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The Future of Affiliate Marketing: Trends and Predictions for the Industry

Affiliate marketing has gone from “a cottage industry” to among the most powerful and influential online marketing strategies in just over 20 years. Some of the big players in the industry may have made accurate predictions for the future of affiliate marketing early on. Many other affiliate marketing trends have been a surprise to most. 

So how can we predict trends in affiliate marketing in the next 20 years? There are sure to be unexpected twists and turns. However, looking at how affiliate marketing trends have developed so far can help us anticipate the future. Here are some trends likely to affect affiliate marketing going forward.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing takes all kinds of shapes and sizes. Essentially it is a form of marketing and brand promotion on the part of an individual or organization for a company’s services or products. The affiliate is typically compensated with a commission if they are successful in prompting a consumer to take the desired action. Most affiliates earn money only when what they promoted is purchased. Sometimes affiliates earn money when consumers click links, sign up for something, etc.

Trends and Predictions for Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing has evolved from handshake agreements between influencers and companies to a massive business with complex nuances. It holds the potential for tremendous earnings for both businesses and affiliates. Understanding where affiliate marketing is going in the future enables businesses to capitalize on the affiliate marketing ventures most likely to be successful. Here are the affiliate marketing trends to keep an eye on going forward. 

Ethical business practices are defining which companies succeed in affiliate marketing

Consumers are becoming more conscious of the ethics of the businesses they work with and the content they consume. Consumers may lose trust in an affiliate they like if they see them advertising a business whose practices they don’t agree with. Similarly, consumers may choose not to work with a business that advertises through an affiliate they feel morally opposed to. Going into the future, businesses will have to be very careful about which affiliates they choose to work with. Affiliates are also becoming pickier and pickier about the businesses they represent.

Writing Strategies

Government regulations are holding affiliate marketers to higher standards 

It’s fair to say that the wild west of affiliate marketing is over. Regulatory bodies like the Federal Trade Commission are clarifying the responsibility that affiliate marketers have to the public. Recently, affiliate marketers who promoted a fraudulent business paid over 4 million dollars in settlement fees. Affiliates and the businesses who hire them are being held responsible for the claims they make. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to work with only reputable affiliates. 

Affiliate marketing relationships are becoming increasingly customized

In the early days of affiliate marketing, the same affiliate site may promote hundreds or even thousands of diverse businesses. However, consumer trust is becoming increasingly important to affiliates and the businesses they represent. It is becoming necessary for businesses to choose affiliates who promote to only the consumers who really want to buy their products. This is leading to a more customized relationship between affiliates or the agency managing them and the businesses they work with. 

Influencer Writing

What it means to fail fast and fail often is changing in affiliate marketing

Fail fast and often has established itself in the tech world as a mindset that drives innovation and success. This mindset is a pushback to a cultural distaste for failure. Fear of failure makes it difficult for businesses to try things out, be creative, and try something else if the first approach doesn’t work. 

Affiliate marketing enables companies to be creative and innovative. Companies can “fail fast and often” while being spared some of the risks typically involved in this mindset. You only have to pay for an affiliate campaign if it pays off, which is a powerful insulator of risk. This makes affiliate marketing a great option for startups, but it’s a game changer for big companies as well. A company can start lots of affiliate campaigns that may or may not be effective. This approach enables marketers to not only learn quickly but learn simultaneously from multiple attempts and failures.

Small and regional affiliates aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they’re gaining traction with high conversions

Most affiliates strive to reach as many people as possible. However, some affiliates work in niches so small that there isn’t room to expand. Regional affiliates are a good example. There are only so many people within their specific geographical range to reach.

Other affiliates focus on a niche subject area that’s unlikely to grow. A hobby website focusing on, say, a particular type of weaving, is unlikely to ever expand very far. True, these websites could branch into other hobbies, but they are typically run by people who are truly passionate about their areas of interest. These affiliates aren’t interested in expanding, nor are they able to in most cases. 

Small affiliates aren’t being swallowed by the competition. To contrast, they have powerful traction with their audience. They’re extremely valuable to the right company. 

These affiliates tend to have loyal fan bases who trust the affiliate to tell them where to spend their money. Needless to say, this kind of loyalty to an advertiser is exactly what every company wants. While they may not be able to reach huge audiences, there’s the opportunity for extremely high conversion in the consumers they do reach. 

