In 2018, e-commerce sales in Europe stood at $325 billion and in North America, they exceeded $500 billion, with online transactions making up 20% of the retail market. Since its inception, E-commerce has seen continued growth, however, the industry has been going through a period of change in recent years as consumers and the ways in which they discover products has evolved. In this article, I am going to highlight three affiliate marketing strategies retailers should implement to reach the online consumer of today and maximise return on investment.

1. How to reach millennials

When it comes to the digital sphere, millennials are the much talked about generation. They are digitally savvy and expected to make up 30% of all retail sales by 2020. With this in mind; it’s imperative that brands target Millennials as a priority demographic. Research from Pew Research Centre states 88% of 18-29-year-olds and 78% of 30-49 years olds are active on social media, with Instagram leading the way as the most engaging social media platform. According to a recent study by Facebook, 83% of Instagram users surveyed discover products on Instagram, and with the rise of social discovery comes the need for influencers.

When working with influencers, retailers should aim to cultivate long-term relationships; this type of approach increases the authenticity of the messaging and shows the influencer as a consistent advocate for the brand. Prior to launching an influencer campaign, it’s important to have predetermined goals and objectives bearing in mind that conversion rates can be low (as they sit at the top of the funnel). Consider metrics such as engagement and earned media when evaluating the success of campaigns.

With millennials accessing content via mobile devices which influences their purchase decision, having a seamless user journey from intent to purchase on mobile is crucial. With m-commerce growing rapidly, retailers must focus on their m-commerce offering in order to maximise the channel’s value. Innovative mobile technology companies such as Button have not only helped streamline the process between app-to-app but also provided reliable tracking. This provides retailers with more reliable data to develop actionable insights to improve performance.

2. Publishers and personalisation

When it comes to retail, it’s clear to see the appeal that comes with personalisation. Adobe reported that personalised customer experiences could reduce acquisition costs by 50% and increase revenue by 15%. In the affiliate channel, AI is helping publishers to drive more sales efficiently, allowing retailers to truly understand and maximise the potential of each customer.

With personalisation offering the potential to reduce acquisition costs, it’s important to promote data sharing between advertisers and publishers. If publishers have greater data available, they can be more targeted and effective in their approach. From a consumer standpoint, AgilOne reports that 70% of UK consumers expect a personalised experience, the type of user experience expected varies based on a number of factors from user to user, showing how critical it is to understand each individual and target them differently. RevLifter is making this a reality. By leveraging advertisers’ audience data, they’re able to show relevant and unique offers to users in real time. With discounting hitting record levels at the end of 2018, it’s important retailers take a fresh approach to how they present offers to users.

3. Comparison shopping services by Google

Google shopping should now already be an integral part of any retailers’ acquisition strategy. Performance agency Merkle reported Google shopping spend peaked in Q4 2018 up 42% from 2017. As a result of Google deploying unfair practices in 2017, any comparison-shopping services could then bid in the Google shopping space. Google offered two incentives to promote working via CSS partners: 20% discount and Google Spend Match. This lead to the creation of hundreds of comparison-shopping services built poorly and with limited functionality, which forced Google to introduce minimum requirements for CSS partners.

The key reason for leveraging a CSS partner is cost. By running campaigns through a CSS partner, retailers will see reduction in their spend, whilst maintaining sales volumes. To further manage costs/efficiencies, retailers should consider CSS CPA providers who can support existing campaigns. Its important retailers have a solid understanding of how agencies are operating when it comes to the handling of their Google shopping campaigns. If agencies do not meet the minimum requirements, this could result in lost revenue.

The e-commerce landscape has seen dramatic shifts in recent years that are having a huge impact on how individuals discover brands and products. Influencer marketing, personalisation and Google shopping are all relatively new entrants to the affiliate space and I would implore retailers to test strategically with each of these emerging models. As mobile usage continues to grow, its impact on the channel cannot be underestimated and retailers must have mobile at the forefront of their strategy when it comes to reaching audiences.