Recently, affiliate marketing has evolved from being just a popular revenue-driving tactic into a multi-billion industry with a global reach. Extremely beneficial to both brands and affiliates, it is primed to continue growing as a powerful strategic channel for consumer engagement and nurturing in both local and global markets.
The affiliate industry has performance engraved in its digital DNA code. And today it offers more transparency, a truly global reach while maintaining high ROI. With relatively low entry barriers a lot of marketers want to incorporate affiliate marketing into their digital toolbox. And it is easy to see why.
Affiliate Marketing Statistics
According to Forrester, nearly 85 percent of advertisers consider affiliate marketing to be of the highest priority in their digital marketing initiatives. Most of the publishers saw affiliate partnerships bringing over 20 percent of their annual revenue. Affiliate marketing spend in the US is estimated to grow by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10 percent between 2015 and 2020, to reach a projected $6.8 billion. eMarketer estimates affiliate marketing represents 7.5 percent of total digital marketing spend among retailers, $15.81 billion.
However, with the industry’s ever-evolving nature, launching and scaling up can be a challenging and confusing path. In this post, we will share with you some strategies to perfect your success recipe for baking great digital campaigns in the affiliate field.
Choose Your Niche Wisely
As easy as it sounds, picking the right niche requires time, research and a lot of brainstorming. It is the first strategic step any digital entrepreneur must take. As reality shows, very few affiliates succeed from promoting random, non-related products. So defining a specialization is the right strategy to set yourself apart from the pack of competitors.
A great place to start would be to look into trends in consumer preferences, researching hot topics, top industries, the most popular keywords, and micro trends in consumer behavior. Kickstarter, Google Trends, Alexa, Quantcast, AdWords, and Quora are some of the best resources out there to get initial ideas one can tap into. The goal is to start broad and then narrow your research down to one viable niche within a particular field or industry. Or you can approach this, focusing on your own interests, investigating the products you like and pain points you experience as a consumer. All it takes to find the right product is to identify the gap in the existing market or a problem your future clients will solve with your product.
Source: Neil Patel Digital
Once you have discovered potential niches, the next step will be to scout out popular products and their monetization opportunities. You can go directly to vendors or product owners and check out if they offer any sort of reward-based program. Another option is to go to affiliate retailers. There are plenty of affiliate platforms, where you can test your assumptions. We recommend checking out the biggest and the most reputable ones, such as Awin, Shareasale, LinkShare, MaxBounty or branded affiliate programs from eBay, SkillShare, Amazon or Shopify. Your final goal here is to find real products which will be valuable to your target audience. Think of the industries that show growth in spending, yet have to make the shift to e-commerce sector, like health services, nutrition (think gluten-free), financial tools, pet food & fashion etc. The keyword here is niche. Big opportunities are out there for fast movers. So, find your narrow track, and own it!
Uncovering an underserved niche market and expanding your online presence is just one side to building a successful affiliate marketing business.
It is essential that digital marketers concentrate all their efforts on delivering high-quality customer experiences.
Low-quality websites and scrappy offers do a lot of damage to a user experience, affecting brands and the reputation of the affiliate industry as a whole. Many affiliates are tempted to promote products they do not believe in or get involved in deceptive activities, being swept away by the idea of quick earns and shiny payout metrics. But the truth is a money-first strategy never works in the long-term. So, don’t be seduced by high payout numbers if the offer is not relevant to your audience and can potentially alienate your clients.
No matter if you are choosing a product you are going to promote or designing your ad landing page, putting your target customer first and offering value will directly impact how much you are going to get out of your efforts. No one wants to be bombarded with ads that are irrelevant or inappropriate. Instead, users expect relevancy, engagement, and value.
Work on your Media Buying Strategy
Digital marketers can choose from a variety of business models to monetize from – email, influencers, comparison sites, cashback, content sites, coupon codes, paid ads or even search engine marketing. Whether you want to build brand awareness, drive sales or generate qualified leads, you are being paid based on performance. And this is where media buying planning comes into play. Nailing it is crucial for scaling up any digital marketing efforts.
