The Difference between Influencers, Affiliates & Ambassadors

Influencers, Ambassadors, Affiliates – oh my!​

How to use word-of-mouth marketing and get the most return on investment for each case

We’ve been around the marketing block more than a few times and know that the terms “influencer, ambassador, and affiliate” marketing get used interchangeably – which is confusing! We’re going to set the record straight on the difference between these different marketing tactics so you know exactly where to get started.

Bonus: we’ll even tell you which platforms we think will help you get the best ROI for each!

All of these tactics boil down to one fact: People don’t want to hear from brands, they want to hear from people.

So let’s dive in:



Influencer Marketing

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is an approach to social media marketing that enables brands to leverage another person’s audience in order to spread the word about their products or service.

Oftentimes, influencers are content creators who work to curate a loyal audience. Not all content creators are influencers, but almost all influencers are content creators.

Wait… what?

Let’s break that down:

Someone can be passionate about creating digital content – like Reels, photos, videos, etc. But they could be just starting out and haven’t cultivated a large organic audience just yet. They would fall into the content creator bucket.

However, in order to be considered an influencer, a content creator needs to have established an organic audience that is influenced to action by their content.

Influencers are typically considered authoritative figures in their niche and have the ability to sway their followers’ purchase decisions through their recommendations.


Does influencer marketing work?

Yes – one thousand times – yes.

In 2021, around 58% of marketers said that influencer marketing was the most effective marketing trend more than SEO, short-form video, and experiential marketing. Additionally, 71% of marketers said that the quality of customers and traffic from influencer marketing is better than other sources.

The most effective influencer campaigns will leverage the content received from the influencers in multiple ways – like whitelisting or in paid ads.


How to do influencer marketing?

The number #1 rule for starting any marketing tactic is to establish your primary goal. You may have multiple goals, but should aim to focus on one to measure success against.

Next, define the audience you are trying to reach.

  1. Research influencers who you think could reach that audience. Pro Tip: Seek out influencers in categories that are adjacent to your brand’s category. Ex: You sell wall decals for nurseries – find influencers who love to renovate kids’ rooms.

  2. Once you create a detailed spreadsheet of at least 50 influencers (including their follower count, engagement rate, category and contact information), identify your top 10-20 influencers.

  3. From there, you will aim to get at least 5 influencers to say “yes” to your proposal. Knowing who is in your top 10-20 will help you establish a baseline budget for the campaign.

In general, influencers charge $100 per 10,000 followers for photos. The price goes up for more in-depth content. 

  1. Set your budget and start working on a campaign brief. The brief should consist of an intro to your brand, the campaign you are starting, the goals for the campaign and what kind of content you are wanting to get in return.

  2. Reach out to ask for quotes and start your relationship with the influencer!

Keep in mind, some of your ‘dream’ influencers may be out of your budget. If they are represented by a firm, they will likely be overcharging for their content. You don’t have to say yes to their terms – just wait for ones that are more in-line with your goals and budget.

Does this sound like a lot of work? That’s because it is! If you want to streamline this process, we highly recommend working with Hashtag Paid. They take the process above and automate it. We have found that they cut the time in half to start getting started with influencers and get content for your campaign. The best part? They automate the whitelisting process for paid ads. In short, we are huge fans of Hashtag Paid.


Why is influencer marketing important?

Influencer marketing is important because it helps increase exposure, brand awareness, engagement, and conversions. Remember that customers trust their peers, friends, and the people they admire more than the company that is selling the products and services they buy and use.

Hence, with the right influencer for the business, the more probability that people will follow and build loyalty to your brand.


How much does it cost?

In general, influencers charge $100 for every 10,000 followers they have for a photo. That price will increase if you want content that requires more planning & editing on their end – such as Instagram Reels, TikTok videos or standard videos.

Keep in mind, you are paying for them to promote your product to their audience that they have worked very hard to earn & gain trust with. They are typically good at creating content that will last well-beyond the campaign.

Although we are huge fans of influencer marketing, there are some drawbacks. It is costly, so if you’re a startup brand or have a limited budget, influencer marketing will be harder for you to pay for – that’s where the risk/benefit needs to be carefully weighed and considered.

The other drawback is that some influencers are not as authentic as others. You will want to follow your potential influencers for a little while to see if you feel they are an authentic & trusted presence rather than a billboard for any brand that will pay them.


What ROI can I expect from influencer marketing?

In the world of digital marketing, brands are always wanting to tie a specific revenue amount to a campaign, but that’s not always possible.

Customer engagement with your brand is nearly never a 1:1 ratio – meaning – they don’t see you for the first time and immediately buy.

Moreover, the shopping experiences from apps like Facebook & Instagram are not the best. A lot of times, people will discover a new brand from an influencer and then go to a different browser or machine to research that brand & buy.

three colorful rulers

Here are the KPIs we recommend tracking before & after your campaign to evaluate ROI:

  • Brand awareness – not just the reach of their content, also check Google Search console to see if searches for your brand name elevated during the campaign.

  • Conversions – Was there an uptick in overall revenue during the campaign? It might not be tied directly to a platform or discount code, but look for a sign of elevated sales in general.

  • Follower count – Did your social platforms get a rise in engagement during the campaign? This shows that the influencers’ followers were interested in learning more about you – and you can’t sell someone who doesn’t know you exist.


When will I see the results?

Understandably, you want to know when you can see the results. Sometimes people see influencers as a magic bullet that will instantly boost traffic, attract new customers or increase their sales – and it definitely can!

However, just like any other marketing tactic, consistency & time will help you see compounding results.

Be patient – depending on the brand, product, process, budget, and execution – the timeline of results will vary.

