The last several years have posed extremely changeable circumstances for everyone. Whilst the current economic landscape may seem all doom and gloom, the ability for brands to adapt during turbulent times will help us to mitigate the impact of uncontrollable macro-factors.
Change isn’t always scary, many businesses, from giant corporations to rising entrepreneurs, have seen these shifts in ecommerce as an opportunity. In particular, the affiliate channel offers a direct relationship with brands, low risk opportunity to test, high return on investment, ease of technical implementation, and full transparency to track performance.
New and emerging affiliate partner types
The emergence of new publishers has diversified the traditional partnership mix, giving brands more options for testing, and additional partner types to aid success when it comes to hitting a range of hard and soft KPI’s. Having a diverse publisher portfolio arms brands with multiple levers to be able to adapt strategy to continue striving towards their business goals.
Here is a flavour of different partnership types available to aid programme diversification and channel growth.
Influencer marketing is becoming an integral part of brands affiliate marketing strategy, we are increasingly seeing additional budget pots, KPI’s, and success measures. In fact, over the past two years, content creators and influencers drove from 5% to 8% of all network traffic. The number of influencers actively driving sales has also increased 8% over this time period.
Feel Unique partnered with Sellers Alley to diversify their existing influencer activity outside of established social platforms to hit a new audience on TikTok. Using a test budget and focusing on UGC inspired ads, this activation saw search volumes up 27%, new user engagement up 84%, and 15k sessions on TikTok. Feel Unique impressions reached far beyond the TikTok community with brand followers growing across multiple social platforms, and increased searches on site for products from the TikTok campaign.
In 2017, Google Shopping welcomed third-party CSS providers into the ad auction. Whilst CSS isn’t necessarily brand new to the overall marketing mix, we are increasingly seeing brands wanting to partner with one or more CSS partner, and choosing to do so via their affiliate programme. This allows for quick testing, running risk-free CPA-based commercials, and aligned tracking and measurement alongside other partner types. CSS growth has been cited for a few years, and these partner types have proved no exception in 2022. Investment in CSS partners from brands has increased 57% and CSS partners are now responsible for driving 4% of our total sales.
Technology partners are an exciting way to diversify your partner mix, but it’s also worth noting the amount of diversity within the term technology partners. There are 100’s of technology partners out there, with a different partner available to meet every objective. If, like many retailers at the moment, the current cost-of-living crisis is impacting the number of items consumers are purchasing per shop, an on-site bundling partner might be the partner of choice to support you in your change of strategy. Or, if your business changes tact on what stock to shift and when, a partner focused on personalised offers, or on-site overlay technology might be the best choice to interact with consumers during their shopping journey and incentivise specific purchase decisions. Technology partners allow you to outsource your innovation, removing brand considerations around tech resource and costs. YTD our technology partners have driven over €10 million for our brands globally.
As it says on the tin, brands are increasingly partnering with complimentary but non-competing brands to reach a potential new audience with similar values. Brands can promote each other and enter a reciprocal partnership or follow more of a traditional brand and affiliate partnership model. Year to date, Awin UK has tracked over 450 active brand partnerships driving £1.7 million in revenue.
Partner diversity drives success case study
Awin works with thousands of brands, across all sectors and all sizes. Taking a sample group of large brands with defined strategies, we have analysed two approaches to managing an affiliate programme.
Group 1 – Armchair Advertisers: The first group of brands has a very stagnant marketing approach, focused on a couple of core partner types, and running a traditional programme strategy without room or budget for testing or varied partnerships.
Group 2 – Adventure Advertisers: The second group of brands strives for a diverse programme mix, with set budgets available for adapting to market changes, and welcomes new partner types on board to support this strategy.
Diversity of partners fuels increases in traffic
When comparing both groups year-on-year, Armchair Advertisers saw a 6% decrease in traffic mostly impacted by traffic drops from core publisher types, including discount (-8%), loyalty (-9%) and cashback (-29%). Adventure Advertisers, however, benefited from audience diversity through their varied partner mix and saw traffic increase 29% for the same period. This growth was driven by some of the less conventional partners welcomed to the affiliate channel in more recent years, including SEM seeing 162% traffic growth YoY and CSS partners up 76%.
A diverse affiliate partner mix drives sales performance
Sales performance year on year presents a similar picture, Armchair Advertisers saw a 16% increase in sales, however, Adventure Advertisers saw an impressive 33% sales increase. This double sales growth was driven by the diverse affiliate mix, including SEM +217%, influencers +73%, and CSS partners +58% YoY.
Diversity of partners mitigates AOV impact from one partner type
Increase in average order spend is a common KPI for an affiliate programme. Armchair Advertisers witnessed a 2% growth in AOV over the last 12 months, whereas Adventure Advertisers saw a 9% increase in AOV through the different partner types that they could leverage. Delving even deeper, there was a significant 12% drop in AOV from one partner type, which impacted growth for Armchair Advertisers who were reliant on this partner type for driving almost half of their sales performance. As Adventure Advertisers worked with a range of partner types, they were able to mitigate this trend overall.
Conversion Rate still strong at 4.76%
As the increase in traffic for Adventure Advertisers was stronger, we should expect a lower conversion rate overall, that said, it sits at an impressive 4.76% on average for these brands. Partner diversity enables brands to target consumers across the whole shopping funnel. More traditional partners, including incentive partners, naturally sit close to the end of the purchase journey, focused on closing sales and thus increasing the overall conversion rate.
If you are interested in diversifying your partner mix, testing new partnerships, or want to hear more of our case studies, please reach out directly to [email protected]