December 19, 2023
The Future of Partnership Marketing
As we head into a new year, we want our readers to be hip to all of the trends that affiliate or partnership marketing aficionados–aspiring or otherwise–should prepare for and put into practice. In this article, we will break down how the mainstream adoption of technological advancements, the utilization of micro-influencers, and the constant growth potential for businesses will shape the future of the partnership marketing landscape.
Where Partnership Marketing Started
Before we delve into where affiliate marketing is going, let’s touch on where it started. The earliest, most caveman version of affiliate marketing was birthed by incentivized referrals. A company would reward Person A with a cash-back promo or personalized coupon code as a thank you for referring Person B to the company after Person B converts into a customer.
But officially, way back in 1989, William J. Tobin patented the first affiliate marketing program for his company, PC Flowers and Gifts. Since then networks like Amazon, Commission Junkie, and Rakuten, and full-blown partnership agencies have flooded the space from the 90s until now. While a lot has evolved with the prevalence of influencer and social media culture, the core principles of this marketing channel have remained the same–performance-driven revenue generator.
It’s safe to say, affiliate marketing is steadily on the rise. Marketers predict affiliate marketing will be worth over $27 billion in 2027. Now, we will unpack where we foresee affiliate marketing heading in the years to come.
Tech Innovations Transforming Partnership Marketing
Technology has had quite an effect on the world of advertising and marketing; affiliate marketing is no different. As affiliate marketing continues to grow in popularity, technological enhancements are needed more and more every day. To truly optimize your partnerships and produce the desired revenue, you need a great deal of access to technology or capital to pay an agency with access to such technology to see the best results from your affiliates.
Establishing and maintaining relationships with partners can be very time-consuming and hard to plan for and execute even for trained hands. With the ever-revolving door of trends and follower behavior, tech innovations and AI integrations will become more pertinent to affiliate success. For example, MDS technology is primed with over a decade of data and intricate industry insights that anticipate program needs and help you automate crucial processes so you get the best out of your program without wasting time, energy, and money on guessing what partners will be the right fit for your program. MDS also empowers our clients to track and analyze progress by seamlessly integrating partner performance into one place.
This unique efficiency of the Mosaic platform offers to those interested in winning in affiliate marketing is a trailblazer for the future of this marketing channel.
The Rise of Micro-Influencers
While macro-influencers have long been the darlings of digital marketing, micro-influencers are emerging as powerful allies for affiliate marketers. Micro-influencers typically have a more dedicated following because they appeal to a more niche audience that oftentimes is a lot more communal than the run-of-the-mill mega social media star. Their authenticity and genuine connection with their audience make them relatable, fostering trust that can significantly impact purchasing decisions which is extremely lucrative for brands competing for attention for the bigger creators. Let’s face it. People want to be sold to without being sold to. Micro-influencers have a knack for compelling particular groups of people to do their bidding in a way that feels natural.
Not to mention, collaborating with micro-influencers is often more cost-effective than partnering with macro-influencers, particularly for SMBs. While they may have a smaller reach, the engagement rates are often higher, leading to a more efficient use of marketing budgets. They also tend to have a stronger localized impact.
As social media remains in the foreground of modern life, more micro-influencers will continue to emerge. This gives brands that are leaning into affiliate marketing the latitude to make partnerships a performance marketing venture in the years to come.
The Need for Results-Based Marketing Efforts
With the small business boom in full effect, swathes of businesses are looking for marketing efforts they can guarantee a converting audience with. With very conservative budgets and a need for growth, many small to mid-sized businesses do not have the wiggle room to splurge their marketing dollars on channels they may or may not get conversions from.
As affiliate marketing operates on a cost-per-acquisition model, this makes affiliate marketing extremely attractive because of its more secure growth potential. As more small businesses with cost-efficient marketing needs populate the market, partnership marketing will continue to expand its market share. As it stands, 16% of all online shoppers in the US–a whopping 42 million shoppers–are a result of affiliate marketing efforts. More and more brands will flock to the partnership space to get a piece of that pie.
The dynamic interplay between technological innovation, the influence of micro-influencers, and the growth potential for SMBs will color the future of affiliate marketing. As brands continue to navigate the evolving digital landscape, embracing the latest technologies and recognizing the unique value proposition of smaller creators and performance-based marketing channels will be instrumental in creating authentic, targeted, and high-impact affiliate marketing campaigns. This exciting convergence is shaping a future where the marriage of tech and authentic influence drives the success of affiliate marketing initiatives, forging deeper connections between brands and their audiences.