Affiliate Marketing Predictions for 2011: Will You Make The Cut?

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What do football and affiliate marketing have in common? Surprisingly, a lot. Both involve diehard passion, planning, and performance. You eat, sleep, and breathe football. You’re emotionally connected, and whether you admit it or not…you’re hooked. What does this have to do with affiliate marketing? Think about the driving force behind your connection to football. You’re already a conversion, used to be a click, and soon to be a lead. But, how did you get there?

Tapping into peoples’ emotions to drive a sale is nothing new. Humans are inherently emotional beings that expect remarkable benefits for minimal cost and effort. We see this emotional sales tactic slapped across landing pages all the time…“Lose Ten Pounds In Two Weeks!,” “Help The One You Love Quit Smoking,” “Melt Away Cellulite!” It’s the basic fundamentals of sales 101 – people buy with their emotions.

However, it’s 2011 people. Triggering basic human emotions to turn a click into a conversion isn’t going to cut it. How do you feel about moving away from typical banner ads that are all dressed up in bullets and a button and ditching standard vanilla landing pages for good? If you concentrate on creating real brand experiences, and take into consideration the following concepts below – you are sure to start the new year with more money than you’ll know what to do with.

Kick Butt Creatives

Banner click-through rates were at an all-time low in 2010. Surprisingly marketers are allocating more money for banner creatives in their 2011 budget. But, why? The online advertising landscape has changed. People have grown weary of banner ads and constant clicking. In 2011, you will see a shift towards tactical reach, not frequency. Forget aimlessly casting your banner ads and hoping that someone bites, because they won’t.

Tip: The trick is to not make your ads look like ads. Try implementing “richer” rich media to your creatives. It will allow the user to engage with a brand much longer than a standard banner and mobile ads. And, as a rule of thumb remember that interactive ads generate action. According to a Marketing Charts article, “User engagement and interaction are significantly improved in ads that leverage video and “richer” rich media compared with GIF and simple Flash rich media advertisements…”

Affiliate Groupon-Style Sites

As I mentioned above, consumers are attracted to real brand experiences and as social media continues to explode, consumers are feeling even more connected to brands. If you’ve ever been enticed by group discount buying sites like Groupon or LivingSocial, you’ve already gotten a glimpse into the future of AM. Affiliates benefit hugely by offering direct coupons, voucher codes, and promotions to consumers for exclusive one-time deals–further connecting the consumer to the brand.

Tip: Offering a limited number of affiliate “coupons” promotes exclusivity and encourages consumers to act fast. If you’re unsure of how many to offer, try a benchmark number for each offer, and optimize it according to how much traffic you receive.

Powerful Organic Content

We’ve got to create passionate communities that generate highly useful organic content to boost our search engine ranks! Come again? We’re not talking about FDA approved content here, but we are talking about the importance of user-generated content via forums, and comments on blogs and review sites. A crucial part of search marketing is blogging. Blogs are dynamic creatures that are really no different than websites, except for the fact that they are easier to optimize and allow you to generate an alternative method of traffic through RSS and links.

In 2011, you can expect to see user-generated content as the most effective weapon for increasing your Internet Marketing profits. But, like anything, it’s all about moderation and maintenance. Blogs naturally promote links and will increase your site ranking. However, they must be relevant and constantly updated. Audio and video are also two very important components that have been known to generate the most user feedback. Plus, they are extremely easy to implement. WordPress offers free plugins like PodPress and Audio Player.

Tip: An easy way to test the effectiveness of your content? Read it out loud. This is every writer’s worst nightmare, but a proven and free way to optimize your content. If your content flows and doesn’t sound robotic, you are good to go. Keep in mind that speaking to consumers isn’t brain surgery, and your content is the source of your selling power, so take it easy on the big words and complex language.

Mobile & Video Eye Candy

The Mobile Marketing Association predicts the global advertising market to grow to “$13 to $14 billion in 2011.” Location-based and personalization features are destined to dominate, and as mobile marketing continues to grow, we’ll see a rise in mobile affiliate sites. And you better believe that groupon-style affiliate coupons will flood mobile phones like no tomorrow.

However, video is the ‘reel’ deal for 2011. According to the Kelsey Group, “…59 percent of those surveyed claimed to watch online video, and more than half said they engage in some sort of response activity, such as visiting a Web site, going to a physical location or making a purchase.” That’s a pretty staggering detail to let slip through the cracks.

Tip: Want to amp up your landing pages? Implement video. We’ve already seen the selling power video holds, but stay tuned for richer, more personal user experiences. Asked for data collection? Let the form do the dirty work.

Touchdown Marketing

Think brand experiences. User dislocation is becoming a thing of the past as consumers continue to dodge online ads. Expect to drive more ad dollars in 2011 with powerful brand content, glammed-up creatives, and HIGH-quality imagery.

We can learn a lot from a football playbook, starting with the two-point conversion. Generally, as a lead shrinks, players tend to avoid the two-point conversion because it’s too risky. Similar to AM, when conversions are decreasing, leads are too. When this happens you know it’s time to devise a new game plan. Your consumers KNOW what plays (ads) are coming, and you aren’t going to win using your old tactics.

Tip: The second ‘P’ is something you should be doing as we speak, planning. Don’t take last year’s mediocre sales pitch and over-the-top promises and jam them into a run-of-the-mill design. These things aren’t going to get your customers on board. They know it’s coming and are destined to avoid it.

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