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Similarities and Differences: Influencer vs. Affiliate Marketing

Last Modified: February 24, 2023

Key Similarities and Differences Between Influencer and Affiliate Marketing

Promotional marketing has become a popular thing in recent years, especially with accessibility to digital communication sources like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others. When we talk about promotional marketing, we tend to hear about two kinds: affiliate marketing and influencer marketing.

The two are sometimes used interchangeably, with people thinking they’re more or less the same. But the truth is that they are two different marketing approaches, and not knowing the differences can lead to your company missing out on some fine details that could be beneficial to your end goals. So, what are the differences between them, and how can you harness both to promote your marketing efforts to new levels? Let’s take a closer look to identify their similarities and differences.

What Is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing relies on just that: influencers. These are social media stars, vloggers, and celebrities who can promote your business to their large audiences. They share content to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and elsewhere, helping to get more eyes on your content by spreading it throughout your shared niche.

Influencer marketing is all about promotion: developing content you want your influencers to share, with their own flair, to build interest within their audience. Through this, you hope to gain followers, increase engagement, develop leads, and promote sales conversions, bringing greater recognition to your brand outside of your own circle.

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What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing allows leads to be generated by the content you create that is hosted on other websites. These sites often include businesses within your industry, and elsewhere, that are willing to promote your products and services to their own audience. Sometimes they’ll be paid per action, like an influencer, or they may be paid a percentage of every sale made, thanks to their promotion.

Beyond just growing your audience, the importance of affiliate marketing is lead generation and revenue growth. Your business wants to increase the volume of sales per month, so it reaches out to a somewhat parallel business that can host content related to sales, discounts, and offers you’re providing on products they’ll be interested in.

These people will then (hopefully) be interested in checking out your website, which they will be brought to when clicking on your promoted content. From here, they’ll either visit your site once, thus increasing engagement, or they’ll make a sale — making a conversion. In terms of stats, you’re interested in sales growth, the volume of sales, and lead generations — promoting growth by increasing inner-industry growth.

How Influencer & Affiliate Marketing Differ

To best understand the differences between them, let’s closely inspect a few of the main traits of both influencer and affiliate marketing:

The Purpose:

  • Influencer marketing is utilized to promote brand awareness, helping businesses spread their business throughout the digital sphere to their niche audience.
  • Affiliate marketing is dedicated to generating leads and growing business revenue, looking to garner new customers, retarget prior customers, and maintain a dedicated audience.

Who They Are:

  • Influencer marketing is made up of thought leaders and personalities, including celebrities, social media stars, vloggers, bloggers, and more.
  • Affiliate marketing is made up of professional blogs and fellow companies that can promote your business through their platforms to their existing audience.

Where They Exist:

  • Influencer marketing usually lives across channels where influencers are found, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Affiliate marketing often exists in spaces that align with your business, as you’ll either be in the same industry or have some form of overlap.

Understanding The Cost:

  • Influencers receive flat fees. They are paid when a conversion takes place — where someone from their audience follows an embedded link or uses a special code and makes a purchase with your company.
  • Affiliates are sometimes paid via the “pay per action” method, as seen with influencers, but, in some cases, they are paid a percentage of sales made through referrals. The choice depends on your business and which one you want to use.
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What the Differences Mean for You

While there are differences between affiliate marketing and influencer marketing, there is enough overlap where they are seen as similar beasts — and understandably so, as they both exist in similar worlds.

To make the most of them, it’s in your business’s best interest to develop strategies for each, spreading your brand to niches both consumer and professional. Best of all, Refersion’s affiliate marketing software lets you track statistics related to influencer and affiliate campaigns, meaning you can develop the best strategy for your business.

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Written by

Ruthie Carey
Ruthie Carey