Affiliate marketing is one of the most dynamic and highly profitable branches of digital marketing, there’s no doubt about that.
The question of How much is the affiliate marketing industry worth? popped more than 24 million times on Google search and according to IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) — it’s worth well over $12 billion.
With the rapidly growing numbers and hyper-dense competition, advertisers need to stay eagle-eyed to spot the latest industry trends and promising opportunities.
That’s why we’ve decided to have our own peek into affiliate marketing trends to watch out for in the first quarter of the year and help you start 2021 in fine style.
Seasonality of affiliate marketing
Marketers coming from all kinds of industries, all over the globe, try to outdo their competition. Getting ahead of other players and launching money-rocking campaigns before others manage to do the same is one of the possible solutions.
But it may seem like a vicious circle — aren’t we going to get Christmas carols played all year round then?
No. First, we need to draw a sound roadmap and set deadlines for what , when and how we want to promote throughout the year. Next, we need to stick to it.
Four seasons are not enough.
To keep things nice and tidy we’ve got to think ahead. With the current state of affiliate marketing and its global scope, it’s easy to notice that the four seasons are not enough.
And we don’t mean it in terms of weather — things already got a bit crazy, thank you very much, climate change!
Planning your yearly advertising strategy might be one way to go about things, but focusing on shorter periods and acting accordingly is another.
Think what happened just in the first week of 2021… well, that might not be the best example actually with most of the world still under lockdown regulations. But just think how little did we know in the first months of 2020. Some of us hadn’t even properly woken up after the holiday break, and the wake-up call we got wasn’t the one we expected.
Given there are still over 50 weeks to come… do buckle up. We plan short-time.
Affiliate marketing trends for Q1
Let’s get you started, then.
The best part of such planning is the fact that if done regularly, it shows you how repetitive a marketing calendar actually is. And since this business is bricked with tried and tested solutions, why rack your brains? Save this energy for later and start with every new year’s eve resolution — NEW YEAR, NEW ME!
Getting rid of the skeletons in your closet.
In affiliate marketing, January’s all about everything that December’s isn’t.
Although people are done with frantic gift buying, it doesn’t mean that e-commerce is down — most definitely not in 2021!
Retailers everywhere are destocking to prepare for the new season and it means that post-holiday sales are about to hit it big. Add all those people who’d gladly sell all the failed gifts they got for Christmas rather than hide them in the closet, or those who simply decided to get rid of all the clutter and have a fresh start in 2021. And since we are never short of people keen on cheap gains, then e-commerce, shopping, and sweeps here we go again!
Everybody better up!
People tend to start revolutionizing their lives by throwing away poorly fitted clothes and clutter from their closets to then fill them up with new bargain prey. Naturally, necessities only! Once done, it’s time to move on to mind and body care routine.
So what do you do when you want to break the dull routine of your everyday life and turn it upside down almost Bridget Jones style (no fire poles, though…)?
You reach out to the motivational experts and have a quick read of all-time self-development classics like How to Win Friends and Influence People or anything that’s popular at the moment. That includes listening to podcasts, subscribing to hubs and platforms, attending conferences or going for tropical retreats. It sort of sounds like the health and beauty sector, shopping and even (slowly but still) the traveling niche!
Cleansing, cleansing everywhere!
Not to mention less extravagant, yet highly popular and advertisable ways to enter 2021 in style like dieting and supplements, otherwise called nutra.
New break-through and wonder-making diets, cleansing juice treatments, five-days-results pills… after the holiday break laziness (and over a year in lockdown at this point), a bit of detox is much recommended. Taking up new sports or mastering new skills sounds like a great hobby, too!
Super Bowl Time!
This year’s Super Bowl took place on February 8th… and even the covid-19 pandemic didn’t stop it from totally rocking it!
Given the Big Sunday events are treated very seriously in the US, these should not be overlooked by anyone coming anywhere near marketing-related campaigns… have you made the most of it?
