To say it has been an uncertain year for brands and affiliates alike would be an understatement. In an economy that has never been more unpredictable, we have witnessed significant shifts in consumer focus, product demand and offline activity. This has meant that businesses have needed to adopt a very targeted and responsive approach to their digital marketing strategy. Some have been required to adopt an online presence quickly; others have struggled during a challenging climate, and the fortunate have excelled due to new consumer demands and an increase in working from home lifestyles.
There are several factors to consider when planning your affiliate activity for a successful 2021, and this post aims to equip you with all the tools needed to help alleviate some of that uncertainty. Hopefully, you will be able to apply some of our top tips and make 2021 your most successful year yet.
This year, traditional high street shoppers have needed to become increasingly comfortable with digital. We shouldn’t assume that these customers will automatically switch to digital; but rather, think about using this fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of your brand through the right affiliate audience channels. It is worth reflecting on how your 2020 consumer demographic has changed and whether your affiliate program is continuing to reach its full potential.
Taking into consideration that 2020 has brought to light many new pain points for consumers – it is important to feel confident that you are addressing these points via your affiliate channel. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been shown that consumers are much more receptive to positive marketing messages – mainly to help cheer them up. Gen Z is particularly bored now, with 42% saying they want more ‘fun’ content (marketing dive, 2020 – https://www.marketingdive.com/news/gen-z-wants-fun-exciting-ads-amid-pandemic-boredom-survey-says/577339/)
Consider your current recruitment strategy to ensure you are targeting these potential consumers in their natural online environment and aim to increase awareness through content-led exposure. The transactional journey from awareness to checkout is becoming progressively seamless, and consumers are now expecting their purchases to be an extension of their day-to-day life.
Ensuring you access your customer at all stages of the purchasing funnel has always been important, but especially during such an unpredictable time. As previously mentioned, shopping behaviours are changing so the products you are pushing and the affiliates you are using to promote your brand might change too. With AI technology on the rise, there are a number of technology affiliates at Webgains who can help to create a seamless online journey with you. Use our new Affiliate Discovery tool to quickly access personalised affiliates, those most relevant to promote your product offering.
Economic conditions are changing hour by hour so, most importantly, you need to be prepared. Partnering with affiliates in various sectors ensures that you can respond if their purchasing behaviour changes. Whether your objectives consist of geo-targeting, new customers or in-store awareness, make sure that you have the right affiliates on board to diversify your campaign.
When planning your 2021 affiliate budget, you should consider a few different elements. Fluctuations such as seasonal peaks, overnight changes in product demands and an unpredictable economy can make this tricky.
It is important to give yourself room to manoeuvre and keep a certain amount of flexibility within your budget. The more reactive you can be towards overnight changes and significant increases in demand – the better. This should present you with lots of opportunities to dive right in and take advantage of these changes. Planning is essential to prevent having to drastically alter affiliate activity due to a change in performance, as this can have a negative effect on your affiliate relationships.
It is also essential to plan how to capture the lost volume we have seen from the high street moving into next year. An unpredictable economy requires increased long-term planning to reduce uncertainty and increased agility. Considering the changes this will have on your affiliate program is an integral part of the planning cycle.
The traditional affiliate model has become outdated, as the number of innovative affiliate partnerships increases. There is more online competition than ever as businesses aim to move many of their transactions from offline. In line with the ever-evolving change in consumer behaviour.
Use your affiliate channel to help you stand out from the crowd and think about what you can offer your affiliate audience that is authentic and original. Your affiliate data can often be used to your advantage when making these decisions and should be a key source of reflection.
Think outside the box and increase the number of partnerships you have with affiliates. They often hold streams of data which can be used to personalise, target and make your offering much more focussed, ultimately increasing your ROI. There is no limit to working with affiliates – it is essential to have incentives and vouchers in place, but don’t let this constrain your creative thinking.
Personalisation has always been at the forefront, but this will continue to be the case moving into 2021 with an ever-increasing ‘interactive’ high street. Consumers are more selective about their purchases than ever before and the developments in AI will continue to drive this trend. These interactive technology hubs will most likely encourage purchases across all channels, so keeping your marketing strategy consistent is key.
There has been a huge surge in social media usage this year, with a 10% increase YoY in July alone. Promoting via these social platforms ensures you remain consistent and relevant to your consumer, keeping brand awareness at the forefront. New platforms such as Tik Tok have exploded in popularity this year and presents an exciting opportunity to think about how you can innovate the affiliate content you are pushing outside of the day-to-day.
More people at home means the views of video content are rising as they strive to escape from their day to day life. Sponsored content secures brand visibility, and with the likelihood of influencers continuing to keep momentum – this is an area that you should consider for next year. Lastly, voice search is continuing to be popular due to an increase in smart devices. New affiliates are supporting this trend, offering direct voice search for vouchers, and this is likely to continue.
Hopefully, this post has given you lots to think about when planning your affiliate activity for 2021. The Webgains Academy hosts a wide range of courses and videos available to help you navigate through the next few months and beyond.
Please get in touch with your dedicated Webgains account manager to begin your planning/ Don’t hesitate to contact me directly if you have any questions or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. It would be great to hear from you.
Here’s to another great year and all the best for the Christmas period.