Why affiliate marketing is so beneficial to brands

Affiliate marketing is a proven opportunity for brands to drive sales with minimal investment. According to  Julia Casella, who oversees global communications for Hourglass Cosmetics ‘the real value of affiliate marketing is that it’s just a way to supercharge your influencer marketing’. 

Affiliate marketing saw major growth during the height of the pandemic, just as e-commerce did, in general. More than 50% of affiliate marketing programs increased their revenue during the lockdown. In fact, as of February, the global affiliate marketing industry is worth over $17 billion and is a top revenue source for 31% of publishers.

In case you’re unfamiliar with affiliate marketing, it is essentially a type of performance-based marketing where brands pay affiliates, meaning independent individuals or companies, a commission for promoting their products or services and driving sales or leads to their websites. For example, as a content creator I may share a 20% Rare Beauty lipsticks link on my stories and I’ll make money everytime someone clicks on that link. 

This tactic is so useful for brands. According to Casella, during Hourglass’s first month on affiliate platform ShopMy, it achieved a 178% increase in traffic to the brand via its own website and retailer partners’ websites. The analytics are also a great benefit. What Casella likes about ShopMy is that it also shows her who is driving sales to Hourglass’s retail partners. “This transparency allows me to see what creators are performing across our various retailers and helps me leverage those creators for partnerships with those retailers,” Julia said. “By engaging with existing brand fans and using paid partnerships, we were able to achieve the boost in traffic almost immediately.” The platform also allowed her to see which talent is working to drive meaningful sales, beyond views and engagement metrics, she noted. 

At the same time, it must be noted that the customer journey is vast and that affiliate links can’t capture all the sales an influencer drives. “The majority of makeup products are still being bought in person,” she said. A stat from Quantilope confirms that 67% of consumers are still purchasing makeup in person. 

There are also brands, such as Gwen Stefani’s beauty brand, GXVE Beauty, who has created its own affiliate program in-house. Last autumn, the brand launched The GXVE Community. “The GXVE Community is a brand-owned digital platform that offers a special hub for brand ambassadors to engage with Gwen, receive product education and tutorials, and connect with each other,” said GXVE Beauty CCO Lindsey Roggentien. Anyone can apply to the GXVE Community. To apply, consumers are encouraged to visit the Ambassador Program tab on the GXVE website. From there, they’re asked to provide links to their social media accounts and a short personal statement outlining why they would like to become a “Gxver.” Despite sharing social platform links, no minimum follower count is required for the chance to be considered as an ambassador — just a passion for makeup and a positive attitude. Once approved, the GXVE Community receives their own ambassador link where they can earn commission on any products they sell. 

“This community of ambassadors, also known as ‘GXVERS,’ are incredibly engaged and love interacting with each other. … It’s been amazing to see the relationships built among the GXVER community, stemming from shared loves of makeup, artistry and, of course, Gwen,” Roggentien said. Ambassadors receive a 30% commission on any items they sell through a personalized link, one of the highest standardized rates in the industry, she said.  

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