Super Bowl’s digital reception is huge. Nobody in the US talks or thinks or scrolls for anything else than the Super Bowl-related materials. The biggest players in the advertising world spend an awfully lot of money to advertise their seconds-lasting adverts during this biggest sporting event in the US.
The fun part about Super Bowls’ marketing phenomenon is that although people outside of the US are generally aware of what a Super Bowl is… it’s not sports they’ll be curious about. The event gained recognition for its famous advertising history. This means people may not necessarily follow the game, but they will purposefully go on the Internet to check what ads were displayed during its TV-time.
How mad is that!?
This also shows what a treat Super Bowl is for affiliate marketers (we also mentioned it here), regardless of whether they want to target a US-based audience or somewhere else. Obviously, betting, sports, e-sports, gaming, apps downloads, sport-themed sweeps but also e-commerce are a thing to focus on. Anything promoted with Super Bowls is the item at that moment… even if an advert includes #SuperBowl2021 only.
Crazy Little Thing called Valentine’s Day!
And after we’ve implemented our New Year’s resolutions (encouraged by this page that redirected us to an online store with self-development books), bought an online gym membership (that popped up on our phones in a form of a little push ad displaying what we can look like by the time the pandemic ends), went on a diet (we swiped right to get a discount for it and it worked…who’d have thought!), it’s time to get all fancy and dressed up for February 14th!
Beauty treatments, cosmetics, lingerie, jewelry… or more practical toys — they all come in handy during the Valentine’s Day prep. If you want to, you can treat yourself to all things nice without waiting for someone else to do that for you. What’s great about the day for your advertising efforts is that Valentine’s Day marketing ideas can be found literally everywhere! The same goes for Valentine’s Day marketing slogans which can really spice up your ad copy.
Yes, Valentine’s Day is a day to beware if you’re into health and beauty, romantically-inclined sweeps, e-commerce, or dating, and adult content!
International Women’s Day
But if your significant other happened to forget about it ladies… March is just around the corner! So whatever you did or did not do on February 14th, it’s time to do it again on March 8th. Yes, the same rules and same verticals apply — only this time try to give it a bit more flowery look. A little change makes a huge difference even if done at a low cost.
St Patrick’s Day
And here’s something for all the true Irishmen and beer lovers from all over the world. Tall green hats, shamrocks, and green color everywhere… beer included! March 17th is vigorously celebrated not only in Ireland, UK and the US but across all of Europe and Asia too, these days. E-commerce or Recreational Drugs offers featuring St. Patrick’s Day theme can really catch the user’s eye and tap into consumer’s demand! Especially with the summer sports season that’s about to begin…
Ad format trends for 2021
We summarised 2020 here, but here’s what’s already trending in 2021 and shall continue.
First, e-commerce will reign 2021 — so anything that goes with this vertical (matching ad formats, targeting, optimization) should be implemented. Also, pop and push traffic will continue and both ad formats fit e-commerce ad campaigns just fine.
Whether you’re an experienced or a budding affiliate, the plethora of industry insights available out there should be viewed as your ally. And with well-tested and fine-tuned solutions, running your 2021 affiliate ad campaigns shouldn’t pose any difficulties. Thanks to that you’ve got more time, money, and energy to optimize and scale your campaigns!
Such a state of affairs does not only help you make the best decisions for your ad campaigns but also helps you grow your affiliate business in general. Usually, ad networks offer things like: documentation, industry articles, case studies, and industry insights. Why not put these resources to work? Remember to use them wisely!
What’s the best ad format for 2021?
Push is still big in 2020 and all the signs (together with data collected by the industry) indicate that it’s not going anywhere in 2021.
How can we be so sure?
“[…] the average attention span is down from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to 8 seconds now.” — BBC News
“Media organisations must adapt to cater for a generation of internet consumers who expect ‘instant gratification and quick fixes’ ” — The Guardian
“The average page visit lasts less than a minute and users often leave web pages in just 10-20 seconds.” — Wyzowl (plus a handy infographic)
And this is precisely why push ads are one of the most profitable solutions on the market right now. Data doesn’t lie and high CTRs only prove that. All push ads need to be successful is a catchy title, a sentence-long copy, and a simple icon or image graphic. Add a couple of emojis for something a little more extra.
