How many times have you clicked on a link shared by your favorite influencer? While not all influencers disclose that their links are a source of income, driving traffic through custom affiliate links is big business. That’s because affiliate influencer deals are a major part of many creator's monetization strategy. 

If you’re a brand or an influencer looking to implement a best-in-class strategy, you should understand the pros and cons of affiliate partnerships. Read on to learn how your monetization strategy can impact your audience and your bottom line. 

What are affiliate influencer deals?

Affiliate marketing is separate but intertwined with influencer marketing as a whole. In general, influencer marketing involves a brand paying an influencer to create content that raises awareness with their audience about a brand or product. Affiliate marketing in relation to influencers encompasses a subset of those deals, where a brand pays an influencer a commission for purchases driven by their content. Influencers are typically paid a percentage of sales by brands through custom referral links that track traffic and conversions.  

Affiliate partnership example

Affiliate partnerships are all around you! For example, the popular lifestyle blog Cup of Jo uses affiliate links quite transparently. Recently, Cup of Jo published a post rounding up cool summer sets, and used affiliate links to link to their favorite sets so that readers can shop their picks. As a result, Cup of Jo will make a percentage (usually between 3-10%) of any purchases driven through the affiliate link the blog shared. 

affiliate links on a blog
Affiliate links at Cup of Jo

Why use affiliate influencer deals? 

For influencers, affiliate links are a great way to generate income from behavior they are already doing: recommending products to their audience. Affiliate links are easy to use and work passively — the influencer just embeds them into posts or social content, and gets paid anytime a referral purchase is made. And, the huge number of companies offering affiliate deals to influencers makes it relatively easy for influencers to choose products and brands that their audience will love. However, quantity doesn’t always signify quality.

What are the cons of affiliate influencer partnerships? 

While affiliate partnerships have been around for a long time, they aren’t without flaws. Let’s break down a few of the issues to be aware of before getting started with an affiliate partnership. 

Low margin

Affiliate partnerships pay a very low rate per conversion to the influencer, typically 3-10% of the purchase profit. That can amount to cents made per purchase. For brands, the lack of incentive can sometimes make it difficult to get quality content from influencer partners. 

Limited attribution 

Affiliate links are dependent on cookies. However, cookies expire after a certain amount of time. This matters for influencers because if someone in your audience makes a purchase after that window of time expires (about 72 hours), the purchase will not be attributed to the source link. That means creators are constantly missing out on revenue from purchases they are responsible for.

Lack of brand and experience control

Affiliate links necessitate sending your audience away from your website or social media pages to another destination. At that point, you no longer control your audience’s experience. This can lead to issues: if the product doesn’t fit with their values, is low quality, or the customer experience is poor, influencers can face backlash from their audience. 

Loss of valuable data

When an influencer’s audience clicks on a retailer’s site to make a purchase, the influencer is losing valuable data about their audience’s preferences and demographics. Because the purchase is made on the retailer’s site, the retailer benefits from the usual information entered at checkout, and adds a contact to their database. The influencer does not typically have access to that data, which is incredibly valuable once they have their own brand to sell or project to promote. That data is also helpful to determine what products and partnerships align with the audience — all around, a powerful tool to grow your brand. 

Using Canal to power better partnerships

Canal can help influencers grow the impact and success of their brand partnerships. Canal connects Shopify stores with products from the best brands in ecommerce without the need for physical inventory. As an influencer or creator, that means you can use Canal to create your own, on-brand ecommerce experience. Work with your existing brand partners and discover new ones, then use Canal to merchandise your own site with their products. 

Average commissions using Canal are significantly higher than affiliate partnership deals, and once you agree on commission with your partner, any purchase occurs on your own site. That means you not only make more money, but you can benefit from the customer data on the purchases you are driving! Canal handles the background work, like routing commission payments and shipping information. 

cupcakes and cashmere used canal to merchandise their seasonal collections
Cupcakes and Cashmere used Canal to power brand partnerships.

For example, long-time blogger Emily Schuman of Cupcakes & Cashmere used Canal to merchandise her ecommerce experience with third-party products that fit with her brand and align with her seasonal marketing campaigns. Canal made it easy to merchandise the shop with all of her favorite recommendations alongside products from her own line of fine jewelry. While typical affiliate partnerships would require her audience to leave her site to make a purchase, the new shopping experience lets customers check out from multiple brands in one purchase, without ever leaving the Cupcakes & Cashmere site. 

Ready to merchandise your own site with the products your audience already loves? Learn more about Canal

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