With spending in the affiliate marketing world forecasted to hit $6.8 billion dollars in the year 2020, many brands are beginning to realize just how effective this marketing channel can be. This pay per performance model of marketing is appealing to brands because they only have to spend money when they make money – making it more budget and ROI friendly than any other form of marketing out there.

However, we all know that the digital world is constantly and rapidly changing, and affiliate marketing is no exception. Here at eAccountable, we’ve been involved with affiliate marketing for nearly 20 years and we’ve worked with hundreds of brands. Because of this, we’re constantly reading about and observing trends in the industry. So, in order to prepare your affiliate marketing program for upcoming shifts and trends in the marketplace, we’ve outlined 13 trends that brands who partake in affiliate marketing need to know about in order for their programs to thrive.

Let’s take a look…

Land Exclusive Partnerships

When possible, land affiliate partners who will exclusively write about your brand in the vertical that your brand falls under. Don’t get us wrong, these can be difficult to find but when you do find one, don’t hesitate to offer them a higher commission for exclusively writing about your brand. It’s easy to get lost in a sea of brand mentions and you should do everything in your power to stand out and find content creators who are willing to give you exclusivity.

Native Advertising

Native advertising is paid-for content that isn’t disruptive or an obvious piece of sales material. An example of this is a sponsored blog post where the author is compensated and includes the brand in their blog post but it’s not disruptive or salesy like a banner ad.

This type of content is more effective because it engages the reader and showcases how your brand authentically fits into the lifestyle of the content creator and still links to your brand and can be tracked with the affiliate marketing tool that your brand uses.

Use of Voice Search is Increasing

It’s forecasted that over 55% of households will have a smart speaker device by the year 2022. To cater to the rise of voice search it’s important that you have your content creators create content that follows the natural speech patterns to capitalize on the trend of voice search.

With voice search, your strategy differentiates from SEO in that you want to capitalize on long tail keywords. People speak differently than they type so your strategy should embrace SEO in two ways—online typed searches and voice search phrases. To fully integrate voice search into your strategy, you’ll need to partner with content creators who understand the value of voice search and write content that answers questions that consumers will ask when using voice search. And while the SEO benefit is minimal for a brands site due to most affiliate links being no follow the content your affiliate produces can still rank well and position your brand in more organic searches.

Working with an Agency Gets the Best Results

If you haven’t guessed it by now, affiliate marketing can be complicated. It’s not an area of marketing that can be learned overnight and run in-house. Brands who work with affiliate marketing agencies reap the benefits of their experience over the years including relationships, great rates with affiliate marketing platforms, experience, methodologies and more.

So, if this is the year that you’re going to start implementing affiliate marketing, we highly recommend working with an agency.

Affiliate Marketing Will Merge with Influencer Marketing

Traditionally, affiliate marketing and influencer marketing operate differently. The key difference is how the content creator gets paid. With affiliate marketing, content creators are paid on a commission basis and with influencer marketing, they are paid on a per post basis. However, lately we are seeing the two types of marketing merge into a hybrid relationship for brands. Meaning, more brands are paying content creators a fee to post plus commission lowering the amount that they would normally pay for an earned post.  With this merging of the two methods comes more relationships that brands are able to facilitate and earn media from.

Experimentation Wins

There is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to affiliate marketing. For both the industry in general and for each individual brand. The best insights come from experimentation. Experiment with things like target audience, niches of content creators, commission rate, etc. With diligent tracking and only experimenting with one factor at a time, your ideal affiliate marketing plan will be revealed to you.

Locate the Pain Points

Instead of working with any content creator that will have you, try identifying the pain points of your target consumers and work backward to see which types of content creators can address these pain points by recommending your brand.

While it might be tempting to work with anyone with a large following, the right content creator, even with a smaller following, is going to get you better results and create content that resonates with their audience.

Laser Focused Creatives and Audience

With so many brands implementing affiliate marketing, it’s becoming harder for brands to stand out in the digital clutter. That’s why it is super important to focus on the types of creatives you distribute to your affiliate partners as well as being really specific with the audience that you’re going after.

Diversify Your Content

This year, don’t just stick to your normal roster of content methods, diversify where consumers can find your brand such as blogs, Podcasts, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and more. We mentioned experimenting earlier in the post and experimenting with content mediums is key to reach your target consumers in a variety of ways.

Keyword Rich Content is Key

You want the content recommending your brand to show up well in search results for maximum exposure. So before partnering with affiliates, do a little keyword research and let them know which keywords you would like them to use in the titles of their posts and/or the keywords they use when linking to your brand. Be sure that your brand or agency is actively and continuously doing keyword research and tracking so that you know how to dictate the keywords that your earned content contains.

Final Thoughts

Affiliate marketing is a highly effective way to generate sales for your brand and increase brand awareness. However, it’s constantly evolving and there are many trends to keep track of. The key is finding the right agency who specializes in affiliate marketing to represent your brand as agencies make it their job to stay up to date with trends and know how to execute a powerful strategy.

When vetting the right affiliate marketing agency for your brand, keep the trends we talked about in this post in mind to make sure you choose the right agency.

Want to capitalize on the affiliate marketing trends that are forecasted for 2020? Reach out to eAccountable today for a free affiliate marketing audit!