An influencer is anyone who can influence someone to make a purchase. In a way, we are all influencers; whether it’s getting a family member or a million people to buy something, it doesn’t matter: you’re an influencer. So, with that being said, how do affiliates fit into the mix? What makes them so special and worth investing in?

In this episode of Building Brand Advocacy, regular host Paul Archer is going solo! Join him as he deconstructs the differences between affiliates, influencers, and creators and how brands can use them to drive revenue. He breaks down methodologies and tactics to create a machine that uses advocacy as a tool to drive customer acquisition. Paul further dives into a subject that often causes confusion amongst most brands: affiliates, affiliate technology, and affiliate marketing.

Building Brand Advocacy 035: Paul Archer, Founder & CEO at Duel

Paul: If you engage with them, allow them to get a kickback, but also make it much more of a community. You can unlock this 95% of people who applied and turn them into a revenue machine. Hello, welcome back to Building Brand Advocacy. You're with Paul today for a solo part where I'm going to deep dive into a topic, which is quite debated in a few different areas. All I'm going to do is I'm going to talk you through the approach that a lot of brands take, seeing it successful, seeing it not so successful, but also talk about my opinions. And this is what is the difference between Influencers, creators, affiliates. Okay, so topical. Right, let's start with the word influencer. An influencer is anyone who can influence someone to make a purchase, right? We are all Influencers. I'm an influencer, you're an influencer. Whether that is me getting my mom to buy a thing, or you're able to influence a million people to make a purchase, it actually doesn't matter. It's about that ability to drive that revenue. So it's a bit of a misnomer when people talk about influencer marketing as a category. What they tend to mean is this idea of going to the marketplace and finding someone who you pay to tend to like your products and drive revenue in that sense. But actually, when you unpick it, we start to think about the different types of Influencers, the types of people, the types of advocates really is that language I like to use, because these are people who can talk about your brand favorably. And the subsection of that is creators and then affiliates, as well as customers. But I think that's probably a topic for another day. So if we start looking at the idea of a creator, everyone is a creator. Generally, I'm creating in this content that I'm sending right now. However, really, when you start to look at it from a social perspective, we tend to meet people who are creating on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, that kind of thing. And they themselves can then be sliced into nano, micro, macro, whichever language you want to use, which really dictates about the reach that that creator has, the content that they create. And we're going to delve into that in a second. But the piece that I find really interesting is the idea of affiliates and the confusion that lies with most brands when anyone talks about affiliates, affiliate Technology and affiliate Marketing. Now, affiliate marketing tends to mean affiliate networks driving traffic to your website. Rakuten, AI, whichever one that you want to use, these are networks that will pitch your links out and people will write blogs. And that'll be like the top 10 list of products and ranks yours at number 7. And someone can click on a link. And if they make a purchase, you will give them a percentage of the revenue. Seems quite obvious in that sense. But brands have no control over that content. No, it is not owned. It's not even earned. Generally, it is a network which is sending traffic to them. And they know that. And that's fine. You're not trying to put your brand into that context because you can't control it. It's not yours. Now, with most influencer campaigns and creator campaigns, the brand is all over it. It's sick, generally, with Brand Marketing. PR, they are like trying to control the narrative that that person says about it. And this is the extent of the spectrum that we're looking at. You've got people who are looking at revenue, which is coming in through these affiliates, but not controlled. You're looking at revenue, which is coming in because of the brand, but not necessarily tracked. So when you actually want to break those two into pieces, I always find that you think of affiliate tracking technology different to affiliate revenue. Now, if you are able to build a community of people who are going to drive revenue to your website, they are owned in your sense, but they are also affiliates. They're not necessarily ambassadors for your brand. And I think that word is really cool. If you think about it as an ambassador, if I'm an ambassador for a country, I am represented for that country. I've been chosen by that country to represent it. So I can be a massive fan of Finland and tell all my friends that they should travel there and they may well travel there. That doesn't mean I'm an ambassador. The government of Finland has to annoy me as that. And unfortunately, as it stands, I'm not an ambassador for Finland. So this is the same thing when you think of creators and affiliates. creators who create content who are brand ambassadors that you have selected to be an ambassador. They are very different to people who create content about your brand who are not brand ambassadors. And it tends to be that those who are ambassadors are your creators, those who are not are your affiliates. And how are they useful and how are they valuable to the brand? We would look, first of all, at creators. They're