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Affiliate Marketing : What will be our New Normal?
30 June 2020 13:37pm
We all know that economic factors are going to impact the way we work our marketing strategies online. A recent report from Rakuten’s research report showed 42% of publishers reported that their web traffic had increased during the pandemic. Brands who are not working actively with affiliates could be missing out on this valuable real estate in their acquisition mix.
For a long time, the performance marketing model has remained stagnant and like technology booms during crises (think Uber, Airbnb) there is going to be a period of innovation that naturally occurs. The past few months has very much been a time to take stock, pivot or reset digital priorities. While brands are looking at what to do now, it’s time to also take stock and consider what the new normal may be. In this article I’ll be exploring what the future could look like for affiliate and performance marketers.
Data and Tech will be Key
Data will provide more insight than it ever did before. Attribution revenue modelling will be impacted by changes in traffic sources and volumes and marketers will consider all of this when planning budgets for 2021 and beyond. It’s my guess that affiliate programs will want to pay for performance a lot harder than they perhaps did in the past because budgets will no doubt be impacted overall. It is going to be critical to make sure that money is being spent exactly where it makes the most impact and an affiliate program can help you leverage that reach during harder times.
Affiliate managers will be spending more time analysing data to see which traffic streams are the most effective in terms of revenue. If affiliate partners aren’t performing or meeting the agreed key performance indicators, deal negotiations will be managed more stringently than before. This places a bigger emphasis on affiliate publishers to focus on their ROI and not just conversion of the customer.
Automation of Tasks
Tech stack and SaaS companies are springing up all over the place. We have had time to realise that technology can help us with the administration tasks we may previously have been happy spending a few hours on end completing in the past.
Productivity will need to be stringently measured especially in a remote working climate.
Affiliate Managers can automate a lot more of the mundane tasks using apps and products that sit outside the traditional affiliate tracking solutions and CRM tools we currently use. As a result, affiliate managers will now have more time to nurture relationships and build on results as well as create new opportunities for promotions that speak to their customers and convert them better too.
This extra time also means affiliates will play a bigger role in audience segmentation and monitoring. Affiliates always have their ear to the ground; they are agile and reactive and using them to get insightful feedback on your customer behaviours and trends can be of great benefit to brands and their budgets. Smaller merchants who value innovation might jump onto this and leverage that expertise to get early market reach as buyer behaviours will change as we move out of COVID-19.
More Events and Networking Opportunities
What we have discovered from remote working and the increasing use of technology is that location knows no bounds. With an increasing number of summits, and networking events being hosted online – I anticipate this continuing. Affiliates have become used to being able to network and build relationships digitally, and although events organisers will of course be once again opening up conferences, awards ceremonies and face-to-face events – I certainly expect more of these digital summits to continue. Self lead learning is going to be popular, so I expect to see a lot of new people try their hand at becoming an affiliate even in the simplest form.
Collaboration will open up new opportunities and we may see some affiliate consolidation and mergers taking place to cement market positioning. This will also impact your pricing and terms negotiations so putting good deals in place could protect you for the long-term changes that may occur.
Affiliate Disruption leads to training and development - it’s an ongoing skill
Businesses will invest in affiliate disruption again - like in the past affiliates were cuckolded to prevent brand cannibalisation on Search and PPC smaller businesses may outsource again to affiliates who are experts in this field to work more openly together and marginalise competitors.
Like I’ve explained before - the market forces that drive the growth in this channel are enabling it to grow at a much faster rate than other digital channels. This means hiring more staff to accommodate the program growth and that leads me to talk about training. Companies may realise that affiliate management is a skill and it is learned on the job.
To be really good at affiliate marketing, it requires ongoing education to remain at the forefront of this channel. Like with SEO and complex algorithms, the day to day running and program implementation is going to change along with the new normal environment we’ll find ourselves working in. Businesses will now invest in educational events and seminars that will allow affiliate managers to be more competent in their digital roles.
Increase of Media Consumption, will disrupt traditional pay per performance pricing
Media consumption will increase (what else have we got to do) so affiliate managers will have to think about brand and performance to maximise budget spend. There has already been broadcasting companies now offering TV advert spots on a CPA (cost per acquisition) basis as opposed to their standard remuneration rates. We will see more of this price disruption in online media in months to come and need to embrace any new remuneration opportunities that might present a good deal for both parties. Other forms of media spend such as PPC has also come down, and although the likelihood is that this will go back up, affiliate managers will be able to watch these trends more closely than before and focus on specific geo locations or products to drive value where they can.
Things are changing, there is no doubt that this will continue but we also need to look at the positive opportunities this presents and consider how to leverage these changes into the way we might have always done things. Businesses that don’t do this – will be the ones who fall behind.