Something old, something new; when it comes to affiliate marketing, how do you stay up-to-date while honoring the “tried and true”?

Traditional methods emphasize things like the importance of good creatives, regular communication, and incentives that can empower affiliates to be their best, while modern trends bring to light the burgeoning culture of influencers – a form of marketing that focuses on the holistic effects of influential figures, raising customer confidence and brand awareness.

While it might be tempting to shift your affiliate marketing strategies entirely toward the latest and greatest, or if that’s not your style, double-down on what you know works – there’s a sweet spot to be found right in the middle of their combined power. Influencer marketing can open up a new, deeply engaged audience of hundreds, to hundreds of thousands, to even millions, that you haven’t been able to tap into previously. Yes! Millions!

In this article we aim to illuminate some opportunities for maximizing your affiliate program’s success and using the best of both worlds to get big results!

Influence comes from trust

Followers know that an influencer’s word is more than just an endorsement – it’s what really works, and what is genuinely good. The whole method relies on the trust that is created through an established, ongoing relationship between the customer and the influencer.

By contrast, direct sales tactics may seek to convince customers to act on emotional impulses, such as the fear of missing out, or the desire to acquire more resources for their money. Influencers may still create similar emotional connections and utilize direct sales language, but they often favor the kind of presentation that promotes long-term, sustainable, influential marketing power.

They want their followers to come to them first for advice and recommendations within their niche – it’s their business model. And trust is paramount!

So, how do influencers add to traditional affiliate marketing methods?

You can think of influencers as really effective affiliates

What do you look for in an affiliate? Industry authority? Access to your target audience? Technological savvy? Marketing experience? Initiative and ambition? Influencers tend to have a lot of these qualities precisely because they need them to be successful in their ventures. The learning curve is often lower for influencers when it comes to affiliate partnerships, requiring less support on your end – and hey, who can complain about less work?

Not only that; the scale of their audiences, along with the trust they have established with those audiences enables influencers to achieve impressive results while using traditional affiliate marketing methods! Furthermore, the dedication people have to the influencers they follow can inspire them to “give back” for all of the value they’ve received.

This translates to an increased willingness to support the influencer, including the products they recommend. Things like personal testimonials, creatives, and affiliate links can be even more effective than normal when posted by well-known influencers!

The optimal convergence

Think about it: When you see an influencer’s social media post or YouTube video featuring the use and recommendation of a product, what you’re essentially seeing is the combination of a testimonial, call-to-action, and a demonstration – in a way, you could even consider it a type of affiliate creative! This all-in-one method can be significantly more engaging to audiences, who are already predisposed to trust the influencer’s opinion in the first place.

If you’ve partnered with an influencer who has an extensive social media presence, a good track record, and has an image that is appropriate for your brand, consider giving them the creative freedom to express themselves in their own voice and style. Not only does this speak to their established audience in the most effective way; it can also bring diversity and visual interest to your marketing, and appeal to audience segments you may not have engaged with before.

Authority and experience, combined

Generally speaking, influencers may already have notoriety on affiliate forums and networks, and within industry-specific groups and communities. This visibility is beneficial in several ways. They can influence more (or more suitable) affiliates to come your way, while also be more likely to have the relevant experience in affiliate marketing to contribute meaningfully to your program.

Constant growth and expanded reach

One of the best things about influencers is that their audiences are always growing, which means that your reach is always growing, too! They already have large audiences to begin with, automatically getting your products in front of more eyes – but they also know that growing their audience is the fastest way for them to make more money. That built-in motivation (in addition to free products or commissions from you) is beneficial to all involved.

The different avenues for expanding your reach through the use of influencers are numerous, too; Maybe you decide to work with influencers in niches that are related, but not competing with yours. This way you might reach a whole new section of the market who you weren’t even aware of, or get new ideas for products, promotional deals, and marketing materials that could add more diversity to your brand.

Social media presence

With social media being so essential for marketing these days, it’s pretty convenient that influencers practically live on social platforms! Because their business model functions through being discovered, followed, and engaged with through easily consumable and shareable content, hashtags, conversations, and imagery, these platforms are perfectly suited to their needs.

Influencers will typically have all of their social media bases covered to maximize their own reach, and these benefits will naturally extend to you as they use the different platforms to communicate with their audiences. You can “piggy back” off of their presence, attracting their followers to your own accounts, and absorbing some of their authority as well!

Practical application

Wondering how to actually implement these concepts alongside traditional marketing methods? The good news is that bringing influencers into your affiliate program is likely just an extension of what you’re already doing.

Here are just a couple of ideas to consider:

  • Create co-branded landing pages. Extend ownership to influencers by providing them with landing pages that are co-branded to represent your products, as well as their name and/or image. Personalize the web address to make it easy for influencers to relay the info efficiently on their podcast or vlog. This can be done with any affiliate, but as public figures, influencers will appreciate and make good use of this kind of personalization, not to mention that their followers will be looking for it!
  • Diversify your creatives. Consider making creatives in formats that the influencer uses regularly, such as graphics designed for Instagram posts and stories, or to be used in YouTube videos, for example. You might offer pre-formatted tweets, key phrases, scripts, or other readable, quote-able, or shareable content that can be easily used by influencers on different platforms.
  • Focus on quality affiliates. When bringing influencers on board, you might notice that you prefer fewer (but higher quality) people representing your brand. It might be the case that there’s less to manage overall because you aren’t focused on getting as many affiliates as possible, but instead, partnering with the ones who make the biggest impact (and are the most worthwhile).

Embrace the change

Whilst stepping into the unknown can feel intimidating, new territories can reveal new opportunities! It’s not an “either-or” situation – in fact, it’s likely that there’s a lot to gain by utilizing all types of affiliate marketing avenues that are available to you.

Influencer marketing can be the icing on the cake, or the cake itself, depending on your preferences; it’s up to you how you integrate influencers into your affiliate program. But, one thing’s for sure: they are popular for a reason!

Have you had success with influencers? How have you combined new and old strategies in your own affiliate program? Share your experience in the comments!

Mandy Jones

About the author: Mandy Jones is a product marketing specialist at Sandhills Development, a music maker, and digital product creator. A Minnesota native, she's a frequent traveler and animal lover with a passion for creative work and digital business. When she’s not writing blog posts and doing other marketing stuff for Easy Digital Downloads and AffiliateWP, she can often be found hanging out with other people’s pets.


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