We know a lot about influencer marketing and hear about it here and there. With billions of users joining social media platforms every day, influencers have a great chance to earn and create. And now there are more such opportunities than ever before.

But what about affiliate marketing? It has been around for a long time but is not as widely discussed as influencer marketing.

The truth is that both influencer marketing and affiliate marketing are powerful ways to interact with your target audience, convert them into customers and make a profit.

Let's take a look at how each type of marketing works and how to figure which one to use - and when - to maximise your exposure and conversions.

Influencer Marketing: How It Works

Influencer marketing is the process of partnering with influencers in your niche and getting their help (their audience) to promote your products and services. Influencer marketing is one of the fastest and most powerful ways to draw attention to your brand in a short amount of time.

When celebrities, micro or nano-influencers interact with your target audience, their followers are much more likely to take action to learn more about you.

Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and Pinterest now have lots of influencers. With almost four billion people using social media in 2021, the potential for exposure of brands is enormous.

To find out how effective your marketing campaign was, you need to analyse the following metrics:

  • Amount of new followers

New followers mean the campaign has driven traffic to your social media. Check if there was an increase in the number of followers during the campaign compared to other times, say, a week before.

  • Engagement rate

Check to see if the number of comments, likes, clicks on your links and views of your posts has increased. Social media platforms track these metrics and provide analytics that makes it easier to see how well your campaign has been performing.

Tip: to check your ER, use Combin Growth. The tool allows you to track your Instagram statistics, easily check your account's engagement rate and distinguish real followers.

  • Reach of your account

The reach of an account is the number of unique users who have seen the content. If the campaign is successful, the reach should grow.

  • Website traffic

Successful campaigns drive traffic to certain pages on your site. You can then track how many leads you’ve got from the campaign.

  • Amount of leads

Check if you received more leads during the campaign than before one - see how many people share their personal information with you by filling out the signup form, leaving their email on your site, and subscribing to your email newsletter.

If these metrics have grown, then you may assume your campaign has been successful.

Affiliate Marketing: How it Works

Affiliate marketing allows you to promote your product or service on sites other than your own. When users see your content on these sites, click on them and buy something, the partner, i.e. the site where your content appears, receives a percentage of the sale, a commission.

Unlike influencer marketing, affiliate marketing relies on building partnerships with established blogs, companies, and publishers, not social media influencers. The goal of affiliate marketing is to increase revenue by offering their audience special offers, discounts, and sales.

Affiliates often work with multiple companies and special affiliate marketing platforms to ensure that your product is well-positioned and receives attention and offer support, training, and other opportunities.

Affiliate marketing services like FlexOffers is one of such platforms: it manages payments, offers tracking tools, and makes sure your content only appears on reputable sites.

To gauge the success of your affiliate marketing campaign, track the following metrics:

  • Average order value

Check how many products or services (and which ones) people purchase.

  • The volume of sales

Check if the products you are promoting through the affiliate program are having an upsurge in sales.

  • Site traffic

Check if the number of people visiting your site has increased.

Affiliate Marketing vs Influencer Marketing: What's The Difference?

There are significant differences between the two. But what binds them together is that both affiliates and influencers are independent, third-party advertisers. They are not directly related to the offers they are promoting.

Key Differences Between Affiliate Marketing and Influencer Marketing

Most of the differences become apparent when you become an affiliate marketer or influencer yourself or start working with them. These differences are mainly related to measuring ad profitability and tracking campaign performance that we have already mentioned above.

An affiliate campaign is a much more tangible concept than an influencer's campaign. It involves creativity, technical and analytical knowledge, and even a fair amount of luck.

Influencer campaigns revolve around the person behind each campaign. Even if the campaign itself is an Instagram post with a few words about your product or service, behind it there’s a lot of time invested in personal branding.

Influencers can easily both make your brand thrive and make your customers turn away from you.

Influencer Marketing or Affiliate Marketing: What To Choose

If you struggle with choosing the right strategy for your brand, we recommend you try both ways and see which work for you in your particular case. In marketing, there’s often no one-size-fits-all approach, so only your own metrics can advise if the campaign is working.

Choosing the right strategy also depends on your target audience and goals. If you want to increase your brand awareness and your target audience is primarily girls 18-24, an influencer marketing campaign will be a better fit. If you’re selling B2B software, then possibly affiliate marketing in the right blogs is the option you need.

But again, regardless of the strategy you choose, remember that the influencers and affiliate blogs should be relevant to your target audience; otherwise, the campaign is a waste of time and money.