Affiliate marketing cemented its place in online marketing and ecommerce long ago, yet it continues to grow stronger each year. 2023 looks to be its biggest year yet, with data from this past year showing continued growth and refined strategies. Here are the seven affiliate marketing trends we at Hawke Media are expecting in the coming year.
1. A Growing Market for Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing isn’t slowing down anytime soon. It continues to be among the fastest-growing ecommerce channels, with a 10% increase in sessions throughout 2022, according to proprietary data from HawkeAI.
Any 10% increase in annual traffic is even more promising given that it came amidst a decrease in traffic across many other channels.
That may represent a shift in consumer preferences away from other channels and toward affiliate marketing, or it might be customers who already shop via affiliate marketing using this channel more.
In either case, the trend results in affiliate marketers seeing higher traffic and session counts. Either trend is also one that’ll likely continue for the foreseeable future. We anticipate year-over-year session counts for affiliate marketing to be up again in 2023.
2. Increasing Affiliate Marketing Spending
The growth that’s occurring comes with an increase in per-transaction spending. HawkeAI stats show that eccomerce retailers tended to see 8-10% higher transaction values from affiliate-referred customers.
The increase in per-transaction spending shows growing trust among all parties involved. Customers are evidently trusting affiliate marketers to make recommendations worthy of purchasing, and ecommerce retailers are trusting affiliate marketers to provide high traffic. As this ecosystem continues to build trust, the value of each transaction could grow even more during the coming year.
The combination of a growing market and increasing per-transaction value could create a positive feedback loop for affiliate marketers. Ecommerce retailers may invest more in their affiliate marketing programs, which could help even more customers discover affiliate marketing. The affiliate marketers in the middle might benefit from higher commissions, higher transaction values, and higher traffic.
3. Contextual Targeting Will Be More Important
Contextual targeting will become even more important than it already is, thanks largely to a privacy change that Google Chrome is initiating.
Google plans to phase out third-party cookies from the Google Chrome web browser. First-party cookies will take become more important – collecting extensive data that can further refine the company’s contextual advertising.
The sunset of third-party cookies has been delayed until 2024. A pilot program began this past August, and the transition should be completed by late 2024.
Ecommerce and affiliate marketers need to start making the transition now. The most immediate need is to refine contextual marketing methods, so they’re ready by 2024 when most paid online advertising is contextualized.
4. Focus on Funnel Alignment
Affiliate marketing has a ~10% lower bounce rate than other methods of marketing. This is great news, but it can be improved with a focus on funnel alignment, which is often a vulnerability in the affiliate space.
This means that the same branding, keywords, and messaging that someone sees from an affiliate or influencer needs to be repeated on the landing page where consumers are driven. If a customer feels like the website they’re on doesn’t align with the affiliate marketing, they’ll bounce.
The most fervent retailers might look at content, graphics, colors, or even more minute details as they consider new affiliate applicants. Find experts in a full suite of marketing services to help align various strategies.
5. Micro-Influencers Become Big
Advancements in social media algorithms are giving the algorithms more nuance in their recommendations. As recommendations become more specific, more people are seeing algorithms recommend micro influencers alongside the more well-known influencers.
As a collective, micro-influencers could become the next big affiliate marketing and social media movement. People’s trust in influencers is growing, so they’ll be prone to trust small-time influencers that are highly relatable. All that needs to happen is for algorithms to recommend the right small-time influencers, and algorithms are doing that better each day.
As micro-influencers collectively grow, marketers are ready to use them. Shopify reports that 77% of online marketing professionals say micro-influencers are their ideal influencers to work with.
6. Affiliates Go Local
On the search engine side, people are increasingly conducting local searches. SEO data shows that the number of community-level searches is steadily growing.
Affiliate marketers should (and will) be capitalizing on the local trend. Marketers who understand a city or region, and talk like they’re from the region, will be trusted. The trend is particularly well-suited for micro-influencers who maintain social media accounts and a website (both of which all affiliates should do).
7. Shopify Collabs is Designed for These Trends
While there are many ways that affiliate marketing is adapting to these trends, one singularly stands out.
Shopify Collabs is a new collaboration app that lets affiliates and brands work together when marketing. The app is designed for a world where affiliate marketing is common and consistent funnel alignment is essential, and where micro and local affiliates have prominent places.
If you’re in affiliate marketing and haven’t yet heard of Shopify Collabs, you almost certainly will be in the coming months. Chances are, companies you work with will soon be using the app. You should give it a strong consideration too.
Succeed With Affiliate Marketing in 2023
If you’re in affiliate marketing, you’re in a good field with even more promise throughout the coming year. Make sure you understand these affiliate marketing trends, and think about how you can capitalize on them. You could soon be dominating throughout all of 2023.