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Are you expecting direct sales from influencers? Though influencer marketing can lead to sales, a well-thought-out influencer marketing campaign will have a much larger affect on your overall marketing strategy than simple one-to-one direct sales.


Influencers aren’t salespeople (…and they shouldn’t be.)


Can influencers complement affiliate programs? Yes. Can they use affiliate links in their posts? Yes — but earning commissions isn’t an influencer’s highest priority. Though many of them are starting to learn about affiliate marketing and are giving it a try, very few of them have mastered it quite yet. Don’t rely on an influencer’s weak point; rather, focus on the much more valuable benefits they can offer you. Coming from an affiliate marketing background, though, it can be hard to adjust expectations when you’re running an influencer campaign.


“Why didn’t I get any direct sales from influencers? It’s been 3 weeks!”


At Fresh Press Media, we hear this all too often. Affiliate marketers expect clicks and online sales. They want control and immediate gratification — along with something tangible they can measure. However, it can be difficult to track sales made from influencer marketing. Sales from affiliate links are just icing on the cake. They don’t offer the bulk of value from your influencer campaign. Most advertisers don’t need to replace their affiliate program; instead, they should use influencer marketing as an indispensable tool to add value to their campaign.

A key purpose of influencer marketing is to build awareness and appeal by humanizing your brand and making it personal. Influencers are not necessarily driving direct sales straight from a blog post; the sales that do come will be more organic, and harder to track. Influencers aren’t salespeople. They care about authenticity and quality content more than commissions from direct sales. This is what makes influencer marketing so valuable for an advertiser — it reaches people in a way that ad placements can’t, yet it complements other marketing strategies already in place.


Take these stories, for example:


Maggie is a young girl who doesn’t have a credit card. She doesn’t really care what marketing brochures or corporate websites say she should buy. However, she spends a lot of time on social media and Instagram. Her favorite beauty blogger just posted a review of a new mascara she really wants to try. Next time she is at the mall, Maggie stops by the store and remembers hearing about how awesome the product was. She buys the mascara (along with a few other items.) Does anyone but Maggie know that she bought this as a result of the Instagram post? Maybe, but maybe not. It’s a longer, slower process than affiliate marketing — but it really helps your brand become an integral part of people’s everyday lives and increases loyalty, instead of only reaching people who jump from brand to brand just looking for deals and coupons.

On the flip side, we can look at Kelly’s story. Kelly also follows the same beauty blogger on Instagram. She watches a video of the blogger applying the mascara, and the before and after results look fantastic! Kelly is really interested, but she doesn’t want to shell out the full price for a product she hasn’t budgeted for. She searches “Brand ABC Mascara Coupons”, clicks on a link for one of Brand ABC’s coupon affiliates, and ends up buying the product through an affiliate link. In this example, influencer marketing and affiliate marketing are seamlessly integrated into a satisfying buying experience for Kelly. Without both sides of the coin, the sale probably wouldn’t have happened. The influencer planted the desire to buy, while the affiliate closed the sale.


Build awareness where it matters


Many situations like this occur every day. A mom might see something on TV at home about yogurt and buy it later at the grocery store. Is the TV commercial worthless because nobody called the 1-800 number and ordered it from their couch? No — they simply measure the success of their TV commercial differently than they would an affiliate campaign. However, these are mostly a shotgun approach. The CPM might even seem reasonable, but if you aren’t reaching your target audience, who cares? Influencer marketing builds brand awareness where it matters, not where it doesn’t. It’s a cumulation of the best of word-of-mouth, paid social media ads, product placement, billboards, TV commercials and affiliate marketing.


Can I have my cake and eat it too?


Yes! Like I mentioned above, influencer marketing is meant to be integrated into your current marketing strategies. It’s not the only basket you should put your eggs in. You can still have an affiliate program, run paid ads, expand social media accounts… whatever floats your boat. But don’t ignore a truly remarkable way to appeal to your target audience in a relatable, human way that builds trust as opposed to typical corporate marketing.

The bottom line is: Don’t expect the same results from influencer marketing as you would from affiliate marketing – getting direct sales from influencers shouldn’t be the goal of your influencer marketing campaign. Think long-term, and think BIGGER than affiliate marketing.