Influencer marketing is a global phenomenon that has taken the digital world by storm. In 2017, Instagram influencers alone were worth an estimated $1.07 billion, while this figure is projected to more than double to $2.38 billion by the end of 2019.  

Similarly, a 2016 Twitter survey concluded that “nearly 40% of Twitter users say they’ve made a purchase as a direct result of a Tweet from an influencer”, and “when looking for product recommendations, 49% of respondents to our survey said they relied on influencers”. While Google has noted a 325% increase in ‘influencer marketing’ searches over the past year.

Affiliate marketing has evolved from a form of marketing solely driven by website clicks to one that cultivates leads from social channels, and this is where the power of influencers ought to be harnessed.  

“Bridging the gap between web traffic conversion and social traffic conversion, influencer marketing takes the traditional role of affiliate marketing – relying on referral promotion to drive traffic and sales – and introduces this strategy to new, social-first and content-driven audiences,” explains Social Media Week’s Kim Westwood. “Affiliate marketing now faces a critical transition: with social media becoming increasingly shopper-friendly, bloggers are dropping their websites for Instagram fame.

“After previously relying on ‘publishers’ to drive traffic for clients as part of an affiliate program, affiliate-focused agencies must now quickly get up to speed on new tactics, social platforms, and strategies to serve brands who are now seeking more comprehensive results from a diverse range of channels – not just web.”

One way that affiliates can harness the wealth and power of influencers is through custom affiliate URLs, also known as ‘deep links’. These are URLs within a body of text that aim to pass traffic onto affiliate products and drive revenue, with Westwood describing them as “the perfect marriage between affiliate marketing and influencer marketing”.

Another way is by stressing the simplicity of affiliate marketing. As Stephanie Salomon of Awin reiterates: “Affiliate marketing is simple to use and offers a range of technology that can help maximise your relationships. Tracking links can direct users to specific pages like a summer promotion for the latest fashion, a back-to-school deal, a brand you love or simply the latest product you bought.”

“When you combine affiliate marketing and influencer marketing, you can get the most out of your marketing campaigns,” insists AM Navigator’s Geno Prussakov. “Along with conversions, you can generate more engagement, brand awareness, and brand loyalty. They’re cost-effective too, so you are likely to generate a higher ROI.

He added: “Make sure you’re offering your influencers a good commission along with payment for their sponsored content. This can help you drive more traffic to your website via affiliate links. Most importantly, work on developing strong relationships with them. If they feel valued, they’re likely to create content that will generate greater interest and engagement.”