The annual affiliate marketing recap is here and we have our predictions for the coming year. We gathered top digital marketers and affiliate marketers to share their thoughts on the future of affiliate marketing in 2022.
This post will reflect on the past year, and then compare predictions from last year to the actual events in affiliate marketing. We’ll then listen to the opinions of experts.
Numbers for the past year
According to market research conducted by Insider Intelligence in 2017, sales of B2B ecommerce sites in the United States were worth $1.58 trillion, an 17% increase over the previous year. Gartner projects that SaaS sales will grow to $146 Billion in 2021. This is a 20% increase over 2020.
Supermetrics’ partner program saw a 25% increase in total revenue, this time by 25% over 2020. Over 1,200 new affiliate partners joined our program, and the number active partners increased by 24%. This is not a reflection on affiliate marketing at all, but at the company level it does indicate that our program has maintained a steady growth rate from its inception. This growth was also without an increase in the number of our team members.
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2021 predictions and what actually occurred
Let’s look at the key themes of last year’s predictions and what we know now about the 2021 trends for affiliate marketing.
Last year’s roundup featured many marketing experts who predicted that seasonal trends would have a greater impact on affiliate sales. Was this right?
A benchmark report from Impact showed that the average order value (AOV), in 2021, was up 15% on Black Friday, 20% for Thanksgiving, and 23% for Cyber Monday, compared to last year. Despite lower conversions and clicks, and inflation being taken into consideration, more consumers opted to shop online during the holiday season 2021 than in previous years.
Higher AOVs mean higher payouts for affiliate partners. According to Impact’s data partner payouts rose 21% in the late November shopping season 2021, compared with the previous year. This is in line with the overall increase in average commission value for our partner program in 2021. However, it has nothing do with seasonality.
Seasonal trends are less important in SaaS and B2B sales. If we take a look at affiliate marketing in all verticals and particularly consumer goods which still drive the majority of industry revenue, seasonality seems like a growing trend–at least when you consider the holiday sales numbers.
It is more difficult to rank keywords
Keywords that were competitive only a few years back will become more difficult to rank for in the future. Over time, the number of backlinks and referring domains linking to top keywords rankings will increase. This will also affect the authority score of websites ranking for these keywords.
You don’t have to create an affiliate marketing blog explaining “what seo” to people in 2022.
The ship is now gone. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t opportunities to create guides and reviews using multiple online marketing tools. Many affiliates focus on ranking for low-volume searches with low competition and high levels of purchase intent.
SEO trends can be viewed more broadly. On-site SEO strategies such as optimizing pages for keywords and building backlinks are no longer the only requirement for ranking. These strategies are important, but they don’t take into account the whole page experience. This includes focusing on signals like loading speed, other web essentials, mobile-friendliness and HTTPS. Also, you should consider navigation-related factors such as layout and internal links.
Google is moving towards AI-based ranking. This automatically detects new search patterns, correlations between signals, and helps users evaluate relevance. It employs clustering and statistical modeling to identify user needs and query patterns in search logs. The popularity of personalized search features such as Instant Answers and Shopping Graph, which display relevant product listings from retailers and brands, has been noticed by all.
Use less intrusive techniques
Google favors pages that have no popups or intrusive ads, as this is one of the page-experience signals it uses to show users the best results.
Google released three core updates in 2021: June, July and November. Semrush found that the real estate and health niches suffered the most rank volatility due to these core updates. Additionally, mobile SERPs showed significantly more volatility than desktop. Two product reviews updates were released to ensure that Google ranks the most relevant product reviews in search results. In June, a few spam-related updates were issued that targeted spammy links and attempted to manipulate Google’s search result pages. A local update that focused on proximity factors was also released in November. The list goes on.
These updates share one thing in common. Google has always been focused on the user from the beginning. The days of intrusive popups and forced registrations are long gone. There are websites that use outdated strategies but users are not at the center of these sites. Google’s guidelines for marketing are very helpful. If you focus on the user experience and follow Google’s lead, you will be more likely to get the desired results.
We all know that Google will eliminate third-party cookies from Chrome in order to keep it less intrusive. This is part of the less intrusive trend. The two-stage phase-out will take place in stages starting in 2022. The Privacy Sandbox initiative by Google will ensure anonymity for user data. All user data will move into the browser where it will then be stored and processed. Instead of cookies, the browser will use anonymized signals to access users’ browsing habits.
