The Holiday Shopping season is here… and this year is going to be like nothing you have ever seen before. 2021 has continued to keep the whole world on its toes for the most part after the year from hell that was 2020. And while more coronavirus waves, global lockdown, economic shifts, the Tokyo Olympics, and UEFA Euros have had us all occupied for the last few months, people’s focus is about to shift.
The world’s favorite time of the year is upon us and this means one thing and one thing only…
… IT’S SHOPPING TIME!
So if you’re a digital marketer looking to unravel the secret to scaling your business through Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas shopping frenzy in Q4 2021, then congratulations!
You’ve just found yourself in the right place to learn it all.
Why is Q4 the hottest time for affiliate marketing?
People shop every day of the year, all over the globe, both online and offline, using mobile and desktop devices, doing big and small shopping… but nothing compares to the marathon the last quarter of every year has in store for us.
The so-called Golden Quarter, Holiday Season, or simply Q4 has grown into a multi-billion dollar event with holiday sales increasing year-over-year.
Think of all the craziness surrounding the key shopping events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Free Shipping Day, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve!
And then think how they’re all squeezed in such a short time-frame, propelled by hectic deal-hunting, fueled with last-minute decorating spree, and additionally infused with prevailing shopping frenzy. There’s no way any marketer or retailer on this planet would miss it.
Especially with the 2019 digital global sales reaching a mind-boggling number of $723 billion according to Salesforce reports.
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Q4 2021 key shopping events calendar!
Since affiliate marketing makes for a big part of the digital advertising and retail business, you’re surely ready to grab a piece of that cake, too. To help you navigate throughout this hot season and make sure you don’t miss out on great opportunities, have a look at the Q4 2021 key shopping events calendar!
Want to learn more about each event and how to tap into consumer demand outside of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, too? Read the article linked below for detailed insights!
Influence of COVID-19 on affiliate marketing
Covid-19 has changed the world as we know it. Since the beginning of 2021 people all over the globe have been trying to stay safe, adjust to the new normal, and shift their daily habits while implementing necessary measures to cope with day-to-day lives. These measures, among many others, entail adopting the work-from-home model, online grocery shopping, social distancing, or remote networking.
And although these unprecedented times have disrupted the global economy, altered consumers’ habits, expectations, and purchasing behavior, people are more than happy to transfer their entire Q4 shopping online!
Read below for a few selected statistics (out of hundreds… really, just Google it!) that prove this year’s online advertising is going to hugely benefit from the lockdown situation in Q4.
✔︎ Almost 30% of global retail sales will be done online in Q4, 2021 according to McKinsey.
✔︎ Between 50-60% of the US consumers plan to shop online according to Statista.
✔︎ Similar prognoses can be found in other countries, too. 57% of shoppers globally choose to go online this year due to COVID-19 according to eBay.
✔︎ Shoppers have no plans to spend less this Holiday season than in 2020 according to MarTechSeries’s article.
✔︎ As for the type of gifts, circa 70% of shoppers plan to gift physical products rather than experiences according to BazaarVoice.
Based on Zeropark data and what we’ve seen happening since the start of the pandemic, the affiliate marketing business hasn’t slowed down, it has picked up! Especially in the second half of 2021.
As already proven throughout the years, this business tends to go hand-in-hand with global digital trends. Hence, investigating Q4 insights might be just the element that’s needed for you to scale your Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Holiday campaigns, too.
Affiliate marketing niches to promote in Q4 2021
Digital marketing is full of various verticals so whatever product you’d like to promote, or whatever niche is your favorite, there’s surely something made just for this time of the year. Are you an e-commerce pro, sweepstakes savvy, or gambling enthusiast?
E-commerce / Online Shopping
E-commerce is huge. This vertical is all about promoting retail products and various services online. It ensures a wide variety of offers to choose from, ranging from consumer electronics, clothing, home equipment to the entertainment sector, and many others.
E-commerce is one of the most reliable and credible verticals. Most of the time, strict compliance rules are required. Make sure you follow these to get your ads out there for the people to see and bring those affiliate sales and conversions home!
