As discussed in our introduction to affiliate influencer marketing, affiliate influencer marketing is a recent development to the digital marketing umbrella. It involves providing influencers with unique URL IDs or promotional codes that reward influencers with commission (or other compensation) when they bring in new customers and sales. The overall aim of affiliate influencer marketing varies from brand to brand, just as the types of affiliate marketing vary. There are two main options to consider when developing an affiliate influencer marketing strategy: do you want to use an external platform or create your own?.
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Types of affiliate influencer marketing: External vs In House
External Affiliate Programmes
External affiliate marketing involves using an affiliate program on a pre-existing website or platform. A number of popular ecommerce platforms have developed their own affiliate programs that brands are able to utilise including Amazon, AliExpress, Alibaba and Lazada. In order to access these programs, your brand needs to be available and have a storefront on these ecommerce sites.
One of the most developed affiliate marketing schemes available to brands is on Amazon. Similar to most affiliate programs, Amazon’s affiliate program creates personalised ID links influencers can share outside of Amazon onto other platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. These links direct viewers back to a brand’s Amazon storefront where customers can browse the products available.
Amazon’s affiliate program thrives when partnered with Amazon Live, Amazon’s own live streaming platform. Brands can partner with Amazon influencers to promote products available from their Amazon stores with live affiliate links beneath the video. Lives can be hosted on influencers’ Amazon accounts or on a brand’s. During live streams, products are shown and reviewed by real people in real time, providing consumers with the transparency they desire. Hosts of lives can time stamp when they are showing a particular product, so it is highlighted in the product wheel beneath the video at the same time. This creates an incredibly easy buying journey for consumers, increasing the likelihood of a purchase.
In-House Affiliate Programmes
In-house, or owned, affiliate programmes are developed, controlled and designed by your business. You decide how affiliate influencers are rewarded, the content expectations to receive rewards and where leads are redirected to. Some of the most successful affiliate programs have tiered reward systems that influencers can work their way through – each tier providing more enticing rewards than the previous.
When hosting your own affiliate program, you are able to track every key metric including which affiliates provide the most conversions, which products are most popular and which platforms most traffic comes from. This means you are able to analyse results and reassess your choice of affiliates and general strategy to ensure it is optimised.
External vs In-House Affiliate Programs: Which to Choose
Using an external, pre-existing affiliate program involves less investment and a shorter set-up time for your business. Your brand must make itself available or have a storefront on the selected ecommerce platform so the personalised ID affiliate links have a landing destination. When using an external affiliate program, your brand does not have to reach out to influencers and encourage them to sign up to the program.
Most platforms with affiliate marketing programs have a large pool of pre-existing affiliates that have established themselves as trusted sources of information on the platform. Amazon has its own influencer program and influencer storefronts which has resulted in trustworthy, platform-specific influencers. Collaborating with Amazon influencers for an affiliate partnership keeps customers within the platform, resulting in a shorter and easier buying journey.
However, your brand does not have control over the commission or rewards your affiliates earn. In addition, the affiliate codes redirect customers to your webpage on the marketplace meaning your website does not gain any traffic, decreasing the guarantee of new customers. The overall set-up process is easier, but the rewards for your brand directly aren’t as plentiful.
When creating your own affiliate program, you are in control of every step of the affiliate process. It requires more time and investment than using a pre-existing affiliate program, but your business will experience a high return on investment with traffic being directed towards your own website or store. The more traffic you have on your website, the higher the likelihood of a new sale.
You will have to outreach to influencers in order to entice them to sign up to the affiliate program. For this, you could develop a rewards scheme or tiered system influencers can work through and receive more rewards. This gives the influencers a reason to produce great quality and consistent content. Your brand can curate this content and re-post onto your own social channels. Outreaching to influencers also means you have more choice as you don’t have to work with a pre-existing pool of influencers. This allows you to work with influencers who are more relevant to your brand.
External affiliate programs have predetermined rewards and commission rates. When creating your own affiliate program, you can set a commission rate that is suitable for your own budget and profit margins. In addition, when using an external affiliate program, you may have to pay the marketplace commission for hosting and using their program which is a cost you won’t have to worry about when hosting your own affiliate software.
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