Virginia Rizz, Head of Affiliate Marketing at the SEO and digital marketing agency Glass Digital, shares her insight into how you can adapt your affiliate marketing strategy as consumer behaviours change.
While consumer behaviour is gradually shifting all of the time, seasonality and current events can also have a dramatic impact on how people shop. And you need to be prepared to adapt your affiliate marketing to account for all of these changes.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected shopping trends in a number of ways. In April of 2020, 30% of all retail sales were made online (ONS), which is the highest percentage we’ve seen so far. It’s also worth noting that certain products have been in higher demand over the last few months and, with people being concerned about the safety of warehouse staff and the logistics of receiving deliveries during this crisis, a lot of consumers are only shopping for essentials. Such changes in consumer behaviour can arise for a whole host of reasons, though, which is why you always need to be ready to change your tact in one way or another.
Here, I’m going to outline just some of the ways you can make it as easy as possible to adapt your approach.
Get to know your customers
Overall, the affiliate space can be quite predictable, as a lot of shopping behaviours are determined by seasonality as well as peak times when we know more people are going to be shopping online — on Black Friday or Boxing Day, for example. We also know, for instance, that January is historically the most popular month for booking summer holidays so, as you can imagine, this is always a very important time for travel companies.
While seasonality and peak times might affect your entire industry in a similar way, it’s also important that you understand your typical customers’ shopping behaviours more specifically. The more information you collect about them (within the GDPR guidelines, of course), the better you’ll be at predicting their shopping behaviours.
So, when do they usually visit your site, do they tend to shop in the day or at night, and how long does it take people to convert once they’ve clicked through to your website? It’s also vital that you always know where most of your traffic comes from, whether that’s from influencers’ Instagram stories, voucher sites, or more traditional online media, as this can help to inform how you target potential customers all year round.
Keep an eye on the news and plan accordingly
As we’ve seen with the coronavirus, certain current events can have a huge effect on people’s shopping habits. For example, in the last few months, the online retail space has seen an increase in demand for certain products, such as food delivery services, loungewear, and even toilet roll. So, understandably, we’ve seen affiliate marketing strategies adapt as a result.
As with most areas of digital marketing, though, it’s always best to be ahead of the curve and making changes proactively, rather than reactively, to stay ahead of the competition. This means it’s vital that you keep an eye on the news at all levels, from local, to national, and even globally. For example, when Italy went into lockdown, UK affiliate marketing managers should have been anticipating the same happening here, and thinking about what people in lockdown are going to be looking to buy: comfortable clothing and products to entertain themselves with are just two of the obvious choices.
While most news stories might not have quite as big of an impact on the whole retail space as coronavirus has, different industries are being affected in different ways all of the time. So, it’s vital that affiliate marketing managers are always on the look out for news that might call for a change to their strategies.
Keep an eye on your stock levels
Of course, you’ll want to do everything you can to ensure your affiliate marketing strategies bag you as many sales as possible, but you also need to ensure you can deliver on these orders quickly to keep customers happy. This means you always need to be aware of what you have in stock, and ensure there’s clear communication between all relevant parties in case any items need to be restocked at short notice. It’s also important that your product feed is always up to date, so you have easy access to all of the information you need, from official product names, to their descriptions and dimensions, as well as their availability.
Affiliate marketing managers should be in constant contact with website or stock managers to ensure every campaign goes off without a hitch, too. This will also help to ensure preparations can be put in place, whether extra stock needs to be ordered or warehouse staff need to be warned, if you expect that demand for a specific type of product is going to go through the roof thanks to your marketing campaigns.
Consumer behaviours are subtly shifting all of the time, but they can also be severely impacted by current events, just like we’ve seen with the coronavirus crisis. Of course, your affiliate marketing strategies always need to adapt to this and, by taking these tips on board, you should be able to change your tack whenever necessary, so you can stay ahead of your competition.