Influencer Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing: What’s the Difference in 2022?

Influencer marketing and affiliate marketing are similar, but there are some key differences to understand. If you’re looking to make money online, knowing the difference will help you decide whether becoming an influencer or affiliate is the better path for you. 

In a nutshell, influencer marketing involves spreading the word about a brand, while affiliate marketing is a performance marketing model that attributes direct sales. Read on for an in-depth look at influencer marketing vs affiliate marketing!

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based type of marketing. As an affiliate marketer, your job is to promote the products or services of a company by sending visitors to their website or a sales page. These are visitors who click on your unique referral or affiliate link – it attributes those visitors to you so you can get paid.

If a visitor you’ve referred buys a product or subscribes to a service, you’ll receive a commission based on the price of the product or service. Commission rates vary from company to company, but are often as high as 75% for digital products.

Think of it as a revenue-sharing model.

Affiliate Marketing Campaigns Example

At the time of writing, Exipure is one of the top products on ClickBank.


It’s listed on the ClickBank Marketplace in the Health & Fitness category under Dietary Supplements.

Exipure ClickBank marketplace listing
Exipure ClickBank marketplace listing

If you are in the health & fitness niche and dietary supplements are a good fit for your audience, promoting this offer as an affiliate makes a lot of sense.

According to the general statistics for this offer:

Avg $/Conversion: $149.15The average commission affiliates earn every time someone signs up for the offer. It includes the earnings from all sales (initial sales, upsells, and rebills).

Initial $/Conversion: $146.81The average commission affiliates initially earn every time someone signs up for the offer. It includes any upsells or order bumps that result from the first sale. But it does NOT include affiliate earnings from any rebill payments of subscription products.

Note that this number only appears if the seller offers recurring products, such as memberships and subscriptions that regularly bill customers over time. 

Recurring $/Rebill: $37.59The average commission affiliates earn for each rebill payment of the seller’s product(s).

Note that this number only appears if the seller offers recurring products, such as memberships and subscriptions that regularly bill customers over time.

Grav: 1,117.42Grav is short for our Gravity performance statistic. The ClickBank Gravity Score number represents a unique calculation by ClickBank that takes into account the number of different affiliates who earned a commission by promoting this product over the past 12 weeks.

Considering the high gravity of Exipure, it’s clear that many affiliates are making money promoting this offer.

But how are they doing it? With a little research, you can actually find some places in the real world where affiliates are promoting Exipure:

Sponsored Posts (Ads)

Here’s an example of a sponsored post (ad) on

SFGate sponsored ad example
SFGate sponsored ad example

The affiliate inserts their affiliate link several times in the article.

ClickBank HopLink example
ClickBank HopLink example

When someone clicks on the link, they are sent to Exipure’s landing page.

The ClickBank HopLink is the affiliate link ClickBank uses to track conversions and allocate commissions to affiliates.


Here is another affiliate promoting Exipure on her YouTube Channel.

YouTube affiliate marketing example
YouTube affiliate marketing example

She includes her affiliate link in the description of the video.

What is Influencer Marketing?

The term “influencer marketing” is more recent than “affiliate marketing,” but celebrity or high-profile endorsements date back hundreds of years. For example, in the 1760s, famous fine china and ceramics manufacturer Wedgwood started using royal endorsements as a brand-building tool.

Modern-day influencer marketing is no longer dependent on royal or celebrity endorsements. Instead, brands use influencers (also known as brand ambassadors) who typically have a large social media following to spread the word about their brand.

Influencer Marketing Examples


Nike has a long and successful track record of using influencers to create brand awareness.

It’s no surprise that when they were ready to promote their Air VaporMax range, they once again made use of the services of influencers. They decided to team up with the father and son duo of the popular YouTube channel “What’s Inside?” It’s famous for cutting up and showing what’s inside objects.

YouTube influencer marketing
YouTube influencer marketing

To date, the above video has received 7,206,100 views and over 57,000 likes.

Messika Jewelry

Instagram influencer example
Instagram influencer example

With over 222 million followers on Instagram, Kendall Jenner has partnered with many brands, including Messika.

She reportedly earns an estimated $16 million a year from brands paying her to showcase their products on Instagram. That’s about $611,000 per paid post.

Note that Kendall Jenner is an exception. Most influencers only earn a small fraction of what she earns. However, the concept of influencer marketing remains the same – enter into a partnership with a brand to boost their brand awareness.

