The Affiliate Summit West conference (#ASW19) wrapped last week where over 6,000 digital marketers from over 70 countries gathered at Paris Las Vegas Hotel for all things #performancemarketing. LinkConnector was honored to once again exhibit and be a part of this must-attend industry conference.
On day one of the conference, LinkConnector’s Tara McCommons moderated the panel session, Leveraging Influencers in a Performance Marketing Arena to a packed room of attendees. On the panel were affiliate managers Nick Goodling of Bollman Hat, Charity Gerke of U.S. Elite; and Kimberly Cashwell, marketing manager of FMTC.
These three affiliate marketing leaders shared misconceptions, strategies and tactical advice on how they’ve leveraged the power of social media influencers to drive revenue and elevate brand reputation.
Tara: I see influencers as telling a story; they seem intimately in touch with a brand’s products. What do you see as the main differences between an affiliate and an influencer?
NG: Influencers are an extension of a brand’s marketing arm. Affiliates concentrate their efforts more on ROI, traffic and conversions.
CG: Influencers have a positive impact on a merchant’s brand. Affiliates are less concerned with the intangibles.
KC: Influencers are relationship-focused, and they excel with content creation.
Tara: Once you’ve identified influencers, how do you get them started with your affiliate program?
NG: Make it easy for them. I love LinkConnector’s FastPass network signup. It speaks in the influencer language, asking for relevant identifiers like social media handles and FastPass requires just basic information. This makes for a fast and seamless path of entry.
Tara: What are some challenges and common misconceptions you encounter from influencers when recruiting them to join an affiliate program?
CG: Often influencers think they will be getting free stuff right away. It’s important to set expectations up front—especially if their follower count is low.
KC: Influencers are often resistant to affiliate marketing. They are accustomed to getting money upfront versus working on a commission basis. We have had success working in hybrid models, where we work with both means of compensation. Another challenge we’ve encountered is that influencers are often not comfortable feeling “pushy” with their audience; they are more relationship-based and like to tell a story.
Tara: What are your current tactical strategies – your roadmap for success?
CG: Influencers must know your brand’s audience and want to grow. They also need to be intimately connected with their own audience and know the best times to post, etc. A simple tactic to growing your influencer reach is to ask influencers for other influencers within the same vertical. Find that diamond in the rough that is an ideal fit with your brand and that has a vision and passion to succeed—no matter their follower count. The small but right influencer could grow to become your biggest asset.
NG: It’s important to know who influencers like and follow. Do they fit your brand? Send them your products first; make them feel like family; keep them updated on their impact. Also, get legal contracts in place for your protection.
KC: Most importantly is finding influencers who know and love your products. Think of them as your great ambassadors that use and value your products.
Tara: What are a few of your favorite tools and resources that help you support and grow your influencer relationships?
NG: The affiliate network and its tools! Get out of your internal spreadsheets and leave it to the experts.
CG: LinkConnector’s performance tracking and influencer technologies. And, headspace.com.
KC: Buffer— I can schedule all my social media posts in advance. WordPress and its affiliate disclosure plugin is also helpful. Google “influencer networks” for more ideas.
Tara: The Performance Marketing Association is an excellent resource for FTC disclosure & compliance for affiliates.
Be sure to check out the ASW19 session videos to learn more specific takeaways from this panel discussion.
If you’d like to learn about LinkConnector’s Influencer Marketing tools, leave us a comment or contact us at [email protected]!