Affiliate Mobile Strategies for Advertisers – What Works Best?

Tuesday, 21 May, 2013 - 16:49


Savvy advertisers are wasting no time catching the mobile marketing wave surging over American e-commerce. As the public takes to their mobile devices, so must advertisers follow — and never has the trend been more apparent.

Almost three-quarters of American consumers now rely onlocation-based services from their smartphones, notes the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Nearly two-thirds of those smartphone owners press their mobile devices into service to shop online, states a 2012 survey from eDigitalResearch and Portaltech Reply.

In response to this increasingly mobile shopping style, retailers are pumping up mobile advertising budgets like never before. A full 85 percent of marketers say they plan to increase their mobile advertising budgets soon, according to reports from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and MediaVest.

“Mobile is driving a fundamental shift in consumer behavior and it’s having a material impact on all aspects of affiliate marketing,” Kristin Hall of Google Affiliate Network’s Publisher Development team recently told Small Business Trends. “Advertisers and publishers must redefine their marketing strategies to engage this constantly-connected consumer across all devices.”

Wondering about the best specific target for a mobile strategy? According to marketers like Hall, the hot spot for mobile opportunities in a T-Mobile 4G network lies with affiliate marketing, in which publishers are rewarded with a commission for helping promote a product, service, or site. The most valuable affiliate relationships today are with publishers whose sites are already optimized for mobile users.

Leveraging Affiliates

A recent Affiliate Management Days program looked at the reasons partnering with affiliates can strengthen your mobile marketing efforts:

  • Reach audiences where your access is restricted.
  • Have a loyal audience.
  • Build trust and authority.
  • See the bigger picture.
  • Focus on niche topics.
  • Allow experimentation without a heavy marketing spend.

Partnering with affiliates makes sense at the most basic level, advises Scott Allen atMarketing Land. “Publishers are a great source of information and knowledge when it comes to mobile commerce,” he wrote. “They will gladly tell advertisers what they need to do to be successful in mobile, because they want to earn commissions.”

Reduce the amount of trial and error with zealous data analysis. Hall cites big opportunities for affiliate marketers who want to understand and capitalize on mobile, data, and analytics. “There’s a real opportunity to apply insights from data along with using new ad formats to make the most out of the affiliate channel,” she said. “There are also opportunities for advertisers and affiliates to partner more closely to bring the influence of affiliates higher up the purchase funnel.”

To take advantage of those benefits, Hall said affiliate managers must be willing to invest strongly (possibly even over-invest) in mobile traffic today, to ensure capturing the targeted audience they need as more conversions shift across multiple screens.

Get the Tech Right

Companies can’t afford to miss the mark on mobile technology. “A publisher application or publisher website designed for mobile commerce needs advertiser sites that are optimized for mobile,” Allen explained. “If consumers have a great experience on a publisher site only to click on a retailer site and be brought to a desktop site that doesn’t convert to a mobile device, then no one makes any money and the consumer leaves unsatisfied.”

In a field full of eager potential affiliates, companies should choose partnerships carefully to ensure their product messages aren’t grinding to a halt on dead-end links. Customers will abandon content they can’t easily navigate on their mobile devices — and the goalposts are constantly shifting. “Changes in technology can have a dramatic effect on your business, so stay up to date on all of the latest advances in technology,” cautioned Jay Neutron on

More Affiliate Opportunities

Consider these ideas from Affiliate Management Days for building fruitful affiliate partnerships that benefit both parties.

  • Make trend discussions part of regular communications with affiliates.
  • Include information in newsletters about hot subjects or trends.
  • Don’t auto-approve affiliates.
  • Create a calendar for affiliates about upcoming and seasonal trends.
  • Ask affiliates to submit ideas on news and trends.
  • Offer special incentives for strong ideas or performance.
  • Run contests among affiliates to come up with ideas for quick campaigns based on trends or fads.

The successful mobile marketing campaign should not only boost sales from established customers, but also engage new markets. Each campaign should aim for its own concrete goals — like more social media likes, more social media fans, more social shares — or hard sales targets like increased sales or higher order values. With  specific goals in place and mobile tech issues tested and retested, the affiliate marketing pathway will swing open to a mobile market that’s ripe for the picking.