In addition, you don’t need millions of social media followers before you can be an influencer. As a rule of thumb, if you have an engaged audience of 5,000+ followers on one social media account, you might be considered a micro-influencer.

How Influencer Marketing Differs From Affiliate Marketing

Size of Audience

In principle, influencers can be affiliates, but affiliates can’t always be influencers.

If you don’t have an audience, you have no one to influence, and no brand will recognize you as an influencer. However, you can sign up and join many affiliate programs or platforms without having any tribe or community of your own.


Most of the time, affiliates only get paid a commission when a lead clicks on their affiliate link and then buys something on the seller’s site. Commissions are typically a percentage of the sales price, payable in arrears.

Influencers are typically paid in advance per post, shout out, or for mentioning a brand on a specific social media platform. In some cases, there can be an additional bonus for performance, but it’s not a requirement.

Goals and Objectives

The goal of influencer marketing is almost always to create brand awareness of the company you’re working with.

However, it can also be effective for direct response initiatives. Affiliate marketing, on the other hand, is direct response only.

Collaboration With Brand or Seller

Influencer marketing typically involves a lot of interaction between a brand and its influencers. The brand has clear expectations on the message they want an influencer to convey and will communicate their requirements and expectations to the influencer.

Affiliates often have no or very little personal interaction with the seller they’re promoting. Most affiliate marketing platforms have rules on what they allow and don’t allow affiliates to do. But they don’t micromanage their affiliates. For example, you don’t need to a have blog or social media post approved before publishing it.

Organic (Free) vs Paid Traffic

Affiliates often rely on organic traffic and paid ads to drive leads to a seller’s offer.

In contrast, influencers never pay for traffic as they already have a large following.

Measuring Return on Investment

Since affiliates don’t get paid unless the leads they send to the seller’s website make a purchase, every affiliate-generated sale should make the affiliate and seller money.

The success of influencer marketing campaigns is more difficult to measure or quantify.

Simplistically, we can compare influencer marketing to a billboard on the highway. Even if 10,000 cars drive past it every day, how do you know if the campaign is successful and justifies the cost of the billboard? How many people will change the brand they’re supporting based on a billboard next to the road?

The simple answer is that in most cases, it doesn’t matter. Top brands know that if they stop advertising, they will lose customers to competitors that are advertising – out of sight, out of mind. For this reason, brands typically can’t and don’t measure brand exposure in monetary terms. They know they will gain and retain customers through successful influencer marketing campaigns, although the exact numbers are impossible to quantify.

Despite the above, brand exposure can to some extent be measured by:

An increase in website trafficAn increase in email signupsNew social media followersMore engagement on social mediaAn increase in sales 

Platforms Used

Traditionally, the most popular platforms for influencer marketing are Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. However, more recent platforms such as TikTok are becoming increasingly popular. Most influencers built their reputation on social media. But although they usually prioritize social media over blogging, many have large blogs.

Social media plays an important role in affiliate marketing, but according to statistics, almost 65% of affiliate marketers generate traffic by blogging. So unlike influencers that prioritize social media over blogging, most affiliates prioritize blogging over social media.

Influencer Marketing or Affiliate Marketing?

Influencer marketing and affiliate marketing are two different marketing models. However, they’re not mutually exclusive. If you have a large following on social media, there’s no reason why you can’t do influencer marketing AND affiliate marketing!

Both marketing methods have advantages and disadvantages.

Pros and Cons of Influencer Marketing


Payment in Advance – Influencers typically receive payment in advance. They don’t run the risk of investing their time and effort into something that might not even pay them a dime.Free Gifts – Brands usually give influencers free products or access to their services. 

Payments Are One-Off – Once a job is completed, and unless you have other clients lined up, your income from influencer marketing drops to zero.Most Payments Are Relatively Small – Top influencers like Kendall Jenner may demand hundreds of thousands of dollars from a brand for an Instagram post. However, small or micro-influencers with up to 10,000 followers can make $100 per post. This amount increases to $200 for those with under 100,000 followers. Actual amounts will vary from account to account.Need a Large Following – To make a decent income from influencer marketing, you usually need hundreds of thousands or ideally one million or more followers per social media account. If you don’t have at least 5,000 followers, it’s unlikely any brand would want to work with you.

