It’ll come as no surprise to anyone involved in the industry of digital marketing, that mobile technology is changing the way businesses attract and interact with their customers. Naturally, this is filtering down to the affiliate channel and nowadays it’s essential to ensure that your program is mobile friendly and focused – to ensure strong conversion rates and allow for a market leading program.

We’ve probably said this a million times, but here it is once more: if you are not prepared for mobile, be prepared to be left behind!

Mobile is the key medium between digital and in-store and it influences all marketing channels. If you caught Tom Etherington’s post on Micro-moments, you’ll already know that people are increasingly performing intent-driven searches on mobile devices, and if you have seen Simon Cahill’s post on the increasing importance of mobile performance, you’ll know that we are talking sense.

In fact…

  • Google estimates that 70% of consumers of smartphone users are more likely to buy from companies whose mobile sites or apps help them easily find answers to their questions.

Bottom line, when affiliates and merchants are directing traffic to sites that are not mobile friendly, they are potentially losing sales and commissions.

(TOP TIP: You can check how your website is fairing on mobile using Google’s handy test which analyses your website and reports back if it is mobile friendly.)

So, what opportunities does this offer you as a retailer? And what do you need to do to ensure you are not just keeping up with the new trends, but keeping your affiliate marketing one step ahead of the competition? Read on…

Firstly, how are you tracking sales?

With the increased use of mobile in an average customer journey, affiliate tracking has ultimately had to evolve to ensure publishers are rewarded fairly. It’s no longer just about the last click, but how many touch points a customer has and on what device.

Depending on which network you operate your affiliate program on, there’s some really simple changes you can make to your tracking to help improve affiliate conversions across mobile and ensure your mobile affiliate program is seen as market-leading.

This therefore gives publishers a significant reason to promote your products over a competitors – if they feel they will be rewarded fairly, they are more likely to choose you over your competitors.

Cross-Device Tracking

Any affiliate program worth its salt should either have already implemented the ability to track across a device, or have it as a future plan. It covers both of the two important points detailed above in one blow. PERFECT!

Any program on Affiliate Window (using unconditional tracking) is now able to implement cross-device tracking at the flick of a switch. This was introduced In March of 2015 and enables both merchants and publishers across the Affiliate Window network to track and gain rewards for conversions made across the multiple devices.

They are one of the only networks to offer this technology and it’s super important. It allows for greater understanding for any affiliate program as you’re able to see how the channel attracts, engages and converts sales.

Ultimately, by utilising this, your affiliate program immediately becomes innovative and market leading, and more importantly, you are ensuring that you reward your affiliates fairly for their efforts.

Mobile affiliate tracking

You are going to need to update your overall affiliate tracking too.

As a rule of thumb, you need to ensure your chosen network tracking conversion pixels are in place for all devices. Your first port of call would be to chat to your network and see what needs to be done to ensure mobile tracking is in place.

If there’s some technical work to carry out which therefore incurs a cost to you – remember that this investment is sound.

If you have the ability to target mobile specific publishers, this opens up the reach of your affiliate program and ultimately your revenue potential and new customer attraction.

Second stop, which new affiliates and opportunities does mobile affiliate marketing offer you?

Push notifications

Mobile commerce has introduced countless new opportunities for affiliate publishers. Their ability to geo-target and leverage technologies to engage with consumers has increased their appeal with bigger brands and merchants alike – and you want a piece of this, right?

Having a solid mobile approach will allow you to utilise new opportunities with affiliates such as Voucher Cloud, who use mobile push notification messaging to target a user based on their location.

If they are in the area of your bricks and mortar store, you can confirm any in-store or other offers you may have running.

Quidco offer something similar too, whereby rather than promoting specific discounts, you can confirm your offer of cashback in-store when potential customers are on the move. Read more on this here.

You can therefore ultimately drive footfall to your offline and online stores via your mobile efforts and bring the two channels together, something which is quite new and significant in the affiliate world.

Plus, it all adds up to a really exciting customer experience too.

API Based Mobile Conversions

Leading app and mobile based fashion affiliates have developed a “one-step checkout” process allowing users to purchase from multiple merchants, but never having to leave the affiliate site to do so – very useful for the customer that’s for sure.

