• Why Affiliate Marketing Programs Are No Good For Quality Influencer Marketing

    Why Affiliate Marketing Programs Are No Good For Quality Influencer Marketing

    You may have heard of affiliate marketing and thought to yourself: “A way to gain promotion with no upfront costs? That’s amazing”. You probably also know about influencers, and who better than people with an online following to promote your product, especially if there is only to pay for the results.

    But, as is often the case, what sounds too good to be true has a catch.

    While the monetary stake may seem low, there is more at play with affiliate marketing under the surface. 

    Here we explain why combining an affiliate program with influencers may be one of the worst ideas in a marketer career.

    What is affiliate marketing?

    Affiliate marketing is a marketing tactic by which promoters earn a percentage of the sales done through them. 

    Affiliate marketing is often done by providing each affiliate with personalized links to the products using which the brand can track sales and calculate the kickback for every affiliate.

    Many affiliate marketing programs have very low entry barriers and encourage as many users as possible to join. 

    Affiliate marketing offers the possibility to earn for many bloggers and website owners who specialize in small niches with content like product reviews.

    Different platforms implement affiliate marketing differently: Amazon, for example, provides a 10% commission for any sale done through their personal link regardless of where it comes from. 

    Meanwhile, Etsy has different programs if it is promoted through social media or other avenues.

    Platforms try to incentivize the promotion through channels they deem respectable and advantageous for their image and reach.

    At the core affiliate marketing is a performance-based way to remunerate successful promotions that converted. 

    In practice, it gets easily exploited with low effort and spammy content that is likely to hurt a brand image in the long run.

    Infographic summarizing the content under the header What is affiliate marketing?

    Why affiliate marketing is appealing?

    Affiliate marketing allows companies to have increased exposure and brand awareness without committing any budget before the sales are actually in.

    With this strategy, the brand does not have to provide content or directions and can let the affiliate do most of the heavy lifting to find out the strategies that work best with their audience.

    Starting companies often find it appealing due to low costs and the huge potential of increasing visibility. 

    Affiliate marketing vs influencer marketing

    Both affiliate marketing and influencer marketing use user-generated content (also known as UGC or consumer-generated content) to spread information about a product and convince new potential customers to make a purchase.

    The main difference lies in the control over the content. 

    • With influencers, there is a back-and-forth between the brand and creators to only put out content that aligns with both.
    • When using affiliate marketing, the brand does not have control over the content. Affiliates are not supervised and can prepare content without regard to the brand guidelines or image.

    Affiliate marketing offers a hands-off approach while still providing the potential for a great level of reach and coverage for the products or the brand. But those who engage with it are strictly interested in making a sale as fast as possible often with disregard for other important aspects like, for example, brand recognition.

    Influencer marketing offers a  more controlled output of content and with it, it also comes a more mindful approach to the brand and the products since a campaign’s success is not only determined by short-term sales.

    Infographic summarizing the content under the header Affiliate marketing vs influencer marketing

    How do they combine?

    In its more traditional approach, affiliate marketing has been mostly used by small site owners or bloggers to have a viable way to monetize their content. But social media becoming popular many brands have attempted to combine it with influencer marketing and institute a program specifically for affiliates with a large online following. 

    Their approach combines the hands-off affiliate marketing practice with qualifying criteria, often minimum social media following and engagement rate. Some programs will also specify which platforms to publish and which hashtags need to be used for the posts to qualify.

    What are the drawbacks of combining affiliate marketing and influencer marketing?

    While on paper the combination of affiliate marketing and influencer marketing may sound like a perfect strategy, the reality couldn’t be further from that.

    Most influencers understand that they offer more than direct sales and will refuse a pure affiliate deal. 

    Creating good and engaging content is expensive and requires both time and resources. Offering a payout only when directly connected with a sale would not attract many serious content creators who take pride in their jobs.

    From our experience most of the creators that will agree to affiliate type of deals are the ones that you will not want to have on board: low engagement, poor content, and questionable practices.

    How to successfully combine affiliate marketing and influencer marketing?

    While a pure affiliate program is going not to be enticing for most reputable influencers, there are ways to combine the two that are going to play into the strengths of each strategy.

    For once, providing a base payment for the content shared is going to be the bedrock of any respectable influencer partnership. On top of that is possible to include a bonus for each sale done through their link. 

    This way the content creators will both have a stable baseline payment for their work and an incentive to craft the best-converting content they can think of.

    For any questions about influencer marketing and how it can help your brand achieve your goals, we are here to answer them. Our team of expert campaign managers will craft and execute the right strategy for your goals so you can lay back and enjoy the benefits. 


    Affiliate marketing is not a great way to grow a respectable band and will cause many questionable practices to be associated with your name if not only implemented as a way to provide extra incentives.