It’s quite a stable vertical throughout the year, though it tends to spike like crazy during Q4. The shopping season time, including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, holiday, and post-holiday sales, is the time of every e-commerce marketer’s life. Then, after the crazy season ends, it tends to go down a bit, though manages to go up right back. As we mentioned right at the start of this article, people shop all year round, all over the globe, no matter the circumstances.
That’s why the online retail industry ensures there’s always supply matching the demand for e-commerce products and services, which, given the current situation, is only growing. There’s always a unique product, promotion, a great deal, or a gift card for advertisers to promote.
All that’s left for savvy affiliates is to find the winning offer and get ready before Q4 kicks in!
COVID-19 prompted niches
Also, closely related to e-commerce, but often treated as separate categories are the following verticals. Do remember to include them in your e-commerce offer!
- Food and groceries
- Home and garden
- Health and beauty
- Hobbies and education
Each one of these specific sectors offers a unique opportunity to promote items especially sought during the Q4 season. These can normally serve as great gift ideas, and given the pandemic, the demand is only going to be bigger. Add the right marketing angle, fine-tune your copy and visuals to match the occasion, throw a time-limited deal, and you’ve got great advertising material.
Surveys & Sweepstakes
Have you ever come across a webpage offering you to win an item? Or maybe you’ve received a little push notification? Whatever the means, all those lucky folks who are given such a wonderful chance are targeted with sweepstakes ads.
Surveys & Sweepstake vertical consists of various offers promising users a reward, usually a chance to win an item, upon taking a specific action.
Entering a sweepstake contest is free, but as mentioned, specific actions are required. For example, users need to submit their email addresses, fill a form, or spin a wheel of fortune by clicking on the designated area of the website.
In return, participants are given a chance to win a wide range of products, starting from brand new phones, electronics, shopping or travel vouchers, and many others. It does sound like perfect timing to promote sweeps offers around the Holiday Season, huh?
Note that sweeps ads are also commonly called lead gen or vouchers offers, and are a perfect fit for the Q4 season. They allow both retailers and consumers to benefit from the special deals and find what they’re after anyhow.
Not to mention Surveys & Sweepstakes are generally considered an ever-green vertical that only keeps on growing. Also, traffic sources like Zeropark offer big volumes of quality traffic to propel your campaigns. With a proven track record of successful Surveys & Sweepstakes campaigns, this vertical is never a bad choice whether you’re a budding affiliate or a pro advertiser already.
Also, there two major benefits to this vertical — you can promote virtually everything with Sweeps & Surveys; and people simply love winning free items so will never skip a chance to spin that wheel!
Who doesn’t love a free iPhone giveaway?
Gambling is one of the most prominent verticals in online marketing. It consists of various smaller categories like:
- online casino games (slots, lotteries, roulette, card games, or online poker, which is a huge part of the niche).
- betting, including also sports betting or… bingo games.
- fantasy gambling, which covers fantasy sports betting or wager.
All these smaller categories are closely related and sometimes it’s hard to say when or where the regular online gambling finishes and, for example, online betting starts. Often it’s just a matter of naming or keeping the categories separate for the offer’s sake.
Nevertheless, there are key reasons why the gambling vertical is worth investing in. Especially during the Q4 and Holiday Shopping season!
The global online gambling market was estimated to be worth a staggering number of nearly 53.7 billion dollars in 2019! And is expected to grow significantly in the next years. With spending budgets getting bigger in Q4, people being especially prone to impromptu decisions and eager to take risks for quick profits, this number is bound to grow especially during the Holiday Season.
This is mostly because we all tend to buy/act on the spur of a moment during this time of a year, people tend to get more emotional, the demand and urge for shopping is greater than ever… while money is often tighter than we’d wish.
High adoption and widespread use of mobile devices for online entertainment have been driving the online gambling market’s growth.
At the same time, easy access to online gambling and growing legalization have contributed to its popularization. If adjusted to match the Holiday Mood — it’s a recipe for success.