Note: Don’t ever buy social media followers! Some people think that by buying followers they can become an influencer overnight. However, brands don’t only look at your number of followers, they also look at how those followers engage with your social media posts. If someone has 10,000+ followers but gets hardly any likes or comments, they know your followers are probably fake.

Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing


Passive Income – “Make money while you sleep” may sound like a cliche, but affiliate marketing can be a great source of passive income, even when you’re on vacation.The Sky’s the Limit – There’s no limit to the amount of money you can earn from affiliate marketing. However, it takes hard work to become a super affiliate. What you put in is what you get out.Affiliate Tools Are at Your Disposal – Most reputable brands provide affiliates with all the tools (such as banners, email templates, etc.) they need to promote them. It’s in their best interest to make it easy for you to send them leads.Low Entry Barriers – It’s typically quick, easy, and free to sign up for most affiliate programs. While some programs will automatically approve your application, others manually review all applications.   Promote Many Brands in the Same Niche – Affiliate marketing does not require you to sign an exclusivity agreement with a brand stating you won’t promote their competitors. You are free to choose who you want to promote.Learn Along the Way – You don’t have to be an expert in affiliate marketing before you can start earning money from it. Most affiliates learn along the way how they can be more successful.

Takes Time – Unless you’re willing to pay for traffic, it might take you 6 to 12 months before you start earning consistent commissions from affiliate marketing.No Income Guarantees – Brands cannot offer their affiliates any guarantees that they will make money. It’s up to you to put in the required effort to make it work.

Note: Since ClickBank was established in 1998, we have paid out more than $5 billion in commissions. And we have learned many things over the years on what it takes to become a successful affiliate. Our Spark platform educates new and existing affiliates with in-depth online marketing training – created by our own team of experts.

Making Money With ClickBank

Here is how to make money on ClickBank as an affiliate in 7 easy steps:

Step 1. Sign up for a free ClickBank account.

Step 2. Visit the ClickBank Affiliate Marketplace.

Our marketplace contains 4,000+ products in a wide variety of categories or niches, including health & fitness, home & garden, self-help, parenting & families, sports, travel, and cooking, just to name a few.

Step 3. Choose a category or niche that appeals to you.

Step 4. Choose a product to promote within your selected category.

Have a look at:

Grav (Gravity) – Takes into account the number of different affiliates who earned a commission by promoting this product over the past 12 weeks. The higher the gravity, the more popular the product. Take note that popular products may be converting well, but you’ll have more competition from other affiliates.

Sales Page – Does it look professional? Would you buy the product after reading the sales page?

Affiliate Page – Does the seller restrict how affiliates may promote the product? What marketing tools (banners, etc.) are at the disposal of affiliates?

Average Commission (Ave $/conversion) – What is the average commission affiliates are earning? You may not necessarily make more money from high commission products. But if you’re planning on advertising the offer, consider if the average commission is high enough to cover your advertising costs and leave you with a profit.

Step 5. Create a HopLink – Click on the blue “PROMOTE” button next to the product you want to promote to create a HopLink (affiliate link) you can share.

Step 6. Promote the product on your blog and social media platforms using your unique affiliate link.

Step 7 (Optional but recommended). Sign up for Spark by ClickBank for tips and advice on how you can boost your affiliate marketing results.

Influencer Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing Wrap-up

Influencer marketing and affiliate marketing are two approaches to making money online. However, you CAN do both at the same time – if you have a large audience on social media, there’s no reason why you can’t do influencer marketing AND affiliate marketing!

In a nutshell, influencer marketing involves spreading the word about a brand, creating brand awareness or brand exposure. Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing model for direct-response initiatives.

In principle, influencers can be affiliates, but affiliates can’t always be influencers unless they have a large and engaged following on social media.

Don’t have a large presence on social media?

Like the idea of earning passive income online with no cap on the amount of money you can make?

If you’ve answered yes, becoming an affiliate marketer might be a smart idea.

And if don’t have any or very little online marketing experience, don’t worry. ClickBank can help you!

With 20+ years of experience and $5 billion paid out in commissions, ClickBank is the world’s leading affiliate marketplace. If you’re serious about making money online with affiliate marketing and furthering your education, Spark by ClickBank provides you with the in-depth online marketing training you need.

Spark is the only ClickBank-endorsed education platform. With over 70 videos that harness the power of ClickBank’s two decades of expertise, Spark is the best way to shorten the time between now and your first or next ClickBank paycheck.

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