If you’re an Instagram marketer, you’ve most probably heard about integrating an affiliate program into your influencer marketing campaign.
You’ve got some basic understanding but you feel like digging deeper and mastering every aspect of the strategy, don’t you?
Well, we’ve got great news for you.
You’re at the right place at the right time!
Further in this article, I’ll share with you all the missing parts of the affiliate marketing puzzle. More specifically, you’ll learn:
- What affiliate marketing on Instagram is;
- How it should/could be implemented in your affiliate marketing campaign;
- What are the main benefits of an affiliate program for influencer marketers;
- How it works and what are the main steps;
- What affiliate marketing platforms are there in the market.
Without further ado, let’s go over these points and see if by the end of this article I’ll be able to convince you to commit to affiliate marketing for influencers.
What is affiliate marketing?
Yes, indeed, what is that?
Well, the simplest answer is the following: From the point of view of business, affiliate marketing is the strategy of selling your products/services through someone outside of your company and paying them certain percentages from the generated conversions or traffic.
Everyone can benefit from Instagram monetization and become an affiliate for a company by promoting their products and/or services.
A common practice is for the brand customers themselves to become one by sharing their experience and feedback with the brand and earn commissions.
The main reason this model works quite well and is largely practiced is that people are more prone to trust real users’ reviews rather than ads or any other type of promotion. By showing the product in use, the brand customers’ message sounds more genuine and is thus more likely to convince their close friends and acquaintances to convert.
Affiliate marketing for influencers
In influencer marketing, you’re always trying your best to increase the return on investment (ROI).
To achieve this, you’re trying to strike a balance between increasing your conversion rate and reducing your expenses.
But, obviously, in affiliate marketing traffic and conversions are not guaranteed. So every other payment for a post or story is only adding up to your expenses but not necessarily affecting positively on your ROI.
Well, it’s easy. To have more control over your final results, simply arrange to pay your influencers for their services afterwards.
And that kids, is how affiliate marketing works for influencers.
The nature of this strategy is the same as for regular affiliate marketing, with a “small” bonus of using more influential people or pages in your niche.
What are the main benefits of an Instagram affiliate program for influencer marketers?
If you’re still considering whether it’s worth giving an affiliate program a try in your influencer campaign, simply go over all the obvious (and not only) benefits of this golden strategy I’ve spilled out below:
- Higher ROI
Using the Instagram affiliate program in your marketing, will not only help you reach larger and more targeted audiences but also take your ROI to 9! With the average affiliate rate amounting to 10%, you’ll be able to generate 9x more revenue. If that’s not every other marketer’s dream, then what is it?
- More motivated influencers
Influencers collaborating with an affiliate program perfectly understand that they’re being paid based on their performance. The more conversions, the higher the commissions. Accordingly, they’re more motivated to make better content, present it better and go the extra mile with you to make their audience convert more.
- Expenses for guaranteed results
As stated above, affiliate influencers get their commissions after they provide you with your desired results. That being said, you’re considerably decreasing your risks. Even if they do not generate any conversions, you’re still profiting from that collaboration.
But how come?
Just read these two words — brand awareness!
Any promotion of your product builds awareness around it.
- Stronger negotiation power
Not every influencer would agree to collaborate with you affiliate-based. However, that doesn’t yet mean you can’t use the strategy in your favor. You can always negotiate a lower upfront payment price by integrating an Instagram affiliate program in the deal.
What exactly should you do once you decide to give affiliate marketing a shot?
I know, I know, after all the benefits mentioned above, you can’t wait to jump into using Instagram for affiliate marketing.
But first, let me take a self… Ugh.. I mean, take you to a tour on how exactly to use affiliate marketing in practice, where to find your affiliates, what tools to use, how to track and measure your results, and what platforms to use.
Let’s start off with the basic technical stuff. Here are the steps you should take in order to make the best use of affiliate marketing:
- Choose the network to support your affiliate program on Instagram
- Find the right affiliates
- Let them know how to post affiliate links on Instagram
- Track and analyze
- Sit back and watch your conversions grow
If affiliates are, basically, the middlemen between your brand and customers, affiliate networks function as a bridge between your brand and the affiliates. Possessing a certain database of affiliates, they help you quickly find, contact and negotiate with your potential affiliates.
Such platforms offer your affiliates a place to generate their affiliate links, track their performance and, most importantly, get paid automatically.
To make use of such a network, you can either create your own (as Amazon did) or choose one of the existing ones available in the market.
If you’re moving forward with the second option, you’d rather dig deeper into the existing affiliate networks to find the one that fits your needs the most.
Luckily for you, I’ve already put together all the criteria you should consider when choosing a network.
Let’s go over them without losing any second.
1. Fees and monthly minimum
Each platform has its charging program with predefined commissions. When choosing the network you should thoroughly consider if it’s worth the investment, i.e. whether the results will be enough to cover your expenses.
But wait! Isn’t that performance-based?
YES! However, besides the result-based commissions, there are also fixed setup fees and a monthly minimum.
The setup fee is quite self-explanatory: You make a fixed one-time payment for registering in the network. As to the monthly minimum, it’s the minimum monthly fee you pay regardless of how many conversions your affiliates generate.
To make it more clear, let’s say the monthly minimum of your network is $100. If, as a result of the affiliates’ performance, your due commission to the network reaches $125, you don’t have to worry about your monthly minimum: it’s already included in the commission. . However, if the commission is only $60 due to the insufficient results, t, you’ll owe the affiliate network those remaining $40 to pay your monthly minimum.
