Affiliate Marketing – how to navigate the year ahead.

In the current climate – we are all tasked with doing what they can to ensure our businesses are staying afloat. Almost every sector is experiencing some knock-on effect, and it’s essential to absorb what we have learned during this time and plan ahead for the future, whether it’s Covid-free or not. 

However, as a result of the tougher restrictions we have faced in lockdown, the demand for the online entertainment has thrived. Consequently, there have been big changes in the way they engage with consumers and promote ongoing retention behaviours. Brands and Affiliates are swiftly having to adapt to a noisy marketplace as everyone hops onto the online bandwagon. 

Affiliates play a big part in all aspects of buyer behaviour and need to be considered as part of a brands marketing reach. Working strategically with an affiliate program in place, can allow you to engage in a wider campaign and cost-effectively manage your marketing budget to spread visibility of your brand into really defined customer niches. 

Because affiliates are paid on performance and not advertising you’d be silly not to consider the impact the affiliate channel has in customer engagement during each step of the user journey. 

So, what can you do to harness the power of affiliate marketing to ensure the security of your brand’s future? 

  1. Look to the Future. 

With the potential for another lockdown, the future is still extremely unpredictable. As we’ve already seen, even as things started to settle down, there were after-effects to resourcing and budgets to consider. 

As businesses slowly begin to reopen again, customers will be met by a much different experience than what they’re used to. Considering compliance and an ethical behaviour around how you are marketing entertainment is key during these more uncertain times. It’s vital to have a much longer-term marketing strategy in place to keep up with the changing digital trends and also that of consumer demands. 

You need a plan that encompasses how you can use affiliates and digital marketing during this surreal period and how you can continue to grow your brand without getting lost in the fray. 

2. You need to stand out.  

Don’t expect digital marketing to bounce back. It has to change.  This means you will have to change too. 

Part of this plan will be looking at how your budget is currently apportioned throughout the various digital channels you once were using and need to be invested in today and the future. It’s likely that budgets will shift in and out of these channels.  An even split between digital channels may not be what’s best for your business at the moment. Instead, you may want to look at investing more in affiliate marketing or other pay on performance type mediums.

3. Take Care With Your Affiliate Programs 

It’s critical that you launch your affiliate program in such a way that it is scalable. It could be that you utilise your existing resources differently , advertise in different places, leverage partnerships more and use experts to help you focus on the affiliate element of your business. You may find that you’ll need to train your team to keep up with what’s changing and keep them innovating or you might want to hire affiliate marketing talent, or you outsource elements to the experts who can help. 

The tech you use to support your affiliate program is also an integral part of its success. You may want to perform an audit and check what other service providers are doing to optimise their platforms and work collaboratively with their clients to provide better , faster solutions to global brand management and ever increasing compliance.

You need reporting systems that will provide you and your affiliates with the data needed in order to optimise campaigns and build relationships with your affiliates. This is a key component of getting the basics of an affiliate program right so that your program generates profit. 

It’s also a key point that can be a barrier to entry for new affiliates who come to work with you. If your technology is not correct and the platform you are using to track sales is not trusted, it could impede the growth and scalability of your program and your profit.

4. Nurture Your Relationships With Affiliates: 

Make sure you are building relationships that will last during these tough times. People will remember how they were treated. Instead of thinking of affiliates as traffic and sales – think of them as partners and people. They could be a valuable lifeline in the future when it comes to keeping your costs low when we come out of the other side of this. Make sure you keep in close contact with them as well as you can when face-to-face meetings are ruled out. You can communicate via telephone, email, Skype and Zoom to maintain a good working relationship.

In Summary: 

The world is desperately trying to regain a sense of normality and rebuild the economy. However, with tighter budgets and a sense of renewed cautiousness in buyer behaviour, for many industries, it’s not going to be an easy comeback. I’m pretty sure we’ll see a lot of innovation come to the market because of it. 

It’s crucial that you use this time to put your marketing strategies in place and ensure that you stay ahead of the competition. This is the time to harness the power of affiliate marketing and use the partnership to keep on top of the constant changes in consumer demand. 

I’ve put together an advanced training program (AMPP) for Affiliate Managers which has been paired with my extensive digital business and affiliate marketing expertise. The course is designed to amplify your performance and talk about the disruption taking place in our market now and how to navigate to the future. The next AMPP Cohort begins 25 November.

Times are changing, and together – with AMPP you can ensure you’re ready to change along with them.

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