The difference between influencers, ambassadors, affiliates and partners

influencers ambassadors affiliates and partners

Some companies that work with affiliate or influencer marketing also have a dedicated program where you can sign up to earn a commission or cashback in exchange for promotion. The applied terms used by the companies for the partnership however may vary. company A calls it a partner while company B calls it an ambassador.. What is the difference between influencers, ambassadors, affiliates and partners? In this blog we will take a closer look at the similarities and differences of these terms.

  1. The similarities
  2. The differences
  3. How much can you earn?
  4. Which term should I use for my company?

The similarities

We will start to look at what the different terms or groups have in common. Influencers, ambassadors, affiliates and partners all promote your (3rd party) product or service in exchange for a commission. This is therefore a form of marketing for everyone to generate extra income. The way the income is generated and the costs involved however are different.

The differences

The promotion of another company’s product or service in exchange for an extra income is the same for every group, but what are the differences? The biggest differences are related to the promotion method and the strategy of the company. We will take a closer look at each of the terms.


In recent years, influencers have become extremely popular and influential on social media channels such as Instagram, Facebook and Youtube. An influencer is someone with a lot of followers, let’s say for example > 50,000 followers. Due to the large number of followers, they have a lot of influence on fashion trends, challenges or, for example, purchasing behaviour. Hence the term “influencers”. Influencer collaborations are popular for large companies in for example fitness clothing or equipment. Mainly because they have a bigger budget and can generate a huge boost in sales. Brands such as Gymshark, Nike, and much more for example have many collaborations with influencers.

Collaborate with influencers?

It sounds interesting to think about influencer marketing due to the large reach. But what should you take into account and does this fit with your company strategy? Unlike affiliate marketing, influencers usually charge a fixed amount per post. This means that you pay, for example, €500 for a single post with no guarantee of extra turnover. There in addition are influencers who also ask for a commission per sale on top of the fixed price, for example, 5%. Do you want to get in touch? You may be forwarded to a separate party that manages collaborations with influencers if you want to get in touch with large influencers, especially because of the many collaborations they already have with large companies. So make sure you check in advance whether influencers are the best strategy for the stage of your company.


Sign up for the ambassador program, you will undoubtedly have seen this somewhere on a website. An ambassador is basically nothing more than a satisfied customer who likes to talk about your company or product. This makes it almost possible to say that an ambassador is also a bit of a fan. The promotion of ambassadors will mainly be through family, friends and acquaintances. But in some cases they are also active on forums to share their opinion and advice.

Costs for ambassadors

The customers have just purchased your product or service and thereby spent money. The offer to earn back part of their purchase value through promotion therefore sounds very attractive. Many companies operate on a sales commission or cashback basis. A cashback is often a fixed or maximum amount that can be achieved, in this case the ambassadors do promotion for a limited period of time to earn their cashback. With commission per sale, the rules are the same as affiliates.


They are also called specialists. Affiliates are often specialized in a specific field of interest and have, for example, a blog site or YouTube channel. Affiliates promote products they know and feel comfortable with through banners, links or email campaigns. The knowledge in the industry and in many cases their dedicated website may create many visitors. It can even be the case that they have their own community. A big advantage of affiliates is that the conversion can be very high, mainly because of their product group specific site. The people visiting the website have a specific interest in this product group which increases a potential sale.

Promotion with affiliates?

Affiliates in some cases work through an affiliate network because this makes it easy for them to select companies they want to promote. Collaborating with an affiliate for your company to build your own affiliate network is usually not a problem. The costs for affiliates are based on performance, such as CPL (Cost-Per-Lead) or CPS (Cost-Per-Sale). A fixed rate on a percentage of the order amount is therefore awarded to the affiliate when conversion is achieved.


Partners are companies or people with mutual interest you work with, a partner is basically also a strategic partner because you help each other to grow. For example, it may happen that you offer a product or service and apart from that often collaborate with web developers. The web developer can become a partner and actively promote you to his customers. You can do promotions for each other to support growth if you’re in the same industry while you earn some extra money.

What are the costs?

The same referral basic rules apply to partners, when generating a sale, a commission is allocated to the partner. In addition to the commission, however, with a partner, it can be that other activities or campaigns are running which are based on a fixed rate and not based on performance. These are often separate agreements and part of the strategy that you as a company conduct with a partner.

How much can you earn?

All variants have a very high potential if you do it right so there is not exactly a better or worse variant. It is important to realize that this is a long-term project. Don’t expect that sales will be sky high when collaborating with your first influencer or affiliate. It is important to establish a clear strategy and stick to it. Your brand awareness and the number of visitors will grow slowly, just as you keep making new collaborations over time.

Some pros and cons when it comes to earnings:

  • influencers
    • Strength: Great reach due to followers, increased brand awareness
    • Risk: High costs with no guarantee of results, range of followers is often broad and not specific to your product.
  • Ambassadors
    • Strength: Easy collaboration, payback brings more satisfaction to customers.
    • Risk: Promotion sometimes for a short period, smaller reach.
  • Affiliates
    • Strength: Product specific knowledge and interested visitors ensure high conversion, commission based on performance.
    • Risk: Product or service must match affiliate industry and category.
  • Partners
    • Strength: Strategic partner to grow together.
    • Risk: Long-term and complex collaboration.

What should I keep for my business?

All the terms we have discussed in this blog are valuable and interesting to look into. The vision of your company and the industry are the main factors to influence your “Affiliate Marketing” strategy. Do you have a clothing line? Then influencers are ultimately the perfect target group to promote your new line. Clothes are purchased and used by everyone which makes the many followers valuable. Do you have a company that places washing machines in people’s homes on a rental basis? Then focusing on ambassadors can be very valuable because satisfied customers can share their positive feedback to friends and family.


Each term is roughly the same from a helicopter view, and yet if you dig deeper, each one is unique again. Think carefully about your marketing strategy and research which target group can realize the best promotion for your company.

Do you want to make a combination of target groups? It may be a solid hybrid solution if it matches your industry and strategy!