So, when choosing your network, keep in mind that even though you pay commissions for the results you get, you can never go below a certain bar. Make sure to pay special attention to this when going through the network’s charging conditions.
2. Time frames
Some networks offer minimum time limits to collaborate. That’s because the longer the binding period, the less confident the network is in the quality of its deliverables. These are also the type of affiliate networks that have higher monthly minimums.
Limited collaboration is beneficial for you in case you are dissatisfied with the network. Thus, when choosing a network, make sure the time frame for collaboration is not more than 1 month. This will give you the freedom and flexibility to always switch to a better fit for your program.
3. Affiliate base
This is the number of affiliates the network collaborates with. Obviously, the larger it is, the better. A large database of affiliates not only supposes better chances of collaborations and better results but also says a lot about the credibility of the network.
The best affiliate networks, on average, have thousands of affiliates in their closet to offer your program.
So when choosing one for yourself, do check out the number of affiliates.
4. Affiliates quality
This is the other side of the medal.
As you know, quantity doesn’t always guarantee quality. The network you choose can have a significant number of affiliate partners, but you might still not reach your ultimate goal.
The reasons are numerous. The most common one is the non-relevance between the topic and niche. For instance, if you want to practice affiliate marketing on Instagram for a skincare product, it’s not the right move to have 2,000 tech reviewer affiliates to promote your product to their audiences.
Another reason can be the low standards of qualifying as an affiliate. To avoid a low-qualified affiliate, try filtering them by the number of their followers. Obviously, you wouldn’t like to pay for affiliates with 27 followers and 3 likes on each post.
5. Cookie duration
Here’s a quick Cookie 101 in case you have no idea what it is and why it’s important.
A cookie is a text file that is stored on your potential customer’s computer the moment they visit your website. That’s how the conversions via affiliate links are tracked.
But do people convert the first time they visit your website? What if they come back later and make a purchase using a direct link? Will the affiliate get the commission?
These are the nightmare questions of every affiliate out there.
And here’s the answer: Everything depends on the cookie duration and how long it takes the client to convert after their first visit.
The cookie duration is the period of time the cookie is active after being stored on a visitor’s browser. Usually, it’s up to 30 days. This means that when someone clicks on the affiliate’s link but makes the purchase a week later (even with a different link) the affiliate will still get the commission.
Overall, cookies offer a great opportunity to the affiliate to warm up their audience before converting.
6. Tracking and Reporting
One of the most essential functions of an affiliate network is handling all the tracking and reporting. This allows having your fingers on the pulse at all times.
Imagine going on a road trip without a map. You can’t know exactly where you’re heading if you don’t see the bigger picture, if you don’t know which road you took and which part of it you’ve already covered.
The same is with affiliate marketing on Instagram: you should always keep track of how your affiliates are performing, what the main traffic sources are, which niches/audiences generate better engagement and conversions, etc.
As to the reporting, make sure to choose an affiliate network that provides you with detailed reporting on your campaigns and doesn’t charge additional fees for that.
Here are some of the best affiliate networks you can find on the market:
Awin – This could be your best choice if your business is in the field of financing, lifestyle, travel or home/gardening niches.
ShareASale – With over 1,000 exclusive merchants (4,000 overall), ShareASale is one of the largest affiliate platforms out there.
ClickBank – Despite offering both digital and physical products, ClickBank concentrates more on digital ones like online courses and e-books.
Flexoffers – If you’re launching your first affiliate marketing campaign, you might need the guidance of a dedicated affiliate manager. On Flexoffers you get exactly such an affiliate manager assigned to your account
CJ Affiliate – It’s the reporting for me. CJ Affiliate offers a significantly comprehensive reporting that is a huge competitive advantage for marketers who understand its importance in future planning.
Shopify.com – Shopify is one of the biggest e-commerce platforms on the Internet. Its brand reputation says it all.
The right affiliate
Yes, this freaking matters. No matter how good your product/service is or what problems it solves, success in affiliate marketing is not guaranteed unless you have the most targeted audience possible.
The affiliate networks mostly cover this. However, there’s no harm in also promoting your own affiliate program outside of the network and attracting other possible affiliate partners.
In fact, you don’t have to go far in your searches.
The best affiliates are your own customers with CGC (Customer-generated content). They often tend to have followers in the same segment as they are. For instance, moms follow moms for parenting tips, etc.
Spread the word about your product/service with right affiliates and you’ll see that it definitely pays off.
Educate you affiliates
Educating your affiliates is a top priority for your campaign.
This includes providing them information not only on product specifications but also on posting the affiliate link on Instagram. Especially, posting the affiliate link on Instagram because that’s how the affiliate’s performance is tracked.
An affiliate link can be put anywhere on Instagram where a link can be inserted: story swipe-ups, IGTV descriptions, and profile bio. But before starting your cooperation, make sure your affiliate knows all these details.
Track and analyze
After you agree on all the conditions, your affiliates start posting about your product.
They’re driving traffic to your website and your conversions start growing.
But how much is the growth? Is the program really effective? Is it worth continuing?
You can never know for sure if you’re not keeping track of the insights. Understanding which affiliates, audiences, demographics, and niches work better than others and investing more in them is what will make your affiliate program a success.
Sit back and watch your conversions grow
Now that you’ve covered all the steps above, it’s time to sit back and watch your product gaining popularity with the help of your affiliates.
As promised, we’ve discussed all the important aspects of affiliate marketing on Instagram, including its benefits, usage, affiliate platforms, and how to choose the best ones.
Chances are high you’ve already jumped to set up your campaign. But if you haven’t yet and are still reading these lines, don’t hesitate to hit the comment section to ask any questions or engage in a fruitful discussion.