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Top Affiliate Marketing Trends to Watch in 2019 In an industry as dynamic as digital marketing, affiliate marketing has been a constant area of interest since years and the same trend will continue this year

By Ankita Jain

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Affiliate marketing has been in vogue ever since leading e-commerce websites identified it as one of the most high-growth avenues within the digital marketing realm. A study conducted by Forrester Consulting predicted that affiliate marketing will go through an annual growth rate of 10per cent by 2020. The sector is definitely burgeoning, which makes it imperative to map its future trends so that companies can align their affiliate strategies accordingly. To that end, here is a compilation of some trends that are likely to dominate affiliate marketing in 2019.

1. Content Remains King

As it always has been, content will remain the most integral part of affiliate marketing in 2019 as well. Organizations are churning out quality content that appeals to both customers and search engines. Over the next few years, the creativity of content will take centre stage and affiliates will branch into rich audio-visual content. Slideshows, images and video demonstrations of products and services will reign over the traditional approach to content. The written word, of course, will also continue to gain scale as companies create relevant how-to pieces, buying guides, editorials and other educational pieces to bolster their promotional endeavours.

2. Discounting Through Affiliates

Recently, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) announced a ban on direct discounting by online platforms. This decision shook the industry as e-commerce platforms leverage discounting as a tactic to stay ahead of the competition. As online shopping portals scrambled to find ways to cut through the clutter, they turned towards affiliate marketing. Leading affiliate marketing platforms drive sales to online stores through top-notch promotions and in turn charge a commission for the traffic directed towards the website. They give a part of this commission back to the customers in the form of cashback, a process which significantly appeals to customers looking for a great deal on each purchase. Such indirect discounting through affiliates will be an increasing trend in 2019 and beyond.

3. Focus on Off-beat Categories

While categories like electronics, fashion and travel lead the pack in the online shopping industry, there will also be a surge in certain off-beat categories such as medicines, grocery and everyday jewellery. As lifestyles change and the amount of disposable income per family increases, there has been a shift in the online shopping trends of consumers. An increasing number of shoppers are turning to the internet to look for grocery delivery and prescription medicine. With top-notch supply chains, online shopping portals are able to deliver everyday items in a matter of hours. Thus, these categories are bound to skyrocket in terms of demand. Leveraging this increasing demand will be affiliates, who will then be able to earn greater commissions on these products.

4. Artificial Intelligence in Affiliate Marketing

Recently, affiliate platform WebGains tied up with IBM Watson to create affiliate marketing's first chatbot. Powered by cutting-edge machine learning capabilities, this chatbot can guide publishers through campaign management and help them find the information they need. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is quickly pervading the affiliate marketing sector. The intuitive technology can assist affiliate marketers in monitoring their performance and also help them communicate seamlessly with hundreds of publishers. In the next few years, rampant technological uptake will be witnessed in the sector, making it much more efficient and effective.

5. Optimizing for Voice Search

Mobile phone and home assistants such as Google Home and Siri have added a new dimension in the world of internet searches. In order to evolve with the changing times, affiliate marketers will have to lay greater focus on optimizing for voice searches. Optimizing for voice search is a whole different ball-game as compared to traditional SEO practices. SEO professionals in 2019 will have to focus on natural language and long-tail keywords that are more likely to be used as voice commands. Leading players such as Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple are already delving into voice search, and mid-level players are also likely to follow suit in the next few years.

In an industry as dynamic as digital marketing, affiliate marketing has been a constant area of interest since years. It is exciting to anticipate how the aforementioned trends will play out in 2019 and how significant a boost the sector will receive on the back of these trends.

Ankita Jain

Co-founder and chief marketing officer, GoPaisa

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