Like any other progressive industry, affiliate marketing is constantly developing, adding new, more effective and efficient strategies that generate more revenue. The investments in the industry are also on the rise in many parts of the world.
For example, Japan has been one of the leading countries in terms of investment in affiliate marketing; in fact, its domestic affiliate market has been growing by 15 percent in recent years. As shown in the image below, the expenditure for affiliate marketing in the country is projected to reach almost 406 billion yen by 2021, which is a significant increase compared to the current levels.
So, despite claims that affiliate marketing is dead, we can see that it’s pretty much alive and thriving. In fact, the industry is ever-changing, so if you would like to join and generate some revenue, take a look at the following seven trends in the affiliate industry that will define affiliate marketing in the nearest future.
Trend #1. Affiliate Marketing is Going Influencers
Just a few years ago, many marketers working in the affiliate industry focused on large groups of websites from different industries, even in cases when these websites didn’t have a lot of authority to give. Of course, this strategy couldn’t survive for very long because it lacked credibility and focus.
In 2018 we’re seeing a major shift from existing marketing methods to new ones. For example, one of the trends in the affiliate industry that gets an upgrade is a traditional ‘catch-all’ approach. There’s an ongoing shift to a much more targeted and credible approach to marketing. Of course, I’m talking about influencers, and this trend is highly likely to continue in the next few years.
Influencer marketing has emerged as one of the major trends in the affiliate industry also because online shoppers are spending less time browsing eCommerce sites and more time checking out products of their favorite influencers on social media. So, focusing on clicks to understand their behavior no longer works for brands.
Instead, they are now looking beyond clicks to get a good understanding of the needs of their customers and looking to establish long-term relationships that can potentially turn customers into loyal brand ambassadors.
Of course, eCommerce websites are not suitable for achieving this task, but influencers certainly are. In fact, they’ve been performing well at acting as intermediaries in facilitating authentic relationships between brands and customers by leveraging their existing follower base.
According to the latest data from eConsultancy, only 29 percent of influencers are using affiliate tracking links.
However, it’s safe to assume that the number of brands involved in affiliate partnerships will increase as more of them realize just how effective they can be.
An example of such success can be a recent collaboration of a fashion brand Nordstrom and an influencer Arielle Charnas. The collection launched by Charnas as Nordstrom’s partner sold in 24 hours; in fact, it was so popular that the brand’s site was overloaded with traffic and crashed in the first hour after the launch.
Trend #2: More Social Media Campaigns
There are two main reasons why the global affiliate industry is now in the process of a critically important transition from eCommerce stores to social media posts.
First and foremost, as it was briefly mentioned above, social media is becoming increasingly shopping-friendly, so many people are dropping websites and browse networks like Instagram and Facebook.
For example, business users of Instagram now can tag products and add product sticker on both stories and posts (approval for shopping on Instagram feature is required, though). As the result, users can enjoy an easier access to their favorite influencers’ products without leaving Instagram.
Since 90 million Instagram accounts tap on a shopping post to learn more about products every month, it’s safe to suggest that this trend will continue to make an impact in the next few years.
Second, Google has recently updated its search algorithms – the so-called Mobile First update - to make sure that mobile-friendly websites were prioritized in search results. This means that sites with responsive design have a serious advantage over others.
Since the majority of social media users access their accounts from mobile devices, it’s safe to claim that affiliate marketers will go with mobile-friendly websites to make sure they’re following the latest recommendations from Google. Moreover, they’ll need to learn how to integrate mobile with the rest of the customer journey.
Trend #3: Reviews and Review Websites
This one isn’t new but still remains one of the most significant trends in the affiliate industry. Reviews are vital players on the affiliate marketing arena that will continue to make an impact in 2019 and beyond.
- 53.3 percent of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week
- 94 percent of customers say that seeing a negative online review has convinced them to avoid a business
- Customers don’t really trust businesses with lower than 4-star ratings
- Showing reviews for higher-priced products can increase conversion rates by 380 percent
- Online product reviews are one of the most influential content types in affecting purchase decisions
- If faced with two product with similar ratings, online shoppers are more likely to purchase the one with more reviews
- 71 percent of online shoppers say that reviews make them more comfortable buying a product.
The lack of reviews is a big problem. Only 8 percent of online shoppers say that they’re ready to buy a product that hasn’t been reviewed by anyone.
Since online reviews are so important for online shoppers, creating strong reviews and entire review platforms will continue to be an impacting trend in affiliate marketing.
