What's the Difference Between Influencer & Affiliate Marketing?

With millions of people logging into their various social media accounts everyday, the face of marketing has to shift to account for the new ways in which people consume their media. No longer are the days of newspaper ads, or bulletin board memos. TV advertisements and product placement are also slowly shifting to  include online influencers and affiliate marketing. With all of these relatively new approaches it may be difficult to choose the right marketing strategy for your brand. Both influencer and affiliate marketing are excellent ways to increase your reach to your target audience, and eventually turn them into customers.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is the process of partnering with influential people in your niche and using their network and authority to promote your brand. This type of marketing is one of the easiest, and most effective ways to quickly increase brand awareness, if it is done properly.

Since influencer marketing is inherently personal, when the influencers have sway over your desired target market, your chances of attracting their attention are greatly increased. Social influencers have built up a high amount of trust with their following, which means their followers usually view their recommendations as if a friend was recommending the product.

What is an Influencer?

One of the biggest mistakes that can be made when attempting to use influencer marketing is assuming that a celebrity is an influencer. Influencers aren’t quite the same as celebrities. While influencers have a large amount of following on their social media account, most would not consider themselves to be famous. Especially not in an offline setting.

An influencer can be described as someone that:

  • Has a following in a specific niche, in which they are actively engaged with. The size of their following will be dependent on the topic of niche, and the size of the niche.
  • Due to the relationship that this person has with their audience, they have the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others.

Another difference between influencers and celebrities is influencers can be anywhere, or anyone. The only thing that is needed is a large following on social media. An influencer can be a popular photographer, a hiker that reviews campsites and products, or someone that enjoys traveling.

The key is, these influencers are like ordinary people, just with hundreds of thousands - or millions - of followers. Whereas celebrities are not seen as ordinary people, and tend to live their lives way out of the means of everyone else.

Your target audience wants someone that is relatable, someone they can go to for advice, to ask questions to, and get a trusted opinion. An influencer will be able to check all of these boxes whereas celebrities will have fallen short. If your brand selects the right influencer, they will help reach potential customers that would not have been able to reach otherwise. , 2012), so yours has to stand out.

influencer marketing

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Through affiliate marketing, you can advertise your goods or services on websites that are not your own. The affiliate, or the website where your material appears, gets a small cut of the sale when visitors on these sites view your content, click on it, and make a purchase. This can be done through proprietary websites, or through a third party vehicle specifically designed for this.  .

What are the different types of affiliate marketing??

Having knowledge about the different types of affiliate marketing will help you understand the different ways money can be made in these online spaces, and which type is best for your brand.

There are three types:

  • Unattached
  • Related
  • Involved


When there is no connection between the target audience of the product being sold and the brand, it is called unattached affiliate marketing. In other words, there is a lack of connection between the customer and yourself.

This type of affiliate marketing can be beneficial as there are no claims about the quality of the product. This can absolve the affiliate from the sense of duty to recommend or advise which product to use based on personal experience.


Related affiliate marketing, as you can probably tell by the name, involves an affiliate that has some type of relationship with the product or service they are offering. Usually, this connection is between the product or service and the affiliate’s niche. The level of authority and expertise that the affiliate has online is usually enough to make them a trusted source and guarantee sales. Though, with this type of affiliate marketing, there are no claims made about the product or service being advertised.


In this type of affiliate marketing there is a deeper connection established between the product or service and the affiliate. The affiliate has tried or tested the product or service they are advertising and they are confident that the positive experience they had will be shared with others that use the product. The advertisement for this product is the experience the affiliate had with the product, which is seen as a trusted source of information to the audience.

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How do I use influencer marketing for my business?

Influencer marketing is a newer form of promotion though it is fast growing and extremely effective. It is one of the most effective ways to get exposure for your brand, and in turn receive more sales. Influencer marketing is successful because most influencers followings are a part of a specific demographic that would not be able to be reached otherwise.