Affiliates who take part in programs that use first-party cookie can carry on their normal activities after the third party cookies are deleted. However, even first-party cookies can be affected by privacy changes and other requirements that may arise. Be on the lookout to see if there are any changes and learn what tracking method was used in the programs that you have joined. This post contains more information about cookies and affiliate marketing.
Influencers and UGC have a growing impact
Last year, the global influencer marketing market was valued at $13.8 billion. It’s no surprise that affiliate links continue to grow in popularity among influencers.
Our last year’s roundup participants stressed the importance building trust and valuable partnerships with affiliate marketers. Because of the increased amount of time available for social media, influencers are now able to foster these relationships and act as trusted intermediaries between the brand’s buyer and the brand. This is particularly true for micro-influencers, who have higher engagement rates across all social media platforms.
People are more open to receiving affiliate offers from influencers because they chose to follow them in the first instance. Influencer promotions are more effective than regular advertising, which can often seem invasive or out-of-place. As more buyers turned to the influencers for advice, we saw product reviews, comparisons and guides driving purchase decisions.
Ffiliate marketing in 2022
Many of the predictions made last year were correct. Let’s keep the tradition going by asking affiliate marketers what trends they anticipate seeing in 2022. We teamed up with seven experts to answer the following questions:
What are the trends you see in affiliate marketing by 2022? What do you think is the future of affiliate marketing?
Do you think other marketers should get involved in affiliate marketing? Where do you see new opportunities for affiliate marketers?
Ross Tavendale, Managing Director at Type A Media
“Affiliates will be able to own more of the product pipeline, develop their own courses, and promote Supermetrics tools through their own products and courses. Affiliates must add value to their content, no matter how saturated the industry is. This means creating courses and templates that people can use in their daily lives. Publishing a review or simple guide is not a long-term strategy.
There is no better time to be involved in affiliate marketing, especially B2B. Since the beginning of time, everyone has been “going online”. In light of recent events and global trends, many people now rely on digital services such as Supermetrics to manage their businesses. This makes them an attractive choice for affiliates because they are reliable and can generate recurring revenue. As many businesses are forced to invest in their online presence in order to survive a pandemic, the majority of growth will be in B2B SaaS.
Lachezar Arabadzhiev is the founder and CEO of Skild Labs
We saw a significant shift in the role and privacy of browser cookies and the internet in 2021. This has had a profound impact on many industries, including affiliate marketing. In 2022, I expect the industry of affiliate marketing to be more focused on building a relationship with your audience and getting them to engage with you.
Affiliate marketing is a good way to generate revenue. It also allows you to work with brands that you trust and wish to see succeed. SkildLabs views affiliate marketing in this way. It’s all about building a long-term partnership. My opinion is that you should not pursue enticing commissions and super-popular products/services. Instead, partner with companies that resonate strongly with you and your audience. This is how real communities can be built.
Depesh Mandalia is the founder of SM Commerce
Tracking and Attribution are the greatest challenges in terms of trends. Since 1998, we have relied on cookies in affiliate marketing as both merchants and affiliates. It might be time to give out coupon codes to each affiliate, especially to your top 10%.
It’s becoming harder for affiliates to make sure your last click was attributed to that sale. From helping merchants gain traction with new audiences to competing with people further down the funnel, we work across the funnel. It’s possible that the industry will make some changes in attribution in order to be fair to affiliates. This may also make it easier to pay genuine affiliates for their hard work, and make it more difficult for black hats profiting from our hard work.
In 2009, I began affiliate marketing. I didn’t realize how late it was until then. Affiliate marketing will always be a powerful tool in the arsenal for brands, and this is the perfect time to grab your share of it.
If you want to cut through all the noise, it is a matter of double-down on certain traffic sources. You should always be looking for new opportunities (e.g. TikTok), and creatively use existing opportunities (email lead generation, advertorials SEO, etc. ).”
AdamEnfroy.com founder dam Enfroy
Is Google traffic slowing down? YouTube is set up for continued growth.
Affiliate Managers seek out top web publishers that rank organically on Google.
