If you’re a brand with a strong social media presence and are not taking advantage of influencer or affiliate marketing, you’re missing out. The statistics are clear: in 2023, the global influencer marketing segment was valued at $21.2 billion – up by $5 billion from 2022.

Affiliate marketing, on the other hand, is used by a whopping 81% of brands, with 20% of marketers confirming that it’s their most profitable channel.

With such impressive stats, choosing whether to work with an influencer or an affiliate can be challenging. What if we told you there’s no need to wrack your brain and pick just one? Yes, you can – and should – combine the power of these two marketing tactics to supercharge your brand’s results.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing refers to a type of marketing that relies on so-called influencers – influential, credible, and popular individuals who partner with brands to promote their products or services.

Up until a few years ago, this type of marketing used to be limited to celebrities and high-profile people, which meant that only big-budget companies could afford the high price tag that came with leveraging influencers.

Today, though, thanks to the constant rise of micro (or nano) influencers and digital creators – those who have much smaller, yet very loyal, followings – even businesses with more restricted spending capacity can take advantage of the exciting possibilities that influencer marketing offers.


What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing consists of brands paying individuals a commission for each product or service they sell. Unlike influencer marketing, affiliate marketing often involves working with ordinary people, including brand’s loyal customers.

If, for example, you have identified a member of your audience who has a decent social media following and seems to be genuinely invested in what you sell, they could definitely fit the bill for affiliate marketing.

What is an Influencer Affiliate Program?

Sometimes, companies want to take advantage of both influencer and affiliate marketing to boost their visibility and profitability. In this case, they can build an influencer affiliate program.

Within this program, the social media influencer that they choose can double as an affiliate, earning commission on individual product sales while promoting the brand at the same time through targeted content creation.

Five Ways to Create an Effective Influencer Affiliate Program

Now that we have clarified the differences between influencer and affiliate marketing, and explained what an influencer affiliate program is, it’s time to get into the meat of things. Keep reading to learn how to combine influencer and affiliate marketing for top results.

1. Identify the Best Influencer-Affiliates for Your Brand

At the risk of sounding obvious, the first step to building your program is selecting the right person to work with.


First, you’ll need to understand that not all social media platforms are created equal. What are you selling, and who is your target customer? Once you’ve answered those questions, you should be able to narrow down your platform selection.

For example, if you’re selling eco-friendly skincare products mostly aimed at a Gen Z audience, you’ll want to engage with an influencer who is active on TikTok or perhaps has Instagram advertising experience.

If, on the other hand, you want to promote your newest inbound call center services for the B2B market, then LinkedIn or YouTube might be better places to find the right influencer. These platforms, in fact, are abuzz with tech-savvy influencers and thought leaders, which makes it much easier for you to identify someone who aligns with your brand.


Once you have established where you’re more likely to find the right influencer for your brand, you can move on to selecting the best person for the job. When doing so, you’ll want to consider these factors:

  • A decent number of followers (aim for, at least, 5,000) as well as high reach and engagement rates
  • An audience that includes your target customers
  • A tone, voice, style, and values that align with your brand
  • Good-quality, regular, and engaging content
  • A transparent, ethical, and honest attitude

2. Set Clear Expectations

Have you found someone you think might be perfect for your influencer affiliate program? Great, now it’s time to get real and talk shop. First off, clarify the most crucial aspects of the partnership that you’d like to create, such as:

  • How much content (and what type) you expect them to create within a specific period
  • How you’d want them to promote your product or services – as well as what they should not do when promoting them
  • What they can and can’t say about you, your brand, and your products/services
  • Standard operating procedures (SOPs) for reporting, content approvals, and communication channels

Naturally, the above is just a start. You can – and should – expand this list much further to include even the most minute details that you think might make a change. For example, another important consideration to make is communication.

How are you planning to communicate with your influencer-affiliate? Via email, social media, text messaging, or phone (this includes a traditional phone system as well as a digital one, such as a Vonage small business cloud phone system)? How often are you going to touch base with them? And how long are your meetings going to last, roughly?

Establish and clarify all these aspects in advance, to avoid delays and disappointment, which risk jeopardizing your relationship.

3. Automate Core Processes with Software Tools

When launching an influencer affiliate program, you’ll likely have to deal with several transactions – including financial ones – as well as the need to track sales and ensure that the promoted products or services don’t go out of stock while the influencer-affiliate keeps promoting them.

Interacting with your influencer-affiliate in a smooth, flexible, and seamless way is also crucial, which is why you’ll want to leverage digital tools that make communication easier, such as a VoIP phone service for business.

Your financial transactions, on the other hand, can be handled efficiently by affiliate software. These handy solutions do the heavy lifting for you, automating crucial things such as sales and earnings, and alerting you of any issues along the way.

And with artificial intelligence having an ever-increasing impact on the world of influencer marketing, you may want to think about incorporating some AI tools, too.

You should also consider incorporating a marketing automation strategy to streamline your marketing efforts further. Marketing automation can help you schedule and manage your social media posts, email campaigns, and other promotional activities more efficiently, ensuring that your influencer affiliate program runs smoothly.

4. Think About Commission

Another essential aspect that you’ll need to take care of is commission. Think about how much you are willing – and able – to pay your influencer for each product or service sold. It usually helps to view that as a percentage: you could, for example, establish that every product sold earns your influencer 10% of the total sale value.

Not quite sure how much to offer? It’s time to get online and do some research. Finding out what influencers-affiliates get paid by some of your competitors should be easy enough, and it should enable you to set a benchmark for your own commission.

In general, you’ll want the influencer-affiliate to be earning an amount that’s fair to them and sustainable to you. Naturally, things can change as the partnership progresses, but it’s wise to establish a starting figure that you’re confident you can keep up in the medium to long term. And when it comes to releasing the actual payment, consider an automated solution such as those offered by Paylocity.

5. Put Everything in Writing

Influencers and affiliates may seem like they live only on your screen, but they’re actual people with lives, needs, and goals – respect that, and be professional when it comes to making your collaboration official.

This means drafting a contract or agreement that details all the terms and conditions of your relationship. Essentially, a written and signed contract protects you (and them) from any potential risk that might arise through your partnership.

Of course, it won’t be the same type of risk that your enterprise risk management team deals with (read this if you’re wondering: what is enterprise risk management?) but it’s still worth considering.

Instead of sending your contract via email, you could arrange to meet with them in person – if that’s feasible. A face-to-face chat could also spark ideas between the two of you that lead to more opportunities to collaborate in the future.

Free to use image sourced from Pexels

6. Keep Engagement, Motivation, and Productivity High

So, you’ve found the right influencer-affiliate to partner with, and they have agreed to your terms and conditions – including how much commission they’re going to get. Do you think all your hard work is done, and you can sit back and enjoy those sales boosts? Think again.

An influencer-affiliate will expect some ongoing support from you. From offering regular updates and training on your products/services to an increase in commission to match peak sales periods (such as the holidays), the options are many.

Additionally, ensure that your influencer-affiliate is well-informed about your brand and its values to provide a consistent and positive customer experience.

You may even consider creating a web page full of resources and freebies exclusively for your influencer-affiliate. Remember to select a trusted, relevant domain that your partner can easily access and remember (ai domains, for example, are becoming a popular choice for professionals within the tech and startup world).

Key Takeaways

If you’ve been looking at harnessing the power of influencers and affiliates but can’t decide which route to go down, you were probably pleased to hear that you don’t need to choose. You can, in fact, build a combined influencer affiliate marketing program, which gives you the best of both worlds.

In this guide, we looked at six practical ways to create your program and make the most out of it. Now that you have these tips, it’s time to put them into action!