What is Influencer Marketing All About? – By Geno Prussakov

by Jenae Reid on January 16, 2017

When you have a product or a service to sell, your primary marketing objective lies in finding the shortest and surest way to your customer’s heart. For years, marketing theorists have been analyzing and practitioners experimenting with an array of vehicles to carry the message from the advertiser to the end-consumer. Some ways have been more effective than others.

In recent years, one particular type of marketing has been on the notable rise – influencer marketing. So much so, that throughout 2015 and 2016 Google has been classifying the key phrase “influencer marketing” as a “Breakout” term, or one experiencing search growth greater than 5,000%.

In the past five years alone, more than 100 new tools, platforms, and “influencer networks” were launched; and over 80 percent of brands are either already running influencer marketing campaigns, or actively looking towards exploring this in 2017.

Some call it “word-of-mouth marketing on steroids,” others believe it to be one of the forms of affiliate marketing. While it is in many ways related to both, it is not fully synonymous with either. Influencer marketing is a type of marketing which relies on the clout of tastemakers (large and small) for dissemination of marketing messages. Affiliate marketing, on the other hand, represents a marketing model which allows independent marketers to promote an advertiser’s product or service and get paid when the action desired by the advertiser happens.

There is a widely-spread misconception that affiliate marketing is also a “type” of marketing. It is not one. It is a marketing model which empowers brands to tap into various types of marketing, structuring partner compensation based on performance (be it tied to a completion of a sale, submission of a lead form, request of a free trial, or any other conversion).

Affiliate marketing works with influencer marketing, too. According to Technorati’s 2013 Digital Influence Report, an affiliate marketing relationship is one of the top three ways in which online influencers prefer to earn their revenue.

So, when looking at influencer marketing versus affiliate marketing, we are not talking about an “either… or…” situation, but a “both… and…” one. Advertisers and publishers can (and should) intertwine affiliate marketing payment models into their influencer marketing campaigns.

Finally, it is important to understand that neither influencer marketing, nor affiliate marketing represent a single marketing channel. Both are cross-channel and work with an array of online (and offline) channels: email, mobile, paid media, phone call referrals, retargeting, and this is to name but a few.

So, there you have it: a powerful type of marketing (influencer marketing) and a cost-efficient marketing model (affiliate marketing). Marry them in your marketing mix and you’ll see some outstanding offspring.

Prussakov runs AM Navigator affiliate management agency, Influencer Marketing Days and Affiliate Management Days conferences.

This article appeared in issue 37 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in January 2017. https://issuu.com/affiliatesummit/docs/feedfront-37

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