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How Affiliate Marketing Powers Brand Growth Through Economic Slowdowns

August 09, 2022

Since 2020, the world has been thrust into a near-constant state of uncertainty. From COVID shuttering economies around the world, to supply chain crises, and now with rising inflation rates and the possibility of a recession looming, the mire of unpredictability continues to stretch beyond the horizon.

As a result, scores of business owners and consumers are tightening the proverbial belt, bracing for what may be around the corner. For many business owners, this has translated to slashing marketing budgets.

While this approach may seem logical, it is not exactly advisable as, nestled within challenges like economic slowdowns, is an amazing opportunity and potential for growth. In fact, a cursory look at marketing in a recession over the past 100 years reveals that those who did not cut their budget but either stayed the course or increased their spending, came out the other end in much better shape than those who recoiled into relative safety.

Amazon, Netflix, Lego, and other titans of the industry all increased their market share by leaps and bounds during the economic crisis of 2009, in part, because they did not decrease their marketing efforts.

Nonetheless, it can still be hard for brands to justify investing in expensive strategies like PPC ads or those that can take a considerable amount of time to yield results such as SEO, when every dollar counts for companies and consumers alike.

Fortunately, affiliate marketing provides brands with an effective promotional channel that resolves the aforementioned issues while boosting brand awareness, increasing customer acquisition, and elevate customer lifetime values.

Why Choose Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing spend in the United States is poised to reach upwards of 8.2 billion in 2022, according to Statista data. This marks a near-52 percent increase since 2017.

This explosion is due to affiliate marketing’s effectiveness in elevating brand awareness, website traffic, and driving online sales from new customers. This is fantastic news for brands, as ecommerce has seen a dramatic uptick in revenue in the past couple of years.

As Digital Commerce 360 details on the coronavirus’ impact on online retail:

“Digital Commerce 360 estimates the pandemic contributed an extra $218.53 billion to ecommerce’s bottom line over the past two years. In 2020, the coronavirus added $102.08 billion in U.S. ecommerce, and it added $116.45 billion in 2021, according to Digital Commerce 360 estimates.

Additionally, while customers are becoming more discerning with their purchases as inflation soars, online sales still remain strong. This is reflected in the success of Amazon’s most recent Prime Day event.

While this event was indeed more subdued than previous years (largely due to inflation impacting purchasing decisions), it was record-breaking nonetheless, with shoppers purchasing more than 300 million items worldwide. Moreover, small and medium-sized businesses were the primary benefactor of these sales.

This shows that, while some customers are pulling back a bit and being more discriminating with what they purchase, they are still willing to buy, provided the price is right and the social proof exists.

Understanding this, affiliate marketing serves as the perfect vehicle for reaching hesitant yet willing customers in a climate where many businesses reduce their outreach efforts.

Affiliate Marketing: The Perfect Tool in Times of Uncertainty

First, it is important to understand that, while some brands might opt to scale back on certain marketing initiatives, it is wise to seek cost efficient ways to integrate initiatives for greater impact.

For instance, combining affiliate marketing and SEO can yield amazing results, as these are each low-cost, low-risk, high-reward strategies, which leads us to our first point.

A Low-Risk Marketing Model

Part of what makes affiliate marketing such a solid strategy for uncertain times is that it operates on a transactional model wherein brands only pay for leads, downloads, sales, or other desired outcomes. This stands in stark contrast to potentially costly strategies such as PPC advertising, email marketing, and the like.

Thus, affiliate marketing is a low-risk, financially responsible means of building awareness and sales during economic slowdowns, as brands hold the power in setting the price of each conversion for themselves.

This structure is ideal for economic ebbs and flows as business owners can increase or decrease commission deals with their affiliate partners, depending on the conditions of the time. Those that opt to decrease their payouts will likely see fewer sales. However, those conversions will come at a known cost. That said, increasing sales commissions during leaner times could prove to be an excellent strategy for attracting prime partners and increasing sales volume significantly.

