The Rise of Affiliate Marketing in 2020

posted by Daniil Tarakanov on 02.12.2020

Publishers are achieving increasingly influential statuses in today’s modern business climate. As a publisher, you should appreciate the reach of your target demographic, and how this can be leveraged to your advantage.

Research from Business Insider suggests revenue from affiliate marketing has grown by 10% annually since 2015. 

The rise of publications has strengthened the embrace of the affiliate marketing model, which can be incredibly lucrative. At a basic level, affiliate marketing involves redirecting consumers to other companies from content within your own website.

Let’s use Shopify as an example to illustrate this point. The shopping powerhouse recently collaborated with publisher Buzzfeed to increase visibility/sales.

Here the affiliate arrangement is simple. Buzzfeed incorporates Shopify links in its articles, receiving a commission on sales conversations made from said links. Buzzfeed receives a huge 10 – 25% per sale, a huge incentive for them to work in connection with Shopify.

You can see why the affiliate marketing approach has become so popular, particularly with the rising influence of companies with companies like Buzzfeed which have a huge audience.

Major corporations can benefit from the audience established by smaller publications. For example, The New York Times recently purchased The Wirecutter for $30 million.

Big companies can always benefit from the specific target audiences built by smaller entities, where performance marketing techniques can generate considerably better revenue than cost-per-thousand-impressions-based models that dominated in yesteryear.

Publishers can convert reader intent into sales, in contexts where it’s easy to build consumer profiles to better understand consumer preferences and collaborate with affiliate companies that can offer products which match user expectations.

The affiliate model is cost-effective, where advertisers pay on a results-based basis, not impressions. A performance partnership model is beneficial for both companies involved, which is one of the biggest reasons why affiliate marketing is on the rise.

Affiliate Marketing: A Popular New Phenomenon

Publishers now have vast swathes of valuable personalised data on niche audience members. This in essence is what affiliate partners are selling when they work with other companies. 

When the right connections are established, affiliate advertisements tend to lead to more clicks and conversations.

It’s interesting to consider which of the two parties instigates an affiliate partnership. In reality, either can initiate an arrangement, for example, a publisher with an upcoming listicle on coolers might reach out to cooler distributors and negotiate an arrangement for their water coolers to be featured.

By connecting with a retailer’s affiliate network, as the publisher, you’ll receive a monthly check for the commissions you’ve earnt.

Performance-based marketing strategies offer authentic value, a contrast from the ineffective nature of faking impressions. As affiliate marketing continues its incline to prominence, publishers will seek new, creative ways to demonstrate the value of affiliate linking to encourage other partners to collaborate.

What Are the Benefits and Challenges of Affiliate Marketing

Merchants and advertisers will usually benefit from an affiliate program, the success of which can be measured by tracking results and initiating automatic payments after a set period.

The interest of media companies has piqued, where many influential companies are looking to embrace the modern conventions of affiliate marketing. One of the biggest challenges companies face is not knowing who to consult about the concept.

It’s difficult knowing where to turn, but as a publisher, you should work with a company like levels.digital. Representatives like these can help publishers better understand their affiliate marketing prospects, offering elite advice and helping to coordinate relationships.

You can also benefit from scanning search data to evaluate the areas where your expertise lies. If you can spot an area which doesn’t have many hits, you can work to establish content where there is a demand for it.

This will draw the attention of companies looking to gain from your exposure.

The performance-based affiliate model benefits everyone involved when everyone is doing well. Everyone can enjoy the profits involved when performance is high.

Retailers are looking for real results, in today’s sales over impressions business environments. A performance-based model will ultimately ensure fair rates and better results.

What You NEED to Consider with Affiliate Marketing

Here is some valuable advice for when you’re looking to strike up an effective affiliate campaign:

Trust is Everything

Choosing from a diverse, varied list of options can convolute the nature of customer decision-making. Today’s consumers expect their choices to be narrowed down, for you to present the best, most relevant buying options based on what you already know about them.

When you’re able to curate the best products for consumers, their journey will be considerably easier as there’s less noise for them to cut through.

But how does your audience know whether to trust the links you’re referring them to? It’s difficult to establish trust among customers with paid content distribution, especially when they’re likely to question your agendas and motives.

One great way to establish trust is by taking an upfront approach. Be transparent with your audience and disclose the commission you’re making off of their purchases, You should also focus on targeting more affordable products to first time buyers, who will be more likely to engage with you as a result.

As you build a rapport with your audience, you can retarget to them based on specific metrics, for example marketing more expensive products to those who clicked out of your article comprising cheaper products.

Diversification = Stability

Wirecutter tried to tell us about the importance of establishing a broad partner base, but did we listen? Now is the time to take heed to this advice, to strike deals with retailers and have a say in the revenue terms and partnership arrangement.

Sometimes this is only possible when you’re big enough to do so, but even so, smaller players can gain from revenue diversification too.

It’s important to not rely on a single affiliate network or retailer, rather diversifying your income sources. Invest in your SEO, organic traffic from social media and organic search traffic. You can boost these sources by taking advantage of paid user acquisition from Google Ads and social media.

Organic traffic can offer nice incremental revenue, alongside monetising your newsletter email list with links to popular reviews in your emails. 

Use Visuals

Consumers are always positively influenced by visualising appealing content. A clean, clear and concise layout is usually enticing, particularly when it uses content which doesn’t detract from the main attraction.

When you start out there are bound to be loads of call-to-actions and ads surrounding your content. When a lot is going on, this can distract from your main revenue driver – the affiliate link in question.

Here is a great example of clear, visual appeal:

Remember to shine a spotlight on what’s important, removing distractions where applicable and incorporating a BIG, BOLD LINK to the product or service you’re promoting.

Include a lifestyle image promoting the affiliate product or service in question for better results.

If you’re publishing an article which reviews multiple items, ensure your recommended products are within a similar price range. Select products around $30 between the highest and lowest price points.

You can also title your article as such, for example, ‘Top 5 Lamps Under $X’.

Thanks for reading this article! If you’re looking for a creative way to monetise your content, levels.digital is a full-service design and technology agency that specialises in creating innovative solutions for publishers. 

These can transcend your business model while adding significant value to your audience and advertisers.
If you think we can help your business, please contact our founder Daniil Tarakanov at daniil@levels.digital​.

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