Three Affiliate Marketing Trends to Watch in 2012

With 2012 quickly approaching it's time we take a look at some of the largest trends in the affiliate marketing world. If you're unfamiliar with affiliate marketing, I would encourage you to check out our webinar "Affiliate Marketing 101" by visiting www.eboostconsulting.com/affiliate-marketing-101. (In short, affiliate marketing allows advertisers to crowdsource their media buys, often paying only on a performance basis.)

Mobile

Unless you've been under a rock you've most likely heard that mobile is seeing explosive growth; in 2011 spending on mobile ads is anticipated to reach $1.23B (a 65% increase from 2010). Affiliates and advertisers can generate a large amount of mobile traffic, but the elephant in the room remains: does mobile traffic convert (into leads, engagement, etc.)? It largely depends on the offer. If you're promoting an iPhone app and the conversion path is intuitive and easy, then you'll probably have success. If you're promoting car insurance and trying to get a consumer to fill out a 25 field lead form, good luck. Consider the fit of your offers to the mobile audience. Is it simple, straightforward, compelling and quick to complete conversion? Does it fit in the context of how people engage with their mobile phones in various settings (e.g. when searching for a local restaurant, surfing the web, or shopping for a particular app)?

The trend in mobile is more than just "mobile is growing" and is really focused on finding a new and unique way to convert traffic. The mobile world of online advertising is still in its infancy of finding what does and does not work. Get creative with conversion paths:

  • Instead of using a lead form for car insurance offers why not run a pay-per-call offer where a user can just click the number and contact an agent instantly?
  • Instead of trying to get a user to download a desktop application why not create a landing page that just collects the visitor's email which you can use to send them the download link at a later time (when they are on their laptop or desktop)?
  • Instead of encouraging a purchase of a good through your mobile ad, collect an email address, marking the address with a tag that indicates this subscriber's interest. (Where did they come from? Did they click on a specific product page and then submit their email?). Follow up later with more information and a compelling call-to-action.

There are a lot of ways to leverage mobile traffic and to make it work for you. Expect to see more tactics like these in the near future.

Affiliate Tools

It boggles my mind why some people think you can simply throw up an offer on the top affiliate networks and instantly see converting traffic. Just like any lasting relationship, Mr. Advertiser and Mrs. Affiliate (see webinar "Affiliate Marketing 101" at www.eboostconsulting.com/affiliate-marketing-101) must take time to grow and strengthen their relationship. No instant gratification here (unless you're one of the lucky few). If you're in a competitive or saturated vertical, consider how you are differentiating your offer from the others? Giving affiliates the tools they need to succeed is vital if you want to succeed as an advertiser in the affiliate space.

A deep linking tool like the one below by CJ.com is one of the most basic ways to allow affiliates to link to any page on your site. If you have a site that allows users or affiliates to generate content then this tool becomes even more valuable as it allows the affiliate to generate value for you (content) and it also allows them to target specific pages that might convert better than the ones you chose for them. Give affiliates as much flexibility in promoting your offer as possible by offering tools like CJ.com's deep linking tool.

Deeplink Tool

Expect to see more advertisers giving affiliates unique and custom tools to help them achieve better conversions and higher EPC's.

Monetization

As CPM's and CPC's continue to increase for every vertical on the web, affiliates are being forced to find better ways to monetize each and every click. Imagine competing in the car insurance vertical and paying $9 CPC's in AdWords. Do you ever wonder how anyone is able to make that work? It comes down to knowing your traffic and understanding that once a user clicks to your site, in order to make the traffic worth your time, you must have multiple conversion paths with different values.

Take a look at www.quotelab.com. They have two conversion paths, zip submit and email submit. Both are easy and both get the visitor into the conversion funnel. When you submit your zip code it pops up another window, one with a full lead form and the other with PPC links from BrokersWeb or SureHits. The lead forms range from $6-$12 and the PPC results range from $6-$13 per click. (The reason for the range in payouts is the location of the visitor. Different states have different value.) In this example, QuoteLab has not left the conversion up to fate or good luck. Instead, they've set themselves up for success by creating multiple options at each step, thus increasing the probability of monetizing each click.

As the affiliate marketing industry grows and verticals become more competitive, expect to see more and more affiliates utilizing multiple conversion methods within their campaigns to monetize every action a visitor takes.

Marko Nikolic, Consultant, eBoost Consulting

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Did You Know?

Between January 2008 and January 2009, the number of daily mobile Web users doubled.