Top Global Trends in Affiliate Marketing for 2019
Affiliate marketing is one of the most exciting disciplines in digital marketing. It is predicted to be a 6.8 billion dollar industry in 2020 and has always been an incubator for new disciplines. Back in the days search was part of affiliate marketing, retargeting has risen through affiliate marketing, and today we also see new trends that try to establish themselves within affiliate marketing. So if you want to be successful in this industry, you need to stay on top of these trends and decide what’s going to be hot and what not.
For 2019 we see four main trends: Influencer marketing, the growth of voice search, data driven insights and mobile domination.
Influencer marketing is growing rapidly and has almost established itself as an own vertical. When it comes to the term influencer marketing itself and Google searches, the keyword has been searched for 325% more often now than one year ago. Influencer marketing has become a vital digital discipline and has a big influence on affiliate marketing, as well. 74% of all digital users say that they trust social networks, and around 50% say that they trust influencers. We have another figure here, that I found quite interesting, 40% of Twitter users say, that they have already purchased something because of a Tweet from somebody else. And 75 % of all marketers claim that they have allocated money to influencer marketing.
So why has influencer marketing risen so quickly now? I think there are four main reasons:
- Change of role
In the past influencer marketing has been part of branding budget. Companies had fixed branding or CPM budgets, and all influencers and bloggers were treated in the same way as part of a branding campaign. This has changed quickly, especially with the rise of social platforms, where influencers and bloggers themselves got much more self-confident. They started to be brand ambassadors, posting about their own shopping behaviour and their own style. Brands now treat them differently and they now speak with bloggers and influencers directly.
- User journey
All marketers now have the ability to analyse the user behaviour in digital marketing through user journey reporting. Every marketer now understands what a big impact influencers can have on the different user journeys, even initiating them, participating in a user journey or influencing the sale later on, that might happen on a completely different website. This builds trust, and marketers are much more willing now to spend money and pay influencers directly.
- Mobile usage
Influencers are obviously very mobile savvy and mainly work on social platforms, which are frequently used on mobile devices. The push of mobile usage automatically pushes influencer marketing as well.
- Commission model
In the beginning influencer marketing was branding budget. Now this has changed, influencers want to be paid on performance, CPC or even CPO, and marketers are obviously willing to invest more into this channel.
84% of all marketers claim to work with influencers. How to benefit from this trend and how to manage influencer campaigns the best way? There are four things that are really important.
- Define the objectives for your influencer campaigns
What do you actually want to achieve? Do you want to do branding, do you want to have exposure of your products, do you want to drive traffic to your shop, do you want to have conversions? It’s very important that you know what you want to achieve, while working with influencers, in order to give the right content to them.
- Develop relationships
29% of all influencers have never used a tracking link in affiliate marketing or they don’t even know what affiliate marketing is. Furthermore influencers are very different characters, from football players to beauty models. But you need to engage with them and get very close to them. Imagine how to make this influencer a brand ambassador. You can offer them product samples, free campaigns, invite them to your company or production facility. You need to understand the influencer, and you need to make the influencer understand you. Relationship building is key.
- Get the content right
There’s a difference between influencers writing a blog and writing in social media, you need to have the content available in a certain format, that influencers can work with. They will usually not adapt to what you have, you need to adapt to make it user-friendly for them, otherwise they will probably work for different products or for different companies.
- Have budget behind
You need to be willing to invest. And it’s very important that you carefully test how influencer marketing is working for you, because for everybody it will be a bit different. You need different tests with different kinds of influencers, different kinds of bloggers, different kinds of campaigns, at different times.
Voice search is a rather new topic, but with a massive push from big players like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. So this will have a big impact on our life in the future, on the life of our customers, on our business life and on affiliate marketing.
50% of all searches, according to ComScore, will be done on voice searches by 2020. Around 30% of searches will be done without a screen, via third party tools. It will not only be the Alexa, or the Echo tool, but your smartphone, your iPad or other tools will be able to react to voice demands. We are in a similar situation with voice search than we were with smartphones 10 years ago, when everybody was aware of it, but only very few people were able to predict the exponential rise that we saw many years after. According to Activate in 2020 21.4 million smart speakers will be used in the US. If we assume around 160 million US households, 20 million in two years is a massive number. And already next year the voice recognition market will be around 601 million US dollars.
How to leverage voice search for your own business?
- Content optimisation
Most of the searches are local queries. So you need to think about the content of your website, about SEO, about your Q&A sections, etc. Is that local, is that relevant, does that match?
