Influencer Marketing Vs Affiliate Marketing

Apr 9, 2023 | By Chris Jacks

Reaching ever-increasing skeptical prospects takes a different form of advertising that radiates an air of authenticity. Because of this, influencer marketing and affiliate marketing are both beneficial for the brands that invest in them.

If you’re a content creator, you might be interested in seeing which is worth pursuing. If you’re a brand or business, you might be trying to decide if influencer or affiliate marketing will draw the best ROI.

Read on to learn the nuances between the two.

Are Influencer Marketing and Affiliate Marketing the Same Thing?

Influencer and affiliate marketing are not the same thing. By using ads, images, and other tools, affiliate marketing primarily aims to increase online traffic. When a business pays an individual with a sizable following to aggressively promote their goods and brand online, this is known as influencer marketing.

The fact is that influencer and affiliate marketing are effective strategies for educating and converting your target audience. You lose out on chances to broaden your audience and expand your business if you don’t comprehend the distinctions and how each marketing funnel functions. The key is to determine which method best serves your present aims and alternate between them rather than relying solely on one.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is a form of marketing where brands and companies recruit content creators with a dedicated following to promote products or services.

The creator aims to make content that feels as authentic as possible in order to humanize the brand, endorse products, and increase brand awareness.

Influencer marketing is found on most social media platforms, and you don’t have to look far for influencers to pop up in your feed.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Think of affiliate marketing as a digital ad for a brand placed strategically in a brand partner’s social media space. This can be banner ads placed on a niche blogger’s website where if you click on the ad and buy a product, the blogger makes a commission.

Affiliate marketing is primarily sales-focused. The entire goal is to make sales, without them, the affiliate does not get paid.

Key Differences Between Affiliate Marketing and Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing isn’t as sales driven as affiliate marketing. Influencers endorse products and brands on their social media channels to increase brand awareness.

The main goals of affiliate programs are to increase sales and attract new customers. In affiliate marketing, a business or brand teams up with affiliates and publishers skilled in building websites and other digital assets that advertise their products or those of third parties. Affiliates do this to earn money since they receive a cut of any sales that are brought about by their marketing initiatives, whether they come from a website or social media account.

Although affiliates actively look for products to endorse on their blogs, they may also receive invitations to join affiliate programs from businesses. An affiliate selects the products or businesses they wish to promote and inserts them into their content. Affiliate marketers have products that are selected by companies, but have control over the material they create — enabling them to develop successful affiliate campaigns without being constrained by specific rules or demands from companies.

Conversely, companies typically contact influencers with a proposition to partner. Many times, rather than earning a percentage on sales, those with a sizable following and good engagement rates on their channels are paid directly for each campaign. Free gifts and discounts are two more typical types of payment.

Influencer Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing Differences [Chart]

Key Differences Affiliate Marketing Influencer Marketing
Compensation Structure Commission from sales Free products, flat fees for endorsements
Campaign Goal New Sales and Customer Acquisition Brand Awareness
Personal Goal Higher website domain authority, commission from sales Free products, payment for posts
Success Measurement Conversions, subscriptions, orders, returning customers Social media engagement, Google Analytics and Tracking

Can You Do Both Influencer Marketing and Affiliate Marketing at the Same Time?

Using influencer marketing and affiliate marketing in your campaign strategies increases your brand visibility and brand recognition. While both are designed to meet different goals, you can maximize efforts and expand your reach.

You shouldn’t expect to see the same ROI for each campaign, but there is an opportunity here for massive ROI. Let’s put it this way — brands can spend thousands on a single advertisement in the hopes that it reaches the right audience at the right time. Or, a brand can invest in smaller content creators and affiliates to endorse a product in a relevant niche and in a more authentic light, which increases trust in that specific brand.

While a campaign for brand affiliates and a campaign for influencer marketing will stem from a different strategy, using both increases your chances of conversions.

When Should You Choose Influencer Marketing Over Affiliate Marketing?

When introducing a new brand or product to the world, influencer marketing takes the cake. Leveraging a handful of influencers within the same niche your audience frequents gives you the opportunity to flood the feeds of your prospects and pique curiosity about your products.

