The world has continued its way towards total digitalization in 2022. More and more industries are moving online. Some of them have been on the internet for rather a long time and this year they got a new push in their desire to offer more opportunities for e-shoppers. Affiliate marketing also continued growth and this trend is not likely to show any signs of regress in the foreseeable future. But before diving into what is ahead, let’s have a retrospective look at the results of the outgoing year.

Discussing the Affiliate Marketing Results of 2022

According to Mark Twain, “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics”. In our case, there is no better way to see how developed an industry is than to look at the numbers it is characterized by. Affiliate marketing remains one of the best options for money-making on the internet in 2022 and beyond. 

While these numbers will definitely continue their growth in the coming years, there are some strong trends that have been gaining pace in 2022. 

More brands and affiliates subscribe to several affiliate networks to reach maximum audiences. A study presented by one of the largest affiliate networks in the world, Rakuten Marketing, shows that 90% of publishers have more than two affiliate programs in their marketing portfolio. 

  • The leader of the affiliate marketing industry is the fashion which accounts for nearly a quarter (23%) of all affiliate programs. 
  • The second place belongs to sports and outdoor activities with 18%. 
  • Health and beauty get 14% of the market. 
  • Traveling (10%), gardening (8,7%), and electronics (6.6%) are profitable options too. 

The USA was able to keep its position as the leader in affiliate marketing - only Amazon has about 1 million partners, and more than 40% of American marketers respond that affiliate programs are their main channel for new customer attraction. 

Besides these trends, there are some minor tendencies that will definitely become stronger in the near future, they include the growing share of spending in corporate budgets for affiliate marketing and an increase in affiliate-referred traffic from mobile devices and social media. 

If you are wondering what the future is holding for you or thinking about starting your own affiliate program or becoming an affiliate, we have created a list of trends that are likely to be in the top charts of affiliate marketing in 2023, keep reading.

Top Trends for 2023

Our predictions are built on the basis of the latest tendencies that have become more visible and show signs of being game-changers in affiliate marketing. Here they are. 

Greater Proliferation of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Some companies and affiliates already implement Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) solutions to automate such processes as link-building and conversion tracking. Fortunately for us, these technologies are evolving and offering much more options than that. We expect greater proliferation in 2023. In particular, they will be used to create tools for a better understanding of complex search requests (to help customers find what they really want to find) and targeting relevant advertisements (to show customers what they really want to see). At the same time, AI and ML can be used for real-time optimization of marketing campaigns on the basis of engagement data. 

AI is highly likely to be used in content marketing in 2023. High-quality content created by people, being one of the main sources of traffic, can be supplemented by AI-generated realistic images, videos, and even articles. This will make affiliate marketing campaigns more relevant and effective as affiliates will have to put less effort into content creation. 

One more field where AI can be implemented is virtual shopping. If you run an online store, it is a trend to consider. In this type of shopping, customers can browse online shelves and place orders just like in offline retail stores. Such monsters of e-commerce as Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba are already investing in this technology. And they can be trusted when it comes to gaining revenue. All you have to do as an affiliate is to choose the program that offers shopping in virtual reality and create a referral link. As you see, nothing new here. But the promotion of such a virtual experience among the target audience that likes innovations can boost your sales to a whole new level and you will reap great rewards. 

Growing Popularity of Influencer Affiliates

This trend has been gaining pace over the past few years, and we expect that even more companies will collaborate with influencers in 2023 to promote products and services. Influencers have massive audiences which trust their opinions and this can be beneficial for brands. Advertising budgets are likely to increase to support this trend. 

Social media will remain the main platform for influencer marketing as they are crowded by potential customers, despite the fact that their popularity is slowly decreasing. But people still read or watch reviews on social media when they need to make an informed decision before purchasing.

Micro-influencers have all the chances to become a new trend in affiliate marketing as they have one unique feature that big names usually lack: the quality of followers who are usually highly engaged. Those brands which want to reach their customers in a more cost-effective way should keep this option in mind. 

These micro-influencers can lead to one more trend in affiliate marketing – “local thinking”. The main idea here is to launch advertising campaigns aimed at local audiences. According to Google, the number of search requests centered around local services and keywords is on the rise. It makes localization of SEO a must for those who want to see a spike in conversions. Such an approach is also likely to generate engagement from relevant target audiences who share the brand’s local values. 

Data-Driven Decisions

Data became the new gold (or oil) long ago and those who have access to data set rules for the market. Marketers will rely more on them before making any kind of decision as data grants access to a great amount of useful information. For example, it allows for rating affiliates on the basis of their performance and bans those who underperform. Data also helps to segment audiences and offer them the most relevant products and services. In turn, it will lead to more transparent and understandable processes for brand affiliates who will better assess their earning potential. 

Sources of data will continue to change too. Death of the cookie makes marketers adapt to changes and adjust their promotion strategies. Third-party data is no more useful when you need to create a successful campaign. It means that a huge shift to first-party data and contextual targeting is already around the corner. 

Cookieless future will make marketers find new clever ways to track customers and rely more on on-page analytics, social listening, and conversational marketing in all the cases when the right audience targeting is a must. We are moving towards a situation where knowing your clients with every detail of their needs and pains will determine the winners and losers in the consumer-dominated arena. 

