Introduction to affiliate marketing influencer strategy
With the exponential rise of influencer marketing, businesses would bode well to have an influencer strategy. After all, it’s a modern-day equivalent of the good ole’ word-of-mouth marketing that’s been used effectively for decades. While the scale isn’t the same for every influencer in terms of impact, the draw is inevitably there. It’s getting noticed too - companies are increasingly finding it beneficial to add influencers to their marketing cycle, especially when it comes to raising brand awareness and improving brand affinity.
As is the case with almost every aspect of marketing today, particularly in the ecommerce section, there are some things to take into account so that you can protect your business and your budget from harmful factors. On that note, this post will cover the crucial steps needed to create a successful affiliate marketing influencer strategy that will have a long-lasting impact.
1. Finding the right partners
We start off with the logical first step, albeit often found among the “worst offenders” when it comes to influencer affiliate marketing- finding the compatible type of partners. By type, we don’t mean sorting between different bloggers, journalists, social media personalities, analysts and so on - they are all welcome. We mean content publishers that have already built relevant traffic and that would equally benefit from the offer to be your affiliate. Remember, your offer should represent a win-win scenario for both sides.
There are numerous ways you can find partners: advertising your affiliate program on your website, listing or advertising in affiliate directories, directly contacting potential affiliates, etc. However, having the right kind of audience and the right amount of traffic aren’t the only requisites your influencer has to have. To make the relationship truly valuable, influencers need to be experts on the subject to genuinely convey strong brand affinity. That usually comes with the territory but it’s better to cover your bases and avoid the potentially negative effect.
2. Be on the lookout at all times
Once you identify the right partners, the search doesn’t stop there. A few good partners certainly don’t mean your work is finito as you can never know the longevity and fruitfulness of the relationship. Some may abandon ship, some may quit altogether, some may perform beyond expectations and so on - there are no guarantees they will stick with you at the sign of first trouble or how beneficial it will be. Thus, always be on the lookout for new partners.
Take Amazon as an example. Yes, Amazon. The world’s largest online retailer recently beta launched an invite-only Amazon Influencer Program that is "exclusively designed for social media influencers with large followings and a high frequency of posts with shoppable content." Mind you, the program functions like Amazon's existing affiliate program by paying a commission for product sales that these influencers drive. The point being? Both investing in digital influencers and expanding the pool of partners is the way to go.
3. Have a clear set of rules
The last thing you want to do is overwhelm your affiliate program with multiple marketing tactics. By nature, affiliates drive the majority of their business through search marketing. This means that there is considerable potential your partnership could result in competing on the same keyword. To avoid such unnecessary issues, enforce a clear set of rules and tactics at the very beginning of the program. It’s a small but important step in the overall strategy that builds straight into the next point, which is...
4. Nurture the relationship
The goal of every affiliate marketing influencer program is to form long-standing relationships which lead to influencers promoting the brand organically. For that to happen, you have to do your part, which means one thing in general - communication. Whether you are welcoming them to your program, handing out tips and advice from your broad expertise, providing updates on product additions or highlighting changes in the program, constant communication is key.
It takes time to build a successful affiliate marketing program that will help significantly increase your online sales. That might also entail a more personal approach like congratulating birthdays (a small gift is always appreciative) or perhaps increase their commission rate during a certain period to acknowledge their efforts and show that you notice and value their contribution to the program. Take care of your partners, it’ll be worth the effort.
5. Understanding compliance
For many influencers, it’s normal not to disclose they are receiving compensation for promoting certain products or services. As such, non-affiliate influencers often do not possess basic knowledge and rules for disclosure or don’t understand them or simply don’t care. However, the challenge here from the company’s point of view is making sure influencers properly disclose the compensation aspect to avoid penalties like fines, governmental oversight, restrictions or simply bad press (not all of it is good). A well-managed program also has affiliate program managers that ensure influencers include a disclosure at the top of their post.
Being compliant is important as your business is the one being fined in almost every case. Just a quick browse on the internet uncovers quite a few of examples and gets you an idea of what’s to come. Better be safe than sorry, right? Right.
Creating an affiliate marketing influencer strategy is one of the areas where an evolving company simply need to step into. Forming partnerships with digital influencers that have considerable opinion-forming power with their followers can have a positive impact on your business. This includes strengthening and growing brand awareness and affinity through promotional efforts, content sharing and creating buzz for a product, a new launch or a campaign.
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