When an influencer decides to work with you, this is a vote of confidence and trust in your brand.

When Should You Choose Affiliate Marketing Instead of Influencer Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a good route for brands working with a lower budget. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to set up an affiliate marketing campaign with specifications laid out. The best kind of content for affiliate marketing includes blogs, product reviews, product comparisons, and tutorials.

Frequently Asked Questions About Influencer vs. Affiliates

Regardless of how long you’ve worked in the field or how recently you’ve started dabbling in social media marketing, you may still have some questions regarding affiliate marketing and influencer marketing. Here are a few frequently asked questions and their answers.

Is There a Better ROI With Influencer Marketing or Affiliate Marketing?

While both forms of marketing typically produce a healthy ROI, 71% of companies believe that the traffic they receive from influencer marketing is better quality than traffic from other sources.

Influencer marketing inspires purchases quicker than other forms of marketing channels. When someone sees a product endorsed by someone they like or want to be like, there is a better chance they will buy it on impulse.

Can Someone be an Influencer AND an Affiliate?

There’s a fine line between influencer and affiliate marketing from the creator side. To maximize your reach and increase opportunities, you can choose to work as an influencer and an affiliate.

If you’re someone that enjoys creating videos around certain products, becoming an influencer might be a more attractive option. If you enjoy writing about products, becoming an affiliate might be the better route.

Though with the increasing growth of Tik Tok and Instagram, video is a widely consumed form of media, and influencing may draw a larger payout when it comes down to it.

What’s the Difference Between an Amazon Affiliate and an Amazon Influencer?

While both Amazon affiliates and influencers promote products, there are differences between the roles.

Affiliates are required to work with Amazon to select products to talk about. Influencers can pick products they want to represent. The caveat here, anyone can become an Amazon affiliate, but getting into their influencer program requires a following with good engagement.

Why is Influencer Marketing Better than Affiliate Marketing for Fortune 1000 Companies?

Influencer marketing is best to expand brand reach and recognition. Additionally, 74% of digital users say they trust social networks to make purchase decisions. With so many followers consuming strategically placed products vetted by trusted sources (influencers), getting buy-in is quick, budget-friendly, and ROI-reliable.

Affiliate marketing is great if you only wish to track sales from affiliates. While affiliates promote products, they are at the mercy of a brand to choose products for them, which could quickly become inauthentic or even backfire if an affiliate doesn’t actually like or use a product they promote.

What are Some Examples of Influencer Marketing?

A great example of influencer marketing is hiring a content creator who values family and interior design.

In this particular campaign, influencers highlighted how to style a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bedding for the Nickelodeon launch at Walmart. The result? 10.4 million impressions using just 4 influencers for the campaign.

Other brands like Shein, GymShark, and Pepsi have launched influencer campaigns. By recruiting nano, micro, and macro influencers, they trust the creators to film content their followers enjoy and relate to.

What are Some Examples of Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is selling products online for a small commission.

One example is a lifestyle account focused on interior design by promoting products around home organization. Think of short videos on Tik Tok where someone reorganizes their closet, guest bathroom, or fridge with different organization cubes and containers. The products are the containers, the value is organization ideas from content creators. The creator includes a unique link to the products in their bio that tracks clicks and purchases, resulting in a commission to the creator.

Connect With the Right Audience With the Right Type of Marketing for Your Brand

While it may seem that the influencer marketing vs affiliate marketing debate is settled, there are benefits to both. Connecting with your target audience with authenticity is the right way to market — whether it’s from influencer or affiliate marketing.


Chris Jacks is an influencer marketing professional with over a decade of experience in the digital marketing sphere. As the Director of Growth Strategy, Chris oversees and drives strategic initiatives to fuel business expansion. With a keen eye for market trends and opportunities, Chris develops comprehensive growth plans and aligns business objectives across cross-functional teams. With a strong focus on crafting impactful, ROI-driven influencer campaigns across multiple sectors, Chris utilizes his expertise to enhance market positioning and maximize results.

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