What Is the Difference Between Referral and Affiliate Marketing?

While both are really big forms of marketing, they are not quite one in the same. On one side, it’s like getting a recommendation from someone you don’t know, but you’ve found they have good judgement through the experience of others. On the other side, you are getting a direct referral from a friend, relative, or coworker that carries more weight. For example, you subscribed to a particular news channel and you see a review from someone like an Ebert or Roeper. Sure, they have a great say so when it comes to movie reviews, but wouldn’t  you trust someone like a friend or relative a bit more? They carry more reliability, because these are people you actually see and talk to on a regular basis. We will briefly get into the difference between a referral and affiliate.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

An affiliate marketing is a bit more of a corporate business. The relationship is more on the scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. A good example of an affiliate would be like a celebrity endorsement. Let’s say Adidas sees an exceptional athlete or a great musical artist with a lot of pull. They will create a brand of tennis shoes just so they can boost sales. It’s about building a brand based on a working science. The athlete plays basketball and he’s very popular. The musical artist sell multi-platinum and gets a billion of streams. Adidas would be a brand that can create a good basketball shoe, so it pretty much sells itself due to the collaboration. It’s all about finding whether or not the marketing is done through chance or choice to get things off the ground.

In your case, you might have an incredible presence online. You have the right traffic and you have an incredible audience that really enjoys your view on things. Now, a brand may associate you to a specific audience because you have clout. It’s a win-win for both because the brand has a product that you can potentially monetize. The brand doesn’t have to work hard finding people to buy things. All you have to do is promote the product and rake in the commission.

Pros and Cons for an Affiliate Program

On the plus side, you don’t have to work hard finding a product. A lot of times it’s tested and guaranteed to work. From the business’ perspective, you can set a price you feel is good for you. The affiliate gets the percentage you set. Additionally, you only pay when the affiliates get a sale. It’s important because it cuts down on the cost greatly.  The negative side is that seeing as the relationship isn’t personal, you need to make sure that the product matches the person’s audience. Otherwise, it could be a failed attempt at creating a revenue stream.

What Should You Do to Stay on Top?

As an affiliate network, you need to always make sure that your affiliates know their audience. You can’t just pitch a product somewhere and expect things to happen – there are stages in affiliate marketing. You have to know what’s going on and the reputation of the person. If the person you’re in business with is a great influencer, then it’ll make the relationship worthwhile. The product needs to provide value and be promoted in a way that makes sense to their reader. It’s all about respect within the community. Additionally, you want to make sure they are updated on your latest products, promotions, and banners.

What Is Referral Marketing?

Referral marketing is based off relationships, because people tend to trust recommendations from people they actually know. Let’s say you have a company selling swimwear to a particular audience, like pregnant women. You want to find advocates who would use it themselves or do use it because of their delicate condition. Even when they have their kid, they may have friends or friends of friends that need something like that. There’s a certain trust level and relationship built that makes things more personal. Having something comfortable in this type of state makes it more marketable. That’s why it’s different than simple affiliate marketing.

You’ll have a combination of trust, relationship, and direct consumer all in one. While it might be a bit of a smaller scale, your niche may perform a lot better because these people are loyalists. The people generally follow the mission statement and understand the key point of why this is being sold. The key is in keeping the quality of the product and the relationship together. Your advocates will continue to buy and eventually turn into great salespeople.

Pros and Cons of Referral Marketing

You get more of a direct approach by basing the relationship off of trust. This has a lot of power than simply promoting a product to a stranger. It can cultivate long term sales instead of a one off. This is great especially when you’re first starting off in the business. If you have advocates that are satisfied with the product, they will be the ones really promoting it without hesitation. Remember, you have to cater to that early audience first. These are the ones that will be with you until the wheels fall off. Think of following a set of steps to help create a referral program

However, referrals are a bit different. It’s a bit of a con because you need to put in extra work to make sure that you cater to the advocates a bit more since it’s more of a personal relationship. An affiliate relationship is pretty cut and dry. However, a referral would be more of a partnership because the key is in customer service. It’s like going to a mom and pop store. If you can’t keep your supporters happy, then it’s hard to do well in the niche.

To stay on top, make sure you create good links that will draw in their friends, family, or colleagues. Additionally, you should keep track of all the links and even create custom ones to suit the needs of your advocates. Make sure to provide them with great incentives to help maintain interest. All keep close-ties to everything so that you both can win at the end of the day.

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