Data Privacy

As affiliate marketing is continuing to grow (as well as the data in it) we expect to see more regulation and stricter compliance with data privacy in 2023. It means that the marketers will face tighter legal requirements for obtaining consumer agreements, ways of data collection, and its utilization and implementation of actions against those brands which violate these privacy laws. 

Affiliates should also keep in mind that different government commissions will hold them personally and financially accountable for false marketing claims. Besides official bodies, big companies like Google, Amazon, and payment processors have also started to keep a close eye on what affiliates are doing online. 

If we try to assess the consequences of stricter regulations, we expect them to result in a lowering of Earnings-per-Click for affiliates and decreased conversion ratios. The solution to avoid this situation is seen as more pressure to increase Cost-per-Acquisition payouts. These changes are likely to make profit margins narrower for both sellers and affiliates who will have to pay much more attention to the current situation in marketing regulations if they want to avoid legal prosecution and hefty fines. 

Content as an Affiliate Dominator

Affiliate programs that are built around content will increase in number in 2023. Affiliates in these programs are paid for the traffic they generate on the seller’s website or the quality of the leads. 

This trend will be supported by two factors.

  • Content-based marketing programs are more effective than pay-per-lead or pay-per-sale ones.
  • Content is the best source of information for consumers when they need to make their own market research.

It makes marketers more interested in final results rather than mere traffic generation. This aim can be achieved through the production of high-quality content, improved relevance of a website through SEO, and optimized user experience. If everything is done right, brands will inevitably face growth in conversions. Successful affiliates will be rewarded for sales, increased levels of customer loyalty, and repeated purchases. We expect that the brands will offer more programs that focus on customer lifetime value than single deals. 

Speaking about particular types of content, we should distinguish videos, because of one simple reason – 73% of people make a purchase decision after watching a video review. An even more fascinating number – 96% of people watch “how-to-use” videos for a better understanding of what they can do with their purchase. So, if you are a rookie affiliate, video content can be a perfect starting point in 2023.

The role of live video content will keep growing too thanks to Livestream shopping - when people watch affiliates going live on social platforms and talk about a product, and offer discounts or coupons; it tends to work and increase sales. 

One more fast-developing type of content is long reads and videos. We have been bombarded for the last several years with shorter and shorter content like YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and Snapchat clips, because people want to be entertained right here, right now. Fortunately for us, not everyone needs short content. There is a great number of people who really want to dive deep into the topic. And they comprise a big share of the audience and include those potential customers who are planning to buy something expensive. The key to success here is to make sure that your long content is interesting, well-performed, and highly relevant. 

Voice, Virtual Search, and Metaverse

While e-commerce is continuing its growth, customers are offered new approaches to online shopping with voice recognition and virtual search being among them. More than a quarter of online users makes vocal and virtual requests on search engines. 

This trend is likely to become stronger in 2023 as affiliate marketers will be given a number of opportunities. While advertising campaigns are more and more oriented towards smartphone users and pushed to an immersive shopping experience, future affiliate strategies must sail away from traditional models like link sharing and text content. 

Instead, affiliate partners should adapt their approaches to the changes and focus on visuals and audio promotion. With more than 50% of affiliate traffic coming from mobile devices, ignoring the new reality can be dangerous. The fact that we are getting used to new technologies which make our life more comfortable is already here and we can do nothing about it. 

If you are thinking about where to start, we have the answer – on social media, of course, like TikTok Live-shopping. And if you want to know how to start, the answer is through keyword research and SEO as it will give you a clear understanding of what potential customers are looking for when they make vocal requests. 

Metaverse has all the chances to become a platform that will be the quintessence of all marketing activities in the nearest future combining everything in one place: work, games, friends, and shopping. Virtual tomorrow is not so far away and affiliate marketers should grab this opportunity and start creating their launching platforms right now. Many brands have already started advertising campaigns in online games where they sell digital versions of their products and place links to online shops for real copies. Bloomberg believes in Metaverse too, predicting that it may be an $800 billion market in a couple of years.

Summing Up

With the number of opportunities that affiliate marketing is opening to those who want to get involved, it is not going to disappear anytime soon. Companies, seeing its benefits, introduce affiliate campaigns into their marketing strategies. Affiliate marketers, in turn, continue making money as long as they educate their audiences with useful content, and generate traffic and high-quality leads. Yes, it takes time to make six numbers, but patience and persistence will make the way. 

The trends that we described in the article are fundamental and likely to be the basis of affiliate marketing in 2023. You can take them and build your promotion campaigns. Still, there are many minor tendencies that may help in generating revenue. They include promotion of product awareness, recognition as an expert in your niche, user-friendly interface, and experience which include something like the ability to pay in cryptocurrency (this trend is likely to reveal its true potential beyond 2023), and many others. In order to create an affiliate platform that is perfect for a seller, partner, and customer, one must take into consideration that no detail is too small to be thoroughly assessed. 

We are looking forward to what the future is holding for us: new approaches and platforms for affiliate marketing, more creative advertising campaigns, faster payments to affiliates, and beneficial collaborations. The most important thing is to be ready to face the challenges, and stay flexible and adaptive to changes that regularly occur in the market. 

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