Users, on the other hand, see a clear and simple message in a non-intrusive and well-targeted form of a push notification ad. They’re all quick, direct, and easy to receive.
Running push ads in 2021 also ensures:
- High-quality traffic — users must subscribe to receive push ads notifications. This ensures 100% real-user audience, which is of paramount importance in the current anti-fraud struggle.
- An unmatched advertising scope — push ads are supported by all the major browsers and OS with a worldwide reach of 300,000,000 (!!!) real users on all types of devices (desktop, tablet and mobile) according to the Zeropark data alone. Also, in-page push ads allow targeting iOS users, too.
- Higher click-through rates — thus ultimately much higher chances for conversion. But it’s not just about its extraordinary performance. What’s especially important for user acquisition in 2021 is talking to the right audience, at the right time… about the right things! People can’t be bothered to listen to you if it doesn’t concern them. Care for your audience.
- Exceptional efficiency and unparalleled ad visibility for every push ad campaign — even if users aren’t interested in your ads this very instance, they still have a chance to view them later. Push ads get delivered even when subscribed users aren’t browsing the Internet or using their devices at that moment.
- Effortless design — a simple yet convincing copy and themed image are all you need! This allows you to improve your ad creatives on the spot, adjust them to match the occasion, and easily optimize for the best results. Hence, banner blindness or ad fatigue isn’t your concern.
What are other ad formats to use in 2021?
Pop’s not dead — that’s a fact. And domain redirect traffic does not lag behind, too. Remember that using tried and tested solutions (like push) is an easy and effortless way to kick off your affiliate marketing campaigns in 2021 but it doesn’t mean that pop or zero-click traffic should be put aside. Think about which ad format is the best for raising user’s awareness and which for driving action.
Why is it still well-worth to run pop traffic ad campaigns?
- Pop ads still are the most popular ad format.
- Pop ads still have the biggest available volumes.
- Pop ads still have the cheapest bid prices.
- Pop ads still are the easiest to test.
- Pop ads still are the quickest to optimize.
- Pop ads still are very easy to target!
- Pop ads still have very creative designs!
- Pop ads still are great for running broad campaigns.
- Pop ads still are great to use AI-powered solutions!
- Pop ads can look and feel a lot like native ads!
Why is it still well-worth to run domain redirect traffic ad campaigns?
- Domain redirect ads are immediate. And in a world where fractions of seconds are a make-or-break time for the success of your ad campaign, immediacy is more important now than ever.
- Against the common belief, domain redirect traffic is actually pretty cheap! This allows for reaching a wider audience and depending on your targeting setting domain redirect ads can convert even on a tight budget.
- Keyword targeting can be a 2021 jackpot and it can let you take your affiliate business to the next level. Also, personalization and story-telling are the keys to this year’s advertising — and these two techniques can be fully utilized especially with domain redirect advertising.
- At the same time, domain redirect ads, although entailing a bit of design work, are not too difficult to set up. Most importantly, they make it easy to later target, optimize and scale your zero-click traffic ad campaigns.
Advertising tips and tricks for 2021
Track, revise, analyze, repeat… that should be every affiliate marketer’s mantra.
But, spicing things up a little bit won’t hurt anybody. When’s a better time to get a bit crazy with your creative designs and tricks if not at the very beginning of 2021! Starting every year in fine style should be your mantra #2.
- Have you heard of this year’s buzzwords? Not yet? Well, they come in different forms but essentially mean the same thing — human beings happen to like stories!
- Yes, storitization, story-telling and personalization are your silver bullets. They come in all kinds of different shapes, forms and sizes, too.
- It’s really up to you and your creativity. People say imagination has no limits and if that’s true then you’ve just scored yourself a never-ending source of ideas — a bit like Netflix, isn’t it!
- And if you need a little help finding inspiration for your campaigns, then we’ve got a tip for you. Always learn, here’s a list of top affiliate marketing courses. Sing up and grow your skills with industry experts.
