Looking Forward: Key Things to Consider For a Successful Affiliate Channel
In today’s Affiliate marketing world, brands are more eager than ever to get an insight into what’s currently happening in the industry and how we see the landscape changing in the future. Allowing them to consider what they should have on their radar longer term. Our Head of Global Affiliate Partnerships, Nic Yates, offers his view on what is coming in the future within Affiliate and Partnership marketing that your brand needs to take note of.
A MORE ENCOMPASSING CHANNEL
The last 12 months have seen the Affiliate channel move from traditional partnerships to a more accepted “partner” channel, this includes the likes of Affiliate, influencer, content, brand-to-brand partnerships and app. As discussed in our Global Affiliate & Partnership marketing pulse 2022, some of the world’s biggest brands are now generating 5% to 25% of their online sales through affiliate marketing, while other marketing channels are under more scrutiny regarding the ROI they truly provide. Some may say Affiliate Marketing has more growth opportunity than Paid Search, Social, Email marketing and SEO. More businesses are looking to increase their spending on affiliate marketing. Forecasts predict that Affiliate marketing spend will continue to rise, it is estimated global spending on the channel will reach $15.7 billion by 2024. In the next 36 months, we predict that some external factors will contribute to further growth within the partner channel that we have delved into below:
A decrease in performance from paid channels and display
The reduction of third-party cookies will impact overall reach and increase costs from paid channels and display. Therefore, brands will look at Affiliate marketing as a reactive channel to increase sales immediately. However, they will need to do this without discounting their products.
Personally, I think Affiliates will have more sway within SERP results. Mass Media content partners are widely using Affiliate marketing now so more content is being pushed out which is commercially driven. As Google updates its algorithm to showcase publications over e-commerce sites, content aggregators will have a higher impact in the next 12-24 months on the user journey with SERP results. Having strong relationships and a diverse content strategy here is key! Our sister agency, North, recently created a guide on the latest SEO ranking factors and how quality content can help your SEO rankings within the SERPs.
We’ve recently been speaking to mass media partners and 50% of their total revenue is now coming from the Affiliate channel over the likes of display and direct buys. They are keen to work directly with the brand rather than multi-brand retailers. Teams within media houses are being built aggressively to capture share of wallet via partnerships. ‘Performance PR’ is also being labelled as a channel where we look to bring together the likes of digital PR with Affiliate Marketing.
So what will the benefits of this be? Firstly, data technology is enhancing the sharing of data from Affiliate partners and brands. We will need to pass more data to publishers within SaaS platforms using meta strings to share insight on product, sizes and so on. Brands will be encouraged to share merch information (top-selling products per day, stock availability, promotional calendars etc) more with partners to give them the right insights to drive sales. Likewise, Affiliates can share trends they see in shopping behaviour with brands too.
Alongside this, a shift to a more accessible upper funnel list of partners with a real incentive to work directly with the brand rather than multi-brand retailers will be of advantage.
CLOSER ALIGNMENT WITH OTHER DIGITAL MARKETING CHANNELS + REWARDING PAST CPA
The “Value” and perception of Affiliate is increasing. I suspect it will continue to grow due to this. Email, Paid Social, PPC & SEO will take more of an interest in how partnerships can support their objectives. I also suspect that we will then see “micro” conversions being tracked and rewarded within the channel for things such as CPL for new email sign up and downloading brand information packs.
Within the Fintech and subscription sector, brands are now pushing paid budgets behind influencer and content partners to increase their reach. I can see this growing within Paid Social/PPC for Affiliate content. Within the mattress sector, we are already seeing brands owning sub URLs or giving publishers spend to dominate upper funnel search queries. Brands will not only look at what they can do within their own PPC campaigns, they will then look to work with partners for more targeted search queries.
There is currently a focus on offline/online publishers. Card-linked offers for example or offline promotions via SaaS platforms to reward partners. This will continue to grow. We will also see brand-to-brand partnerships increase rapidly. There are now plug-and-play platforms to offer brands perks for shopping at a brand (https://tyviso.com/). Technology will support the growth of this sector and improve accessibility for brands to come together online + offline.
Social channels such as Tiktok will find a method to enable Affiliate creators to monetise their traffic outside of vouchercode tracking. User-generated content will no doubt be leveraged further onsite for brands (and possibly created by influencers).
CONVERSION RATE OPTIMISATION
Some partners are now using this to determine who to link to. Partners review the conversion rate to ensure they achieve as high of a Cost Per Click as possible from their traffic.
CRO is often done on brand websites for the entire site, I suspect we will see this being done on a granular publisher basis in the future – widening the relationship with key partners to run AB tests on landing pages and user journeys.
We will also see the growth of CRO teams wanting to support publishers also. How they can improve CTR, reduce bounce rates and get as much traffic from SERP to the website.
Moving forward Affiliate Managers will need to look past conversion data and instead look at how Affiliates are placed within the SERP user journey which will increase the focus on content partnerships. It is important to create a USP for your Affiliate programme, as more and more brands enter the space and the competition increases. How can you make Affiliates loyal to your programme and avoid them going elsewhere? Alongside this, it’s important to align with other digital marketing channels. The Affiliate channel can do so much more than simply drive revenue, such as support other channels to increase overall digital capacity.
Be open to testing and learning strategies with new channels too. Traditional PR, Digital PR and Affiliate Marketing will no doubt synergise to improve performance and drive efficiencies moving forward. It’s going to be beneficial to review opportunities with other brands and leverage technology to make them much more accessible. Download our annual industry report to uncover more insights and trends from 2022 shaping the affiliate and partnership channel.
If you’re looking for further support with your brand’s Affiliate programme we can help! It all starts with a chat, to see if we’re a good fit for you, simply reach out to us here >.