Due to the global pandemic, there was an abrupt shift in consumer behaviour that brands and marketers alike had to scramble to adapt to.
Affiliate marketing saw an increase in demand during this time as a reliable marketing channel for e-commerce businesses to zero in on thanks to it being low risk and offering a high return on investment.
Today affiliate marketing continues to be a central part of the marketing mix for businesses of all sizes.
Thanks to the low cost of affiliate marketing, it’s rare to find an e-commerce brand that doesn’t have an affiliate program in place or isn’t a part of an affiliate network.
To be successful in affiliate marketing, it’s important to keep up with the latest trends so that you can draw in your audience, keep their attention and convert this into a profit.
Many brands are now beginning to see the value of affiliate marketing, with 81% of brands having an affiliate program in place in 2022. But is an affiliate program right for you?
What is affiliate marketing and how does it work?
Affiliate marketing is a way in which e-commerce businesses work with other individuals or companies to promote their products to a wider audience and increase their sales.
The individuals or companies an e-commerce business works with, known as affiliate partners, receive a commission based on the number of sales they have helped to generate.
For example, an affiliate partner that writes a blog may feature your product within an article they write.
The affiliate partner will direct their readers to a link to your e-commerce page. This is known as an affiliate link and will be unique to that affiliate partner.
If a reader clicks on that link and then purchases the product, the affiliate will be rewarded with a commission on that sale.
How does an affiliate program help your business?
If you’re looking to sell a product or service, affiliate marketing can be hugely beneficial to you in more ways than one, especially if you run a small business.
Some of the advantages of affiliate marketing include:
Boosts your website traffic
As well as generating more sales for your business, affiliate marketing is a great way to rapidly increase the traffic to your website.
By having multiple affiliate partners referring potential customers to your site, you can also expect to see your organic traffic improve as more people search for your business and look through your website.
This will indirectly help to improve your position on the search engine results page.
Helps you reach a wider audience
Since your affiliate partners will already have an established audience, you will be able to build your audience off of their own.
Your affiliate partners will operate on a variety of different online channels, such as social media, mailing lists, loyalty sites, coupon sites, cashback sites, and blog websites which means they can offer your business a lot of exposure.
By choosing the right affiliate partners, you also have the opportunity to expand your reach to more niche audiences that you wouldn’t be able to access on your own.
You only pay when you get results
Because affiliate partners are only paid their commission once a particular action has been completed (such as a sale), affiliate marketing is wholly performance-based.
This removes a lot of risks for your business and ensures that what you pay for is equal to what you get. It will also encourage your affiliate partners to put in the work to drive sales for your business, as they are also wanting to make a profit.
Promotes diverse content
Each affiliate will have their own way of producing content, a way that works for them and that their audience responds to positively.
You could have multiple affiliates that produce video content about your products, but their style and presentation will be vastly different.
This will help to keep attention on your products without it becoming boring to viewers. Your affiliates will use different online channels to promote your business: Blog articles, Instagram reels, and livestreams to name a few.
This will also guarantee that the content out there about your products is unique and diverse.
What are the top 10 affiliate marketing trends for 2022?
As more businesses see the potential of affiliate marketing, the more competitive the industry will become.
We’ve identified some of the key affiliate marketing trends for 2022 that will help you make your affiliate program a success.
The rise of nano and micro influencers
Nano and micro influencers have smaller followings than big influencers, but they tend to get higher, meaningful engagement and have a more loyal following than their overly popular counterparts.
A nano influencer is defined as having anywhere between 500 and 10,000 followers, and a micro influencer is defined as having anywhere between 10,000 to 25,000 followers.
Working with nano and micro influencers is particularly beneficial for smaller businesses with a lower budget, as these influencers are much more likely to be receptive to an affiliate partnership and will be more effective at providing a return on investment.
This is partly because their audience views them as much more authentic than macro influencers, and therefore put a higher value on their opinions and recommendations.
Nano and micro influencers are also a great way to tap into niche markets. Because nano and micro influencers are often seen as authorities in their niche, this easily allows businesses to grow a loyal customer base off of their followings and generate sales.
The end of third party cookies
Whenever you visit a website, a small file known as a cookie is created. First party cookies don’t share their data with any other websites or advertising.
Third-party cookies are created by domains other than the one the user is visiting, and are primarily used to show visitors relevant ads. For example, Facebook & Instagram collect third-party cookies for retargeting purposes.
In some cases, but not all, third party cookies are used in affiliate marketing to help track what sales are attributed to which affiliates.
Currently, Firefox and Safari have already stopped using third-party cookies, and iOS users of 14.5 and onwards have options to limit tracking.
While Google has announced that they plan to phase out third-party cookies in chrome sometime in 2023.
Third-party cookies have been so useful in digital marketing for advertising and customer insights, that preparing to go forward without them seems daunting, but the key here is that if you are prepared, the transition will go much smoother.
