Nearly all the big online retailers have affiliate programs. Affiliate marketing is going to be a $4 billion-a-year business market by 2014, according to Forrester Research, and is a huge part of ecommerce. In these affiliate programs, website owners market retailers’ products on their blogs or sites in exchange for a commission (think Amazon or eBay). These commissions may be paid to the affiliate on the basis of the number of product sales made through their blogs or websites, or on the basis of some action a lead completes, like filling out a form. However, market and societal trends are taking things beyond these affiliate marketing basics. The surging popularity of personalization, mobile shopping and other trends are changing the landscape and will offer new opportunities to retailers and their affiliates.
Many experts cite mobile affiliate marketing as a big trend for 2013. More and more consumers shop via smart phones and other mobile devices, and mobile affiliate campaigns will focus on hot areas, such as the apps market. Mobile users are unlikely to respond to one-size-fits-all website ads that require extensive reading or filling out forms, for example. They’re much more likely to click a button to make a phone call. Adding pay-per-call affiliate marketing to existing online marketing is an emerging trend, as conversion rates are generally much higher with pay per call. Mobile tracking solutions are needed to keep pace with these advances and to credit publishers for mobile sales; these solutions are likely to be brought online in the coming months and years as the trend continues.
Personalization is an overarching trend in online advertising, but it continues to be important as advertisers and affiliates use ever more detailed marketing data to target likely prospects. Ads that display in response to a customer’s online history, ads created only for mobile customers, and ads specific to certain stores or locations are examples of this trend. For example, customers using a smart phone to search for nearby restaurants may see restaurant advertisements for that part of town. As customer data becomes more and more detailed and available, the ads that customers see will be more and more tailored to their interests and shopping patterns.
Capitalize on New Data – Fast!
The necessity of having a quick response to capitalize on new data is another hot topic. Consumer habits and trends are constantly changing, and many experts say that in order to stay relevant, retailers and their affiliates must be prepared to offer customers many buying options. Multichannel marketing, with affiliates using two or more avenues to reach customers, is an ongoing trend. Retailers are also focusing on integrating their campaigns across channels for a smoother, more standardized customer experience, especially when it comes to mobile.
The breathless pace of technological innovation, and the expanding social and business networks formed on the Internet mean that affiliate marketing will continue to be an important part of ecommerce. Retailers and affiliates who stay on top of emerging trends will be poised to take advantage of the opportunities they present.