Influencer marketing is going through a reevaluation by brands that are eager to track the financial success of what has long been measured by followers, likes, comments and shares. To this end, brands are increasingly shifting their influencer strategies to integrate sales-based payment models rather than simply paying flat fees to creators.
Though affiliate marketing has historically been separate from brands’ influencer marketing strategies, the line between the two marketing realms has become blurred. More brands are turning to creators to push products to their followers with affiliate links, which allow influencers to earn a percentage of the conversions they drive through those links. The links also have the added benefit of enabling brands to track metrics with a tangible business impact, such as sales.
“Since there’s so much money being pushed into creators, some brand executives and leadership have started to wonder what the ROI really is,” said Lindsey Gamble, associate director of influencer innovation at influencer marketing platform Mavrck. “We’re getting impressions, we’re getting content from these creators, but what does it really mean?”
Most brands incorporating affiliate linking into their creator partnerships have embraced a hybrid approach to working with influencers, offering an upfront payment to a creator for a set of social media posts and then incentivizing them to generate additional revenue, of which creators get a cut, through affiliate links. In recent months, the majority of brands coming to influencer marketing agency Digital Voices have asked specifically about this payment structure, said Jennifer Quigley-Jones, the agency’s CEO and founder.