Is affiliate marketing keeping up with today’s fickle mobile consumer?
Consumers are notoriously fickle and, in today’s world, armed with a mobile phone and more data, they are empowered and emboldened to shop around. Brand and retailer loyalty is at an all time low as online shoppers are trying to get the best deal in terms of price and convenience.
So if this is the case, why do retailers keep on trying to push consumers to use the retailer’s exclusive mobile app? This clearly benefits the retailer, but not necessarily the consumer. In a blog by Forrester they state that mobile experiences have become static and brands are too complacent in serving customers in an online environment that most benefits the user, where they already are. Why do brands assume that consumers will break their user habits and open an app rather than continue on engaging in context?
As consumer expectations of hyper personalisation and convenience continue to escalate, there is added pressure on brands to exploit new technologies to serve consumers where they want to be served, in their current environment which is likely to be on a mobile device. Brands need to go where the consumers are, not the other way around.
Mobile is one of the most disruptive technologies for businesses since the advent of the Internet and brands that are complacent will lose out. Mobile has elevated consumers’ expectations about how they are served, how they shop and what they expect from a brand. As consumers we expect to interact with brands to get any product, information or service we desire immediately, on the device convenient to us and within context of our own user habits.
What does this consumer mind shift mean for affiliate marketing? Are brands and affiliates doing enough to engage with consumers on mobile devices within context? The first step in Affiliate Mobile Marketing is to understand that it is a disruptive paradigm change and not just another bolt-on channel. This colossal shift should then lead a brand to allocate sufficient cross-functional investment in IT, customer service, ecommerce, and marketing to transform their business to take full advantage of mobile technologies. Brands need to do it, networks need to do it and affiliates need to do it too.
In the world of affiliate marketing, attribution is everything. The issue affiliate marketing has with mobile devices is the fact that they are not cookies based. We have become too reliant on cookies as a tracking device because it is so easy, but this will need to change quickly. Affiliates need a fail-proof method for sales attribution or they are not going to fully embrace the mobile paradigm shift. This requires stitching together a new way of tracking much like fingerprinting, but across data sources across devices. It will have to be universally accepted and respectful of privacy data.
Consumer Marketing Opportunities:
Over the past few years Affiliate Marketing has been exploiting other digital marketing channels such as display and search, but with a different shaped commercial structure, performance. Affiliates engage in these digital marketing activities on behalf of brands in exchange for a percentage of sales and without an upfront budget. Continuing this infringement into search and display advertising on mobile devices will only become a main-stream affiliate marketing practice if the tracking dilemma is resolved and affiliates can see how they can make money in mobile. They will then invest the time, skill sets and budgets.
As the affiliate channel often leads the way for developing new technologies, this may lead to the evolution of other mobile consumer marketing opportunities such as real-time offerings, flash sales, and dynamic pricing. A few kinks need to be resolved for the mobile revolution to fully take hold in the affiliate marketing channel.
Greta Paa-Kerner (@gretapk) is a tutor and international guest lecturer specialising in digital and affiliate marketing as well as an independent marketing consultant through Ganduxer Consulting. Visit her blog and LinkedIn profile at http://uk.linkedin.com/in/gretapaakerner.