Trend #4: Increasing Transparency
“Not disclosing the advertisements is becoming a big no-no in affiliate marketing,” explains Matt White, an affiliate marketing expert from A-Writer.
Indeed, in the last several years, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been conducting investigations into undisclosed advertisements on social media and found a lot of violations from a number of well-known influencers.
Some of the names that appeared to have been suspected in violating the law include Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, and Mark Wahlberg. Some of them have received a warning for being involved in a deceptive marketing campaign and failing to communicate that they were paid to advertise products on their social media photos.
For example, here’s the letter that Truth in Advertising, Inc, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group sent to the Kardashian/Jenner family. The main purpose of the letter was to notify them that if illegal posts are not properly revised, the organization would file a complaint with the FTC.
The FTC, in turn, has also been making announcements, sending letters warning celebrities of illegal advertising, and providing them with educational materials. The future will show how the organization will ensure that influencers follow the law, but it’s clear that the affiliate industry will become more compliant and transparent.
Potential legal action makes transparency one of the most attention-worthy trends in the affiliate industry, so do your best to follow the regulations.
Trend #5: Focus on Native Ads
Native ads are those designed to resemble the look of a particular context in which they’re shown. For example, if you saw a non-obtrusive ad on your Facebook feed that didn’t quite look like a display ad because it blended well in to it, chances are that was a native ad.
They are proving their worth in affiliate marketing because they’re not as annoying to viewers. In fact, Business Insider even predicts that native display ad revenue in the United States will make up 74 percent of total U.S. display ad profits.
Clearly, native advertising is one of the hottest trends in the affiliate industry and is poised for steady growth in recent years. No doubt that affiliate marketing will be one of the main drivers of that. With such an amazing ROI, native ads will become a popular tool in digital advertising.
“Choosing the right native ad network and writing compelling ad copies will be among the most important tasks that affiliate marketers will have to perform well,” says Evan Martin, a digital marketer from Proessaywriting. “With the competition in the industry increasing, effective copy writing will be a critical factor determining the success of campaigns.”
Trend #6: Widespread Adoption of Emerging Technologies
Trends in the affiliate industry are constantly changing, and to remain powerful and sophisticated, businesses will continue to venture into new digital marketing technologies and strategies such as content marketing, voice search, artificial intelligence, and others.
For example, artificial intelligence (AI) is already playing an important role across the digital marketing landscape, so it’s time that the affiliate industry also benefited from it. According to Erlana Colson, an AI expert from O’reilly, here are some of the areas where AI can provide great opportunities to affiliate marketers:
- Identifying new opportunities. Dealing with numerous affiliate relationships can be overwhelming, and AI tools can help to make this task easier by providing effective and efficient monitoring of performances and spotting opportunities.
- Improving communication between brands and customers. For example, an AI-powered chatbot can come up with affiliate links that will redirect customers to an appropriate product page when they detect certain keywords in their conversation with them.
- More relevant content. AI tools can analyze vast amounts of information and help to determine high-value content for a particular target audience.
- Finding the right audiences. AI-powered display campaigns and analysis can be quite helpful with audience targeting and predictive analytics.
Voice search is another emerging technology that the affiliate industry will have to pay attention to. The number of people who prefer to use voice to search Google is rapidly rising, and there’s already enough evidence to justify the importance of voice search optimization which is already becoming one of the most impactful trends in the affiliate industry.
For example, the Voice Search For Business study has found that:
- 46 percent of voice search users look for a local business daily
- 27 percent of them visit a local business after searching with voice
- 76 percent of smart speaker users perform searches for local businesses at least weekly.
Moreover, affiliate marketers in many industries can benefit from voice search optimization because people use voice to find a wide variety of businesses.
Trend #7: Better Data Reporting
The adoption of emerging technologies will provide a thorough analysis of vast volumes of data, which also means that reporting will get better as well. For example, AI-powered tools that provide access to real-time data will supply affiliate marketers with tons of useful points and insights.
As the result, they’ll be more ready to engage in data-driven campaign planning and adjustment.
If you want to maximize the chance that your money spent on affiliate marketing campaign will work, you should stay abreast of these seven must-known trends in the affiliate industry. They can significantly up your affiliate game and ensure that you’re equipped with the best and the latest tools to beat the competition.
Be on the lookout for new trends in the affiliate industry that could emerge in 2019, too, but for now, you’re ready for some serious affiliate campaigns!
Audrey Pilcher is a visual content and digital marketing specialist who finds her passion in expressing own thoughts as a blogger and currently works at www.essay-on-time.com. She is a tech-savy person and likes to write on different topics like social media, web design, mobile apps, online marketing and much more.