A common mistake that most ecomm businesses make is only running one influencer marketing campaign and then stopping, but we have seen better results by using the same influencers multiple times & adding new ones to the mix over time for variety.


Ambassador Marketing

What is ambassador marketing?

Ambassador marketing is a type of referral marketing strategy that is used by different brands to market themselves through a credible person, like a loyal customer or “superusers”.  It is reaching out to your audience in the most credible, authentic, and trusted way possible.


Does ambassador marketing work?

Ambassador marketing can be a win-win strategy. Brands connect with people, which is what most businesses really want to achieve, and this is where ambassadors come in. Like influencer marketing, ambassador marketing is more influential than a first-time touchpoint through a paid advertising campaign.

Using ambassadors to market your brand gives social proof & adds to the overall trust of your brand.

And when people begin to trust and talk about your brand, it means more traffic and more sales.


How to do ambassador marketing?

To start ambassador marketing, first, you have to find the best possible ambassador that will represent your brand. Look for those who have an online presence, have leadership skills, understand marketing, are professional, and are relationship-driven.

If you have an established ambassador network or are a larger brand looking to harness the power of this tactic for the first time, we cannot recommend using Wooly  enough. This powerful tool will save you hours of time in managing your community & provide ambassadors with a flawless way to get involved with your brand at different levels that match their needs. From earning commissions or free products to automatically generating discount codes for your audience – this tool is one that takes it to the next level.

ambassador marketing with a tripod

Why is ambassador marketing important?

These days, referrals and recommendations from friends & family is known to be an incredibly effective way to spread the word about your product. Ambassadors feel genuine to consumers and usually are more than willing to go the extra mile in order to earn a reward.

People are getting tired of marketing strategies that are only focused on sales and not about the consumers. Hence, ambassador marketing helps in maintaining a good relationship with the ambassador and consumers with the right campaign.


How much does ambassador marketing cost?

Since ambassador marketing uses a different strategy, the cost varies. Once you’ve already defined your KPIs, you can evaluate the amount of money it will cost you to run the strategy or campaign.

For this task, you need to identify how many ambassadors you will need, how will you pay them, and if you will be using any tools to run the campaign. The most common ways to pay your ambassadors are the following:

  • Cash payments

  • Commissions

  • Rewards such as discounts or free products


How long until I see results from ambassador marketing?

While many ecomm businesses or firms are already using this type of marketing, if you’re just getting started, you should know that this is a long-term tactic. In general, it will take at least 6 months for your ambassador campaign to really take off. Once it does, you will see compounding results and be glad you started!

Pro Tip: Many brands think they can combine influencer marketing with ambassador marketing – only paying influencers when they make a direct sale. However, next to no influencers are not willing to work in this capacity. Brand ambassador content won’t be as professional as someone you pay and their networks will be smaller, but that’s why building a network of 30-100 ambassadors will start to have a profound impact on sales.


Affiliate Marketing


What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is an advertising model where a company compensates third-party publishers such as Rakuten and AWIN, to generate traffic or leads to the company’s products and services.

It is promoting other people’s products in return for a small commission for each sale. A company running an affiliate marketing program can track the links that bring in leads and by using internal analytics, you can see how many converts to sales.


Does affiliate marketing work?

Affiliate marketing dates back when the popularity of the internet started. It has increased its prominence and has popularized through the years because it works not just for the company but with the affiliates as well. Hence, affiliate marketing has been successful in launching a brand and driving sales for products.

How to do affiliate marketing?

If you want to reach a wider base of internet users and customers, you can hire an affiliate. An affiliate can be an owner of multiple websites or email marketing sales, the more email lists or websites the affiliate has the wider its network.

The hired affiliate communicates and promotes the products offered in the e-commerce platform to their network. The affiliate will do this by running banner ads, text ads, or sending links on its websites, or sending emails to different customers.

On the other hand, firms use advertisements in the form of videos, images, or articles to draw the attention of the customer to a product or service. Visitors who click on the ads or links are re-directed to the e-commerce site. If the visitor purchased the product or service, they will be paid a commission, depending on their agreement.


Why is affiliate marketing important?

Affiliate marketing is important because it can yield great rewards for the affiliate marketer and advertising company. What’s more, the return on investment for affiliate marketing is high as the company only pays on traffic converted sales.

It has access to a broader market, low-cost advertising, and better accounting of qualified leads.


How much does affiliate marketing cost?

The good thing about affiliate marketing is that businesses can benefit from low-cost advertising while using the creative marketing efforts of the affiliates. The cost of advertising, if any, is shouldered by the affiliate.

What results to expect from affiliate marketing?

When using affiliate marketing, tracking the metrics is the way to know the results. You can start by using ad programs such as Google, Facebook, or Amazon that can use their dashboard to monitor the stats for individual channels.

There are also affiliate marketing tools that can help track performance, provide competitor data and gather analytics. Here are the metrics you should take a look at:

  • Ad spend

  • Click thoughts

  • ROI

  • Net monthly sales

  • Conversion rates

  • Overall revenue

These metrics will help you determine how often people click on your links and how frequently they buy. Pay attention to what kind of content is most effective at driving sales and create more of that type of content.

How long until I see results from affiliate marketing?

While you might want to see results right away, the truth is that growing your affiliate marketing will take time. Again, you need a lot of patience and effort to see it grow and succeed.

In the early months or the first year, the results will be irregular and unsteady for the majority of your sales. For some, they were able to achieve adequate results between 18 and 24 months.

I’m ready to dive in, what next?

Now that you know the important aspects of these marketing strategies, it is time to decide which will better work for your brand!

There are no silver bullets with any of these tactics, but each of them will have a huge impact on your bottom line with consistency and realistic expectations.

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