Reflecting on e-tail success in 2011, Affiliate Network LinkShare UK has revealed its network of over 280 brands has seen 38 per cent year-over-year growth in sales, far out-pacing overall e-commerce growth which the IMRG tracks at just 18 per cent.
As the shift from offline to online (and seemingly back to offline, but with trackable offline affiliate campaigns) continues to develop in a country where over £7bn was spent by online shoppers in November alone_*_, the added value of utilising Affiliate Marketing to increase revenue for brands is evident when analysing LinkShare's Affiliate Network Data.
Growth of the luxury market
Of LinkShare's 280+ brands on the network, the growth of the 'luxury' brands sector has thrived in 2011. An odd statistic considering the gloomy market that encapsulates us all, however it's how luxury brands such as Karen Millen and Reiss have utilised the Affiliate market that has led to the upturn in sales. Luxury brands learning that special offers aren't necessarily tied to low price, and that Consumers’ are trading up to branded goods, choosing an investment piece at the right price, rather than just picking the lowest priced item.
Affiliate programmes in the luxury sector can ensure exposure in locations where consumers seek out information or opinion to shape their shopping decisions, while protecting the brand's core features.
Mobile, Location & Geo-Targeting
Taking the online, offline and bringing the online world to thie high street has been a major new step for publishers and advertisers alike. Initiatives such as John Lewis’ free WiFi and QR code trial and eBay’s pop-up shop near Oxford Street show that offline marketers are starting to view on and offline shopping as far more integrated.
This means that marketers and retailers planning for 2012 must have the entire consumer buying journey, both on and offline, in mind. Retailers must strive to understand their consumers’ journeys better in both the physical and digital world as this trend grows. Affiliates will be critical to achieving this holistic view of buying behaviour.
The biggest task associated with Social Marketing in 2011 was how to measure the value of their fans and in doing so assigning an ROI to the Social channel. One study by Hitwise found that one fan equaled 20 more site visits.
The more data that becomes available, the more brands will be able to justify spending on social activity in 2012. Marketers and retailers cannot assume that consumers are visiting their website as a first port-of-call. It may be their Facebook page or a peer review that initially grabs them.
This will be key for affiliates as they look to distinguish themselves from competitors and continue to drive traffic in the coming year, and working with an affiliate network will allow brands access to these specialised affiliates.
Utilising New Technologies
There have been huge advances in technology this year in everything from social applications, mobile technology and analytics to measure all these advances.
2012 will no doubt be a year of experimentation for marketers and retailers. They will have to be shrewd about how they attribute their marketing spend to take advantage of new technology, but maintain current conversations.
Affiliates are playing an increasingly important role both in maintaining current presence online and driving new online activity in this increasingly complex social and mobile world. A4u recently released a joint M-Commerce report to showcase the opportunity in Mobile for Affiliates, which is free to download for A4u members.
Penny Mather, Marketing Director at LinkShare UK, commented on the blurring boundaries they are seeing across their brands on the network:
“It is now becoming outdated to see on and offline marketing activity as separate. Consumers go on a non-linear journey when making a decision what to buy and may touch the on and offline worlds several time in a variety of ways before making a decision to purchase an item.
"As marketers and retailers become more savvy to this we expect them to invest in solutions that ensure their brand has a multichannel and varied online presence, including mobile and social sites, to keep them front of mind whatever their target audience is doing online. Affiliate marketing is well placed to provide these services and we expect a wide variety of brands to invest in the space in 2012.”