Mobile Affiliate Marketing – Is your brand ready?

Fail to prepare (for mobile), prepare to fail

More than half of all internet traffic shopping now comes from a mobile device. Any business now must cater for mobile users, or they will simply be left behind. As a direct result of this, mobile affiliate marketing is becoming bigger and bigger, with it now being almost a necessity for retailers to have a mobile friendly website for their programs to succeed.

Here a few key statistics to further enforce that point:

  • Over 1.2bn people worldwide access the internet from their smartphones
  • 70% of mobile sales lead to action within an hour
  • 51% of smartphone users have purchased from a company other than the one they originally intended to because of information provided at the moment they needed it
  • Mobile dominated the Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2018 period on all Shopify stores, accounting for a huge 66% of sales
  • 30% of people would completely abandon a transaction if they can’t complete it on a mobile device
  • Mobile sales accounted for 43% of all UK eCommerce sales in 2018, accounting for over £37bn worth of sales

What opportunities does this offer you as a retailer? And what do you need to do to ensure you are not just keeping up with the new trends, but keeping your affiliate marketing one step ahead of the competition?

Correctly rack your sales

With the increased use of mobile in an average customer journey, affiliate tracking has ultimately had to evolve to ensure publishers are rewarded fairly. It is no longer just about the last click, but how many touch points a customer has, and on which device.

Depending on which network you operate your affiliate program, there are some really simple changes you can make to your tracking to help improve affiliate conversions across mobile, and therefore ensure your mobile affiliate program is seen as market-leading.

This therefore gives publishers a significant reason to promote your products over a competitors – if they feel they will be rewarded fairly, they are more likely to choose you over your competitors.

Cross-device tracking

Any affiliate program worth its salt should either have already implemented the ability to track across a device, or have it as an immediate action point.

Any program on leading networks, such as Awin or CJ, is now able to implement cross-device tracking at the flick of a switch. Awin were one of the very first to introduce this, way back in March of 2015, and this therefore enables both merchants and publishers Networks to track and gain rewards for conversions made across the multiple devices.

Cross device tracking is absolutely imperative for gaining a deeper understanding of your customers as it allows for greater transparency as to how the channel attracts, engages and subsequently converts sales.

Ultimately, by utilising this, your affiliate program immediately becomes innovative and market leading, and more importantly, you are ensuring that you reward your affiliates fairly for their efforts. If an affiliate feels fairly treated, they will no doubt work harder for your brand!

Mobile affiliate tracking

In addition to activating cross device tracking on your chosen network, you are going to need to update your overall affiliate tracking, too. As a general rule of thumb, you need to ensure your chosen network tracking conversion pixels are in place for all devices. Your first port of call would be to liaise to your network, and discover exactly what needs to be done to ensure mobile tracking is in place and fully functional. There may be a need for technical work to be completed, which may incur a small cost, however this cost is future proofing your program, and is therefore a solid investment.

If you have the ability to target mobile specific publishers, this opens up the reach of your affiliate program, and ultimately your revenue potential and new customer attraction.

Push notifications

Mobile commerce has introduced countless new opportunities for affiliate publishers. Their ability to geo-target and leverage technologies to engage with consumers has increased their appeal with bigger brands and merchants alike. This is set to further increase in the coming years, so ensuring your brand is aligned with this strategy as early as possible is key.

An example of a leading affiliate who was one of the very first to implement successful geo-targeting is Vouchercloud. Once a customer downloads the Vouchercloud app, enables access to their location and turns on push notifications, Vouchercloud can subsequently target customers with relevant offers. The app can subsequently pinpoint a customers exact location, cross reference this location with any stores currently offering promotions, and send a subsequent push notification to the users mobile phone, alerting them to the promotion that is nearby.

Other leading affiliates, such as TopCashback and Quidco, are huge advocates of geo-targeting, and this area of customer targeting is becoming ever more popular.

