2019 is here and affiliate marketing is bigger than ever. It is among the most popular marketing models, estimated to be worth $12 billion worldwide.
It has been big and it will become bigger!
According to the Hosting Tribunal’s comprehensive resource on affiliate marketing, the current compound annual growth rate for affiliate marketing is 27%. A poll from 2017 recorded that 86% of all publishers expected affiliate marketing to grow even more. Some marketing methods might change, but affiliate marketing is here to stay.
Admittedly, nobody can predict with 100% certainty of how the market will behave. For now, affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make an income for new entrepreneurs, especially for ones that have little-starting capital.
And that brings us to our topic. Although we can’t predict the overall future, we can notice certain trends in affiliate marketing. Being familiar with these is a good way to prepare your affiliate strategy for 2019.
So, whether you’re just starting out or want to update your repertoire, we have prepared a list of affiliate marketing trends for 2019. Adapt your strategy to these and you will have much more success as an affiliate.
Now, affiliates have heard this one a thousand times. It is so important, however, we’ll repeat it once again. You need to build a trusting relationship with your audience.
People are getting better and better at recognizing affiliate links. With Google penalizing low-quality websites, this is becoming even more important. Affiliates that don’t adopt the customer-centric approach in 2019 will see their profit margin crash and burn.
So, make your website more personal, connect with your audience through social networks and webinars, and be transparent about your status as a marketer. It will pay off.
Trust is also becoming more important between merchants and affiliates. Great affiliates don’t want to risk their reputation because of a merchant’s unprofessional behavior. In 2019, it will be equally important for merchants and affiliates to maintain a pristine reputation.
High-Quality Reviews Are Here To Stay
Having honest reviews on your site is one thing. Writing quality reviews is good, of course. Visitors are more likely to buy a product after reading an extensive review.
Having a review that shows up in search results is even better. When users search for a review of a specific product, they are usually a hair’s breadth away from buying.
Make your pages rank well for searches that follow the “[product name] review” template. A lot of the traffic will convert and earn you a ton of profits.
So, if you create product reviews, it’s good to go an extra mile. Make them keyword-rich, get authoritative backlinks, and experiment with SEO. It’s also good to be picky and choose products that sell but aren’t that difficult to rank for.
Stricter Affiliate Recruitment
Remember how we said trust brings in more profits? Merchants know this too. They realize that affiliates with poorly designed, link-stuffed content bring little to the table.
Getting a small group of highly effective affiliates is more beneficial than getting a thousand inefficient ones. That’s why more and more merchants raise the bar for new affiliates. In 2019 we will see fewer and fewer places with lax affiliate requirements.
This is good news for good marketers. All the best merchant companies will look to work more closely with their affiliates.
Affiliates won’t have as much competition while reviewing a particular product. That way they can focus on creating honest reviews, and not race with other affiliates to trick their audiences into buying.
Optimizing for Mobile
Ever since Google announced the speed update in 2018, everybody has been in a frenzy to optimize their sites. In 2018, average mobile load times have already gone from 22 to 15 seconds.
And in 2019, mobile sites will only get faster. Website owners still have a long way to go, so there is time for affiliates to improve their mobile page speed and get ahead of the competition.
We’ll explain why this is insanely important. Remember how ranking well is good for profits? Well, speed influences search rankings. Google is even open to penalizing slow websites. Make sure your load times do not exceed the 3-second mark for best results.
Also, Google’s system now indexes mobile versions of websites first. This means your rankings suffer if your mobile pages are suboptimal or if they don’t exist at all.
Speed is not the only thing to look out for here. It is important, naturally, but you should optimize all website aspects. Make sure pages are fully responsive and optimize dynamic content for mobile browsing.
Optimizing for Voice Search
Voice search relates directly to this. It accounts for 40% of all searches. By 2020, this will go up to 50%. And 2020 might sound distant, but it is actually only one year away.
Half of all searches is nothing to sneeze at. The best affiliates will get their pages to rank for voice searches.
It’s reasonable to assume ranking well for regular search queries means ranking well for voice searches. While the two are similar, people don’t use the same kind of language in regular and voice searches.
When performing a regular search, users usually enter short phrases to save time. With voice searches, the phrasing is more conversational.
To use this, research which phrases people use in voice searches and see which apply to your content. Don’t forget to check which types of phrases convert more often.
For instance, a phrase starting with “what” indicates a user is doing research while one starting with “where” means they are more likely to make a purchase.
So, check which keywords get the most conversions, and optimize for normal speech patterns and long-tail keywords. Naturally, as most voice searches come from mobile devices, optimizing mobile pages helps.
End of Banner Ads and Rise of Native Advertising
Have you heard of banner blindness? It is a phenomenon where users ignore banner-like content. Unfortunately, banner ads are the most common type of marketing. A lot of marketers rely on banners for their business.
Sure, typical ads work on some users, but in most cases, they go unnoticed. You’ve probably ignored hundreds, if not thousands, of ads yourself, and so has everyone else. People find ads so annoying, 86 million in the U.S. alone uses ad blockers.
Native advertising is a way to go around banner blindness. Native ads blend in with the native surrounding, e.g. your website. Basically, the advertisement looks like a natural part of the page.
Native ads perform really well. To give you an idea, research shows native ads get 53% more views than banner ads. Sure, including them might take more effort, but the payout is much better.
They also don’t overwhelm visitors. Instead, they increase brand awareness and seamlessly guide users towards conversion.
Native ads are nothing new, mind you. It’s just that it takes an effort to make them look like regular content. Many site owners prefer to just display regular ads as it takes almost no effort.
But with more and more people noticing ads and with software designed to block ads getting better and better, many affiliates will turn to native ads in 2019.
More Audio and Video Content
You might wonder what this is about. We mentioned earlier that written reviews get amazing conversions. And they do. But using content other than just text can be useful.
We established trust is important for affiliates. Hearing or seeing the affiliate makes the audience feel a more personal connection with them. It’s much easier to buy from someone who talks to you.
This content is also great for bypassing classic ads. It’s much harder to ignore promotional content if it’s in one of these formats.
With affiliate marketing evolving the way it does, it’s safe to predict more and more affiliates will turn to podcasts and vlogs. It’s great if your blog posts get high conversion rates. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from branching out into other types of content.
A Few Final Words
Affiliate marketing is constantly evolving. Marketers improve themselves every day and there are always new ways to analyze the market. Affiliate marketing will indubitably change, but it is here to stay.
If anything, it will become better. As the business changes, great affiliates and merchants will stand out more and more.
The ones who appeal to the users and who make marketing a natural experience will have incredible success. The ones who try to cram content down their visitors’ throats, on the other hand, will soon disappear.
The marketing world is moving towards targeting specific items to specific audiences. This is a better world for everyone. Smart marketers will have an easier job and audiences will have an easier time finding what they need.
So, regardless of whether you’re a new or an experienced affiliate marketer, focuses on creating quality content that appeals to your audience. Don’t just work hard, but also be efficient.
Study the new trends and use them to your advantage. That way you will be prepared for everything and you will stand out among your peers. We wish you the best of luck in 2009.
Nick Galov, Head of Content and Community Manager at HostingTribunal.com. With years of experience as Frontline Support and System Administrator, Nick wants to improve the web hosting industry as a whole. Through impartial reviews and detailed case studies, he helps people find the most suitable hosting provider. In the rare moments he unplugs from the digital world, Nick enjoys hiking and cycling. You can find him on Twitter.