Affiliate Marketing has long had a reputation of being a channel focused purely on discounts and coupons. Many brands and retailers rely on these sites to contribute the majority of sales generated through their affiliate programs. We’ve seen a tremendous amount of hesitancy from clients new to affiliate marketing, who believe they have to offer discounts in order to be successful in this channel. Many are surprised to hear we manage successful programs that limit, or exclude coupon sites altogether. At Clique we take a balanced approach to pair our clients with partners that operate using a variety of business verticals – content, social media, retargeting, corporate perks, coupon, loyalty and more.
What is influencer marketing? Every industry has thought leaders that are vocal, passionate and authoritative within their area of focus. Consumers that share these passions often look to these industry champions for advice on purchasing decisions. Think about the last time you made a purchase online. Did you research the product, or pour through reviews on the product, prior to making the purchase? If the answer is yes, you likely visited an influencer website for a review or testimonial to validate your purchasing decision. Online influencers are critical in the research phase of the customers purchasing path.
Influencer Marketer strategies include dedicated product/brand editorials, product reviews, buyer’s guides, social media callouts, products I use, holiday gifts guides, and more.
What should you expect from influencers in your affiliate program? It’s important to stress, the success of online influencers absolutely cannot be measured on sales alone. Influencer marketing typically takes place at the beginning on the conversion funnel with the customer hitting several other online channels prior to making a purchase. In affiliate marketing we often pay on a last click referral, although many savvy Affiliate Managers have adjusted to first click attribution in some cases (a topic for another day.) While the influencer may not officially receive credit for the referred sale, they played an integral part in the customer’s purchasing decision. In short, you should expect influencer marketing efforts to introduce your brand/products in new and endemic communities. As affiliate marketers we often overlook metrics like clicks and impressions, but in the case of influencer marketing these metrics bare importance as they indicate increased brand awareness.
How should online influencers be compensated through the affiliate channel? This is a difficult question, as affiliate marketing pays on a revenue share model. In many cases this model is what attracts clients because they’re only paying when a sale occurs. For reasons outside of an influencer’s control, they may not convert sales as well as other affiliate business verticals, so it’s important they’re compensated in other ways. Get creative!
How much experience does Clique have in influencer marketing? In 2007 I was hired in-house by Backcountry.com to create an affiliate marketing program that consisted of “core” sites only (this is what Backcountry was calling online influencers before it became a marketing buzz word.) At the time this concept was new in the affiliate space, as coupon and deal websites were dominant. My focus was to find as many websites as possible that focused on camping, backpacking, paddle, skiing and snowboard related topics. By attending outdoor industry related events like Outdoor Retailer and SIA, I was able introduce influencers to the concept of affiliate marketing. Soon after, we had a handful of these sites participating and doing quite well in the program. With proof-of-concept and metrics to back it up, I was able to initiate affiliate partnerships with larger companies like SKI, Backpacker and FREESKIER magazines. For larger partnerships we created hybrid content/advertising strategies that worked. Soon after, influencer sites surpassed the sales of coupon sites in the Backcountry affiliate program, and their competitors took notice. Fast forward 9 years later and we’ve refined/perfected our influencer marketing strategies, and consider ourselves experts in the field.
If you’re looking to create an influencer-based affiliate program, please contact us for details.