Not to mention that the gambling vertical proved its stable performance even in turbulent times. People simply like to gamble. We have always done so and will continue to do so, especially if counting on the Christmas spirit to turn over that lucky card.
The dating vertical has been on the market since the beginning of digital marketing and has never stopped growing. It’s an ever-green vertical allowing affiliates to capitalize on dating offers despite any seasonal or occasional market swings. Simply put, the dating vertical never stops.
What falls into the dating vertical category are various dating websites, apps, games, platforms, and lots of dating-related content. The number of dating niches keeps on evolving and new possibilities are being continuously added to the vertical.
An important distinction should be made between mainstream and adult dating, though. Mainstream dating includes websites, apps, and any other content related to casual dating. While adult dating includes websites, apps, and any other content related to dating for sexual purposes.
Most importantly, though, the potential of the dating vertical is huge. It attracts many advertisers, making dating one of the top advertising angles in the industry.
Why do people so eagerly engage with dating ads during the Holiday Season?
Online dating offers a variety of physical and emotional connections while allowing users to maintain anonymity, which is often what so many people seek nowadays. Also, the end of the year, with all the Holidays and celebrations, but also still haven’t checked off my 2021 to-do list approach, most certainly prompts people into seeking connections on various levels — romantically or physically.
In other words, look at all the commercials, marketing materials, brand communication, and messaging — they’re all telling us that November/December is the time of love and romance.
Not to mention all the Christmas songs that don’t leave your head… ever.
All that’s left is adjust your message to match the mood and you’re good to go!
Affiliate marketing trends for Black Friday & the Holiday Season
Whether you’re an affiliate marketer, e-commerce retailer, or a digital advertiser, you’re probably getting ready for the affiliate revenue to flow in during the upcoming months.
But things aren’t that easy. That’s why you always need to remember this:
YOUR COMPETITION IS HUGE and INSANELY SMART!
If you want a piece of the Holiday cake, you really need to hustle to secure yourself some due profits. You need to think and act faster, smarter, better.
That’s why below you’ll find a list of Black Friday and Holiday Season affiliate marketing trends that no clever marketer would ever miss. Have a look and make sure to include these in your campaigns for maximizing chances of success and skyrocketing your ROI to a level you haven’t yet seen this year!
Trend #1 — Christmas shopping comes early this year!
2021 has already given us a wide range of thrills, and here’s another one. Since everything’s moved online, both consumers and retailers plan to speed up and kick-off already in mid-October rather than at the end of November. The shopping craze is about to start sooner than usual!
Especially that all big and small names in the industry are about to follow as soon as Amazon calls the shots. Since people spend tons of time online anyway, they’ll surely go for it once deals start to appear everywhere.
Here’s a tip, then.
Stay focused, keep monitoring the situation, and take actions as soon as the ball starts rolling! Trust the affiliate marketing data. Don’t miss out on the opportunity. The sooner you join the game, the better you’ll be protected from all the FOMOs and ROMOs of this season, while meeting the early bird demand at the same time.
Trend #2 — Physical products over experiences!
Coming up with those perfect gift ideas might be a nightmare sometimes, right? If you’re a consumer, that is. If you’re a retailer or a marketer, then coming up with what the people might want to buy as gifts is even harder.
Unless you’re a psychic.
But 2021 has solved this one dilemma for sure! Considering that the pandemic is widely responsible for lots of entertainment amenities and facilities being shut down, the experience vs. physical gift struggle is now over.
According to various sources, eBay’s report being one of them, consumers are more likely to choose physical products over experiences due to the risk of the experience gift expiring before actually getting a chance to fulfill it. As well as fears over social distancing and self-isolation.
Whereas physical products (note that all digital vouchers or subscriptions can be treated as such as well!) do not hold these risks. Also, it’s easy to purchase them online and have gifts delivered wherever a client wishes while keeping all the safety measures.
Trend #3 — Lockdown prompted changes (and new gift ideas)!
