strategy Shell was able to generate not only brand awareness but also new users and first purchases.
2. Get creative with your payment model
Instead of working with traditional payment models, where the brand compensates the influencer for a specific number of posts, think outside of the box and get creative.
The key to getting the maximum return on your investment is to articulate an offer that is attractive for the influencers and motivates them to go the extra mile
If you are a performance oriented advertiser and you are already mastering affiliate marketing, you might be thinking that you could leverage influencers just as any other affiliate partner by offering them a commission based on installs (CPI), an action (CPA) or a sale (CPS). For sure this is a valid avenue, but our experience tells that it’s not the easiest road.
Think about influencers as if they were an extended arm of your sales force. You not only want to get them on your team, but you also want them to be motivated and excited about working for you.
We’ve seen that influencers acceptance rate for a campaign is way higher when you allocate a portion of your budget as a fixed fee. This allows you to get their commitment to collaborate with your brand and get things moving faster. Now that you have them onboard, what you need to do is to put together the right incentives. Again, just as you would do with the compensation plans for your own sales force.
Depending on your campaign goal, you should think of offering commission based incentives for your influencers. This commissions could be for getting an install (CPI), an action you define (CPA) or even a revenue share over a sale. As I mentioned earlier, It’s highly recommended to also offer an incentive to your target audience in order to make your influencers efforts more effective. You could offer a special discount, in-app credits, or any promo you’d like. Be creative!
On November 11th, which is the largest online shopping day in China, the giant e-Commerce Alibaba, partnered with Lemmonet to deliver an influencers campaign where they offered to the influencers a fixed fee, plus a commission over each sale attributed to their affiliate links. Check out an example here:
3. Stand out from your competition with original and authentic content
Brands are struggling to differentiate themselves from competition with original and authentic content. Millennials' and even more, Centennials' (the generation that has never known a world without the internet) attention is each time harder to get. We (Yes. I’m a Millennial) get overwhelmed by so many ads and so many daily stimulus that the battle for attention is tougher than ever.
This is why we believe that this Brandformance strategy where Affiliate marketing converges with Influencer marketing, might be the way to not only crack the attention from the new generations, but also to measure your efforts and track your return on ad spend as every good marketer likes to do.
Interested in learning how to get started with influencer marketing? Download our free introductory guide: Influencer Marketing for Professionals
Do you have any other strategy or experience in combining these two marketing tactics that you would like to share? Please leave me a comment. I would love to hear about it!