Staying on top of affiliate marketing trends is a full time job. If you want to maximise your ROI and stand out against your competitors, you need to be ready to change the way you think and operate in this channel.

Here are my three key insights around what will influence affiliate marketing in 2019:

1. Content will drive higher user engagement – across more platforms

We know good content creation builds SEO authority and traffic growth in affiliate marketing so make sure to factor this into your resource plan.  You’ll need volumes of it, but you’ll also need it to be authoritative and useful. Learning how best to repurpose what you write across multiple platforms to keep the leads coming in is going to be even more important. We already touched on voice search and how its impacting search volumes, this will need to be considered more too.

You’ll need to be thinking beyond the industry standard of player reviews.

Content marketing has and will continue to evolve from standard written copy on a page to video and voice and image content in order to attract customers and convert them. Look out for videos, slideshows, live content , ebooks and much more as affiliates get creative.  Written content will always have its place, but be innovative in how you get the user to engage that’s going to be the key.  

Prospective players already likely to be familiar with the top brands so how will you differentiate your mix? You’ll need to think about how to push customers over the line to convert, not just educate them on where to go. Think about not just advertising the brand, but looking at how you’re going to be influencing the player choice to use it. You’ll have to create content that adds value to the user’s information search funnel,  before you suggest the benefits of where to play.

Players will want more. Your content should fill that gap. Behind the scenes insight as to how the casino or sports books work. Thinking about user generated content and community feel and customer exclusivity is one thing that might put your affiliate site above anyone else’s to get the sale.

2. Affiliate Marketing graduates into a specialist skill 

To be successful in the affiliate industry, you need to have a learned team behind you and an abundance of knowledgeable resources to keep your brand ahead of digital disruption. Last year the buzz word was influencer marketing and now we are looking at how this converges into the affiliate space. Marketing techniques will evolve, become more insightful and converge. Affiliates will be part of this wider acquisition ecosystem. Incorporating them holistically into your acquisition and retention as part of your online outreach and inbound mix will be key. Affiliates will find innovative ways to nano influence players before they ever reach the operator site –  in more places, more often. Operators will need to use them if they want to maintain optimum ROI on every dollar of paid media spend.

The gap that’s existed between “them” and “us” will turn to “WE”

3. Automation will dominate. Funnels have moved on to Flywheels

We’ve all heard about the need to build customer lead funnels. Thing is , that’s now old news. You need to be looking at developing your marketing channel flywheel. (Flywheels represent a circular process in your business where customers feed continual revenue growth) 

Affiliates will look internally to optimise their own flywheel process.

They will not rely on operators for player retention and ongoing monetisation as their tracking and systems become more sophisticated to reveal insightful data they can use to expand their revenue and customer marketing. Affiliates will start to look at remonetisation, retargeting and repurposing all they do to drive incremental revenue growth.

Data and technology will play a bigger role in helping stake holders to optimise the affiliate relationship, refine commercials as part of the bigger mix and finally look at incentivisation models to create a fair and stable economy in this channel. Terms will likely change, maybe we’ll see decentralisation and smart contract technology get integrated into technology suppliers platforms.

Data will drive optimisation techniques forward, and affiliates will be able to provide operators with better insights to the user journey and conversion process as part of the wider marketing mix.

Everyone will optimise, everything. Joined up integrated marketing strategies – will be key to growth and relationship building in this channel, and the need to keep an open dialogue will continue information sharing, making the affiliate channel a more grown up place to work in and be part of. The future of affiliate marketing is still bright, it just might not stay the same as we know it.