How to choose an Influencer

When trying to decide on an influencer that will best fit your brand there are a couple things that you must research before committing. First, the influencer must be on a platform that your brand is active on. Your brand must have an active presence on this platform as well as your target audience. It is unlikely for users to hop from platform-to-platform, but will be more than likely to check out a profile on the platform of their choice. Second, you’ll need to establish the budget or compensation that your brand will be providing the influencer with to promote your product. Typically, this is done by determining the following range of the influencer you’ll be working with.

Once you have determined the influencer you will be working with, you need to know how to measure the success of the marketing.Influencer marketing is a newer form of promotion though it is fast growing and extremely effective.

How to determine the success of influencer marketing

Engagement is a helpful key product indicator (KPI) you can use to monitor and ensure your influencer marketing campaign success. Engagement is an important KPI because it will help you review how your campaign was received, and will help determine what to incorporate in your next campaign, and what to avoid.

Engagement can be monitored through:

  • Number of followers/likes - Monitor how many new followers are directed back to your social media profiles from the influencers page. You’ll need to verify if the increase in followers and likes was higher during the campaign than it was at previous times.
  • Interaction on social media - Check to see if the number of comments, likes, shares, link clicks, and page views for your content has increased. Social media sites keep track of these statistics and offer analytics that make it easier for you to assess the campaign's effectiveness.
  • Website visitors - Successful campaigns direct visitors to particular web pages on your site, such as a curated landing page. Then, you can keep tabs on which leads ultimately made a purchase
  • Generating leads - Check to see whether you received more email signups during the campaign if you have a lead magnet or signup form available.

Engagement is an excellent indicator of how your brand is being perceived by the audience, your brand relevance, and how strong your relationship with your customers. It should be monitored closely to determine if your market strategy is successful.

marketing dashboard

How do I use affiliate marketing for my business?

Over the past couple of years, affiliate marketing has grown immensely. One of the pros of affiliate marketing is that it requires a lot less risk and research. Affiliates will work to position your product on the proper platforms, leaving little work for you. As well, this type of marketing can also be more budget friendly because it is commission based. This means you will only be paying once customers have actually purchased your product rather than having a flat-fee regardless gaining any customers. Affiliate marketing is low-risk, and a steady investment. Affiliates are usually free to join, and do not charge high fees.

How to determine the success of your campaign

Here are some helpful KPIs you can use to monitor and ensure your affiliate marketing campaign success:

Order value and longevity
Verify whether leads make the bare minimum purchase or go above and beyond by purchasing multiple items. Check if they are purchasing expensive goods, or renewing subscriptions. If you are selling many products that have varying price points, your average order value (AOV) will help establish which of your affiliates are producing higher-value orders. The ideal is to get long-term loyal customers through your affiliate, this way you are covering the cost of acquiring the customer and bringing in revenue over time.

Volume of sales

Keep an eye on your sales figures to determine whether the products you're advertising through the affiliate program are increasing in sales. This is an important aspect. Affiliate sales can be important, but you want to be able to compare how much you are paying in commissions to the cost of other marketing platforms. Determine if the efforts you’re putting into affiliate marketing are making a difference, or if you need to switch up your strategy

Visitor numbers
Are more people visiting your site and browsing the pages? Check to see whether more people are downloading your free content and signing up for new leads. This can be slightly difficult to track because there is not a set way to measure the amount of attention your business is getting as different brands may want to track attention in different ways. Though, there are a couple of basic metrics to track engagement to start of with, such as: the amount of visits your website receives from affiliate links, the amount of affiliate links that are created which lead to your website, or the number of conversions affiliates generate.

The Final Decision

Making the decision of how you are going to market your brand can be difficult and stressful. Though, it’s important to remember you don’t have to stick to one strategy. If you decide to use affiliate marketing, you do not have to abandon the idea of using influencer marketing. Both of these marketing strategies can be used to result in a successful campaign, either together or separately. You can adjust and incorporate whichever strategy to help your brand meet both long-term and short-term goals.

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