As an industry, affiliate marketing is extremely flexible and prone to changes, which sometimes makes it difficult for inexperienced marketers to comprehend.
What’s hot now, tomorrow can easily become a thing of the past. Affiliate marketing never stops moving and evolving, and that often makes it seem like an impossible force to tame.
If you want to stay active in this game and continue to generate sweet revenue – it’s imperative to adopt the right mindset and come prepared for incremental shifts in the way you do business.
Most successful affiliates are the ones that have the ability to pivot their entire strategy at any given time and completely change the way they do business. That’s why it’s of crucial importance to permanently keep your one ear to the ground and listen to what’s buzzin’ in the industry.
Affiliate marketing is quite big on trends. The last one to catch the next big wave will miss out on all the fun.
In order to keep you up to speed and in sync with everything that’s going on in this industry, we at Traffic Mansion are going to examine how affiliate marketing is changing, where it’s headed, and what trends you’ll need to follow in order to make 2018 another successful year for your affiliate business:
1. It’s All About The Niche Now
In the past, advertisers didn’t really pick their targets. They went out and offered traffic to hundreds and thousands of sites at the time.
The “catch-all” approach was really in full swing until people started measuring their efforts and focusing on the ROI of such strategy. Authority and relevancy didn’t play a significant role in this equation and that’s why advertisers weren’t really getting much in return.
In 2018, advertisers have better-defined targets and that brings them better results. Instead of offering everything to everyone, they are focused on smaller groups of credible websites, ones that are highly relevant to their cause. The way they define their targets will have a huge impact on the affiliate business in 2018 and 2019. Narrowing down their focus will give advertisers a better run for their money. Instead of pursuing publishers with big audiences, more and more advertisers will start pursuing those that are considered to be authoritative figures in their micro niches.
So, if you’re a website owner, you should do your best to really OWN your micro niche in 2018 and 2019. As an affiliate, you will start to attract more and more agencies, networks, and programs, if you focus on building a brand instead of another random business. If you become an authority figure, someone who offers a certain unique quality for his visitors and users, affiliate programs will consider offering you a better commission.
So, make it your goal to truly embrace your niche and become the best in it. In this day and age – traffic without engagement is basically useless. You want to generate conversions, not just noise in your Google Analytics account.
2. Think About Mobile
Mobile continues to dominate almost every discussion concerning the future of affiliate marketing. There are numerous reasons why mobile is so hot right now:
- Google reported that there are currently more searches happening on mobile than on desktop. Hitwise confirmed that by examining hundreds of millions of queries across eleven different categories and finding out that nearly 60 percent of the entire number of searches comes from mobile devices.
- Google announced the mobile-first index update and published a set of recommended practices.
Thanks to these facts, even the biggest of skeptics have started thinking of mobile as something that deserves attention. It has been reported in more than a few studies that 50 percent of the entire traffic comes from mobile devices. For people who buy and sell traffic for a living, these findings shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you want to remain relevant in this game in this day and age, you must make sure that:
- That your site is responsive to mobile. Keep in mind that having a mobile-friendly and responsive site is not really the same. Don’t lose your rankings and traffic over a dumb misunderstanding.
- That your content is optimized for mobile. Start using shorter sentences and smaller paragraphs in your articles. Add video to the mix and do your best to really optimize your images.
- Think about voice search. The growing number of voice submitted queries is something that will influence all types of search. People formulate questions differently when making these kinds of queries, and expect succinct answers, making brevity your friend.
4. Display is for Dinosaurs
Along with mobile, affiliate marketing will also journey into video, voice, and other currently popular technologies and practices. Business Insider is just one of many publications online that claims that video is going to be huge in the next couple of years. By their predictions, around 80 percent of all internet traffic will come from videos.
While there’s still a lot of to be seen with how voice search will influence advertising, one thing is clear: affiliate and publishers need to closely follow all the latest trends and learn how to adapt before it’s too late. The days of solely investing in display ads are slowly coming to a close.
In 2019, more than 200 million Internet users have some type of ad-blocking device installed on their browsers. As the Wall Street Journal reports, these blockers have cost publishers more than $21 billion in 2015 alone. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. At this rate, Ovum predicts that around $35 billion will be lost in total ad revenue by 2020.
Affiliates need to update their playbooks and look for opportunities in such practices as influencer marketing, native advertising, etc.
5. Customer First, Everything Else Second
Research has shown that more and more people are getting comfortable with online shopping. By the end of 2019, it is estimated that there will be close to 224 million online shoppers in the US alone. And what about other places on the globe? What about the now-booming Asian market?
More than 70 percent of shoppers now believe that they’re getting a better deal online than in stores. Episerver’s annual “Reimagining Commerce” benchmark report has revealed that 9 out of 10 of those same users are now totally okay with brands knowing more about them, if that means they’ll get a better online experience.
Having all these statistics in mind, the real focus of 2018 and 2019 in affiliate marketing will be directed to the customer, and how to integrate mobile, native ads, and everything else that deals with the customer journey. If they want to survive in this industry, advertisers and publishers will have to learn how to truly understand their targeted audiences and provide real value for them. Advertising is slowly becoming a more complex game. The goal now is to engage and re-engage the users with something truly worth promoting, and not just to shove shameless promotions down their throats.
A significant number of affiliate programs are aware of that and they’re truly working on improving the general quality of their output. You should do so, too.