When it comes to running a successful affiliate marketing program, it's important to stay engaged in industry news, including how customers find and decide to purchase new products. However, with consumer tastes and concerns constantly shifting and standards always evolving, it can be hard to stay on top of affiliate marketing trends.
Fortunately, by assessing what's worked in the past and what customers currently value, you can predict the most important affiliate marketing techniques for the coming year. This will help you stay ahead of the curve and give your partners a leg up when it comes to promoting your products or services.
In this article, we’ll discuss the general outlook for the affiliate marketing industry. Then we'll share upcoming trends for 2021, the motivation behind them, and how you can manage them successfully in the near future. Let’s jump in!
The Outlook for Affiliate Marketing in 2021
More businesses than ever are using affiliate marketing as a cost-effective way to reach targeted audiences. Annual spending in this industry is projected to reach $8.2 billion by 2022 in the U.S.
For context, 2017 saw affiliate marketing sales come in at $5.4 billion. The growth outlook is healthy.
Additionally, technology and marketing tools continue to help sellers and affiliates learn more about their customers and buying preferences. With more of these tools and options available, marketers can stay informed and adapt faster.
Especially considering the challenges 2020 has brought to many business owners, affiliate marketing could prove to be a much-needed assist in the coming year. If you're looking for a way to minimize costs while boosting brand awareness, this strategy could help.
7 Affiliate Marketing Trends for 2021
Understanding the driving forces behind developing trends can be helpful. Uncertainty, evolving social connections, and technological advances will continue to impact the market in 2021. As a result, the following trends will likely prove useful for enhancing your strategy.
1. A Shift Away from Third-Party Cookies
If you haven't heard the news, it's time to get ready. Google Chrome (which accounts for about 70% of all web use) plans to block all third-party tracking cookies by 2022. Not only that, but Apple is making tracking optional based on user opt-in.
While this change will definitely affect the way publishers and sellers approach affiliate marketing, it will mainly be a matter of adapting to new ways of gathering and processing data. First party affiliate programs (or, affiliate programs run through independent sellers) will provide the flexibility and access to data needed to succeed in the future.
To learn more, check out our article, How to Handle Affiliate Tracking in the Cookieless Future.
2. Influencers Will Become Even More Important
Trust continues to be a key factor in purchasing. The current period of uncertainty and increased privacy concerns due to perceived Big Tech overreach add to this. Consumers prefer content marketing’s softer approach of informing and educating without being intrusive.
Influencers who produce authentic content and have loyal followers can lend their credibility and integrity to your brand. This type of trusted voice will become even more valuable as consumers wade through fake news and intrusive data collection.
Continue to look for influencers within your niche who produce content that is relevant to your brand. Establish relationships early as these affiliates will be highly sought after in the coming year.
3. Localization Can Help You Earn Attention and Trust
Localization is the practice of understanding your audience's culture and marketing within its established norms and expectations. The members of the various groups your brand may be reaching will prefer affiliates who know the nuances of their customs and worldviews.
As technology advances, it gives brands greater reach and access to different populations. In order to better connect with these segments, it's smart to identify and establish affiliate partnerships with trusted voices within these communities and sub-groups.
Failure to do so can position your affiliates as outsiders and prevent them from landing sales. Instead, pay attention to your customer demographics and seek out influencers who are already reaching those audiences.
4. Seasonal and Holiday Themes Will Continue to Expand
Retailers have been taking advantage of seasonal and holiday sales for years, even adding new “holidays” or theme days to generate sales. Consumers continue to respond well to these, looking for specials and incentives from such campaigns.
Continue to promote traditional or popular holidays and seasons. You can also get creative within your niche to develop new theme days relevant to your products, industry, or community.
The National Day Calendar is a useful resource for planning your special sales events throughout the year. You can extend this strategy to your affiliates by running contests for them or giving them discount codes to share with their followers.
5. Customers Favor Video as a Content Marketing Medium
According to Wyzowl’s 2020 video marketing statistics report, 84 percent of people say that they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video. When asked how they’d most like to learn about a product or service, two-thirds of people (66 percent) said they’d like to watch a short video.
Given this information, your customers probably use video to search for, evaluate, and purchase products. Adding this content to the mix may help lead to more sales. Fortunately, it's easy to get started.
You can create short explainer videos and other content to educate customers about your products and how to get the most out of them. The popularity of YouTube as an influencer platform also provides ample opportunities to seek out partners who are already working in this medium.
6. Diversification Can Mitigate Uncertainty
Diversifying has been sound business advice for ages, and that hasn’t changed. As uncertainty creeps into more sectors due to COVID-19, more businesses will start to execute this strategy to sustain themselves.
This will impact the affiliate marketing industry as more affiliates seek to diversify, looking for different products and services (and programs) to satisfy their audiences. With increased competition, you may see lower sales from certain affiliates.
You can mitigate these potential losses by partnering with new affiliates or diversifying your own offers. Also, knowing that your partners are likely looking for new product lines and sales avenues, you may find it even more essential to strengthen your affiliate community and keep your lines of communication open.
You might also consider including affiliates in product development conversations and find a way forward together. Given their proximity to your target audience, you may find they have fresh ideas that can help expand your business.
7. Automation Tools Will Continue to Impact the Effectiveness of Marketing Processes
Finally, don't hesitate to take advantage of any automation tools available to you. This can help you with several of the tips above, such as vetting new affiliates to localize your strategy or managing seasonal campaigns.
For instance, you might consider implementing a link shortener to track affiliate sales. You can also build a dashboard to share key marketing materials with partners and manage commissions.
With all of the other trends you have to keep up with, streamlining other affiliate marketing-related responsibilities can only help you.
The outlook for affiliate marketing in 2021 remains strong. More informed sellers and publishers are emerging on the scene, advancing technologies give them a leg up, and consumers are eager to engage with brands and products for a better experience.
In this article, we discussed a few affiliate marketing trends to watch for in 2021:
- Influencers will become even more important.
- Localization can help you earn attention and trust.
- Seasonal and holiday themes will continue to expand.
- Customers favor video as a content marketing medium.
- Diversification can mitigate uncertainty.
- Automation tools will continue to impact the effectiveness of marketing processes.
What other affiliate marketing trends do you see impacting 2021? Let us know in the comments section below!
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