What is the difference between Affiliate and Influencer marketing and which is best for your brand?

Influencer and affiliate marketing are great ways of showcasing your brand in front of your target audience. But lack of understanding between the two will lead to missed opportunities for brand growth.

In this article, we will discuss the following:

  • What are the differences between influencer and affiliate marketing?
  • What are the pros and cons of influencer and affiliate marketing?
  • Which one is best for your business?

What are the differences between influencer and Affiliate marketing?

Creators are the centre of influencer and affiliate marketing as both use their influence among their followers to create awareness about their brands and drive sales. 

  • Influencer marketing– Influencer marketing works on the model of brands partnering with social media influencers to promote their services/products.
  • Affiliate marketing – In affiliate marketing, affiliates (creators) share a trackable link within the affiliate post, which is used by their audience to discover the brand or make a purchase.

From a marketer’s perspective, the major difference between influencer and affiliate marketing is KPIs and compensation.


  • Influencer marketing KPIs – The common KPIs of influencer marketing are reach, engagement, CPE and CPV, which can differ according to campaign goals.
  • Affiliate marketing KPIs – The common KPIs for affiliate marketing are– click traffic, net sales, the total number of orders, average order value, number of new customers, etc. 

Brands do not pay affiliates for brand awareness or cold lead generation; they are exclusively used to drive sales and increase website traffic.

On the other hand, influencer marketing is used for meeting long-term marketing goals like building brand awareness. Influencers do not impact the brand’s direct sales but bring inbound leads and increase SEO.


Just like KPIs, the compensation of influencer and affiliate marketing differs vastly.

  • Affiliate marketing – Influencers get monetary compensation for every sale or website visit.
  • Influencer marketing – Influencers are paid by campaigns, but in some cases, they are paid through free gifts and incentives.

What are the pros and cons of Influencer marketing?

According to Digital Marketing Institute, “49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations and 40% consumers have purchased after seeing on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube”. This means that influencer marketing is one of the most important marketing efforts of our time, and companies should keep it in their marketing mix to meet their goals. But there are some instances when influencer marketing did nothing for some brands.

Let’s discuss the pros and cons of influencer marketing in detail for you to choose better for your brand.

The Pros:

  • Increased brand awareness – Influencer marketing can help businesses reach a larger audience by leveraging the influencer’s existing following. This can lead to increased brand recognition and awareness.
  • Authenticity – Influencers have a loyal following because they are viewed as authentic and genuine. By partnering with an influencer, a brand can benefit from its authenticity, which can help build trust and credibility among the target audience.
  • Cost-effective – Compared to TVC ads with celebrities, influencer marketing is cost-effective. To cut the cost further, brands can work with micro and nano influencers who drive engagement at a much lower cost.
  • Targeted marketing – Influencer marketing allows businesses to target specific demographics and niche markets. This is because influencers often have a particular niche or interest that they cater to, and businesses can use this to their advantage to reach a highly targeted audience.
  • Increased engagement –  Influencers are often highly engaged with their followers, which means that their followers are more likely to engage with their content. This ultimately leads to increased engagement of the brand’s content.

The cons:

  • The choice of influencer is of great importance for influencer marketing, and choosing the right one can do wonders for your brand, but a ‘wrong’ influencer can hurt your brand image.
  • Tracking the results without the right tools is difficult and can take a lot of time and bandwidth.
  • Influencer marketing may be overwhelming for first-timers because of the multiple steps involved.

What are the pros and cons of Affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a great marketing strategy because you only pay for actual results, sales or website traffic. But compared to influencer marketing, affiliate marketing is much less popular, especially in India.

Affiliate marketing in India has not yet climbed its user base fom innovators (2.5%) to early adopters (13.5%). The step between the two is the most important in product adaption because early adopters influence the next segment– early majority users, which is a much larger segment.

The Pros:

  • Easily trackable results – It is very easy to track the results of affiliate marketing because of the trackable link in the affiliate post.
  • Cost efficiency – You pay for an actual number of sales and website visits, and no upfront payment is involved.

The cons:

  • The major con of affiliate marketing in India is, as talked about above, lack of popularity, which makes it a little difficult to pitch.
  • There is much less control over the content than influencer marketing because there is no prior need for content approval by the brand.
  • Affiliate marketing is prone to fake ids and bots.

Which one is best for your business?

There have been instances where influencer and affiliate marketing have worked wonderfully for a brand. But knowing how and when to use them in the marketing strategy is important to enjoy the full benefits.

Let’s understand this through some examples:

Daniel Wellington– Influencer marketing

Daniel Wellington is a Swedish watch brand that has successfully used influencer marketing to sell one million watches within three years of its establishment. Here is how they did it.

  • Partnering with micro-influencers – Daniel Wellington has worked with many micro-influencers. They have used Instagram as their primary platform and leveraged influencers to showcase their watches in their posts.
  • Leveraging social proof – By working with many influencers across different geographies and niches, Daniel Wellington has created a social proof effect that helps to boost sales.
  • Collaborating with high-profile celebrities – Daniel Wellington has also collaborated with high-profile celebrities, such as Kendall Jenner and Hailey Baldwin, to promote their brand. These collaborations have helped to increase brand awareness and credibility among a wider audience.

Glossier– Affiliate marketing

American beauty brand Glossier touched a valuation of 1.2 billion dollars this year. The brand has consistently used affiliate marketing in its strategy. Here is how they did it.

  • Offering an attractive commission structure – Glossier offers a commission rate of 10% on all sales made through an affiliate link. This is a generous commission rate compared to many other brands in the industry, which has helped to attract and retain affiliates.
  • Providing affiliates with exclusive offers – Glossier offers exclusive discounts and promotions to their affiliates that they can share with their followers. This helps incentivise followers to purchase through the affiliate’s link.
  • Investing in affiliate marketing technology – Glossier uses affiliate marketing technology to track and manage its affiliate program. This technology makes it easy for affiliates to track their commissions and earnings and for Glossier to manage their affiliate program efficiently.
  • Offering personalised support – Glossier provides personalised support to their affiliates, offering them advice and guidance on maximising their earnings through the affiliate program. This helps to build a strong relationship with affiliates and encourages them to promote the brand more often.

From the example of Daniel Wellington and Glossier, it is clear that influencer and affiliate marketing are great for boosting sales, but choosing one entirely depends on your brand’s need and journey. 

It is better to use influencer marketing regularly to spread brand awareness and affiliate marketing for any upcoming offer or product launch for new brands. Depending on the result, you can move in one direction entirely. But trying both is essential to know what is and is not working among your target audience.

What do you think about influencer and affiliate marketing? Let us know in the comments below.

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