there because they are on brand. They represent your brand. They share your values. They look all right. Tends to be the case. They create good content and hopefully they'll also have a decent amount of reach. How much actually doesn't matter because you'll have network creators and you'll have macro creators with billions of followers. But the fact that you have anointed them and allowed them to be a part of your brand is the most important thing. And the value you're driving from them is brand, it's reputation, it does drive traffic. But mainly you're thinking about this in awareness. However, you are likely to also furnish them with an affiliate link so that they can, A, kick back on the payments or revenue they drive, also for you, you can attribute them as a brand. Now, to keep it confusing, the alternative is your affiliates. These are your non-ambassadors. These are people who are going to talk about your brand. They love your brand generally and they want to bang on about it to everyone they know. But they're probably not on Brands. They don't look good enough. They don't create good enough content. And you don't really want to be super associated with them, even if they are going to try to your revenue. Now, these are an incredibly important part of the mix. And they sit often overlooked in between brands and PR, which is the creators and the influencer activities, and the affiliate marketing, which is about just driving traffic through these existing networks. But if you're able to build up a group of owned affiliates and use them as a weapon, as a tool for driving traffic and awareness of your brand, that may not be entirely on brand, but it's still super valuable. Then this is something which can really drive customer acquisition at a fraction of the cost of what you're spending on ads generally. And so the way that I like to think about this work, and it's worked for a couple of brands we work with, most notably Monica Vinader, being the best case of one that's driving huge amounts of traffic. But you can look at lots of the other Brands that are thinking about communities of nano creators, but who aren't quite on brand, but they want them to. The affiliate community, basically, you build it out. These are the people who've applied to be a part of an ambassador program that a brand will launch, have not made the cut. So instead of saying, sorry, you're not in there, you've had 2,000 people apply for it, but actually you only have hundred people in the program. These are relatively normal numbers. You're looking at minimum of 20% being accepted, but more like 10% 5% of  people being accepted into the program, which means 95 people have just been put to the curb. And they are people who put their hand up and said, I love your brand. I'd like to be a brand ambassador. I'm going to stick my neck out there and hustle for you. And that's just a huge waste. And so what you've got to do is you've got to create a home for these people. They're not ambassadors, but they're something different. The language that we tend to use, affiliates, this is much more widely used in the US than it is in Europe, particularly with tools like LTK and platforms like that. These are the people that are not massive fans of it. But if you engage with them, allow them to get a kickback, but also make it much more of a community. Allow them to earn free products, allow them to earn benefits and VIP experiences through the activities that they do advocating for your brand. You can unlock this 95% of people who apply and turn them into a revenue machine. And the secret to that is to engage with them, to build the relationship with them, but not necessarily put them onto the pedestal of being the ambassador. With your ambassadors, with your creator groups, you'd invite them to the store launches and you'll be giving them product launches for every time there's a new product, they get seated with the products first, they can create content and post about it. The affiliates, they tend to get it a little bit later, but they're quite stoked because they can get a bit of a discount on it and they can start creating that content there. And by combining the two of these methodologies, along with more of a macro approach of finding a work with the celebrities who can build this up, you can cover all basis of the groups from the very narrow, boy next door, girl next door, creating content to the ones in the middle who have a bit more reach. Some of those are on brand, some of them are on brand, but they're all super valuable right the way to the people at the very, very top. You're able to actually create a machine that uses advocacy as a tool to drive customer acquisition. So key things to remember are the takeaways of this one is creators are your most valuable brand building activities. They are about creating content. They are about creating brand awareness. They're not necessarily going to be ticking the box when it comes to revenue driving. And that's absolutely fine. affiliates, they're underused middle class, if you will, the people who are creating content, but aren't actually Official Ambassadors for your brand, tend to be a massive opportunity for most brands driving revenue. And finally, when you start to start thinking of these things, Affiliate tracking technology is different to affiliate marketing. And it is a great way for attribution. For you, it's a great way to incentivize other people. But it really is most effective when you are building into an own strategy. Communities of people who love your brand, know your brand, are existing customers, really appreciate what you do. They know your story. They know your product. They have your product. And then turning them into a weapon for customer acquisition.

We can't wait to meet you.