Larger, More Targeted Reach

Where reach is concerned, affiliate marketing is a powerhouse strategy, as it enables brands to get their products or services in front of relevant audiences via partnering with influencers, publishers, and other affiliates who will promote the company and its offerings. This means merchants can connect with the right consumers, without spending too much time or money on marketing initiatives.

Moreover, merchants who partner with affiliates who speak to their brand’s target audiences are highly likely to see a substantial uptick in both traffic and sales. The reason for this is that many influencers and other affiliates are marketing experts who understand how to drive traffic via email, social media, search, and other formats. These folks will be applying the skills that earned them internet clout to marketing a brand’s products as well. Additionally, the more effective these folks are at generating leads and sales for a brand, the more money they will make in return.

Create Heaps of Social Proof

In the current era of online shopping, in many instances, social proof is a prerequisite for generating sales. As it stands, 95 percent of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase. This means that folks are looking for what others have to say before they are willing to part with their hard-earned dollars.

But it isn’t just the opinions of other buyers they are seeking. According to recent statistics on influencers marketing, nearly 50 percent of consumers depend on influencer recommendations when making purchasing decisions. Moreover, 60 percent of individuals have been motivated to make a purchase by a blog or social media post while shopping in-store.

What this all means is that affiliates, be they big-name influencers, micro-influencers, publishers, or somewhere in between, are highly effective in helping to guide consumer shopping patterns. This is because consumers are often seeking out their opinions for that exact purpose. Thus, enlisting the help of these kinds of tastemakers to create social proof for your brand’s products can generate tons of interest and sales for merchants.

Enhanced SEO Performance

While many ecommerce brands only think of affiliate marketing in terms of brand awareness and sales, the fact of the matter is that affiliate marketing can be an effective approach to boosting your SEO efforts and organically ranking in the SERPs.

When speaking to the SEO side of things, influencers, publishers, and other affiliates will often create content which centers on a brand or (at least) points to it via backlinking strategies with mentions to its merchandise. Moreover, many digital properties managed by affiliates are accompanied by a relatively high domain authority. When these sites point to a merchant, it sends signals to Google that the site is trustworthy and should potentially be bumped up in the SERPs.

At the same time, as affiliates continue to send targeted traffic to a brand’s website, the uptick in unique views has a similarly positive impact on rankings. The more of those visitors that convert, the stronger the signal Google receives, thus serving to help the brand’s SEO outcomes, as well as its bottom line.

Given that the consumers sent to your site arrived on the word of a trusted influencer or other affiliate, these folks are quite likely to convert. From there, your brand can then engage with the customer directly and enter them into email drip campaigns, customer loyalty programs, and other means of keeping churn rates low and customer lifetime values high.

Increased Revenue

The ultimate outcome of the aforementioned benefits is increased sales and revenue, which is a vital conclusion in times of economic uncertainty. Brands and merchants that partner with trusted publishers, influencers, and other affiliates to promote their goods on a transactional basis stand to significantly boost sales while also minimizing budget waste via ad clicks that never convert and similar situations.

Additionally, by utilizing tools like Refersion’s campaign management platform, merchants can automate considerable portions of their affiliate marketing program, thereby reaping the benefits of the initiative, while spending more time focusing their energy on building other high-growth projects.

Achieving a Sense of Stability with Affiliate Marketing

Times of uncertainty and even economic downturns do not mean that you should step back from engaging customers. Instead, the very opposite is true. However, it does mean that you must be more strategic in how you reach consumers and convert them into long-term customers.

Affiliate marketing provides ecommerce merchants and other brands with the ideal model for minimizing marketing risk, while achieving considerable gains in brand awareness, reach, organic rankings, and revenue.Reach out to Refersion today to discuss how we can help to create a stable affiliate marketing platform from which your brand can weather the harshest of storms and scale to new heights in the face of adversity.

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Written by

Ruthie Carey
Ruthie Carey