For these reasons, the future of affiliate marketing is likely to see an increase, not a decrease, in the power of tiny regional or niche affiliates. 

Affiliate marketing is, increasingly, for every company, big and small, anywhere in the world 

Affiliate marketing is one of the only advertising campaigns in which you only have to pay if income is generated. Furthermore, you can get an affiliate marketing campaign at any scale you want. Even the smallest company with the most humble budget can afford an affiliate marketing campaign. Management by an affiliate partnership agency enables smaller businesses to take advantage of the benefits of affiliate marketing. However, they don’t have to do the work of forming relationships and managing them themselves. 

Small Business

Video marketing programs are likely to become as common as written content

One of the most straightforward predictions for affiliate marketing is an increase in video marketing. 91% of businesses are already marketing with video. 96% of marketers think video is an important part of a marketing strategy. However, it’s likely that closer to 100% of businesses are going to use video marketing in the coming years. They’re not going to do it by creating their own video content. Instead, the future of affiliate marketing is going to be increasingly reliant on affiliates who produce video content to promote their products.

Non-competing brands are going to work together more often in affiliate partnerships

Affiliate marketing is all about the relationships formed between companies and affiliates. Affiliates are increasingly becoming a bridge between companies as well. Non-competing brands advertised by the same affiliate benefit from proximity to each other. Affiliates can advertise bundled and co-branded products. They can share consumer competition campaigns and other shared marketing ventures that distribute risk and increase profits. 

The connection between affiliate marketing and SEO is becoming even more intimate 

Affiliates have always been focused on SEO. After all, SEO is critical for attracting search engines to content and getting purchases for businesses they promote. However, as long-tail keywords become increasingly prevalent, businesses are finding themselves in need of more diverse affiliates. Their affiliates need to be appropriate to their search terms and the products or services they’re advertising. Good affiliate partnership agencies draw from a wide range of affiliates. They build campaigns that promote different aspects of a company’s business or service to varying audiences. 

Affiliate Marketing Stats

Metaverse products are going to be the next gold mine in affiliate marketing 

As products are created on the Metaverse, a strong affiliate support team is likely to develop to promote them. This is the perfect environment for highly niche affiliate influencers who have powerful sway over the buying decisions of their audience. In a brand-new marketplace like the Metaverse, consumers are more likely than ever before to rely on trusted affiliates to inform their purchasing behavior. This is one of the affiliate marketing trends that are the newest in the industry. It’s likely to become swamped soon, so it’s an important one to pay attention to if you’d like to be on the cutting edge of the future of affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is perfectly poised for the increase in demand for second-hand products 

The second-hand market is growing rapidly. Why?

  • Increased consumer consideration for ethical decision-making in their purchases
  • The ability for secondhand items to be advertised and sold online
  • The large supply of secondhand products available.

Affiliates are in a perfect position to encourage consumers to make a particular choice when it comes to purchasing second-hand products. Consumers trust affiliates to tell them which products are likely to be quality and which companies are the most ethical.

AI is changing how affiliate marketing functions

Artificial intelligence has offered a lot to the affiliate marketing industry since its inception. Early on, AI was telling affiliates which keywords should be integrated for SEO, how much content was necessary to compete for a given keyword, etc. The current SEO AI giant, Surfer SEO, has roots going back to 2008. It has been available to affiliate marketers since 2017

In the future, we can expect to see AI recognizing patterns in consumer and search engine behavior that goes much further. Artificial intelligence can tell businesses what kinds of affiliates are most likely to attract clients likely to engage with their products. It can tell affiliates which products are best to link to for which content. The potential for AI in affiliate marketing is endless.

Take Advantage of the Best Predictions for Affiliate Marketing with Vibrant Performance

Every company that wants to be competitive in the future is likely to be using affiliate marketing in the coming years. But exactly how you use affiliate marketing, which agency you choose, how much you spend, and where the investment should go, are informed by predictions for affiliate marketing. Making good predictions about the future of affiliate marketing is the difference between being on top of affiliate marketing trends and a missed opportunity or poor investment. Vibrant Performance has been in this industry for over a decade. We’ve seen our share of affiliate marketing trends come and go. Contact us so we can tell you exactly how we plan to position your company to succeed in the growing affiliate marketing industry.


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