With billions of people around the world forced into lockdown in the first half of the year, and many still under such obligation, we all simply had to come up with new hobbies and ways of utilizing all this time on our hands. At home.
Bored, frustrated, and hungry for new experiences (since we’ve already devoured the fridge) we took to changing how we spent our time by adopting new hobbies or cultivated those we’ve always lacked the time for. This positive change in consumer behavior is now influencing holiday gifts too.
According to eBay’s report, 75% of the consumers plan to continue their newly discovered talents and hobbies, thus making them a perfect Christmas gift inspiration.
The Top lockdown hobbies were and thus gift ideas are:
✔︎ DIY or home improvement
✔︎ At home/outdoor sport or fitness equipment
✔︎ Board games or jigsaw puzzles
✔︎ Video games
✔︎ Drawing or painting
✔︎ Hair and beauty
✔︎ Musical instrument
✔︎ Self-development courses online
✔︎ Film/ books/ music subscriptions
So, if you’re not quite sure what products you should be promoting, here’s your list!
Trend #4 — Meet your audience wherever and whenever they want!
Mobile-first optimization is so 2020… and that means it’s not enough. People want more things, and they want them faster and easier. How can you make that happen as an affiliate marketer?
- Yes, mobile optimization is a must.
- But given we’re all at homes in close vicinity of our desktop devices — don’t forget these, too!
- Also, with all our family members or flatmates being plugged in, page loading speed optimization is necessary. If it doesn’t load fast enough, you’re out of the game!
- Remember setting the day-parting filters according to commute hours or traffic rush? It’s couch and slippers time, so try to reach your audience all day, all night!
- Always be one step ahead of both your consumers and our competition. Follow their trends and habits, monitor the situation, then adjust and optimize for the best performance!
Trend #5 — Make your consumers’ lives easier!
The last couple of years have been a hell of a ride and, correct me if I’m wrong, we could all use some help making the end of 2021 as easy, smooth, and worry-free as possible.
For everyone involved.
How to do that? It’s quite simple actually. All you have to do is think like your customers and try to recreate the path they’d take, making sure you include all the elements that would help them make a choice. And by making the choice we mean deciding to click on your ad rather than tens of others! Isn’t that a win-win situation? You get your conversions and customers get one decision-making problem less while getting what they need.
Here’s how to do that!
✔︎ Always help your customers navigate to the next step.
In that way, you eliminate the risk of your audience getting confused and leaving before completing all the required steps to making a conversion count. Psychological studies prove that simply telling people what to do, makes them follow the desired path.
✔︎ Match the flow to the offer you’re promoting.
Including ad copy and creatives, landing pages, messaging, CTAs, etc. It helps increase credibility and engagement as users won’t feel that much of the difference when going through the funnel and will continue to do so… until all is done!
✔︎ Personalize your content.
And by content, we mean all elements of your website, ads, visuals, etc. Simply appeal to the audience you’re targeting. It might seem difficult at first, but whether you’re using social media, native, or paid traffic, you can actually learn a lot about the people you’re talking to. Just look at the data and targeting options for your traffic source offers. You’ll be able to really learn a lot. After all, people give out more and more personal data via social media these days.
✔︎ Highlight special offers, deals, and promotions.
This is the Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Holiday Shopping spree season. That means people expect bargains. If that’s what they want, why don’t you give them just that?
✔︎ Match the Holiday Spirit… or the Black Friday/Cyber Monday themes.
Consumers instantly recognize the theme of the given occasion and are more likely to engage rather than with uncustomized content.
✔︎ Create a sense of urgency by tapping into FOMO.
Add countdowns if possible or use appropriate copy and messaging like:
- END OF SALE,
- X DAYS LEFT TO CLAIM YOUR DEAL,
- BUY BEFORE WE RUN OUT OF STOCK,
- FREE SHIPPING END IS XYZ
- BUY NOW, GET XYZ OFF NEXT ORDER
All of these examples (and many more) are a perfect trigger for clients to engage with your ads… before they can even realize they’re quickly adding items to the cart to get that free shipping!