In utilising the above geo-targeting marketing, you can therefore ultimately drive footfall to your offline and online stores via your mobile efforts, subsequently the two channels together, therefore creating a full holistic brand approach.

Plus, it all adds up to a really exciting customer experience too. Who doesn’t want to be alerted to when and how they can save money on their shopping?

API-based mobile conversions

Leading app and mobile based fashion affiliates have developed a ‘Universal Checkout’ process, allowing users to purchase from multiple merchants, but never having to leave the affiliate site to do so. One such leading pioneer of the Universal Checkout is high end fashion aggregator Lyst, who, back in 2012, abandoned their current model of sending customers off to multiple stores, and instead committed to building a checkout on their own platform in the USA – this is despite making sales of over £16m per year with their current model.

Lyst’s reasoning behind the change was that, once a customer left Lyst’s website and was directed to the brand website, there were times when a product couldn’t be found, or the website loading time was slow, which lead to around a 10% difference in conversion rates. Although 10% may seem a small number, online shopping at the time of the change was worth £52bn in the UK, and £215bn in the US, which implies that around £27bn was being ‘abandoned’ each year!

With this approach, you do need to bear in mind the potential loss of your own brand experience, should a customer never land on your site to complete their sale. However, the suggested improvements in conversion rates and revenue this could entail, means the opportunity is one to seriously think about. You will still own your customer, so your own newsletters and follow up will ensure brand experience is upheld.

Adapt your strategy

It may seem obvious, but remember to ensure that your strategy reflects your affiliate marketing objectives in their traditional sense, but also taking into account mobile and multiple device opportunities.

When you are working on your strategy for mobile affiliates, it is important to define what constitutes as creating value for the brand and what events will be rewarded through the affiliate program.

Key things to think about include:

  • Include a separate budget for your mobile marketing efforts with key affiliate
  • Plan out how you will reward affiliates who have a touch point in the customer journey via mobile, but don’t ultimately convert the sale. A small bonus may be appropriate, which would be factored into the separate budget mentioned above
  • Ensure any necessary technical changes are fully tested before going live on site
  • If you have a bricks and mortar store, target the appropriate affiliates discussed above to marry up your offline and online marketing efforts via mobile

Is your website helping your traffic convert?

So you’ve done all you can to ensure that you are rewarding your affiliates fairly for all their marketing efforts, but is your website supporting their efforts and doing the best job it can to convert?

Your main aim is to ensure your mobile affiliate traffic converts at the optimum level possible in order to increase revenue, so ensure the process and customer journey is as easy as possible.

  • Remove any flash creatives, sliders and light-box image galleries from websites
  • Avoid using any software which is not compatible with mobile
  • Remove modal pop-ups and log-ins for entry on to the website
  • Website visual optimisation

First impressions count! Your website needs to load quickly, and instantly adapt to the customers smartphone. It is all about making it as easy as possible for a potential customer to navigate and convert.

Further tips for enhancing your mobile experience include:

  • Increase the size of your content, zooming or scrolling can cause unnecessary annoyance for a customer
  • Increase the size of links, and make sure their positioning is correct, so a customer does not inadvertently click on an incorrect link
  • Limit the use of sliders in favour of longer scrolling pages
  • Improve navigation with the reduction of categories and subcategories

Checkout process and affiliate tracking

All marketing efforts have been a success, and your customer is ready to check out on their mobile device – it’s the final hurdle and you need to make it as simple, clear and as quick as possible possible. If a customer has visited from a voucher code site, and is likely to use a promotional code, ensure it is clearly visible where this code needs to be entered.

How to streamline the checkout process:

  • Implement the affiliate tracking on mobile checkout pages and on m.sites (as discussed above)
  • If tracking through a mobile app, ensure that tracking is installed on the purchase page.

Being fully mobile friendly is no longer an option, it is a necessity for any retailer with aspirations to be successful. Speak to us to find out how we can bring you up to speed on your mobile strategy.

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