Preparing Your Affiliate Marketing for The Holiday Season in the Wake of COVID-19

Thus far, 2020 has been about the farthest thing from ‘ordinary’. Though it may feel as if we’re perpetually stuck in the month of March when society shut down. The reality is Q4 is right around the corner, and this year it’s going to look a little different. It is time to start preparing your affiliate marketing for the holiday season in the wake of Covid-19.

As online shopping becomes the preferred, option for consumers this holiday season,  marketers in the affiliate space should prepare. This Q4 is filled with huge potential – and some heavy competition. There’s no crystal ball to predict the future. The following insights and tips below will set you up in the best possible position as we dive into the second half of 2020.

Affiliate Marketing Tips for the Holiday Season

Wrap up Q4 Planning in September

Have your affiliate marketing strategy in place for the holidays by September. This doesn’t mean there should be a blank period of inactivity during September and October. Instead, work on awareness campaigns in September and October. Capitalize on those who are doing early shopping or research, then double down on your ad spend. If you do this in November and December it will maximize conversions. (And don’t forget about post-season shoppers in January looking for sales!)

As we look at the unknowns of the Coronavirus and global economy, it may seem a little early to be asking brands and retailers to have their Q4 plan finalized in the coming weeks. There are so many marketers planning to enter the digital marketing arena this holiday season. Those with a defined plan now have a better chance of beating out the increased competition.

Where do you stand among the competition?

According to a survey by Advertiser Perceptions1, in May, 29% of advertisers had already finalized their post-COVID strategies. Another 52% hadn’t yet finalized their plan, but one was in the works. And many of those are likely now complete! In the same survey, advertisers also indicated that they expect to increase their ad spend over last year in digital marketing channels across the board – answering an increase in spending for back-to-school promotions, Thanksgiving and its surrounding shopping holidays, and Christmas.

Capitalize on Sustained Increases in E-commerce

With the mandatory stay-at-home orders that spanned the globe as COVID-19 rapidly spread, consumers flooded to the e-commerce vertical out of necessity. But as we head into H2 with hopes of a decrease in COVID cases, will e-commerce retain its popularity? According to the stats, the answer is a resounding “yes”. One in three shoppers globally say they plan to spend less time in stores2 even after the outbreak is over.

With more online traffic will come more competition in the e-commerce vertical. There’s an expectation that not only will marketers that already utilize affiliate marketing for the holiday season up their spending, but that many new brands will also be testing out performance marketing in Q4 to supplement revenue that would have previously come from their brick and mortar stores.

This increase in players means two things: marketers will want to think about the promotions they can offer to differentiate themselves from the competition, and also consider allowing for flexibility in their affiliate budget. On the promotional end, e-commerce marketers should consider offering free shipping if possible. When compared to your competition’s offerings, free shipping could be the difference between a customer choosing your product over theirs.

For retailers with a physical location, offering a BOPIS (buy online pickup in-store) or BOPAC (buy online pickup at curb) option is an additional appealing promotion, especially around the holidays, as it allows for more last-minute shopping. On the strategic end, marketers that begin their campaigns with affiliates early, and with competitive payouts will be more likely to garner premium traffic to their Q4 offers. Performance marketing campaigns always have a ramp-up period, so starting campaigns early enough can help ensure peak performance will align with peak holiday traffic, and a favorable commission will make your brand favorable to top affiliates over the competition.

Mobile Optimization is Non-Negotiable

The indicators were there even before 2020’s push – mobile is quickly becoming the standard for online purchasing. A 2019 study3 estimated that 73% of online sales in 2020 would be made on a mobile device. And though Q2 is typically not a time known for producing record numbers, Q2 2020 ended up with $27B4 spent on in-app purchases – a record high! With a 66% increase in the total number of unique mobile users from July 2019 to July 20204, we can see why sales have spiked. While COVID-19 surely contributed to this expedited mobile adoption rate, we believe it’s safe to assume the habit will stick as we head into a more digital Q4.

For marketers, this means your websites and offer pages must be optimized for mobile at a minimum. For even greater impact, these assets should not only be optimized, but created with a mobile-first approach. The most important aspects of a mobile-first design are that your content is readable on a smaller screen, your most important assets are displayed as soon as possible on the page, and your site is easy to navigate.

With advanced preparation and the right approach, marketers have a lot to gain in the performance marketing space this Q4. Whether you need final expert advice on wrapping up your Q4 plan, or are ready to get your offers up and running, the Perform[cb] team is here to help! Reach out today to stay ahead of the competition in an undoubtedly digital holiday season.


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