Indeed, a leading fashion aggregator affiliate is due to launch an API based one step checkout very soon, with the ultimate aim to enhance the ease of purchase online, both on mobile and desktop.

With this approach, you do need to bear in mind the potential loss of your own brand experience, should a customer never land on your site to complete their sale.

However, the suggested improvements in conversion rates and revenue this could entail, means the opportunity is one to seriously think about. You will still own your customer, so your own newsletters and follow up will ensure brand experience is upheld.

Thirdly, adapt your strategy

It may seem obvious, but remember to ensure that your strategy reflects your affiliate marketing objectives in their traditional sense, but also taking into account mobile and multiple device opportunities.

When you are working on your strategy for mobile affiliates, it is important to define what constitutes as creating value for the brand and what events will be rewarded through the affiliate program.

Key things to think about include:

  • Include a separate budget for your mobile marketing efforts with key affiliates.
  • Plan out how you will reward affiliates who have a touch point in the customer journey via mobile, but don’t ultimately convert the sale. A small bonus may be appropriate (and factored into said budget above).
  • Project manage any technical updates (discussed above) with the relevant teams.
  • If you have a bricks and mortar store, target the appropriate affiliates discussed above to marry up your offline and online marketing efforts via mobile.
  • Coupled with the above, can you incorporate online and offline exciting competitions to allow for a great customer experience, using mobile affiliate to drive in-store? Think outside the box here.

And fourthly, is your website helping your mobile affiliate traffic convert?

So you’ve done all you can to ensure that you are rewarding your affiliates fairly for ALL their marketing efforts – but is your website supporting their efforts and doing the best job it can to convert?

Avoid disrupting your creative content

Your main aim is ensure your mobile affiliate traffic converts at the optimum level possible in order to increase revenue, so ensure the process and customer journey is as easy as possible.

  • Remove any flash creatives, sliders and light-box image galleries from websites
  • Avoid using any software which is not compatible with mobile (i.e Adobe Flash)
  • Remove modal pop-ups and log-ins for entry on to the website

Website visual optimisation

First impressions count – once your traffic has landed “on the go” you need to ensure they like what they see AND can easily navigate the site.

The common theme here is to make it as easy as possible for your mobile affiliate marketing traffic to convert.

  • Increase the size of the content, so the user does not have to zoom or scroll horizontally when reading
  • Increase the size of links and make sure they are spaced out to make tapping on them easier on mobile devices
  • Limit the use of sliders in favour of longer scrolling pages
  • Improve navigation with the reduction of categories and subcategories

Etsy offer a really sound mobile experience, so check these out for a great example on how to get this right. You can easily search for a product, can see immediately how to shop by category or sign in, which is all great for returning users.

For those visiting the site for the first time, a simple scroll down offers information on how Etsy works, browse latest collections and offers reviews and the ability to learn more.

Checkout process and affiliate tracking

All marketing efforts have been a success, and your customers is ready to check out on their mobile device – it’s the final hurdle and you need to make it as simple and clear as possible. After all, they are “on the go” and probably in a bit of a rush!

  • Streamline the checkout process
  • Implement the affiliate tracking on mobile checkout pages and on m.sites (as discussed above)
  • If tracking through a mobile app, ensure that tracking is installed on the purchase page.

Topshop have their mobile checkout SORTED, so check them out for a bit of inspiration. It’s a clean, minimal design withe prominent progress bars, so you know just where you are in your purchase process – none of this zoom in, zoom out malarkey here.

A final round up…

There’s certainly a lot to think about to ensure that your affiliate program is both mobile friendly and market leading. But ultimately, it’s going to be key in the very near future to have all points discussed above in place to progress and improve.

Being “fully” mobile friendly is an opportunity to set your program aside from your competition, reward your affiliates fairly and appropriately and to also improve revenue. Which, let’s face it, is the ultimate objective for any affiliate program.

Remember, it will all be worth it in the long run, and the investment you make now will allow untold yield in the future.

For a little further information on affiliate marketing best practice for retailers, check out our recent post on reaping revenue via the affiliate channel. For anything else, you can contact us for a more bespoke conversation!