An advertiser may only have a handful of top search phrases that describe their main product offering. There are only 10 results in Google’s first page. These publisher sites with the highest rankings bring in the most affiliate income, but growth is only incremental once these relationships are in place.
YouTube’s potential for rapid growth is evident. YouTube is used by 1.86 billion people and more purchasing decisions are made on YouTube every day. To see if your market share is on YouTube, search YouTube for “best” + the product term. This could be the best VPN, best ecommerce platform or best camping tents, but it doesn’t matter what term you choose to be famous for. You’re missing out on a great opportunity if you aren’t there.
Bottom line: Marketers should get involved in affiliate marketing, establish relationships with top-ranking Google sites for their search terms, and then shift their focus towards YouTube.
Leksander Blomquist is the founder of Affiliate Marketing Pro
“I expect that affiliate marketing will grow in popularity and influencers to become more prominent by 2022. Affiliate marketing is the best way to make money for these influencers. Influencers choosing what products or services to promote can increase conversion rates and passion.
It is still a smart idea to start affiliate marketing now, as I can see the business growing for many years. In 2022 and beyond, affiliate marketing will be integrated into digital worlds such as metaverses or games. The Great Resignation trend may encourage more entrepreneurs to use affiliate marketing.
Johannes Larsson, Chief Executive Officer of Financer.com
“The industry of affiliate marketing is moving towards expert content, rather than people who only know a little bit about it. People are more aware of online cons and will spot people who share information to add affiliate links.
You will be able to demonstrate passion, experience, knowledge, in 2022, within a niche market. This will make you stand out and attract search engines and readers. No more copying and pasting content without much research. Only original, well-researched content that has a clear spin and clear value will be able to reach the top spot in 2022.
Experts in micro niches are now well-placed to start affiliate marketing. People want to hear from experts in a particular field and not generalist content. Affiliate marketing is a great option if you are passionate about something and have the knowledge to make it a success, no matter how small or specific.
Hetty Korsten is the Partner Marketing Lead at Supermetrics
“Affiliate marketers are often required to do many things. It’s better to do one thing well than trying to do everything. Many affiliates who make the most sales use affiliate programs as an extra monetization strategy to complement their SEO and PPC consulting services. They are familiar with the tools they recommend, and can help clients set up their licenses and teach them how to use them. They are called value-added partners and this is the direction that I see many programs, including ours, moving.
Traditional affiliate partners can still be a part of this network, focusing on traffic generation and connecting visitors to relevant offers. Trust and valuable partnerships are becoming more prominent. I believe that future growth will come from partners who are experts using the products they recommend, and who are able to invest in building personal relationships.
According to our analysis of SaaS companies last year, the predictions of value-added partnerships are in line with our findings. The sample consisted of 83 companies working in the reporting and analytics niche. More than half had a partner/affiliate programme. We discovered that less than 25% of companies with partner programs had an auto-approval process for new partners.
This indicates that programs are being more selective in approving partners. They only accept those who meet certain criteria and commit to the partnership.
Trends may not be more than hype. We know from Amara’s law that people tend overestimate the impact of technology in the short-term and underestimate its long-term effects. The metaverse’s impact on affiliate marketing is an example of this. We don’t know what to think of it. We might just view it as curiosity. People are unlikely to want to make their online shopping process more complicated by creating a virtual world where they can browse and test out products.
It remains to be seen if other recent trends, such as the Great Resignation, will increase affiliate marketing’s popularity. It could be that there is more mobility on the job market due to the increased demand for remote jobs and greater flexibility following the pandemic. It could be that it will push people to start an online business using affiliate marketing as a monetization strategy.
We need to know how third-party cookies will affect tracking and attribution. We will also need to see if new regulations regarding data privacy will have an impact on first party cookie-based tracking. Affiliate marketing continues to be a viable option, provided that there are affiliate marketers who can match prospects with merchant offers and add value. If your niche becomes saturated, you can switch your promotion to another platform that offers better growth potential, such as Google Search, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube.
One of our experts said that affiliate marketing will continue to be a powerful tool in the arsenal for brands. It’s never too late, however, to join the fray and get your share of the pie.
bout Johannes Rastas
Johannes is the Supermetrics Partner Marketing Manager. He focuses on growing the Supermetrics program and working with existing partners. He is also involved in content and SEO on a daily base. You can reach him via LinkedIn.