- Considering intent
When you type search words into your computer, you’re usually quite specific. For example when you are looking for a pair of shoes, you type in the colour and the size. With voice search you speak like with others, you might say ‘I want to have a pair of fancy brown shoes’. But fancy is a very subjective term, that you might not have booked the keyword for. So you will probably focus on the long tail of search terms in a completely different way. How do your users speak about your products, how do they search?
Voice search doesn’t require a computer and will be very linked to mobile devices. So you need to make sure that all your mobile content, your mobile website, your mobile tracking, etc. is working.
- Image search
If a lady wants to buy a new bag, she will not describe the bag in a voice search, she will more likely upload an image of a bag she likes. It will be very interesting what kind of publisher models will come up to use voice search in affiliate marketing.
Data-driven digital strategies
I just read a report that 90% of all the data that was generated in the lifetime of mankind was generated in the last two years. But what does that mean for our affiliate marketing programs? How do we get to actionable insights that impact the results of our campaigns
We are thinking of a pyramid – consisting of data, information and insights. Data is just the raw information. For example, 8000 steps without context is pure data without meaning. If I have a running watch saying that I did 8000 steps today, this is information, that makes sense. Still, without context you are not getting any insights. Why am I doing that? Is it just for fun, do I want to lose weight or have a healthy lifestyle? Do I have a training plan? 8000 steps could be very much for somebody who never moves. For somebody who wants to run a marathon, maybe 8000 steps is not so much. So what is the intent and the goal behind? You need to add all those aspects in order to make data understandable and get to actionable insights.
And the same is valid for your campaigns. I have put together a toolbox, how to get to actionable insights and how to maximise them:
When you look at your data you need to align it to your KPIs. Your company, your department, your marketing campaigns have targets. When you look at these numbers you need to make sure that you have the right KPIs. If you have a performance campaign, you won’t want to look at impressions, but more likely at clicks, leads or sales.
If you track 1500 leads a day that could be good or bad, depending on what you usually do on average. If you usually do 10 000 on average, you might want to look what went wrong. Maybe the publisher is not working on your program.
For example, if you have a 2 weeks campaign, and you send all the details of this campaign to your CEO, he might be completely overwhelmed, because it’s too much detail on a tiny campaign. You need to have the right information at the right time with the right settings for the right people.
You need to have a complete overview about what this means and have the context right.
You should aim to look at the data from different angles. When you always look at the same patterns, you get sloppy. You need to look at it from another dimension to get new insights and to draw new conclusions.
My brain works best with graphs. Others might prefer tables to get their insights. Think about best ways how to visualise your data.
The rise of mobile is not really new, but I think it’s at the most underestimated part of affiliate marketing or digital marketing in general. Mobile is around for 10 years, but it’s not used to the full extend in many affiliate programs or digital marketing activities. And changes are on their way. Under Intelligent Tracking Prevention, ITP 2.0, Apple changed the rules about what you can track and how you can track on Apple smartphone, Apple browser and within Apple apps. Therefor it’s becoming increasingly hard to track with cookies. At Tradedoubler we have different tracking methodologies. G1 is generation 1, cookie-based tracking. G2 uses an ID. Then we have fingerprint tracking and cross-device tracking. For the last two years we have made a major effort to update all tracking for all clients to be at least G2, or ideally fingerprint and cross-device. Only then you can follow your user from desktop to smartphone or tablet and then to checkout. After two years, we still have around 20% of our clients who track only with cookies. They exclude all pure mobile publishers, who don’t get incentivized because the user who switches from smartphone to desktop or tablet is lost and the mobile publisher loses his commission. Mobile publishers therefor will rather work on a program that’s cross-device enabled than on a program that purely tracks clicks on cookies. And advertisers who don’t offer that in the long run will have a big disadvantage.
Furthermore you need to have the right mobile strategy, it’s not just about having mobile tracking or having a mobile website. There are users nowadays that go to a store, research on the phone and compare prices or look for home delivery. The users will be irritated if they see different prices, they feel tricked and you might lose trust. So you need to have a consistent strategy, that includes offline and online, and a dedicated mobile strategy. If you do it right, there’s a lot of opportunity for you.
If you bear these four digital marketing trends in mind and adopt your business to these changes, we believe you are well-prepared for a successful 2019!
This article was written by Matthias Stadelmeyer, CEO at Tradedoubler