It’s mid-December and while it feels like the retail rush is behind us, we’re all relying on last minute holiday shopping. And as we start to wind down for the year, it’s time to start thinking about your influencer plans for the New Year.

Influencers at work
Influencers are always looking for new ways to diversify their income stream.

It’s also a fantastic time to make sure your affiliate marketing offers are on point – ensuring that your current influencer relationships are driving sales. And it’s also a great time to revitalize your previous influencer relationships as well.

What is affiliate marketing?

If you already have a successful affiliate marketing program in place. You can skip this section. But if you think you know what affiliate marketing it, it might be time to get some clarity.

Affiliate marketers generally consider their work to be commission-based sales. But a more progressive way of looking at it, especially as it relates to influencers, is to think of it as revenue sharing. Influencers promote your product or service and when their readers and followers click through to your site and make a purchase (generally any purchase), the influencer is given a percentage of the sale.

Affiliate marketing is recognized by the FTC and does require disclosure when influencers use affiliate marketing but there are more and more creative ways to include affiliate offers in addition to your traditional models of influencer campaigns.

How Programs Are Set Up and Managed

In order to implement an affiliate program, most brands sign up with an affiliate network as a brand partner. Some of the largest out there include Commission Junction, Rakuten, and ShareASale – an Awin company. Awin, itself, is also one of the largest affiliate networks, especially globally.

Affiliate networks manage most affiliate marketing programs.

Setting up the program means creating assets and offers that influencers or content creators might use when including an affiliate link for a brand. And offers generally include a specified cookie period and commission payout.

If all of that sounds confusing or you’re left wondering what a good cookie period looks like and what the commission payout should be, there are affiliate program management companies to help with that. These agencies are designed specifically to help you create and grow your affiliate program, as well as offer strategies for creating effective offers when working with influencers. 

Structuring an Affiliate Offer

Typically, you’ll have a standard affiliate offer for anyone applying to become a member of your affiliate program. Once they apply, you can approve (or not) and their affiliate links would fall under that standard offer.

Anne Parris, Affiliate Manager at Apogee, an affiliate program management agency, shared her insight for creating a good affiliate offer when working specifically with influencers.

1. Accelerated affiliate acceptance

At a minimum, you’ll want to offer an influencer an accelerated acceptance to your affiliate program. The normal acceptance process may involve their application being funneled through the affiliate network and then to your brand for review. Influencers like to know they can circumvent the process by being pre approved for the program.

2. Special affiliate offer

Brands often provide a special offer to influencers they’re working closely with as an incentive for promoting their own branded content (both sponsored and non-sponsored). A special offer typically involves a high commission rate (either permanently or for a specified period of time) and/or an extended cookie period.

3. Offer code 

As part of an affiliate program, brands can offer a coupon or offer code that makes it easy to share product links on social media. 

All of the above offers rely on one thing to make a program successful – conversion.

If an influencer is good at converting followers to shoppers, it’s a win-win situation. Sometimes, brands are simply better at selling their own product. They just need to get the followers to their site. Here’s where programs like Shop Your Likes are beneficial. This is a program designed for Instagram influencers to use on their “Swipe Up” Stories. 

Instead of rewarding influencers for sales conversions, their payout is based solely on traffic referral. 

Benefits of Implementing Affiliate Offers in Your Influencer Strategy

Every influencer campaign is planned, executed, and measured for results. You may have short term KPIs but using affiliate marketing, in addition to your compensation strategy, can give your influencer campaigns more longevity.

Not only do strong affiliate offers give influencers more incentive to promote their posts (especially blog posts) beyond the social requirements of a campaign, but it gives them incentive to continue to promote the content long after the campaign ends.

Affiliate marketing can extend the life of your influencer campaign.
Affiliate marketing can extend the life of your influencer campaign.

For example, one strategy might include reaching out to an influencer who created a holiday post for you last year and providing a strong affiliate offer to encourage them to continue to promote the content this year in a timely way.

For Instagram-only campaigns, influencers can easily reshare their sponsored Instagram posts  to their Instagram stories with a swipe up affiliate link. 

How to Incorporate Affiliate Marketing into Your Influencer Campaign

When considering your influencers campaigns for the New Year or looking for ways to revitalize well-performing content from previous campaigns, affiliate marketing might be a strategy to consider incorporating into your influencer campaign strategy.

We can work with you when setting up the parameters for the campaign. Affiliate offers can become “bonus compensation” for influencers who choose to take advantage. And strong offers can be part of a hybrid campaign. Hybrid campaigns can include traditional sponsored content, ensuring you have control over the messaging but also include an affiliate offer. This, in turn, can result in overall lower compensation on the front end because the influencer can make up for it on the back end. And your total payout is now tied more closely to conversions.

We’d love to have a conversation with you about affiliate marketing and how it might be right for your influencer campaigns.