As shown by a recent content analysis of top brands like JetBlue, Wendy’s and Urban Decay, an influencer post generates more than 100 times the engagement than a brand’s post. Assuming increased engagement leads to higher conversion, it’s indisputable that influencers can drive big business for brands. This is good news for affiliate marketers who are familiar with the concept of partnering with a third party to promote and build buzz around products and services.

Time-honored networks like Awin provide brands with tracking, technology and resources to recruit and manage influencer relationships at scale. Drawing from our expertise, here are key considerations for how to maximize influencer marketing and why it’s worth the investment.

Customers first  

Because influencers put their personal brand and reputation on the line, they are more inclined to promote an organization if they are actual customers, or have first-hand experience with products and services. Recognizing this, brands should be proactive about getting products in front of influencer partners. This means hand-selecting merchandise in line with their style preferences, content and social aesthetic. After all, for it to make the Instagram cut, it must look good in a photo and support an influencer’s visual brand, too.

Support ‘introducers’  

It’s important to understand the nature of influencer marketing and how it relates to the traditional affiliate marketing model. Traditional affiliate marketing rewards on a last-click basis, even if there are multiple touchpoints along a customer’s journey. This is what most brands understand and expect when it comes to affiliate activity. Our own network data, however, shows influencers are most effective at driving new customers whose initial click starts the tracking session.

While this last-click CPA model is not fundamentally broken, it fails to recognize the value of promoters who act as ‘introducers’ – meaning they are responsible for sending the first click during the customer’s journey. It is this unique ability to introduce new customers to an organization and ‘sell them’ on a product that is the true strength of an influencer. Subsequently programs must be designed to recognize and reward this activity so an influencer partner stays motivated to promote in the future.

Awin’s ‘Payment on Influence’ technology allows advertisers to incorporate influencer marketing into their overall strategy by identifying and offering a flat-fee reward to affiliates who influence a journey but are not the last touchpoint. Additionally, flexible commission rates, increased rewards on influence, and negotiating unique offers exclusive to an individual promoter are effective techniques to build new and lasting influencer relationships.

Define success metrics  

The potential value of an influencer marketing partnership depends on the ‘fit’ and strategy behind it, which is an inexact formula. However, when brands work through a network that supports influencer relationships, the impact can be clearly measured through transparent tracking and robust reporting. This helps both parties understand what messaging and promotion resonated with the influencer’s audience and what did not.

Whether organizations choose to value influencers using concrete measures like new customer cost-per-acquisition, or use a broader metric like brand awareness, is at their discretion. But if metrics to success are unclear or undefined from the beginning, and there is no method of capturing data around an influencer’s campaign, long-term success will always feel out of reach.

Consider brand security  

Today’s consumer is savvy and can sense when a recommendation is disingenuous, which puts companies at risk for seeming out-of-touch. For an influencer relationship to really ‘work’ it needs to be authentic. Often this means organizations letting individual partners craft a narrative around their product or business to exert a genuine opinion. This alone may prohibit some brands from maximizing this opportunity as corporate ‘tone of voice’ or ‘guidelines’ may not be welcomed by influencers.

Awin is here to help establish confidence in an influencer’s promotion of a brand, allowing them to explore this strategy without fear. We are the strongest network in terms of compliance and apply a multi-tiered approach to verify credibility; in fact, 33% of applications are rejected immediately. As a network, a core value is ensuring we maintain an ecosystem of diverse, ethical, and quality publisher partners. We build upon this by cultivating strong relationships with influencers in order to recommend the best fit for every brand’s individual needs.

Ensure FTC compliance

New Federal Trade Commission Guidelines issued in September 2017 require advertiser vigilance in ensuring disclosure of any free item supplied to an influencer including a product sample, coupon, paid sponsorship, and even a link exchange. This disclosure must be unavoidable, in the same method or presentation as the rest of the content to ensure it is easily noticed, read and understood. Client service representatives at Awin are ready to assist advertisers in their duty to provide influencers with a clear statement of disclosure responsibilities covering the location of disclosure, print format as well as the visual and audio treatment.

Want more information on how to maximize influencer marketing across your affiliate marketing strategy? Please contact our U.S. new business team.

About Awin

Awin is a global affiliate network and the new name for Affiliate Window and zanox. With 15 offices worldwide, 900 employees, 100,000 contributing publishers and 6,000 advertisers, Awin connects customers with brands in over 180 countries around the globe. Operating across the retail, telecommunications, travel and finance verticals, Awin generated $6.7 billion in revenue for its advertisers and $406 million for its publishers in the last financial year.