If you currently use third-party cookies to track your affiliate’s sales, choosing an alternative tracking method, such as customer-based tracking or server-to-server tracking is a step in the right direction.
Livestream shopping events
Already a popular phenomenon in China, livestream shopping events are becoming increasingly popular around the world.
Livestream shopping is mainly aimed at Gen Z and Millennials and is hosted on a variety of platforms, from e-commerce sites such as Amazon to social media platforms such as Facebook Live and TikTok LIVE.
During the livestreams the host will showcase products to the viewers, they may model the products and discuss them with their viewers.
This gives the viewers a chance to engage with the host in real time, asking any questions or concerns they have regarding the products, and getting an immediate response.
The host will usually add a ‘game’ element to the show, such as a raffle or giveaway. The host will also provide viewers with promotional codes to help drive sales even further.
When done correctly, livestream shopping is very effective at creating a sense of urgency in the viewers, pushing them to make a purchase while they still can.
As livestream shopping continues to rise in popularity, it is certainly an avenue that both affiliates and affiliate marketers should keep an eye on for future consideration.
Comarketing affiliate partnerships
Co-marketing partnerships between affiliates and advertisers is a great way to bring in a diverse audience and increase your revenue.
It will help generate a buzz around your product, and if different affiliate types collaborate with one another, it has the potential to generate truly unique content.
It will also expose your affiliates to each other’s audiences, giving them the chance for growth as well, making it a beneficial opportunity for everyone involved.
In terms of commission, an agreement will need to be made between all parties involved to ensure fair payment.
Crypto affiliate marketing programs
In the last couple of years, cryptocurrencies have been given much more recognition.
With more people investing in crypto, and the rise in popularity of NFTs, you can expect cryptocurrencies to become even more mainstream.
There are already crypto affiliate networks out there, and more crypto-based affiliate marketing programs are likely to emerge as time goes on.
By promoting various currencies to the right people on social platforms and blogs, crypto affiliates have the opportunity to maximise their earnings with minimum effort.
AI, automation and affiliate marketing
Artificial intelligence will have a big impact on affiliate marketing in 2022, saving businesses time and making many processes much more efficient.
AI-based tools will make it easier to predict customer behaviour and process large amounts of data quickly.
AI will be able to identify valuable KPIs for businesses accurately, as well as make finding the right affiliates for your business easier while allowing you to monitor and track their progress more closely.
More data driven
With third-party cookies on the decline, campaigns driven by data such as sales and return on investment will take centre stage.
Campaigns will be better optimised to deliver the desired results through a trial and error strategy.
The performance of content affiliates produce will be analysed much more closely to ensure that it’s generating the right amount of revenue.
With more people using their phones to shop online, a bigger focus on mobile users needs to be implemented in 2022.
This means that cross-device tracking will become an essential part of your affiliate marketing campaigns.
Cross-device tracking will allow you and your affiliates to see a fuller picture of a buyer’s experience, helping you to better understand their thought process and behaviour.
Cross-device tracking can be carried out in two ways: Deterministic and probabilistic.
Deterministic cross-device tracking uses first-party data to link a user’s devices.
For example, when an email address is used to log into Instagram over multiple devices, deterministic tracking will recognise that these devices belong to the same individual.
Deterministic tracking is costly and requires a lot of data, meaning it isn’t an option for most businesses.
Probabilistic cross-device tracking collects anonymous data such as device type, location and wifi network to find plausible matches.
This data is then put into an algorithm that identifies a probable unique user across multiple devices.
Probabilistic tracking is much more plausible for smaller businesses but is much less accurate.
More people are shopping on their mobile devices than ever before, and the vast majority of those people shop using an app.
In-app purchases also tend to have a higher basket value than mobile web, which goes to show how valuable in-app monitoring is for affiliate marketing.
Businesses need to take on board a mobile management partner to get started with in-app monitoring.
An MMP is a platform provider that can collect and sort app user events and data to generate an assessment of campaign performance. Most affiliate platforms will outline which partners they are most easily integrated with.
In-app monitoring will help attribute sales to affiliates more accurately, giving them a more accurate commission while also smoothing out the end-user experience.
In-app monitoring will also help businesses improve their conversions, increase brand loyalty and leave customers more satisfied.
Voice search is continuing to develop and is likely to rise in popularity in the upcoming years.
Using virtual assistants such as Siri, it’s predicted that voice search using mobile devices will improve considerably and therefore become more mainstream.
Affiliate marketers need to take this into account when they consider advertising opportunities, looking for advertisers that are taking advantage of voice search SEO.
When people use the voice search function, it tends to be to ask questions. When carrying out keyword research a greater focus should be put on long-tail SEO to get the most out of voice search.
By taking these key affiliate marketing trends for 2022 into consideration, you should be able to stay ahead of the curve and increase your business revenue, as well as the success of your affiliate marketing campaigns.
Always be sure to keep an eye out for emerging trends that will elevate your marketing efforts even further.