With the rise of personal websites and trackable links came affiliate marketing programs. The principle is fairly simple: Promote a product or service to a loyal audience, and receive a portion of the profit in exchange.
Affiliate marketing programs have been used by celebrity influencers and micro-influencers alike to generate meaningful money through endorsements.
While affiliate marketing is nothing new in principle, it is fairly new to the world of Instagram. In many ways, the pairing is a match made in heaven. Instagram followers are more likely to engage with branded content than other social media users. Instagram celebrities from Kim Kardashian to the Beauty Boys have garnered millions of loyal followers thanks to influencer strategies that tell consistently compelling stories.
This article will review the basics of Instagram affiliate marketing. Readers will learn how to develop an affiliate marketing program that generates serious cash without needing to invest a significant amount of money to create a successful program.
An introduction to Instagram affiliate links
An affiliate marketer receives a cut of each purchase generated. The amount paid per purchase varies by affiliate marketing program. Large affiliate programs like Amazon generally pay roughly 10 percent for each purchase generated.
Companies that rely on affiliates to promote products or services rely on unique tracking links in order to determine if sales were indeed generated. In some cases, affiliate marketers have access to a dashboard that displays performance and payment information in real time.
In most cases, organizations that employ an affiliate strategy tend to be in the e-commerce space. That’s because it is fairly simple for e-commerce brands to track purchases based on a single tracking link. Other types of business, like B2B software or services, tend to be ill suited for affiliate programs because of long and complex sales cycles.
Affiliate link programs are different from other influencer marketing partnerships. While influencers are usually paid up-front for mentioning a product or service in a social media post, affiliate marketers are only paid if they generate an actual purchase.
For those interested in helping brands increase exposure to new audiences, affiliate marketing may not be the best option. Instead, a traditional influencer marketing play will be better aligned to this objective.
However, readers who are less interested in collaborating with brands or agencies on a regular basis should consider an Instagram affiliate marketing program as a low-touch alternative that can yield impressive results.
One report in TechCrunch found that some social media affiliate marketers can make as much as $20,000 per post. Best of all, affiliate marketers get to promote products that they genuinely enjoy, since some affiliate programs, like Amazon’s, feature such a wide variety of products on sale.
Affiliate link programs
There are a wide variety of affiliate link programs to choose from. Each program has unique pros and cons that should be considered before partnering with one.
Among the many variables to consider are the fee you will earn for each item purchased and the payout schedule should you successfully drive purchases. It is also worth looking into whether or not affiliates require exclusivity, or if they will allow you to work with other affiliate programs as well.
Be sure to read the fine print before signing on to any affiliate link programs.
Amazon is by far the most popular affiliate link program available today. As was mentioned earlier, affiliate marketers earn roughly 10 percent for each purchase driven as a result of an affiliate link.
Perhaps the best part of Amazon’s affiliate program is the sheer volume of products that one can promote. Amazon claims that millions of qualifying products can be promoted by an affiliate marketer, meaning it is simple for an Instagram affiliate person to find the ideal products that will appeal to a niche audience.
In order to compete with Amazon’s affiliate program, ClickBank offers commissions as high as 75 percent, compared to Amazon’s 10 percent. The platform allows affiliate marketers to choose from thousands of products sold by a variety of e-commerce websites.
Perhaps best of all, affiliates that are able to drive audience members to purchase a subscription service will receive a cut of each recurring payment. That means a single sign-up can net dozens of recurring payments should a customer stick with a product or service for the long run.
Featuring thousands of low-cost educational courses, Udemy is on a mission to change the world of education. Students can learn everything from graphic design to software engineering through the innovative platform.
In order to generate new students quickly, Udemy has recently launched an affiliate program. Though details about compensation and terms are hard to come by, Udemy’s affiliate program does offer affiliate marketers a unique opportunity to promote services that can dramatically improve people’s lives.
Rather than marketing trivial e-commerce products, Udemy affiliate marketers can introduce Instagram followers to information that can help them land a better job or live a healthier life.
Examples of affiliate marketing on Instagram
The most successful affiliate marketers on Instagram introduce their audiences to new products and services in a natural and compelling way. Let’s look at how they accomplish this.
In the first example (below), Tiffany White shares makeup and nail polish products with her audience of over 400,000 followers. She smartly demonstrates what each product looks like in order to get followers excited about affiliate products.
Splendor Universe is another Instagram account that uses affiliate marketing effectively. The account has amassed nearly 400,000 followers by sharing videos and images of interesting and oddly satisfying content.
In the example below, the account shares a video of an affiliate foot-scrub product.
Lastly, let’s take a look at an example from Patrick Starrr, a member of the famed “Beauty Boys.” Starrr regularly shares his beauty tips with nearly 4 million Instagram followers in the form of funny, informative Instagram videos. At times, he also treats his Instagram feed as a sort of vlog, where he’ll share touching personal updates as well.
This strategy has earned Starrr a dedicated following who frequently seek out the brands mentioned in posts. That means Starrr works both as an influencer and as an affiliate depending on the agreements he’s formed with particular brands.
In the example below, Starrr shares makeup tips and mentions a special discount code to encourage followers to make purchases (and to track purchases in order to be compensated appropriately).
Analytics for affiliate Instagrammers
While Instagram does offer some basic analytic information natively, there are a number of third-party Instagram analytics tools, like our platform Owlmetrics, that can help users to better understand what does and does not resonate with followers.
For example, Owlmetrics can show users a heat map to visualize the best times to share content in order to receive maximum exposure and engagement. It can also visualize follower engagement or growth over time, making it easier to understand which Instagram strategies work best at engaging followers and attracting new ones.
Instagram affiliate marketing is an often overlooked but highly effective means of monetizing an Instagram following. All sorts of Instagrammers, from celebrities to micro-influencers, use some sort of affiliate marketing partnership to generate significant amounts of money with relatively little work.
The secret to a successful affiliate partnership is selecting a program that offers products or services that resonate with followers. Once you’ve selected the program, you’ll want to create compelling content that subtly endorses the item, so as not to appear disingenuous to your followers.
In order to increase the likelihood that followers will purchase the product or service on offer, consider investing in tools that can increase post engagement or that can grow followers through Instagram automation.