Affiliate Marketing Trends of 2015

Affiliate marketing programs have gone from an experimental niche to a very important method of spreading branding and lead generation across multiple digital venues. In just a few short years, the value brands have been able to get out of some of their affiliates has increased manifold. Businesses are now finding new ways to leverage affiliate marketers and tap into the unique advantages they can offer.

Looking at the progress made last year and in this first quarter, affiliate marketing will see some telltale shifts as more brands try to increase distribution and the profitability of the system for everyone.

Increasingly Sophisticated Attribution

Paying a steady fee to affiliates has taken a welcome step aside for more appropriate methods of compensation. Just like sales commissions, affiliate attribution should go to the referrer who had the most impact on the sale.

Paying a steady fee to affiliates has taken a welcome step aside for more appropriate methods of compensation. Just like sales commissions, affiliate attribution should go to the referrer who had the most impact on the sale.

While some companies are keeping these analytical methods a closely-guarded secret, others are attempting to communicate to affiliates how they can provide the most value to their patron brands. Home decor eCommerce site Wayfair was one of the first companies to implement this approach. Much like how Google informs websites on what behaviors can increase their ranking while at the same time making Google searches more relevant, Wayfair wanted affiliates to know the practices that drive desired customer behavior. Altogether, defining proper attribution and deploying the requisite technology consistent with your attribution method is a difficult challenge and it is likely that retailers will need to tap into third parties who specialize in this area.

The Spread of Mobile Continues

Mobile has been the hot word in digital marketing circles ever since mobile traffic overtook desktop traffic last year. ShareASale revealed that from their overall 2014 Cyber Monday traffic, 25-30% came from mobile and mobile users placed 15-18% of all orders.

This growth has not only spread to eCommerce browsing and purchases, but to affiliate marketers as well. Affiliates and the brands that support them will need to recognize this shift in order to capture the evolving eCommerce customer market. Offering a quality mobile experience causes 61% of visitors to improve their opinion of a brand, and 70% of mobile customers were more likely to abandon their purchase if the eCommerce website was not optimized for mobile. Google has also recently announced that they will be penalizing sites who have not yet transitioned to responsive designs.

Non-Traditional Affiliates Helping Grow the Market

Amazon’s AmazonSmile program not only improved the branding of the company, it also provided a host of new opportunities for nonprofits to become affiliates. Nonprofit organizations vying for the most Amazon-based donations will be motivated to advocate increased purchases from their support base, earning them both affiliate attribution and the donated percentage the customer left. Shutterfly similarly began to provide money to schools who referred customers to purchase Shutterfly’s photo books and calendars.

Demand for More Controlled Affiliate Referrals

As the year moves on, affiliates are certain to expand in new, creative ways while at the same time increasing the professionalism of their referral platform. Businesses will want to ensure that only genuine affiliates who will add value to their brand instead of hurting it are making branded referrals.

Companies who are concerned about unscrupulous pseudo-affiliates capturing impressions through branded offers should look to implement an offer platform that can manage and organize their promotions and the affiliates authorized to broadcast them. Proper attribution and ensuring affiliates are adding value are at the core of our retailer-focused mission. Visit our homepage to learn more.

Thrive commerce


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