Alongside attribution, the word influencer has undoubtedly become one of the most talked about topics in digital in the past few years. While working with influencers might not be the most effective at driving sales for those of us in the affiliate space, it’s still vital to factor them in as part of your programme.  

With more focus on attribution and more advertisers implementing attribution models to their programmes, it’s important to ensure yours has a strong foundation of upper funnel publishers. By treating influencers as a separate channel, you will build a good basis for relationships and success in the future.  

Focus on the low to mid-tier

While most brands will immediately reach out to the big names, it’s important to remember they are often expensive and difficult to get hold of. If influencer marketing continues to grow from strength to strength, it might be reasonable to presume that the big names of today won’t necessarily be so in the future.

Instead, look at developing your relationships with the ‘next big things.’ By engaging with the influencer marketing community you’ll be able to develop relationships directly with influencers and really grow their trust and loyalty to your brand. As the influencer grows their following, they will remember the brands that supported them early on.

Affiliate networks are a great place to identify these smaller bloggers. The best place to start is checking which influencers have already been accepted on your programme – they already know your brand. In particular, pay attention to those driving clicks, however small the number – it still shows engagement and willingness to promote the brand. Then look at the influencers’ social channels or blogs, focusing on the level of engagement they get from followers. A key identifier is the proportion of likes to the number of followers, not just followers themselves.

Once you’ve identified a shortlist of up-and-coming bloggers, it’s time to get to know them. The best way is getting to meet them face to face, so think about running a blogger affiliate event. This doesn’t have to be expensive – while running a separate event, you could also coordinate with your PR team to invite affiliate bloggers to PR events.

Alternatively, if your brand has brick-and-mortar stores, you can invite influencers along for an introduction of products in your store. Not only would this help you build relationships, but it’s a great opportunity for the bloggers to understand more about your brand and potentially create content regarding the event they attended.

Build specific materials

While influencers are becoming more and more tech-savvy, it’s likely those who are new to affiliates still find it a bit of a daunting world. Think about creating a blogger affiliate pack so that any new bloggers joining your programme can be sent a quick intro to your brand as well as an introduction to your affiliate networks tools. This can help them get started and get links on their sites as quickly as possible.

If you have time and resources, go one step further and arrange a workshop in collaboration with your network or agency. This way the influencers can get face-to-face help and it’s a fantastic opportunity to build relationships.

Have budget behind it

The biggest mistake brands make when working with influencers via the affiliate channel is assuming that they will be happy to create content for free or on a CPA only basis. It’s important to remember that as influencers are upper funnel publishers, CPA increases are naturally not a strong pull to create content and work with a brand, even at the lower/mid-tier.

Test promotions

If you are hesitant about consistently working with voucher sites, why not try out promotions via the influencer channel. Anyone familiar with Instagram will also know influencers pushing out the latest trend each with their own unique code. This could also be applicable to your influencers on your programme. This, however, does provide a potential for leakage to any social code pages, so may only be worth testing if you affiliate network has code protection.