July 13, 2018

Affiliate Marketing Trends to Watch in 2018

Affiliate marketing trends can change quickly so it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse. The online space moves at lightning speed and anyone who doesn’t adapt is likely to get left behind. In this article, we look at some of the biggest trends for 2018 so that you can stay ahead of the game.


#1 – Adapting to GDPR

Top of the list for 2018 affiliate marketing trends is adapting to the fallout from GDPR. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation came into force in May, but many online businesses have yet to adapt their practices accordingly. This could have serious implications for affiliate publishers since the cookies used to track conversions fall within GDPR’s remit of ‘personal data’.

If you haven’t already done so, adopt an ‘opt-in’ strategy for both cookies and email addresses. Publishers that have already established trust with their audiences and built up a loyal following shouldn’t see much negative impact, but it’s important to work within the new guidelines. Even if your business isn’t operated in the EU, the rules still apply to any of your web visitors who may be based there.


#2 – Designing Online Experiences for Mobile-First

Mobile internet usage exceeded that of desktop back in 2016, but this year sees the launch of Google’s mobile-first index. This will mean that mobile websites rank higher than desktop versions on smartphones and tablets, causing a huge drop in traffic for those who are unprepared. Mobile page speed will become a ranking factor from July 2018 so it’s crucial to get organized as soon as possible.

Affiliate publishers that don’t have responsive websites could see a dramatic decrease in search engine traffic, potentially impacting their commissions too. If you haven’t already, then update your site to deliver an optimal experience on mobile and tablets. Once you’ve fixed the design, test it out on your own phone to identify any potential usability issues. This will help you stay ahead of this change and deliver the best possible web experience to your visitors.


#3 – Diversification from Facebook

One of the biggest affiliate marketing trends for this year will be more diversification from Facebook. It recently announced that business and page posts would receive less exposure, in favor of content from friends and family. For publishers that rely on Facebook as a primary traffic source, decreased visibility could present a problem.

Some publishers have already begun to diversify their strategies so that they’re less reliant on Facebook traffic. Content giant Buzzfeed is already diversifying its revenue streams in a pre-emptive move that others are likely to follow. Consider alternative social channels such as Pinterest to drive more consistent traffic or building up your email list to maintain more audience control.


#4 – Bigger Shifts Toward Transparency

Transparency has been one of the consistent affiliate marketing trends in recent years and 2018 is no different. In addition to GDPR and the FTC’s disclosure regulations, consumers themselves are demanding greater clarity and openness when it comes to online advertising. Numerous high-profile influencers and brands have come under fire for failing to disclose when content is promotional, as followers become increasingly savvy about product placement.

Skepticism around the safety of personal data is also driving a greater shift toward transparency. Publishers are increasingly being required to justify the collection and usage of data, detailing exactly how and why it is required. In both cases, open communication that conveys the information clearly and concisely is usually the best approach.

The key to successfully adapting to affiliate marketing trends is to think long-term. We want to ride consistent waves, not get caught up in short-lived fads. Look for shifts in behavior or perceptions rather than the hottest new social media platform. At the root of the trends we’ve discussed are honesty, diversification, and improving customer experience, which are always smart business practices no matter what’s happening in the landscape. Adopting them will strengthen your industry position and keep you ahead of the competition too.


Want to Stay Ahead of Affiliate Marketing Trends?

Our experienced team of professionals is always up-to-date with the latest affiliate marketing trends. We can help you to set up a brand-new affiliate program or manage an existing campaign to maximize results. We can even have one of our affiliate managers do a complementary analysis and strategy session.  Contact us today by calling 424-272-7400, filling out the form below or emailing [email protected].


Phone: 424-272-7400

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