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Best of Both Worlds: Affiliate and Influencer Marketing

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TikTok started testing an affiliate program with creators as part of its TikTok Shop initiative that was launched a few months ago. Participating creators can showcase products from sellers in their videos and live streams and earn a commission (between 5% – 20%) for any resulting sales. These videos and live streams are marked with an “Eligible for commission” label, similar to the “Paid Partnership” label used for sponsored content by creators.

The affiliate program is part of TikTok’s efforts to support brands in driving sales and to generate their own revenue. Competitors, like Instagram and YouTube, have also explored similar affiliate programs.

The Intersection of Affiliate Marketing and Influencer Marketing

Since the pandemic, brands have increasingly explored affiliate marketing, too. In most cases, they’ve investigated how to inject it into their influencer marketing efforts. As people were forced to stay home, brands secured budgets to collaborate with influencers on sponsored content. This allowed them to connect with consumers who were spending more time on mobile devices and to generate content assets as in-house studios became obsolete.

This increased investment in influencer marketing programs garnered attention from leadership and executives, as well as other departments such as performance marketing. This led brands to focus on the return on investment (ROI) of the dollars they were putting into creators instead of traditional marketing tactics.

Despite the passage of time since March 2020, brands are still navigating how to effectively integrate the strengths of both affiliate marketing and influencer marketing into their strategies. A great deal of friction exists today as brands see affiliates and influencers as the same when they are actually two very different types of creators.

Here are a few factors that I believe are important for brands to successfully integrate the strengths of both affiliate marketing and influencer marketing.

Understand the Differences Between Influencer and Affiliate

It’s important to recognize that influencers and affiliates are not the same. Influencers focus on creating content and building an audience, while affiliates are primarily focused on driving sales. Affiliates may not always produce high-quality content or have a large audience, but they excel at getting their audiences to take action. Influencers typically receive guaranteed payments, whereas affiliates earn commissions based on conversions. Understanding the differences helps brands align their strategies accordingly, whether they partner with influencers, affiliates, or both.

Utilize a Hybrid Payment Approach

Brands can utilize hybrid payment models that combine flat-rate payments with performance-based incentives. This approach enables creators to receive a guaranteed payment while also tying their additional earnings to the performance of their content through affiliate links or codes. This allows marketers to understand their ROI and incentivizes creators to go beyond their campaign deliverables. This model aligns with where the industry is heading — creators of all sizes receiving some form of payment for producing content.

Explore a Pay-for-Performance Model Beyond Conversions

Many affiliate programs traditionally focus on rewarding creators solely for generating sales. However, there is a growing trend where creators are paid based on other key performance metrics commonly used in influencer marketing campaigns, such as impressions, engagements, clicks, CPM (cost per thousand impressions), or CPE (cost per engagement).

TikTok and Instagram have started to embrace this approach through programs like Branded Missions and Reels Play Bonus Program. In addition, there are emerging influencer marketing platforms that use these models for challenge-based campaigns. They compensate creators based on top to middle of the funnel results and provide marketers with more visibility and predictability on campaign outcomes.

Leverage the Appropriate Channels

Choosing appropriate channels based on a brand’s product or service is crucial. While Instagram and TikTok may be popular platforms for influencer marketing, they may not be the best fit for driving conversions for certain products and services, especially those with a longer customer purchasing journey.

Activating creators on channels that align with the customer purchasing journey is important. For example, consumer packaged goods (CPGs) are easy to promote through short-form video content on Instagram and TikTok. However, tech or mattress products may require longer-form content on blogs, newsletters, or YouTube.

Provide Incentives for Viewers to Support Creators

Provide viewers with compelling reasons to make purchases directly from creators rather than from other sources like Amazon

Offer exclusive discounts, limited-time offers, or unique product pages to incentivize viewers to complete purchases through the affiliate links shared by creators. Make it convenient and enticing for viewers to buy directly from creators versus going elsewhere.

Utilize Long-Term Partnerships

Embrace long-term partnerships with creators to build sustained exposure and trust with their audience. The “one and done” approach may not be as effective, as it takes repeated exposure to a product before a consumer makes a purchase. It takes time for consumers to be exposed to a product or service multiple times before making a purchase. By working with creators on long-term partnerships, brands can increase the chances of conversions and build stronger relationships with the audience, which can drive long-term success.

Empower Creators to Succeed

Brands should actively share relevant data, insights, and resources with creators to help them optimize their content. This includes providing information on historical performance data, such as successful channels, messaging, and creative ideas that can contribute to the creators’ success in promoting the brand.

While creators are experts in their field, brands can provide valuable assistance, especially when it comes to data-driven aspects like affiliate marketing. Brands should approach creators similarly to how sales enablement specialists support sales teams.

Test, Learn, and Iterate

Affiliate and influencer marketing integration is still in its early days, so it’s important to continuously test, learn, and iterate. Brands should be open to trying new strategies and experimenting with different types of creators, payment models, briefing methods, and other innovative approaches to optimize their affiliate marketing efforts in collaboration with influencers.

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AFFILIATE MARKETING

Improve Workflow with Advanced Diagramming for $20

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Improve Workflow with Advanced Diagramming for $20

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

When embarking on a large team project, communicating all of the ins and outs of it and then keeping track of everyone’s work in relation to the plan can grow overly complicated fast. In essence, that’s why diagrams and project tools have proven to be so valuable to businesses over the years.

For a deal on one of the world’s best business planning and diagramming tools, you might want to hop on this very limited-time opportunity. Today only, you can get Microsoft Project 2021 Professional (PC) or Microsoft Visio 2021 Professional for Windows for $19.97 (reg. $29.99).

