As a business owner, it's important that you keep your finger on the pulse when it comes to consumer behaviours. Seasonality and current events can have a huge impact on the ways in which people shop, and this should inform the way you market your products or services.
As we explained in our post about how shopping behaviours have been affected by COVID-19, we've seen an incredibly dramatic shift in shopping behaviours over recent months. As a result, you might find that your usual affiliate marketing strategies just haven't been delivering the results you're used to.
When it comes to any area of digital marketing, you need to adapt your strategy as consumer trends shift, but that can often be easier said than done if you're not sure where to start. Here, we'll offer you our top seven tips for adjusting your strategy accordingly and, if you need any help with managing your affiliate marketing campaigns, get in touch — we'll be more than happy to help you out.
Put plenty of effort into getting to know your customers
The more information you're able to collect about your customers, the better you'll be at catering to their needs. Plus, you'll find it much easier to predict how their habits are going to shift throughout the year and over time. Just remember that you'll need to ensure you're always abiding by GDPR regulations, which could limit what kinds of information you're allowed to collect.
There are a number of ways in which you can easily (and legally) collect helpful information about your customers. For example, analysing your website's stats will give you certain information, such as the times of day your customers are most likely to be online, which could give you an idea of when to push your affiliate marketing campaigns. You'll also be able to look into where most of your website traffic is coming from and how you currently get most of your affiliate conversions— do a lot of your customers follow and listen to the advice of their favourite bloggers, or do they frequent voucher code sites to find the best deals for products like yours?
Don't be afraid to ask your customers direct questions, too. Social media is ideal for this. You could set up polls and surveys to get an insight into how your customers first learned about your business, why they like to spend their money with you, and where they get most of their shopping inspiration. This can then help you to decide how you're going to promote your business on an affiliate basis going forwards.
Keep a close eye on the news
As we've seen with the coronavirus pandemic, current events can have a massive impact on the ways in which people shop. Over the last few months, everyone has been spending far more time at home, and online shopping has become more popular than ever before. While the situation is certainly unprecedented and there was no way to predict everything that has happened, marketers who were keeping a close eye on the news would have been able to adapt quickly and effectively to help their businesses survive.
It's incredibly important that, when you're putting together an affiliate marketing strategy, you act proactively rather than reactively. For example, back in March, we saw that Italy was subjected to a nationwide lockdown, and government briefings and new stories were making it very clear that something similar was likely to happen here in the UK. So, this would have been a good idea to consider what people might become more interested in buying when they're set to spend a lot more time at home. As we saw, the likes of loungewear and home entertainment kits became very popular. It's likely affiliate marketers who spotted these opportunities early will have seen some fantastic results.
Of course, most news stories don't have the impact that the COVID-19 crisis has, but different industries are being affected by current events all of the time. So, it's important that you always keep one eye on the news so you can anticipate what kinds of shifts in consumer behaviour are on the horizon.
Make sure you're always aware of your stock levels
The last thing you want to do is put lots of time and effort into promoting a particular product only for it to quickly become unavailable. So, whenever you're planning a new affiliate marketing campaign, you need to ensure that there's going to be enough stock to fulfil the demand.
In order to stay on top of this, make sure you're always clearly communicating with relevant members of staff, from buyers to the workers who ship your stock out. This will allow your business to prepare for an influx of orders and to restock the items in question if necessary. Plus, it will make it much easier for you to spot where an affiliate marketing campaign could help to shift excess stock.
It's also important that your product feed is always up to date, as this will give you all of the information you require when planning an affiliate campaign, from the official product names and descriptions to how many of a particular item are currently in your warehouse. If everyone has the information they need, your campaigns will run much more smoothly, and you should be able to fulfil any orders in a timely manner.
Don't be afraid to take some risks
If you've noticed consumer trends shifting and would like to try some techniques to accommodate that, affiliate marketing offers up a great opportunity to do so.
There are a number of ways in which you can take some small risks with affiliate marketing, which could then lead to a significant increase in sales. For example, you could try branching out from the existing list of partners you tend to work with or try some completely new approaches that you've never given a shot. Perhaps your target audience has become slightly younger recently, so you want to try offering affiliate links to Instagram influencers. Or, if you're considering offering discounts to entice people to shop with you, securing space on voucher code sites could be a great move.
If you can afford it, you might also want to offer an upfront fee to affiliate partners that you really want to work with. This can be an especially fruitful idea if you would like to work with publishers or individuals who, for example, are known for extravagant photo shoots. Putting together high-quality photos for an Instagram post or magazine editorial comes at a price, and paying towards this work might be a risk, but it could also work out as a fantastic investment that will result in beautiful promotional images that earn you plenty of sales.
Make sure you're promoting the right products
The beauty of affiliate marketing is that you can choose exactly which products you want to push, and this should entirely depend on what people are looking to buy.
For example, during the first UK lockdown, fashion brands that focussed on pushing loungewear though affiliates likely saw far more conversions than those that stuck to a traditional summer wear promotion strategy.
When putting your affiliate marketing campaigns together, it's not just about what you're looking to get rid of or make the most profit on — the most important thing to consider is what people are shopping for right now. So, make sure this is always your biggest consideration. You may even consider launching new product lines or services accordingly.
Focus on building brand awareness
As consumer trends shift, you might find that you lose customers that you could previously rely upon, but also gain a whole new audience. This is because, as online shopping becomes more popular, it's easier for people to shop around, which can have a big impact on brand loyalty. As a result, you should always be putting a lot of work into building brand awareness and gaining people's trust.
This should play a big role in how you devise your affiliate marketing campaigns. For example, when building brand awareness is a huge priority, you'll want to promote your products or services through as many channels as possible. So, it's a good idea to diversify the collection of platforms or publishers you work with. For instance, you might want to work with an online magazine, along with a handful of Instagram influencers. Or you could secure a space on a voucher code site while also asking relevant bloggers to promote your goods.
As I've already mentioned, affiliate marketing is a relatively low-risk area of marketing, which means you shouldn't be afraid to try something new. There's very little harm in testing out different combinations of techniques to work out how you can effectively raise awareness of your brand while making plenty of sales.
Consider working with an agency
During turbulent times, or after significant shifts in people's shopping habits, you might find that it's much more difficult to secure quality affiliate marketing opportunities. It's certainly become more of a competitive space during the coronavirus pandemic, because more people have started to shop online. Also, due to shifts in shopping behaviours, tactics that you've used and gained a lot from in the past might have even stopped working. If you're struggling to put together a new strategy, or aren't quite getting the results you're looking for, it might be worth asking an agency for help.
Here at Glass Digital, we have a team of affiliate marketing experts who specialise in adapting affiliate strategies as consumer trends shift. We have a wealth of partnerships and tools that allow us to secure valuable opportunities for our clients very quickly.
Consumer behaviours are shifting all of the time, which means you need to be checking and adjusting your digital marketing strategies constantly. Take these tips on board in order to create the most effective affiliate marketing campaigns possible and, if you would like help getting the most from the channel, get in touch with our team.
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