Powerful Affiliate Marketing Trends in the Digital Economy

affiliate marketing trends
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Affiliate marketing has been a core internet marketing activity since the early days of the World Wide Web (WWW). After all, what could be easier than following its tried and true model:

  1. Sign up for an affiliate program or affiliate programs of your choice.
  2. Drive targeted traffic to the merchant's website.
  3. Receive monetary compensation (commissions) and/or prizes for sales attributed to your marketing efforts.

    However, this apparent simplicity should not be taken for granted. Not all affiliate programs are created equal, and progressive merchants and highly-ranked affiliates are always looking to tweak the system to make it fairer and worthwhile for all concerned.

    This is why you should be aware of the most important affiliate marketing trends that promise to shape the industry in the coming years.

    1. Better and More Accurate Attribution Rules

    The greatest enemy of any sales program – online or offline – is a lack of attribution. Imagine how affiliates feel when all their hard work to bring buyers to a website goes for naught. All it takes is a bad merchant credit system, “click-stealing” software, or other nefarious means.

    That's why companies are going to pay more attention to their compensation models and attempt to be more transparent in the future. Ideas like multi-touch, time-decay attribution, position-based attribution, and better data management promise to create a win-win situation for all interested parties.

    In 2014, for example, Wayfair.com, a major online retailer of furniture and home decor, tweaked its affiliate attribution rules to pay the last affiliate clicked before shopping cart additions, versus the last affiliate contacted before the actual purchase. This subtle change was made to recognize and reward legitimate sales affiliate work to bring prospects to the merchant website.

    It should also add value and more revenue to everyone's bottom line.

    2. The Growing Influence of Mobile Technology

    It shouldn't come as a surprise that mobile technology will increasingly impact affiliate marketing for both the merchant and affiliate. In recent years, mobile commerce has been one of the strongest elements of e-commerce, thanks to the growth of traffic from hand-held devices like smartphones.  Hence, the larger affiliate networks are reporting greater activity (traffic, sales) from wireless marketing efforts.

    See also: How to Optimize Your Email Marketing for Mobile Devices 

    Affiliate programs must ensure that their websites and sales funnels are optimized for mobile.  Otherwise they risk leaving money on the table and losing customers to mobile-friendlier competition.  At a more psychological  level, people are increasingly attracted to companies that offer a positive wireless experience.

    See also: 3 Mobile Email Marketing Best Practices

    3. Partnering up with Global Players, Non-Traditional Affiliates

    As more merchants come online to compete in various niches, companies will need “Out of the Box” thinking to find precious customers. Going global is an increasingly viable option, because even a small slice of the $1,5 trillion USD e-commerce marketplace justifies the hassles of international business (i.e. Compliance with national regulations, local customs and languages, scaling attribution rules, etc.).

    Smaller players may not have to drastically change their digital marketing strategy, but more established companies may want to enlist an independent agency or partners with international experience to ease the transition to global e-commerce.


    Moving forward, affiliate marketing on the Internet will offer online entrepreneurs exciting opportunities for growth. It can no longer be considered an inferior business channel; e-books and reports are super at the entry level, but modern technology allows you to do so much more.

    More effective program management, better rewards for affiliates, and improved treatment of strong, high-value partners will pay off in the long term. Take a hands-on approach, work closely with affiliates to create strategies that enhance your brand with affiliate marketing.

    This means providing them with the tools, content, incentives, and leadership that guarantee a steady stream of customers to your products.

    If you're interested in making more money with affiliate marketing you may also be interested in these 5 Steps to Launching Your Affiliate Marketing Business.