Is Affiliate Marketing the Next Big Thing?


E-commerce trends, the booming designer economy and marketing technologies are boosting affiliate promotion, boosting the effectiveness of an already powerful digital marketing channel.

Affiliate marketing is nothing new. It’s been around since the earliest days of the commercial Internet, as venerable as search engine optimization, digital advertising, and email marketing.

However, that doesn’t mean that affiliate marketing has stayed the same. He has changed and is changing a lot.

In the United States alone, spending on affiliate marketing has grown 10% per year for about a decade. According to Statista, affiliate marketing will reach $ 8.2 billion in 2022, a 20% increase from 2020.

There are many factors behind this growth.

Social commerce

The term “social commerce” is vague in 2021.

For our purposes, social commerce is a subset of electronic commerce. It involves sharing and promoting products on different platforms. This sharing uses text, images, and videos, including live streams.

Sometimes it’s a communication between a business and a buyer, like QVC or Amazon. But more often than not, it’s an influencer recommending a product in a post, recording, or live video.

Chinese e-commerce companies are the world leaders in social commerce. The integration of online sales, content and sharing is now the norm in China. And the trend is exploding globally.

“WeChat alone generated $ 250 billion in e-commerce in 2020. It’s huge. And for social commerce, many people expect the market to grow at a compound annual rate of 38% for a decade… which means it’s a channel we need to embrace, ”said Joris Kroese, CEO of Hatch, an omnichannel commerce tools provider.

Social commerce often relies on influencers who are paid affiliates. So, as social commerce grows, so does affiliate marketing. Conversely, e-commerce businesses interested in social commerce should start with affiliates.

Creators economy

Affiliate marketing once had a bad reputation. More than a few affiliates have simply stuffed keywords into ugly, spam-filled landing pages.

These pages can misrepresent a product or promote a disreputable article. Maintaining order with these affiliates was a heavy task for affiliate marketers. For consumers, buying from them could be like a clandestine drug sale.

Unscrupulous affiliates are similar in concept to the black hat and gray hat search engine optimization practitioners who seemed to be everywhere a decade ago. I wrote several articles denigrating the SEO tactics of the time. Many have sought to deceive both search engines and humans.

SEO has always been important. But too many early practitioners have focused on Google games instead of producing good content. This has changed. Now SEO benefits both the website and the searcher.

Affiliate marketing has also changed.

Many affiliates today are creators – artists, musicians, coaches, conductors, experts. They produce original content. They build lasting relationships with an audience of fans. They only promote products they believe in.

If a fitness trainer with 50,000 followers says she “likes” a particular brand of vegan protein powder, you can bet she likes the product.

Her audience is too large for her to take the risk. She will not promote a product that she does not use. Thus, the promotion, although paid, is genuine.

The designer economy is growing rapidly. Many emerging creators are looking for affiliate relationships.

Don’t be surprised if affiliate marketing takes off in the next few years, in line with the growth of the creator economy.

Marketing technology

Marketing software, sometimes referred to as marketing technology or martech, also improves affiliate marketing.

In the past, ecommerce affiliate sales were one thing. An affiliate link led to only one purchase. But modern affiliates, especially creators, want deep relationships with fans. Martech makes this possible.

There are three parties to an affiliate transaction: the seller, the affiliate, and the buyer.

Martech tools now allow the affiliate to send post-purchase messages to the buyer through the seller. These messages can help the affiliate re-engage the buyer, deepen the association between the seller and the affiliate, and lead to repeat sales to the buyer.

Martech tools also provide better feedback. An affiliate used to only know when a sale was made and nothing else. Now an affiliate dashboard can show customer lifetime value, related purchases, etc. This business intelligence makes the affiliate more efficient and therefore generates more sales for the salespeople.

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