✔︎ Have your offer look both credible and appealing to users.
People spot shady landers or ad images at once, so do sacrifice a bit of your time to make it all look like high-quality services and capitalize on the profits later!
Easier said than done, you say?
Don’t think we’re all just talking cliches though. These may seem obvious but trust us. We’ve seen pro marketers make newbie mistakes when the Q4 craze kicks in. Things get hectic and it’s easy to forget about the simple steps. That’s why we’ve prepared the following checklist with detailed steps that no marketer should ever forget when preparing for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend and beyond!
Get ready for Black Friday and beyond — 2021 CHECKLIST
The below steps are divided into four phases: preparation, getting creative, testing, and optimization. Have a look and make sure you include all these points to maximize your profits in the last quarter of 2021!
Phase #1 — Preparation time!
First, have a look at last year’s campaigns and analyze their performance. Then do your research — read industry articles, search community forums, spy on your competitors, don’t forget about thorough keyword research. Check out the latest affiliate partners blogs and which affiliate network or affiliate program has the best offer. Keep following the latest advertising trends and make sure you know what mistakes to avoid this year!
Phase #2 — Getting creative!
There’s a ton of creative hacks for affiliate marketers out there, and you’ll surely find them while doing your research! But if you can’t wait that long before you find out, here are some tried and tested ideas.
- Prepare positive reviews or user comments to add a better sense of credibility.
- Match the language with the country so the audience can understand your offer.
- Loading speed is of utmost importance — the faster, the better.
- Creating a sense of urgency helps prompt users to action.
- Icons imitating unread messages are great elements for engaging users.
- Test your creatives to find the best-performing one.
- Rotate your creatives to avoid creative fatigue!
- Icons or simple images convert better (especially with smaller graphics, like push ad creatives) than a cluttered image.
- Images of people tend to perform better rather than cartoon-like visuals.
- You can always test your creatives using images of men vs. women to see which works better.
- Adjust the theme per seasonal trend.
- Keep your ad visuals according to the policy guidelines or nobody will ever see them.
Phase #3 — Launching your campaigns!
This is already the part when things are getting pretty serious. Remember that the better you prepare yourself for phase #3, the easier your job gets. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek support at this point. On the contrary, try getting as much support from various sources as possible! Stay in touch with your account managers, ask questions on the community forums or to those running the affiliate networks. Remember that the affiliate community will gladly help!
- Choose the vertical you want to go for like e-commerce, sweepstakes, gambling, dating, or adult niche.
- Find yourself that winning offer.
- Use available resources to help yourself launch your ad campaigns, whether these are push, domain redirect, in-app or pop ads you decided to go for.
- Think of your advertising budget and how much money you can spend on it.
- Then consider the targeting type, device, and country of your choice.
- Test your landing pages, ad creatives, and ad copy, as well as headlines and CTAs to choose the best-performing setup.
Phase #4 — Optimization time!
Getting here means you’ve done a ton of work already! But affiliate marketing is all about constantly improving your campaigns for the best setup and maximum profits. That’s why your job is far from being done yet.
- Again, go through the metrics and analyze collected affiliate marketing data and see what areas need improvement!
- Analyze and work on your CTR.
- And fight any ROI issues that occur on the way.
- Remember about creative fatigue and fight it right away.
- Finally, use whitelists and blacklists to maximize your performance!
The craziest season of the year is about to begin in the affiliate marketing industry. Given that 2021 has been unlike anything we can remember, expect this shopping season to surprise us. How to avoid any unwanted occurrences and ensure these will be pleasant surprises only?
Everyone should just make sure they prepare the best they possibly can. This means preparing all of your best affiliate marketing strategies now.
And while Q4 unravels, we’re excited to see what it has in store for us.
So, if you’re still wondering why Q4 is the hottest time of the year for the affiliate industry and affiliate marketers, then here’s the answer…
It’s THE HOTTEST SEASON FOR ALL MARKETERS AND RETAILERS alike!