What Recent Retail Traffic Tells Us About Affiliate Marketing
For anyone marketing online, it’s probably no surprise that 2013 has been another banner year when it comes to spending / retail shopping on the web during the holidays. Leading leading digital business analytics firm comScore reports that between November 1 and December 31, online shoppers spent more than $ 46.5 billion. They also reported that the two busiest days were Cyber Monday and the day after, with a total of $ 3.15 billion spent.
For those of us who, like me, are very interested in affiliate marketing, this is one of the best times to rack up sales and earn commissions. Shoppers just have the right mindset to buy, and now more are buying your items and gifts online. Affiliate marketers should take advantage of this “frenzy” and put their affiliate sites or links on the cutting edge with additional advertising, more content creation, and timely posts.
As in previous years, this is the time to do that extra publicity and increase your spending. This year I did a press release every day through PRWeb during the weeks around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It has always been beneficial for me to create content that is directly related to these shopping days, heavily promoting the discount coupons and offers of the companies that I promote with my sites. This also builds links / rankings for vital keywords on Google News and Yahoo News around those special holiday shopping events.
However, I just don’t focus on the search engines, I also increased my Facebook Ads and Tweets to make sure I was getting traffic from the social media sites. Like other online marketers, Google’s Panda and Penguin updates have taught me never to rely solely on search engine traffic, everything can be gone in the blink of an eye.
That said, it should come as no surprise that 40% of traffic to retailers this holiday season is coming from search engines, according to Experian, a marketing services company. This traffic is apparently down 13% from last year, perhaps because so many shoppers are using Google’s paid product ads to find the items they are looking for. Also keep in mind the growing influence of social media platforms and forums in delivering traffic online.
Affiliate marketers should also take advantage of these social networks with branded Twitter feeds and at least one Facebook fan page. Highly targeted ads on Facebook can pay off, and many marketers are reporting good results. For me personally, I did not find my FB ads as effective in generating large amounts of traffic as press releases or even search engines, at least not directly from Facebook, but I have seen an increase in direct traffic to my site. This type of traffic is really hard to judge, but it probably comes from more exposure of my brand on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Done right, the social media fan / follower / subscriber base should be a year-round marketing project, building a loyal following with relevant posts and informative content. After all, during this holiday season, a report shows a 39% increase in traffic coming from these upstream social networks and anyone doing affiliate marketing online cannot ignore these numbers. On Facebook especially, what has really worked well for me is offering free and helpful guides / videos to attract potential buyers to my lists and marketing funnels. Since everything is based on the “sharing” of content, this content cannot be too commercial, or it will put people off rather than your brand.
Experian also reports that discount coupons are losing favor with the buying public, but I would have to disagree with their findings. On the other hand, I am a bit biased because I have effectively used discount coupons in my affiliate marketing for over 10 years. During peak Christmas shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, my promoted businesses offer some of the best deals of the year and this is reflected in higher sales. Potential customers are also looking for the best deals right now, and the affiliate marketer should take advantage of them.
While all of this marketing can make you feel like an aspiring used car dealership, I’ve always thought of this as a win-win situation where the customer gets a great deal and the affiliate earns a small commission. From the beginning, I have always put the emphasis on providing valuable content first and coupons / discounts as a follow-up or bonus. If you are an affiliate marketer and don’t offer a coupon or discount, just be aware that many shoppers (online and offline) postpone their holiday shopping until they see these great deals and the discounts each merchant is offering.
If you are not tailoring your online marketing to these special discounts, you may be leaving a lot of sales on the table or for other marketers to purchase. During the holiday shopping season, I just make sure my subscribers / followers / fans know about these great deals and we both walk away smiling. And as the statistics above show, more and more customers are turning to online retailers for the items and gifts they want for the holidays. Affiliate marketers must simply follow the money if they are to survive in this highly competitive game.