It’s 2016 and affiliate marketing is still here and not only is it here, it’s now fully recognised as a major cog in any digital marketing strategy. Gone are the days when it was frowned upon as being underhanded and a major factor in the de-duplication of sales. Affiliates have now grown into major organisations in their own right.

A Marketing Essential

With loyal customer databases that visit the affiliate’s site before any other, affiliate marketing has become an essential part of any retailer’s marketing strategy to ensure incremental sales are achieved by targeting the savviest of online shoppers. Used correctly, the affiliate channel can be used as a distribution channel to push your brand and target the millions of active customers visiting affiliate sites daily.

The Right Model

The attractiveness of affiliate marketing to retailers has always been the fact the majority of it works on a CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) model. In 2016 many retailers have taken a far more strategic approach to how they pay out their commissions. Making sure the cost of sale makes sense from a business standpoint is always paramount to merchants. However, we can’t forget to remain attractive to affiliates as the market is saturated with attractive offers. You really want to make sure your campaign is appealing to gain the best performance from your affiliates whilst making a positive contribution to you overall marketing strategy.

New Technology

What many merchants forget is that aside from the traditional affiliate categories i.e. cashback and voucher code sites, the affiliate industry does not get the credit it deserves for introducing new technologies to the retail market. Merchants that are willing to embrace new tech on the channel can find themselves getting the jump on their competitors.

No Need For Development

One of the most attractive aspects of affiliate tech, is the fact the majority are easy to integrate with no need for backend development. With many SME’s not having the manpower to spend their time on development, the opportunities provided by affiliates are endless. With many just needing JavaScript placed on site it allows for the smaller companies to compete with some of the bigger players in the industry. With overlays placed on site, merchants can make the most of retargeting technologies and provide their customer with loyalty schemes that are easy to manage and monitor.

A great example of this is new start up RELEASE who specialise in referral marketing. RELEASE is a plug and play referral marketing solution  that involves adding a JavaScript tag and pixel to your order confrmation page. This can be done through using Tag Manager or by simply pasting a line of code on your websites header. It’s a fantastic opportnunity for mechants to have technology at their disposal that would normally be out of reach.

Better Attribution

Many companies are now implementing their own in-house attribution software to help give them a better understanding of their online customer journey. This helps them gain a clearer understanding of the contribution of affiliates at each stage of the customer’s purchase.

Is it fair that the voucher code and cashback sites should get the full commission on a converted sale? When content affiliates are capturing the customer and informing them on your products before they then convert through a voucher code or cash back site? As part of a well prepared marketing strategy, merchants can have a strategic approach to how they reward their affiliates. Making for a much fairer and attractive affiliate program. Rakuten Attribution recently did a case study on House of Fraser and how they implemented attribution for their affiliate program which highlights what benefits merchants can achieve.

Google Multi-Channel Marketing

Source: https://analytics.googleblog.com/2013/04/introducing-customer-journey-to-online.html

Always Mobile

For too many years the affiliate channel has shouted about how every year is “the year of mobile”. However 2016 may be the year that it actually comes true! A recent report published by affiliate network Commission Junction showcased that mobile purchases figures were up 132% on YOY performance. Many affiliates now have apps to push offers to their customers and this should always be considered when creating promotions. As affiliates have the capabilities to drive sales in-store, the mobile is a great way to capture your required audience and contribute to a happier customer journey. Specifically geo-targeting areas in which you need to improve mobile is great opportunity that should be embraced in 2016.

Emerging Marketplaces

Never before has global commerce been more relevant than in 2016. With oversea sales estimated to see a sevenfold increase by 2020, the overseas market is not something you can afford to ignore. The time to delve into emerging marketplaces is now, if you have the capabilities to deliver in countries such as China or India you should have your own affiliate manager designated they countries alone.

One affiliate we work with in China has over 50 million users, and that’s just one! With an audience that size it’s an opportunity you can’t ignore! Here at Beattie we have affiliate managers that specialise in international affiliate management. One of China’s biggest platforms SMZDM have had much success in selling UK brands to their Chinese database. Boasting 3.4 million visitors per day they managed to achieve 100,000 order on one promotion in a single day!

SMZDM.com

So in essence many of the current key factors are continuations of what we’ve already seen. However, it seems that with the rapid growth in technology as a whole it’s good to see that the affiliate industry is keeping up whilst at the same time proving to be a leading channel when it comes to the introduction of new tech opportunities in ecommerce.

With us now being at the halfway point of the year, marketers are now preparing for the festive season. It’ll be interesting to see what results the affiliate channel will bring clients this year... as for 2017, exciting times ahead I’m sure!