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How To Launch An Affiliate Program for Influencers

Lindsay Duggan Martinez

Principal Partner Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

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Whether you follow social media influencers religiously or are befuddled by how “influencing” has become a viable career, one thing’s undeniable: leveraging their reach can do wonders for your ecommerce sales. One research study found that the top 20 retailers in the world that use influencer marketing generated a whopping $3 billion in earned media value despite only spending $172 million on their campaigns. 

Influencer marketing is not only here to stay, but we’ll likely see it become more of a centerpiece in marketers’ toolboxes in the years to come. While getting started is as simple as reaching out to an influencer in your niche, managing a full-fledged influencer strategy requires a bit more tact. 

That being said, today we’re diving into how to launch an affiliate program for influencers, so you can better recruit, utilize, and monitor the success of your influencer marketing campaigns. 

But First, What Is An Affiliate Program for Influencers? 

An influencer affiliate program is like any other affiliate marketing program — basically, you’re teaming up with an influencer (rather than, say, a publisher) who promotes your products or services. In exchange, they receive either a small percentage of your sales or a flat fee. 

A quick rundown of how affiliate marketing works. Source

You may ask: “How is this different from any other influencer marketing program?” Well, the quick answer is an affiliate program for influencers has more structure. As it’s performance-based, influencers are only awarded when they successfully drive an action, whether that’s a click or a purchase, which means they’re generally more invested in your brand. Comparatively, typical influencer marketing involves upfront payment (usually based on their audience size and engagement). 

How To Launch An Affiliate Program For Influencers

Choose your influencers wisely

Here are some questions to consider when developing your shortlist: 

  • How extensive is their reach? (There’s value in both mega- and micro-influencers; here’s a guide for more.)

  • What other brands do they currently partner with and would there be a conflict of interest?

  • Is their content relevant to your niche?

  • Are they reputable?

Decide your payment structure (and other terms)

Like we previously mentioned, your affiliate payment structure is entirely up to you; you can pay a percentage of every sale conducted from an affiliate link or pay a flat fee for every click. If your budget is limited, you might ask an influencer if they’re willing to do a trade for free or discounted products.

Some other important terms to determine are:

  • Content creation process — do you or the influencer come up with posts? Are there review procedures? 

  • Usage rights — can you post the influencer-generated content on your website and other platforms?

  • Non-compete clauses — are influencers allowed to partner with adjacent brands in your industry?

  • Payment window — will you pay influencers after your returns and exchanges window has closed? 

Once you have all this information, don’t be afraid to start reaching out! 

Use an affiliate marketing platform to stay organized 

Sure, you could manually generate affiliate links for every influencer you recruit, but why spend time completing a task you can easily automate? There are a ton of affiliate and influencer marketing platforms available on the Shopify app store — some well-known ones include Refersion, LeadDyno, and UpPromote

So many options to choose from — thanks, Shopify! 

When choosing your affiliate marketing platform, here are some standard requirements to keep in mind:

  • Tracking the results of every affiliate code

  • Customizing dashboards for every influencer (so they can monitor their progress)

  • Automatically paying influencers 

  • Recruiting new influencers

  • Setting a minimum payment threshold

Offer unique deals to an influencer’s followers

You want to support the influencer’s content by offering their audience promotions and deals. It’s a lot easier to capture someone’s attention with a “get 20% off using my special promo code” message than a post just describing a product — another example of FOMO at work! 

There’s More!

To generate as much value as possible from your affiliate program for influencers, we recommend repurposing the content they create for ads. Ads featuring social proof are an extremely powerful way to instill a sense of trust in shoppers immediately. 

The best way to create these ads? With AdRoll, of course! Using our machine learning solutions and templates, you can get started with creating dynamic and personalized ads in no time. Get started with the AdRoll integration for Shopify here

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