It’s almost impossible to scroll through Instagram without seeing some form of “Use my code for 10% off!” message. Influencer marketing is on the rise, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. While affiliate and influencer marketing used to be separate entities, the lines between the two continue to blur. Influencers are using their growing followings, earning commissions, and taking over the job once held by affiliate marketing channels.
Just a few years ago, affiliate marketers could earn commissions through external websites, writing articles or blogs to drive traffic and conversions to a business page (think Buzzfeed’s “Top 10 Amazon Items You Need for Your Home” listicles). Influencers had a different payment structure: lump-sum or per rates for posting about a brand or service. Now, both arenas have grown in popularity, and many brands view the two fields as one.
The Growth of Affiliate Marketing Technology
As affiliate marketing channels have taken off, analytic partners have done the same. Affiliate networks, similar to influencer networks, give brands the option to choose whether they want to work with individual influencers or through networks that streamline performance tracking and payment options.
Affiliate marketing technology has become more sophisticated in recent years. Today’s brands can track and understand specific customer actions, coupons, influencer success, and attribution across multiple channels. This is key for brands wondering how to measure digital advertising effectiveness.
The new blended landscape provides a great opportunity for marketers — especially those with sales and educational goals — to implement affiliate campaigns. What brands can especially reap the rewards for these types of campaigns? Verticals that do particularly well include consumer packaged goods (CPG), credit cards, insurance, direct-to-consumer subscription services, and travel. All of these lend themselves nicely to pay-per-click and social advertising, as well as other contextual advertising.
For example, we recently helped a pet CBD brand, use affiliate marketing technology to increase sales by more than $300,000. The program was designed to actively engage with direct websites that work on a performance marketing basis, using tailored banners, offers, and ads.
And while influencer and affiliate channels are a growing and lucrative channel for many brands, there are a few exceptions in which this method of advertising may not be the best fit. Industries that aren’t as well-suited for affiliate campaigns include those that are B2B-targeted or have tight geotargeting because most influencers target consumers directly and have followers around the country.
How to Manage an Affiliate Marketing Campaign
If you’re ready to launch an affiliate campaign for your brand, start with these five steps.
1. Be choosy with channels.
Different affiliate marketing channels are right for different brands and different objectives. Do market research to understand which channels your consumers are spending time on — and then which of those affiliate marketing channels will most likely drive them to perform the desired action.
For example, perhaps your consumers are spending significant time browsing online. While running an SEO affiliate campaign might seem to make sense, customers may actually be using search for only top-of-funnel browsing. In that case, you’d likely be better off promoting an affiliate code on social media, if that’s where your customers are more likely to make a purchase decision.
2. Prioritize personalization.
Consider using single-use promo codes. They strengthen customer relationships with your brand and are also more easily tracked and attributed. Consumers trust influencers because of the personalization their recommendations provide, so a personalized influencer code is much more trustworthy to customers than a general one. Plus, personalized codes make it easier for you to track your digital advertising performance metrics.
3. Leverage landing pages.
Once an influencer or website draws a customer to your website, it’s your job to seal the deal. Your number one priority should be keeping them on the page by providing them with the information they were looking for. If it’s hard to find that information or to navigate your site, they’ll leave. Incorporating relevant content and keywords will also help your Google search rankings.
4. Shore up your tracking.
In preparation for the coming cookieless environment, your brand needs to figure out how to track your affiliate campaigns sooner rather than later. If you’re running on an e-commerce site, check their recommendations to integrate into the software. If you’re using an ad platform, they should offer you tracking tools within their services. If you’re OK running your campaigns manually, you can also offer affiliates their own unique UTM codes, which will give you the ability to pull results from Google Analytics.
5. Keep timing top of mind.
Research when consumers’ habits draw them to your affiliate and influencer platforms, and time your affiliate campaigns accordingly. Be sure to also keep seasonality in mind, as consumers respond well to season-related promotions. Product launches are also a great time to use influencer marketing, as they offer you a chance to demo your product and also lend it brand equity.
When it comes to promoting your brand offerings — and measuring success — affiliate marketing has a lot to offer. To learn more about how to make each a part of your business, get in touch today!