Affiliate programs have made huge leaps and bounds since their original conception nearly 30 years ago. While over 80% of brands in the US are currently running affiliate programs, many are shifting their marketing budget to larger investments in content and influencer marketing.
Consumers want to interact with brands seamlessly instead of being verbally abused by irrelevant ads and noise while scrolling through their feed. Content and influencer marketing enables affiliate marketers to connect with consumers naturally while gaining insight into their content preferences.
The development of affiliate programs
The first affiliate program dates back to 1994 when most marketers only used mid-to-low funnel tactics, including coupons, loyalty, and deal sites. Back then, influencers were seen as a source of lost ROI because they didn’t work on a performance model or didn’t generate enough traffic to make partnerships worthwhile. However, with the advent of social media and social commerce, ditching influencers and bloggers is no longer optimal.
Today, many marketers are trying to incorporate some variations of content marketing into their marketing mix to appeal to the buying habits of the desired consumers. With younger generations spending more time online, millennials are 54% more likely to buy a product that has been recommended on social media than older generations. Many affiliate programs succeed when they incorporate different types of content, such as:
Some marketers interested in growing brand awareness and awareness exponentially have invested in content-only affiliate programs. This is still uncharted territory and doesn’t guarantee the conversions a full-funnel approach would normally produce, but experimentation is the name of today’s game. Carry out[cb] The agency has had success with marketers who start a content-only program first, understanding how the affiliate channel works, and then add mid and lower funnel placements once their program is more established.
While the term “influencer” has been talked about since the dawn of social media, its definition has changed recently. With 75% of marketers allocating their ad spend to influencer marketing, it’s clear that these traditionally top funnel channels are generating more buzz than ever.
Benefits of content marketing
Over the past few years, content produced by affiliates has increased 175% and revenue generated by content publishers has increased 240%. Given this success and the seemingly overnight expanding marketers, many marketers have begun to see the potential of content marketing within the affiliate channel. Some ecommerce marketers prefer content-exclusive affiliate programs while others prefer to incorporate content into their existing affiliate programs. Examples of successful content marketing for affiliate programs are:
- Social media, blogs, videos, display ads
- Product evaluation lists, whitepapers
- Customer testimonials, giveaways
With the help of content aggregators, marketers don’t have to search for new publishers. Instead, content aggregator platforms like Shopstyle offer publishers the option of joining a hub that gives them access to thousands of brand partnerships at the same time. This is especially beneficial for marketers as they can easily list their listings in one place, making affiliate recruiting a breeze.
Benefits of influencer marketing
In the affiliate channel, many marketers are working with influencer networks to streamline the process. RewardStyle and Shopstyle, for example, are popular networks used by marketers to connect with e-commerce influencers.
While influencer marketing is most commonly used by ecommerce brands, influencer partnerships can benefit marketers in many other industries. Depending on which channel a marketer relies on the most, influencer marketing can be the solution to reaching consumers across the buyer’s funnel. A financial marketer can employ influencers to create a YouTube tutorial on stock trading best practices, while a food and beverage marketer can work with an Instagram influencer who focuses on creating recipes. Depending on the industry, using influencer marketing can be the solution to help consumers feel more personally connected to your brand.
When determining content and influencer KPIs, marketers should consider the payment model they are using. Marketers who want to integrate content or influencers into their marketing mix should keep in mind that KPIs need to be more specific than traditional CPA campaigns. For example, many ecommerce marketers want to work with influencers on a performance model rather than a flat fee because KPIs are likely conversion-based and track metrics like signups or sales.
Traditionally, many influencers only work on a flat-rate basis, which only allows marketers to track KPIs such as impressions and engagement. Marketers who are working with content and influencer partners on a performance-based payment model, as these models focus exclusively on metrics for customer acquisition.
Carry out[cb] Success with agency clients
At Perform[cb] Agency, our team works with brands in every phase of the customer journey through a scalable and adaptable range of services. Our team has experience with many brands of affiliate programs, from content exclusive to an extensive full funnel content approach. Many brands want a content-exclusive affiliate program, but it’s important to be aware of the growth potential of a full-funnel approach.
For example, a popular ecommerce marketer is about to Perform. came[cb] Agency that wants to operate a content-exclusive partner program. This fashion brand wanted to drive content with quality publishers to increase their brand awareness and presence in the middle funnel, e.g. By applying a rigorous publisher verification process, partners who joined the affiliate program were able to generate high quality traffic. This enabled the marketer to reach the specific KPIs that he had set for the campaign.
On the other hand, a well-known beauty brand launched Perform[cb] Agency requesting a content-only program. However, as this marketer’s affiliate program scaled, the client realized there was a need to introduce mid- and low-end partners in order to increase their new customer acquisition rate. By using content throughout the funnel, this brand has been able to reach consumers throughout the buyer journey and increase conversions.
The affiliate channel continues to offer opportunities for successful content marketing. As top funnel partnerships become increasingly popular, it’s important that marketers know how to capitalize on these opportunities. Regardless of whether you are specifically interested in influencer marketing or want to invest in content partnerships in general, you must first determine which KPIs you want to achieve. From there, marketers can make an informed decision about whether a blanket or performance model makes most sense for their business goals.
If you want to invest in content marketing, a seasoned agency partner can be helpful in finding out which influencers or content publishers will offer you the most benefit.
Want to learn more about adding content and influencer marketing to your affiliate program? Achieve Perform[cb] Agency today to speak to one of our content marketing experts.