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The popularity of affiliate marketing is showing no signs of diminishing, and the chances are that in the year ahead we will see even greater growth in this sector of the marketing world. As consumers place greater value on real world opinions and recommendations, careful selection of your affiliates can really give your business a boost.
Yet it’s no secret that the face of marketing is always changing, and no one wants to overinvest in a strategy that could fall by the wayside in a matter of months. So to help you decide if affiliate marketing is for you, here’s a look at where we expect affiliates to go in the coming months.
With US ecommerce sales predicted to reach $500 billion in 2020, affiliates have become more relevant than ever. In fact, by 2020, they are expected to affect as much as 14 percent of ecommerce sales. Affiliate marketing is ideal for those looking for a hands-off approach to making money online – even more so than dropshipping, since you don’t deal with the ramifications of missing orders or unhappy customers.
As much of the success of online businesses relies on the selection of profitable niches, this is also the direction affiliate marketing is expected to take. While it might seem like a good idea to link to as many businesses as possible to maximize revenue, it is often more effective to focus on niche industries and secure quality, regular traffic to your website.
The more targeted you are with your affiliate niche, the easier it will be to tailor your content and improve your SEO. This is because you will be marketing to a clearly defined audience, and targeting long-tail keywords for your chosen niche.
The additional advantage of a more focused approach to affiliate marketing is that your links will be rated by search engine crawlers as having far more value. This is because all of your content will be relevant to the linked websites, increasing its perceived value and the authority of your website.
Video content still accounts for the bulk of internet traffic, so affiliates will benefit from marketing via channels such as YouTube. Combining this with the SEO advantages of an active, informative channel, and you have a recipe for success.
Video marketing adds a level of personality to your marketing efforts, and is a great way to engage with customers and get them involved with discussions about individual products and brands. As you build stronger relationships with your audience, you should see a distinct rise in conversions, as followers feel familiar and connected with your business before even landing on your website.
The other takeaway from this is that traditional channels are as important as ever to your marketing approach. For example, Amazon remains king of affiliate programs, and while smaller scale enterprises are also benefiting from this strategy, Amazon is a prime choice for new marketers seeking a reliable source of income from their efforts.
Mobile ecommerce traffic has been growing at a significant rate, and this trend is likely to continue over the coming years. As such, affiliates will not only need to make sure that their content is optimized for mobile, but also that they are marketing on the appropriate channels for their audience.
An omnichannel approach is more important than ever, especially as many users will switch between devices while browsing. Focus on creating a seamless user experience, and making it as straightforward as possible for users to follow your marketing narrative, regardless of their browsing preferences.
In addition, affiliates will need to streamline their onsite SEO, and optimize their web design for ease of access and navigation. Mobile internet users want to find what they need as quickly and easily as possible, so it is vital that pages load quickly, questions are answered clearly and concisely, and links lead to exactly where they should.
The value of affiliate marketing for SEO and link-building is well known. However, as social interactions and social sharing become more relevant to SEO strategies, so too does affiliate marketing over social media become more profitable.
In the future, it is likely that a greater crossover will be seen between social media influencers and affiliate marketing, as businesses capitalize on the reach and influence of social channels.
The dispersion of affiliate links on social platforms is a fantastic way to boost visibility, and get people talking about your brand. It is also possible to funnel new traffic from these platforms, by targeting key demographics with highly specific affiliate content.
We’ve already discussed the fact that many internet users will move between devices while browsing. The problem with this for affiliates is that a customer may follow your link to browse an affiliate site, then make their purchase from a separate device. The prevalence of this behavior has already given rise to improvements in the ways websites track users, and identify returning customers.
In the coming years, you can expect to see a rise in deterministic ID tracking, and significant changes in the systems used for monitoring engagements and conversions. This will increase the reliability and profitability of affiliate marketing, while simultaneously improving the user experience for customers discovering brands via affiliate links.
Regulation is already increasing throughout the marketing world, with legislation being introduced to manage the obligations of paid reviewers, and other affiliate marketers. While this is unlikely to slow the growth of affiliate marketing, it does mean that the form it takes may change to some extent.
Affiliates will need to plan their content and their associates carefully, and keep up with changing legislation to ensure that they are compliant. If in doubt, it is always worth clarifying your intent when engaging in any form of affiliate marketing. While most users will be able to tell when you are being paid for your efforts, it is far better for your brand’s reputation to appear transparent and accountable than dishonest or misleading.
As in-demand micro-influencers grow in number and impact, it is likely that affiliate marketing will cease to be the domain of the large-scale enterprises, and become a two-way street for entrepreneurs on both sides of the industry.
There is a healthy relationship between affiliates and the wider ecommerce industry that’s going from strength to strength. More and more ecommerce brands are turning to affiliate marketing as a way of finding brand advocates, whereas some of the big affiliate marketers are themselves branching out into ecommerce and retail.
Contributing to the affiliate exodus to ecommerce is the commodification of ecommerce itself. With more and more ecommerce businesses for sale, the barrier to entry for affiliate marketers has never lower. Armed with SEO knowledge and content capabilities, an affiliate marketer can quickly and easily pivot and become an ecommerce merchant by buying up a store and taking over from the previous owners. Or, simply build their own in a matter of days.
With non location-specific dropshipping businesses and ephemeral popups replacing the traditional omnichannel retail model, we expect to see a greater emphasis on affiliate/ecommerce collaboration. It’s a new way of selling online that’s likely to embrace social media and video sales over traditional desktop sales.
So whether you are seeking to promote your brand via affiliate marketing, or you are considering earning a living from marketing for others, now is a great time to enter the industry. More opportunities open up every day, so there is bound to be a niche that appeals to your interests. Just remember, nothing is static in the world of marketing, so keep an eye on the shifting trends, and be prepared to change up your strategy, and engage with new partners, in order to keep your brand relevant, and maintain a steady stream of traffic to your website.
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