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New Year, New You: 2019 Affiliate Marketing Trends and To-Dos

Whether you find the beginning of a new year inspiring or insignificant, it’s hard to deny the practicality of revamping your brand and business with what many would consider the ultimate clean slate. With much of the world simultaneously in reset mode, it makes sense to do your own planning and revising at this time too. That includes for your affiliate marketing strategy.

To that end, we’ve put together a little roundup of the affiliate trends to know about for 2019. We’ve also outlined your baseline to-dos. Don’t thank us! It’s why we’re here. Let’s review.

The Trends

Everyone’s got an opinion of course, but these are the predictions for 2019 that have reached consensus in the affiliate space.

Reviews Will Still Reign Supreme

The gold standard of affiliate content hasn’t changed in years and certainly won’t this year. A thoughtful, keyword-optimized product review is still your best bet for converting curious searchers to ready buyers. And while detailed blogs and videos are what typically come to mind when we think of great product reviews, don’t discount shorter recaps. A well-done social media post featuring a favorite product can garner serious clicks and earnings too.

Visual Media Will Still Be The Favorite

mages, video, streaming … the internet loves visuals, and networks and creators alike will continue to prioritize visual content. You’ve probably gotten used to the capabilities and expectations around imagery changing rapidly as platforms update and innovate. You can expect the same for 2019.

Voice Will Be A Bigger Factor in SEO

People are increasingly using voice functionality on their devices to search the web, and voice-centric technologies like Amazon’s Echo are becoming household staples. Importantly, the way people verbally articulate a search query is often different from how they’d type it into a search bar. You should account for both in your SEO efforts.

Mobile Will Continue to Grow

Marketers have been talking about and strategizing for mobile web traffic for years, and 2019 will be no different. Mobile browsing is bigger than ever and still growing, and affiliates will continue to optimize their content and map out their marketing plans with mobile in mind.

Alternative Social Platforms Will Become Bigger Players

As privacy and power issues continue to frustrate users on the major social media platforms, some will begin to seek alternatives. Smaller, more niche communities are predicted to fill the gap, and affiliates will shift some of their focus (and content) accordingly.

Affiliate Marketing Agencies Will Become More Prevalent

Most popular creators recognize the significant earning opportunity that a strong affiliate marketing practice could bring, but not all have the time or interest to implement one. For those folks, partnering with an agency that specializes in affiliate marketing might be a wise investment. More of these companies are expected to open their digital doors in the coming year.

A final note on trends: many predict that more affiliates will experiment with social media ads in 2019. These ads aren’t allowed for Amazon affiliate content, and in general can be tricky to do without toeing the line of what a platform (or the law) deems permissible. We recommend steering clear.

The To-Dos

Now you’ve got the latest on broader trends in the affiliate space. Next pull your affiliate reporting from the past year. Gather your website stats too. It’s time to synthesize and strategize!

Below are four areas that are perfect to evaluate and refine in the new year. Comb through your affiliate and website data, note any learnings or interesting findings, and apply that intel plus the info above to the following activities.

Evaluate Your Niche

Are you clear on the niche your brand fits into? Is it still right for you? Is it what you were aiming for in the first place? Is there an opportunity to pivot into something that feels and works better?

Your data can tell you how your brand is being perceived based on how people arrive at your content and what your most popular pieces are. If it’s trending in a direction you didn’t intend — maybe you recently had a baby and spontaneously produced a lot of new-mom content that really took off — you can choose to course-correct, or to capitalize on the momentum!

From an affiliate perspective, your niche will impact your authority to speak to and suggest certain product categories (i.e., if you’re known as a fitness influencer, your recommendations on exercise equipment will carry a lot more weight than your picks for electronics). It will also impact where you share your content (remember the niche platforms?). It’s important to stay on top of it.

Optimize Your Site and Social Media Profiles

If you have a website, now’s the time to give it — and your analytics — a hard look. Is the visitor experience as smooth and quick and helpful as it could be? Is your site fully optimized for mobile? Are people dropping off at specific points or otherwise not getting to your best pages? Are you making good use of opportunities for product links and banners?

Thinking through these questions may reveal the need for some big overhauls (though you probably already had a sense of what you’d find). Don’t put them off! It’s peak-planning time anyway, so lock down your plans to make these changes. Maybe consider enlisting an affiliate agency’s help.

For your social accounts, take a look at your profile pictures, background images, and bios — is everything still up-to-date and on-brand? Check your analytics, too, for any larger insights (beyond post performance) you can glean, such as pointers on niche.

Optimize Your Best-Performing Content

It’s not necessary to refresh everything you’ve ever produced, but you should definitely review all of your top content and make sure it’s in great shape. These are the pieces that get the most eyes and may even be the first impression for a new reader — confirm that links work, images render correctly, messaging is on-point — and everything looks good on mobile. Check your SEO on these pieces too, and make any necessary updates to accommodate voice search. Finally, make sure you haven’t missed any opportunities to recommend products or display affiliate ads.

Renew Your Product Picks and Lists

Take a spin through your typical product categories on Amazon; maybe check out the best sellers and trending items. See anything you should consider trying, sharing, or adding to your Idea Lists? Look through your affiliate reporting: which categories do you do well in? Can you create some new content or Idea Lists to feature your top earners and other related items? Are there categories you should put more emphasis on, based on your niche or top-content learnings?

Look at your lists themselves: do you need to add or remove anything? Should any of them be broken into smaller, more specialized lists? Run through these exercises, and get your promoted products and lists refreshed and ready for the year ahead.

Revise Your Affiliate Marketing Strategy

Everything above gets your platform primed for results. When you get views and clicks, you’ll have done everything you can to maximize your earnings. But you need to drive that traffic first. And that’s where your affiliate marketing strategy comes in.

You should hit the areas below from other angles too, but for now, look through an affiliate lens at:
  • Your editorial plan: Will you be running content that lends itself to product mentions? Can you do some product-specific pieces?
  • Your social media plan: Have you incorporated product reviews? Have you planned for real-time updates on trending items and exciting promotions?
  • Your promotion plan: Will your affiliate content be supported with wide and regular promotion? Does it make sense for you to share some content on a niche social network or two?
If your head is spinning, take a breather. It is a lot to do and think about. But it’s (literally) worth it. And it’s all outlined here in one place. Take it step by step, and extend your “new year” upgrades through the next couple of months if you need to. No one’s counting.

Here’s to your best affiliate year yet!
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