For those feeling that their head is suddenly empty and nothing comes to mind, there’s a small cheatsheet to boost your post-holidays thinking!
Yes, only you don’t actually use your oral cavity for that. You use your writing skills. The reason why storytelling becomes a bigger thing every year is that with the abundance of marketing materials only the strong survive. Additionally, Kurt Cobain’s lyrics seem to still resonate with people and so they wait there screaming entertain me! And if the advertising audience craves entertainment, they shall have it.
Take stats and figures — abundance of factual data is fantastic only when you actually need it. Lists and columns of raw facts don’t really prove to be the best user-engagement technique. Use one shocking number or juxtapose two highly contrasting figures and voilà! You’ve just secured a catchy intro to your advertising story.
But storytelling isn’t just a case of putting together a nursery rhyme with a couple of stats thrown in. There can be as many stories as you want and they can be fine-tuned to a point when users are blissfully oblivious of such advertising technique is placed in front of their eyes. It’s about human psychology — and we’ve mentioned a couple of times already how important it is to put yourself into your audience’s shoes.
2. Case studies
People want to buy products that work, they want proven effects and evidence to back it up. Case studies seem to be a perfect example of marketing storytelling that brings both credibility and quality to your offers. Something that surely taps into every demanding customer’s liking.
3. Success stories
Success stories are similar to case studies in that they bring performance track records and make people visualize the benefits of using the products you’re offering. The difference here would be you don’t focus too much on the details, you jump straight to the desired and delivered effects. This aids the more impromptu clients who aren’t necessarily keen on deep digging.
4. The problem and a solution
Mirror, mirror on the wall… what’s the simplest of them all? A villain and a hero theme works at all times — there’s at least a dozen centuries of tales and legends to back that claim. Obviously we need to alter things and adjust our storytelling to the modern likings of our target audience and hence a problem and a solution pattern proves effective. Tales make people believe all their struggles end well with a touch of a magic wand… you should make them believe all their problems will end once they buy whatever product you advertise.
5. Make or break!
Even children know that when the clock strikes midnight, the deal’s over. Make users put themselves into Cinderella glass shoes and feel the urgency to take action. They should be hitting that “BUY NOW” button just underneath the deal expiry counter or otherwise they’ll be back to rags, not riches.
6. Don’t tell me, show me!
At the same time, don’t talk to users as if they were children. They’ll sense that and you’re busted. The key to success in storytelling is employing the technique without the audience actually realising it. Influence their decision-making process and let them think it was their idea to spin the wheel and win that iPhone or order the latest keto diet supplements. Remember, less is more. Instead of giving them pages of stats and raw facts, use just a couple and let users arrive at conclusions.
We all want to get ahead of our competition, we want to do it quickly, and we want the best solutions for that. That’s why bringing a sense of innovation, uniqueness and “the latest news” sense to your ads may be a very simple yet effective way to scale your advertising profits.
8. We’re all the same!
People want to keep up with the Joneses — and if the modern Joneses are the Kardashians or any other celebrities, we need to show people they’re not much different. Do you need a new hairbrush? So does Kim! Are you trying to lose weight or whiten your teeth? So do celebrities! And if celebrities succeeded using the products you’re offering, why can’t your target audience. Advertising linked to celebrities and influencers always works but beware using a specific person’s image — there’s nothing wrong with getting a bit general though, #likecelebrities does no harm.
9. You’re the only one in the world!
And what about those people who want to feel unique, one of a kind and the only ones in the world? Well, you give them just that and make them believe they’re going to be exactly like this if and only if they follow the latest trends and complete the marketing funnel you created for them.
10. Play on emotions.
This may seem cruel but… business is business. Nothing sells like emotions. All the big players in the advertising world use that technique and so should you. Influence user’s decisions using sensory channels references. Make them not only see but also feel, smell and taste your ads. Trigger strong emotions like anger or give them some rest and bliss. People tend to act on emotions and advertisers happen to find that quite profitable.