Early in the pandemic, brands were tasked with crafting more meaningful marketing with less budget and resources. Marketers began looking to software and tools developed for Marketing Technology, also known as Martech, to provide amplified experiences by getting creative and honing traffic paths so that every set of eyeballs had the most optimised experience to guarantee conversion.

As a result, we’re now seeing a shift of Martech companies strategically moving into the performance-based marketing space due to the nature of outcome-based investments, ensuring a safe space for low-risk testing. Affiliate and performance marketing continues to be a warm and welcoming ecosystem where integration is as easy as possible enabling brands and partnerships that enable technologies to do more. 

At this stage of the pandemic most brands are continuing and prioritising their marketing activities, however, the focus on marketing spend efficiency is here to stay. A new report estimates that the worldwide spend on marketing technology is $121.5 billion as more companies are embracing a platform or one primary Martech vendor, augmented by specialist providers instead of a suite of individually contracted products and partners. 

The affiliate marketing channel has been a great place to test these new and emerging marketing tools and technologies. The inherent lower risk to the model allows for test-and-learn results to help evaluate how customers respond to unique solutions that enhance the shopping experience; solutions needed for the capabilities of ecommerce that customers began to expect as more shopping moved online during lockdown. Incorporating partners as resources that specialise in rapidly evolving tech such as mobile app tracking, influencer tools, and data platforms will enhance the customer journey from discovery to check-out by making it a more seamless experience and will drive marketing innovation forward today.

Mobility matters

If we think about the overall evolution of affiliate marketing, there always seems to be a new shopping model or niche business that partnerships need to help to pave a way for that unique shopping experience. That’s where mobile app tracking technologies come into play. As more people are ‘always-on’ their phones, it is critical to optimise that path. Mobile app providers are starting to grow because the comfort level of making purchases on their phones has increased dramatically. 

With apps being such an intrinsic part of the mobile shopping experience, it’s no secret that brands, publishers, platforms, and networks have been trying to crack the app-tracking code for years to analyse transparent data trends and campaign effectiveness. Rather than expending in-house development resources, partnering with mobile technology companies to expand mobile web tracking and in-app tracking capabilities to further create that top-notch mobile shopping experience all while evolving the performance marketing channel. This type of partnership between a platform, technology company, publishers, and advertisers will continue to drive mobile growth goals around app installations, increased app usage, and in-app transactions – ultimately leading to increased marketing profitability and happier consumers.

The influence of influencers

The way people learn about products and services has changed as well. People are going to their favourite influencers or content sites and trust their opinion on different brands, products and services. All affiliate publisher models create value for consumers, and the growth of influencers in affiliate opens up new opportunities. Having the right tools to be able to work with influencers and content providers from finding, managing, and implementing campaigns, but also making sure those partnerships are contractually set up correctly is essential. 

Content creators and influencers are focused on editorial content with the desire to simplify and streamline their platforms, tracking technology, and reporting. Together, influencer and performance marketing collaboration make the perfect pair, integrating with ease, scale, transparency, and efficiency. Common influencer industry challenges including measurement and tracking, finding new relevant partners, relationship management, payment, invoicing, and taxation will need to be solved with intuitive solutions through these tech partnerships. 

Data driving heaving lifting

To be useful, data needs to be actionable. Data is like the building blocks of any structure, putting together small pieces helps to identify what’s important to tell a story, identify what you’re trying to solve for, and act. Data activation and identity providers enable data to do just this. Working with experts that understand how data can highlight areas of both growth and innovation in all types of partnerships. A cohesive marketing strategy across all channels needs cooperative actionable data to understand problem areas, such as low mobile conversion which would point to working with app providers to solve for that. Performance marketing can inform these types of decisions, therefore it’s important not to silo marketing channels that may pull from different budgets, such as brand versus affiliate, as affiliate is a component and essential building block to a complete marketing strategy. 

It’s about both journey and destination

Innovation through Martech partnerships is also driven by the convergence of both an increase in customer expectation for a seamless commerce experience which has become heightened while shopping through the pandemic, and more of an older generation of shoppers who have moved to online shopping. If brands are looking to retain both highly scrutinous avid online shoppers and this new online demographic, they may need to enhance the customer journey.

The industry is already moving in this direction with growth in partnership with companies that do cart abandonment, universal shopping carts, and site optimisation. And these partnerships are not exclusive to advertisers, as publishers are looking to companies that provide card-linked offer technology as well. Not only are we looking at creating more optimised experiences when shoppers get to the brand site, but publishers are also looking at ways to optimise their experience when they are at their stage of shopping. 

Content curators have also been making use of universal shopping cart technology to enhance their follower’s experience. Content providers may curate a post with trending seasonal items and if a customer wants to make a purchase, instead of going to each brand’s checkout page a universal shopping cart will keep that unique experience on the influencer’s page and control the conversion. Because the consumer trusts the influencer, they have a will and preference to stay and convert on their site, and technology exists to make it easier to purchase from multiple advertiser brands at the same time. 

The way forward continues

The next wave of innovation in performance marketing will come from the partnerships themselves, with agile collaboration between publishers, advertisers, and networks. Forging these deep, strategic partnerships with integrations that help remove barriers to entry, increase touchpoints as well as conversion, and data transparency will enable marketers to execute effective campaigns. In such a low-risk environment, affiliate performance marketing has been a safe space for brands to test and implement new tech solutions and strategically partner, driving increased return on investment for advertisers and additional commission for publishers. 

The rising tide of innovation is being driven by companies in collaborative partnerships, thereby raising all ships by plugging into easy Martech integrations whereas companies that are working in isolation in slow tech development won’t make it very far.