Content Marketing is all about creating, publishing, marketing and distributing online material in order to subtly or overtly promote a business so that more interest is generated in that business’s products and services.
Affiliate marketing, on the other hand, is performance-based whereby a business gives its affiliates a commission every time they generate a sale or other specified action for their product or service.
If you look at these two definitions side by side, you can easily see how content marketing can help affiliate marketers become quite successful. After all, a lot of the content you view online – is a result of affiliate marketers intelligently using content marketing.
Say.. you enjoy fitness and follow various fitness pages on Facebook. One of the fitness pages you enjoy looking at is “Fitness Girls”, then you’ll see regularly see content (like below) posted by them on their page:
However, if you pay closer attention, you’d see that the article doesn’t link out to fitnessgirls.com, but myprotein.com where there is an article along with links to purchase products. These links are affiliate links.
This is a prime example of an affiliate marketer using content marketing and the huge audience it built through sharing engaging content to generate commissions.
Want another example?
Say… you love reading and follow your favorite book bloggers on Instagram, one of which is Anne Bogel. This is what her Instagram page looks like:
As you can see, highlighted in the red circle, she has a link going to her linkinprofile. Once you click on this link, you are directed to another page that looks similar to Instagram’s layout, but the images are clickable and link directly to her book of the month affiliate page, other pages on her blog (which include other affiliate links) etc.
Linkinprofile is actually a paid tool but is only $9.99 per month, after a 30-day trial.
This is another great example of how content marketing can be used across different platforms for affiliate marketing, including a highly visual platform such as Instagram.
Content marketing used along with affiliate marketing is clearly seen every time you open up Google to search for just about anything.
The front page of most Google results are websites that were created solely to generate an affiliate commission. For example, say you wanted to check out different dog foods for your faithful companion, you’d probably type “Dog food reviews” on Google. You’d get the following results:
As you can see, content marketing and affiliate marketing are a match made in heaven. However, what you may be asking yourself is.. how will content marketing be used in the future, especially with the new trends in affiliate marketing? We’ll now take a look.
The changes in SEO are hard to ignore, especially when Google is always seeking to improve their search engine result pages.
They want to provide the absolute best results for their users, which means rewarding higher quality authority sites over niche sites that were obviously made to be cash cows for affiliates.
However, that doesn’t mean an end to affiliate marketing, quite the contrary. It just means affiliates need to up the ante and create extremely high-quality websites that fulfill the searcher’s needs.
This means 1,500+ word pages that are properly structured and inclusive of personalized reviews, unique pictures, infographics, videos etc. Sites that contain pages with 500 words of rehashed content, won’t cut it anymore.
People around the world are using voice assistants such as Alexa, Google Home, Siri and other devices to search the internet as opposed to actually typing their searches. The rise of voice search means that affiliate marketers will need to redefine how they create and optimize their content.
Any good content marketer knows the importance of targeting the right keywords when creating content for their audience.
This current shift to voice search means that content will need to be created with this in mind. Therefore, keywords that follow typical speaking patterns should be used when creating content as opposed to short tail keywords that are typically typed.
Mobile searches have increased over 50% in 2017 and will continue to grow in 2018. As a result, affiliate marketers will need to create content that is properly optimized for mobile viewing, especially when it comes to displaying typical review style tables, call to action buttons etc.
After all, a website can be mobile responsive while not being properly optimized for mobile. Therefore, you need to make sure all of your websites are configured to avoid loss of revenue due to this shift.
As shown in the example with Anne Bogel, many influencers are becoming aware of the affiliate model and are actively using it to monetize their channels. These include influencers across popular platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest etc.
Influencers have massive audiences with thousands and millions of people following them and brands are making influencer marketing a huge part of their digital marketing strategy.
This will significantly affect content marketing in 2018 and the future as more influencers will create more commercial style content to increase their income. Of course, influencers will need to be careful not to oversell as this can damage their relationship with their audience.
Facebook recently announced a shift away from promoting commercial or brand content in the newsfeed and prioritizing posts from your friends on your feed.
This will negatively affect brands and affiliate marketers that promote their content mainly through Facebook. As a result, these marketers will need to either start running paid ads or maximize their current traffic by funneling them into an email list.
SEO takes a lot longer to generate traffic than in the previous years and there are some challenges with getting organic traffic from Facebook due to the algorithmic update. As a result, there is a greater push towards email marketing which is not new but is gaining even more popularity.
Every marketer knows the “money is in the list” and this is so true, especially for affiliate marketers. One of the best strategies is to funnel potential customers into your email list, provide tons of free value (content marketing) and then offer your affiliate product or service.
Live streaming is currently 66% of all internet traffic and this is expected to grow to 82% by 2020. As a result, content and affiliate marketing is set to adapt to this new method of disseminating information and interacting with your audience.
For example, live streams can be used for live product demonstrations, viral content with promotional codes to affiliate products or simply as a way to grow the brand which will lead to a sale, later down in the funnel.
Video content, in a similar fashion to live streaming is also gaining momentum and the current stats show that people are four times more likely to watch a video about a product as oppose to reading a review on it. They are also 80% more likely to remember what they watched a week after doing so.
Content marketing with a focus on creating engaging videos works. There’s no doubt about that. Many YouTubers are making full use of this shift and create engaging videos that are not only interesting and entertaining, but also contain links to related affiliate content, discount codes of their favorite products etc.
Of course, video content lends itself quite well to highly visual niches and if you’re in such a niche, then you should take full advantage.
Personalizing content is nothing new, however, what is new, is the extreme personalization of content according to the viewer’s demographics, behavior etc. YouTube in particular has recently created a service called Director Mix which allows brands to create and send thousands of videos in only one ad campaign.
These thousands of videos are personalized according to specific segments, such as a person’s age, race, gender, search and click behavior, purchases, Google maps data, downloaded apps etc. Then, each hyper personalized video is sent to each market segment.
Marketers now have such detailed information about their target audience, plus the ability to completely customize their videos to suit each person. One example of this would be a person who is searching for a sporting goods store who is shown a Cross fit related video if they recently visited and checked into a Cross fit gym.
In the future, one on one video/content may become a reality.
Global brands used to create content at their head office and then push that same content to local offices with the only difference being translation into the local language. However, this simply doesn’t work.
What resonates with a European audience does not resonate with a South Asian audience. As a result, they started providing local offices with general content and images and the local branches are then given creative freedom to create content that is relevant to their country or part of the world.
This is extremely relevant to affiliate marketers who often target people all over the world. They too need to adopt this mindset of creating relevant and localized content that resonates with the country being targeted in order to be more successful with their affiliate campaigns.
Content Marketing and Affiliate marketing go hand in hand and the growing trends in either industry will have a palpable effect on the other.
However, if there’s one thing for certain – neither one of these industries will ever completely disappear, but simply evolve into the best, most consumer centric version of itself.