Influencer Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing: Which Should You Choose For Your Brand?

GRIN also recommends this free guide: How to Get ROI from Influencer Marketing.

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Both influencer marketing and affiliate marketing are popular marketing strategies used by many companies today. However, just because someone else is doing it is seldom a good enough reason for you to be doing it too.

To understand which of these is right for your brand, you need to first have an in-depth understanding of both. Here we’ll take a closer look at each in order to help you understand which one you should choose.

Influencer marketing is a form of marketing focused on individuals such as popular social media personalities, bloggers, or even celebrities. Such individuals usually have a large number of followers who regularly engage with their content on social media.

The idea behind influencer marketing is to leverage such influence to promote a brand’s products or services. Brands collaborate with influencers to have them create content about the brand and promote them. You can think of it as positive word-of-mouth marketing in which the influencer shares their experience of using these products.

Studies have shown that product recommendations from influencers are genuinely trusted and used by consumers in their purchase decisions. A Twitter study shows that tweets by influencers together with tweets by brands can increase purchase intent 5.2X.

People follow influencers because they perceive such interactions to be valuable. They believe in the opinions and recommendations shared by influencers. This is why, when such an influencer endorses a brand, it is way more credible than other forms of marketing.

Benefits Of Influencer Marketing

So, what are the key benefits of influencer marketing?

1. A Controlled Approach

When you run an influencer marketing campaign, it is entirely driven and controlled by you. For example, you identify and connect with relevant influencers, create your strategy, and content distribution methods.

There are very few other forms of marketing that allow you to have this level of control over a campaign. So, if you plan it well, the chances of generating a decent ROI is higher than other forms of marketing.

Influencer marketing platforms like Grin allow you to find and connect with a variety of influencers. You can filter by reach, niche, engagement, or followers and identify the ones who are best suited to your needs.

2. Incredible Results

No matter what industry you may be into, if your audience is on social media, you can make influencer marketing work. And it is capable of generating incredible results.

Brands have made $7.65 in earned media value for every dollar spent on influencer marketing, according to a study. The same study shows that influencer marketing is the fastest at acquiring customers online.

Working with a decent influencer whose niche relates to your products, gives you access to a relevant target audience. Since your message reaches a relevant audience, the chances of conversion are higher. This is the main reason for the success of influencer marketing.

3. Inexpensive

One of the main reasons why some companies are skeptical about using influencer marketing is due to the cost. Not that influencer marketing is extremely expensive. Unless you are working with the likes of Selena Gomez, influencer marketing is a fairly cost-effective strategy. But the reason why many brands shy away from it is that they’re unsure of the associated costs.

Micro-influencers are a category of influencers who have smaller but more engaged followers. A study by Bloglovin’ has shown that 97% of them charge lower than $500 for a branded post on Instagram.

Affiliate Marketing

Let us now take a closer look at affiliate marketing. This is a marketing strategy adopted by many brands looking to direct more traffic to their website or products online.

Individuals, called “affiliates” are given a unique URL which they need to showcase on their blog, website, or other channels. If a visitor clicks on that link and makes a purchase, the brand shares a commission with the affiliate.

Benefits Of Affiliate Marketing

Let’s look at some of the major benefits of affiliate marketing.

1. Easy To Implement

It is a relatively simple form of marketing that does not require a huge amount of effort to set up. All you need to do is set up a mechanism for creating a unique URL for each affiliate and track the conversions. However, it is important to note that a brand must be well-established in order to be able to support an affiliate program.

2. You Only Pay for Results

Affiliate marketing is a comparatively risk-free form of marketing. This is because your affiliates earn money only when a sale actually happens using an affiliate link. As opposed to traditional advertising, you aren’t paying for impressions or clicks. Regardless of the clicks to an affiliate link, you pay a commission only in the event of a sale.

Influencer Marketing vs. Affiliate Marketing

So now coming back to the question of which of these two forms of marketing you should choose. To answer this, we need to look at the overall benefits they offer.

Results

Both forms of marketing are capable of delivering good returns. With influencer marketing you are able to get your message across to a relevant audience. And affiliate marketing provides you a risk-free investment so you only pay for actual results.

For influencer marketing, the important thing to keep in mind is to select the right influencer. Someone whose niche aligns with your brand and who has a good engagement rate. The followers of such an influencer are extremely likely to be interested in your products.

So when you collaborate with someone like this, your message reaches an already interested audience. Platforms like Grin make it extremely easy to connect with relevant influencers.

An affiliate code can be your cherry on top here. You can share a unique discount code or coupon code with your influencers which they can include in their posts. The advantage that you get with this is that it gives an already willing audience another tiny nudge to buy.

Grin can help you find influencers for your affiliate strategy and in placing links within influencer content to track ROI. What’s more is that you can run your campaign using multiple influencers and optimize for the ones who perform best.

Ease Of Implementation

Between the two, affiliate marketing requires fewer steps to implement than influencer marketing. Because influencer marketing would require you to find and connect with influencers and then run your campaign.

However, even though affiliate marketing can be set up more quickly, a company needs to have solid operations in place. Only then can they track and manage an affiliate program efficiently. This means that if you’re a small company or a startup, affiliate marketing won’t be an option for you.

However, influencer marketing can be undertaken even by startups. You don’t need any sort of operations or technical platform in place. If you’re willing to put in some amount of manual work, you can easily connect with relevant influencers. And then set up a campaign.

Brand Focus

In general, affiliate marketing has a lesser brand focus than influencer marketing. For example, an affiliate might be promoting 20 different products on their blog with affiliate links to each. Many affiliate sites are simply focused on comparing prices or sharing coupon codes. So the audience to such sites might not be relevant to your brand.

However, with Grin you can have greater control and brand focus when you combine affiliate and influencer marketing. You can choose the influencers you wish to work with, run your campaign and keep optimizing it. So if you find that certain content or influencers aren’t performing well, you can make adjustments as needed.

Most influencers share quality content and attach a lot of importance to aesthetics. So your message reaches only the right audiences in a very efficient way. Hence, combining it with affiliate marketing can make sure that your marketing budget is being put to good use.

Costs

Both affiliate marketing and influencer marketing are cost-effective strategies. In affiliate marketing, you pay an affiliate only in the event of a sale, and not for clicks or impressions.

Influencer marketing is generally flat-fee based. However, if you work with micro-influencers, the costs are fairly low. Sometimes they are even willing to work with you in exchange for free products or services. So overall, it turns out to be quite cost-effective.

Final Thoughts

To summarize, a strategy that combines influencer and affiliate marketing works best. Not only can you reach more relevant audiences, but it also helps you achieve a variety of objectives. Affiliate marketing can help you drive more conversions. And influencer marketing can help you achieve other goals such as increasing brand awareness too.

Using Grin’s intuitive and user-friendly platform, you can easily find and connect with relevant influencers. You can place tracking links within influencer content to track conversions from affiliates. You can also track and measure campaign effectiveness in real-time to make any adjustments needed.

Even if you are a startup with skeletal operations, you can still run an influencer marketing campaign. It is cost-effective, and won’t impact your profits negatively. You can run a focused campaign that is more likely to generate a higher ROI.

Can you think of any other ways in which combining influencer and affiliate marketing might be beneficial? Let us know in the comments below.

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Additional Resources

What the best brands are doing to drive revenue from influencer marketing

Whether you are just getting started with influencer marketing or already have your program in place, this guide gives you the tools to get the return on investment your C-level will love. 

How to get ROI from influencer marketing

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