Affiliate Marketing vs. Influencer Marketing

We’ve talked about the ins and outs of affiliate marketing in a previous post, but what about influencer marketing? Why does it seem to get all the spotlight? In truth, both strategies rely on the power of partnerships, providing mutual benefits to an eCommerce business and the people marketing its products. But they also differ on a lot of fronts.


Whether you’re an eCommerce seller looking for new ways to reach customers or a content creator seeking another source of income, it’s important to understand the key distinctions between affiliate marketing and influencer marketing. In this post, Optimyze Digital outlines both strategies and their differences.


Generating Leads? Enter Affiliate Marketing


As discussed in a previous Optimyze Digital blog post, affiliate marketing is a strategy that involves promoting someone else’s product on your own blog, website or social media. Affiliate marketers and the businesses they promote tend to operate within the same niche (e.g., a hotel might run an affiliate marketing campaign on a travel blog).


Depending on the arrangement, the affiliate might be compensated per lead, per click or per sale. For the latter, the affiliate would earn a commission when someone actually made a purchase as a result of their promotion. There are also pay-per-action strategies where the affiliate earns compensation based on how many people sign up for a newsletter, register for text alerts, or perform some other specific activity.


The ultimate purpose of affiliate marketing is to either generate customer leads, drive sales, or both. Measuring the success of an affiliate marketing campaign is relatively straightforward: Sales volume and website traffic are common metrics.


Building Brand Awareness? Enter Influencer Marketing


Influencer marketing is when an influential person (e.g., a celebrity, YouTuber or thought leader) partners with a business and promotes its products or services. As with affiliate marketing, businesses tend to look for influencers that fall within their niche (e.g., a supplement company might reach out to a fitness YouTuber).


So far, influencer marketing sounds similar to affiliate marketing, but the purpose is not quite the same. The impetus behind influencer marketing is to build awareness and hype around a brand. Instead of measuring success through a specific sales funnel, you could look at social media engagement or follower counts.


Website traffic could also be a performance metric for influencer marketing, but it’s usually less targeted than affiliate marketing. For example, an affiliate may try to direct leads to a specific webpage. Meanwhile, influencers may encourage their followers to explore a company’s website without pushing a certain product or action.


Additionally, the payment structure for influencers tends to be more flexible than affiliates’ pay-per-x arrangement. The company could pay the influencer a fixed amount or per post. Compensation could also take the form of free products.


Take Your Pick


Depending on your specific goals, both affiliate marketing and influencer marketing might be good ways to either grow your business or generate a new source of income. Weigh your options and go with what makes the most sense for you.


Now that you have a better understanding of the differences between affiliate marketing and influencer marketing, what’s your next move? Learn more about how you can leverage either strategy by reaching out to the Optimyze Digital team.