I’ve been a blogger and influencer since 2016, and more recently I’ve been working as a social media manager. This has given me a unique perspective of both sides of the business and here’s what I wish brands knew about influencer and affiliate marketing. If you’re interested in my two cents on the “do’s and dont’s” of influencer marketing, scroll on.
Affiliate Marketing for Small Brands
If you’re a small, new and niche brand, you will need to fight tooth and nail for attention from even the smallest micro-influencers.
On average you’ll need to spend at least five to ten hours a week simply finding, vetting and reaching out to influencers. Your response rate will probably be very low, so you’re fighting for one “yes” out of thirty “no’s.”
Influencers do not care for free products, and if they do, be a little suspicious. Good influencers who consistently put out quality content know the value of their work and want to build relationships with brands who value them. Long term relationships are the most beneficial for both the influencer and the brand. Someone feeling forced to post about you once and never again is far less valuable than a lifelong cheerleader. The lifelong cheerleaders are who you want as affiliates or partners.
Before you go ahead offering free products to influencers, you’ll need to vet them. It’s very easy for influencers to buy large numbers of fake followers so they can receive free products and partnerships. If you use a simple online tool available for free on the web, you can see approximately how much of their following is actually authentic. For my client I use a paid platform called Aspire which offers sophisticated tools, and I’ve been shocked to find that many of these accounts only have a 10-30% authenticity. Meaning only 10-30% of their 80k following is real and the rest are fake.
Don’t Ask for Free Posts
Once you’ve figured which influencers are good for your brand to collaborate with, please don’t ask them to post for free. That is a sure fire way to drive them away forever. The social media landscape has changed greatly in just the last few years alone, and no one wants to give free advertising if you’re asking for it.
Do Follow Up
Do follow up if you don’t receive a response. Please don’t write them 5 more times but one max two follow-ups are welcome. Messages can get pushed down, forgotten about and accidentally missed. Or they may not have been feeling your brand in that moment, but a month later they are.
Affiliate Program Do’s and Dont’s
If you have an affiliate program, please do not offer a tiny commission rate of 3-6%. This is well below the standard which is 10-20% commission. Earning a small commission provides no motivation for the influencer to make any sales and promote your products. The exception is if the affiliate already loves your products and has always talked about them. Unless your brand already has massive brand recognition and is wildly popular, which would mean sales flow in naturally, no one wants to slave away and bore their viewers with repetitive content for minimal reward.
Another “nightmare” I went through with one small beauty brand was having my commission rate reduced from 20% to 10%. In this particular scenario I was aware that 20% was a temporary higher commission rate and it would eventually be reduced to 15%. What I was not expecting was having my commission rate reduced further down to 10% AND the discount offered to readers with my personalized code reduced from 15 to 10%.
For an affiliate, who is essentially a contractor for your company, this is a demotion. Not only does reducing your affiliate’s commission make them feel undervalued, it’s demoralizing and demotivating. I did not care for being treated this way, when I knew I was this company’s top performing affiliate, and I completely cut off all relations. A word of advice, if your affiliates are bringing in great sales and brand awareness, treat them better not worse.
Affiliate Program Platforms
My favorite affiliate platform is Impact because the website is well done and easy to navigate. They also track unique discount codes so the affiliate is being credited fairly for every sale they make.
If you give an influencer a personalized discount code but don’t use a platform that also tracks unique discount codes, you’re being extremely unfair to that influencer. The number of sales made using just a code far exceed the sales made using an affiliate link. People don’t remember to type in an affiliate link – they remember the code. I don’t know if brands do this on purpose so they don’t have to give that influencer their rightful commission, but this is so frustrating.
The reason I know I’m being unfairly paid when a brand uses a platform that does not track unique discount codes, is because with the brands that do, I can see exactly how the sales are made — and it’s about an 80/20 ratio of sales made using simply with my affiliate code versus a link being clicked.
Brands can easily and affordable use affiliate platforms that track unique discount codes like Refersion and Affiliatly. Please don’t use Shareasale or Rakuten.