A good media buying strategy combines the following factors: offer pricing model (CPC, CPM or CPA-based, etc.), deep understanding of target audience, country, device type to reach your potential customer. If this is an offer from an affiliate network, it is worth paying attention to the offer restrictions and plan media buying accordingly. Once you get through this part, the next step is to choose the right ad network.
While Google Ads and Facebook Ads are the first names which pop-up, these two advertising giants are not the only platforms where performance marketers run their campaigns. Programmatic ad platforms can be a great alternative to GAFA group (Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon). However, it is important to note here, some ad networks specialize in particular ad formats, some offers work better with certain types of ads, and certain GEOs have larger volumes in some ad networks than others. Do your research and make sure to choose an ad network with credibility on the market.
Go Mobile & Optimize for the Voice search
The modern consumer purchase journey involves the use of multiple devices. Statistics say on average the typical digital user owns 3.2 connected devices. And two out five customers complete online purchases on a device different from the one they start on. According to ComScore, last year 90 percent of US digital retail audiences shopped via mobile devices, in comparison to 76 percent outreach on desktops.
With mobile spending continuing to soar, it is essential that businesses adjust their marketing efforts to the fact that people nowadays prefer to access the internet on the go. Otherwise, business owners risk paying a very high price for their inaction. Given the multi-device reality is here to stay, making mobile a part of your digital strategy and investing in mobile traffic is a great opportunity to leverage the engagement with your target audiences.
Another interesting trend, shaping up the Internet is voice-enabled search. Affiliates cannot ignore the effect of this trend on search engine optimization. Although this technology is still relatively new, it is already impacting all kinds of devices, playing out to be increasingly integrated into our everyday lives.
According to Comcast, by 2020 half of all online searches will be voice-activated. At the moment, most voice-activated searches are done through a mobile device and are on average three times more likely to be location-based in comparison to the traditional search queries. So, your website’s SEO adjustment for voice search visibility should include the following: analysis of user’s intent behind a voice search, leveraging content that appeals to natural voice search, the use of long tail keywords and phrases, targeting immediate user’s needs, as most voice searches are often time sensitive.
Use Value-based Tracking
And last but not the least, the essential ingredient for the success of any digital marketing campaign is …. Yes! Tracking.
The everlasting strength of the affiliate marketing field lies in its tangible and unequivocal measurement.
And as the pay-per-performance field evolves, ad tracking becomes more sophisticated to reflect changes happening. While it can be a tedious task to manage your performance campaigns along with your daily activities, tracking your campaigns’ growth and analyzing their ongoing performance is essential to keep your affiliate efforts on the right track.
The benefits of tracking are endless. With in-depth metrics, you are able to budget efficiently during the peak sales periods, create GEO-specific strategies for campaigns, get more insights on your top-performing channels, understand your campaign life cycles, tie together and leverage all relevant data points to achieve target goals. For any digital entrepreneur who specializes in performance marketing tracking has become more than just a tool.
Ad tracking has turned into a powerful strategic solution that ties many strands together, adds a significant value, and facilitates campaign data interpretation in a meaningful way.
In today’s performance marketing landscape running a successful digital campaign is a day-to-day challenge. The affiliate industry is becoming more saturated, and ad campaigns need to push the limits to get noticed. It takes time, dedication and knowledge to execute a successful performance marketing campaign that connects with your audiences, boosts your sales and offers long-term growth.
- Get started with researching and studying the needs and pain points of your target audience to uncover the underserved niche market.
- Adopt “customer first” approach and build your digital marketing efforts around the concept of value and relevance to your customer.
- Think through your media buying plan as it can greatly influence the outcome of your digital efforts.
- Make mobile the core of your strategy and get yourself familiar with the latest digital trends.
- Track and measure extensively to determine opportunities for growth or change actions.