Things to Consider for your Affiliate Channel in 2014

For many affiliates Valentine’s Day is the first holiday craze of 2014 which includes a surge of promotions, coupons codes, and deals from merchants. With the New Year underway, there’s plenty to do for your affiliates even after the holiday rush. Now is certainly not the time to get complacent.

Yes, Q4 is certainly the biggest shopping time of the year for the majority of affiliates. But some of that trickles over to Q1 too. There are still loads of great “Celebrate New Year” types of sales to take advantage of. Plus, lots of people start using up the gift cards they got for the holidays.

If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to really get your affiliate program in order and ensure 2014 affiliate channel revenue outperforms 2013. What specifically do you need to do? How can you prepare? Well, you’ve already done the first smart thing: you’re reading this article! Here’s a rundown of other things to keep in mind for your affiliate channel in 2014!

Go Mobile

By 2017, according to Forbes, 87% of connected devices sales will be for tablets and smartphones. That’s not surprising considering you can’t walk down a street these days without bumping into someone who’s got their nose buried in a smartphone. The proliferation of tablets and smartphones only helps support this prediction. Yes, more and more, consumers are bringing their shopping habits to the mobile world. If you don’t have a mobile plan in place, you could be leaving serious cash on the table. Make sure your site is mobile ready and that affiliate links can be tracked properly on them.

Affiliate Attribution

We already gave a rundown about the latest words to hit the industry: affiliate attribution. The shopping funnel that users go through from initial contact to final click and purchase is getting more complex and diversified by the minute. Spreading out the wealth to more websites could mean less revenue per affiliate, but more transactions overall. It’s the fairest way to handle online sales when a content site is really responsible for 90% of a buyer’s decision, yet they get nothing when the consumer clicks over to an affiliate site looking for a coupon and then makes a purchase. They both should get credit, with the commission split fairly between them. The affiliate attribution conversation is still in its infancy, but look for it to grow up pretty fast in 2014.

Think Visually

Obviously consumers are a visual breed. That’s nothing new. But what is new is the rapid rate everyone is sharing and devouring images online through such social media sites as Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram. Whether your company has an account at any of those social networks doesn’t matter (though you should!). What does matter is that you create loads of “sharable” content on your site by showing off large, high-quality photos. Thinking visually has never meant so much.

Short and Sweet

Similar to the visual push, consumers have really been trained to digest the facts and move on quickly. Between texting, tweeting and just having an incredibly low attention span, consumers will give you a fraction of the time they used to when it comes to marketing your product. So rather than offering lengthy, in depth explanatory messages, you need to think short and sweet. Can you boil your message down to just one sentence? How about just five words? You may not be able to, but try editing your messaging down as much as possible, at least the initial headline grabber types. Then take a breath and explain things further in a more-detailed thought-out process.

Find Your Niche

There’s an awful lot of noise out there in the shopping world. Your voice can easily get lost in the sea of competition. So how do you stand out? You think locally, instead of globally. Not physically mind you (though that’s not a bad thought too), but just in general. Instead of putting all of your marketing efforts in a blanket push about your site, chop things up a bit and categorize your affiliate base. However you do it is up to you and will change based upon your program, but think about the many different types of people who enjoy your product. Fitness lovers. Sports fans. Romantic. Pets. Environmentalists. Moms. Grandparents. Teachers. However it breaks down, create very specific and targeted creative, text links and even promotions centered around some of those groups. Work with affiliates in each category on a very personal level and you may be surprised at how rapidly you see growth.

Every year is different, and that’s especially true in the rollercoaster industry of affiliate marketing! The biggest constant in the industry is that you can always expect some change. Try to stay ahead of the change curve, though, by hitting 2014 running. Predict the big trends, and do what you can to prepare your program and your affiliates for the coming year.