Visio makes it easy for business professionals and teams to create and share data-linked diagrams of all varieties. The program makes creating these diagrams simple with a wide range of templates, which users can customize using any of over a quarter-million shapes available on Visio’s online content ecosystem.

Visio users can automatically generate org charts using common sources like Excel sheets, and docs from Exchange and Microsoft Entra ID. In addition to org charts, businesses commonly use Visio for creating network diagrams, floor plans, flowcharts, and various brainstorming tools like fishbone diagrams and SWOT analysis docs.

From 13 reviews by verified purchasers in the Entrepreneur Store, this deal has an astonishing 5/5 star average rating. One recent five-star review described the appeal well, stating, “Incredible deal on Visio 2021 Pro! I can do floor plans, network diagrams, and more. Extremely happy with this purchase.”

Also available for $20 for one day only, Microsoft Project Professional allows users to take the data they learn from diagrams and actualize it into effective, successful projects. It features pre-built project management templates, timesheet trackers, schedule builders, and more. Project Pro is also rated 4.4/5 stars on Capterra and GetApp.

Don’t forget that this is the last day when you’ll be able to get:

StackSocial prices subject to change.

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Red Lobster Speaks Out on ‘Misunderstood’ Bankruptcy Filing

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Red Lobster Speaks Out on 'Misunderstood' Bankruptcy Filing

It may be the end of an era for beloved seafood chain Red Lobster, which officially declared bankruptcy on Monday after months of speculation and dozens of abrupt restaurant closures.

Now, the company is speaking out to loyal customers — and investigating the role that its shrimp supplier may have played in its demise.

Related: Red Lobster Suddenly Shutters Dozens of Locations Without Warning Employees, Begins Auctioning Off Equipment

In a letter posted to social media, Red Lobster thanked customers for their nearly five decades of loyalty and assured the masses that the chain wasn’t going anywhere.

“Bankruptcy is a word that is often misunderstood. Filing for bankruptcy does not mean we are going out of business,” Red Lobster wrote. “In fact, it means just the opposite. It is a legal process that allows us to make changes to our business and our cost structure so that Red Lobster can continue as a stronger company going forward.”

Red Lobster noted that companies including Delta Airlines and Hertz “emerged stronger” after filing for Chapter 11 (Delta in September 2005, Hertz in May 2020) and found ways to bounce back.

“Birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and yes, weddings. We’ve been here for them all,” the chain penned. “Red Lobster is determined to be there for these moments for generations to come.”

Red Lobster’s downfall was a slow burn, primarily blamed on an $11 million loss in November 2023 due to the chain rollout of an “Endless Shrimp” promotion. The deal offered customers all the shrimp they could eat for $20, and it proved to be a bit too popular.

Last week, it was reported that stores had begun shuttering without warning around the country, with dozens auctioning off all of their furniture and equipment online and some employees claiming they were given no notice ahead of time.

In a filing on Sunday, Red Lobster CEO Jonathan Tibus called out former CEO Paul Kenny and Red Lobster’s seafood supplier and owner, Thai Union, regarding decisions made surrounding the “Endless Shrimp” promotion and that Red Lobster is “currently investigating the circumstances” around the decision to make the promotion permanent instead of limited-time.

Related: Endless Shrimp Deal Is Too Popular, Red Lobster Loses $11M

“I understand that Thai Union exercised an outsized influence on the Company’s shrimp purchasing,” Tibus wrote. “[Red Lobster is] exploring the impact of the control Thai Union exerted, in concert with Mr. Kenny and other Thai Union-affiliated entities and individuals, and whether actions taken in light of these parties’ varying interests were appropriate and consistent with applicable duties and obligations to Red Lobster.”

Thai Union completed its purchase of Red Lobster in 2020.



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UMass Dartmouth Commencement Speaker Gives Grads $1000 Each

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UMass Dartmouth Commencement Speaker Gives Grads $1000 Each

The best commencement speeches are often motivational and thought-provoking, leaving new graduates optimistic as they head into the “real world.”

But for the Class of 2024 at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, new grads walked away with more than just a wealth of knowledge — they left their ceremony with an extra $1,000 in their pockets.

Related: ‘There Is More To Life Than Work’: Bill Gates Delivers Emotional Message To Graduates About Learning To Take A Break

Last week, the founder and CEO of Granite Telecommunications, Robert Hale Jr., spoke to grads at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth about their futures and shared a story about a time when his business suffered a $1 billion loss in just one day to explain the importance of perseverance through failure.

“It’s okay to fail,” Hale told graduates. “Life will give you challenges and if you take those challenges you’ll fail from time to time — don’t worry about it … don’t fear failure, understand that it’s just part of the process, and if you use that fear of failure to motivate yourself, you’ll be better for it.”

Then, as he wrapped up, he shocked the audience by announcing he was giving each graduate graduate $1,000 — but there was a catch.

“These trying times have heightened the need for sharing, caring, and giving,” Hale told students. “Our community needs you and your generosity more than ever.”

The students were given two envelopes with $500 each — one was intended for the students to keep for themselves while the other was for them to give to someone else in need.

Related: Sheryl Sandberg’s Advice to Grads: Banish Self-Doubt, Dream Bigger and Lean In, Always

“As the degree conferral was about to begin, Hale came forward and let the graduates know he had one more bit of advice for them. He told the eager crowd that for him and his wife Karen, ‘the greatest joys we’ve had in our life have been the gift of giving,'” UMass Dartmouth said in a release. “Hale let the Class of 2024 know that the two large duffle bags being brought up on stage by security were packed with envelopes full of cash.”

There were roughly 1,200 students in UMass Dartmouth’s 2024 graduating class.

Hale’s current net worth is an estimated $5.4 billion.



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