How much are influencers in affiliate marketing worth? There’s no question that publishers have a reach into certain audiences, but the influence they have within those communities is just as significant to an affiliate marketing effort – for both the publisher and the advertiser. In this edition of Industry Insights, we took a look at the growing importance of influencers in affiliate marketing, and how they can benefit publishers and advertisers alike. Read on to learn more, plus find out what publisher models advertisers are looking to invest more into, and what devices customers are going to be spending most of their time. 
The Growing Influence in Affiliate Marketing Influencers

As an advertiser, have you ever wondered what the value of working with a publishing influencer is? As a publisher, have you ever wondered what the value of your influence is to an advertiser? As it turns out, two different pieces of research that were recently published provide an answer to both those questions: a ton of value.

Recognizing the rise in interest but the lack of information in influencer marketing, MarketingSherpa recently looked into the value an influencer can hold. The results showed that, while customers trust other customers with reviews and recommendations, influencers actually hold more weight in decision making than a comment, review, or discussion from a fellow customer. The difference wasn’t much at an initial glance – 82% of consumers would likely follow a recommendation of an influencer, as compared to 73% following the recommendation of a peer – but these numbers are much more significant when you refocus them in affiliate marketing strategies.

(Via MarketingSherpa.com)

Influencers are a significant part of affiliate marketing. For publishers, they command a voice within a community of consumers that trust their opinion and will weigh their recommendations much more heavily. For advertisers, the reach into a niche market that these publishers provide now comes with an added benefit – their brand automatically gains credibility if an influencer recommends and works with said brand.

There’s more good news to consider when incorporating an influencer strategy: as highlighted by a Ragan PR infographic, social media platforms are rolling out or have introduced the ability for customers to buy a product directly from a social media site. For example, Pinterest now has a feature where a customer can buy a product listed in a pin without ever having to leave Pinterest with no need to go to additional pages. This change is huge for influencers and publishers who focus on a social media presence because it means they can utilize their social platforms to engage directly with their readers and convert them using affiliate links without having to redirect them. This also helps advertisers increase conversion rates since it reduces the number of steps a customer has to take before buying a product. It also gives publishers a chance to represent brands directly to their customers in a personal way, adding a unique touchpoint that previously wasn’t available. This is additionally helpful to content-driven publishers, who already have a closer relationship with their visitors than other publishing business models given the nature of their publishing strategy.

What to do next: If you’re a publisher, it’s time to start measuring what your influence is and recognizing where you get engagement from with your visitors. Leveraging social media platforms is a great strategy since you’ll be able to add affiliate links to most popular social platforms soon as well. Once you figure this out, share that information with advertisers. For advertisers, focus on publishers who are influential and have a reach into the audience you’re looking to tap, and then share the opportunity to partner with them. Influencers have enough importance in affiliate marketing right now to incorporate them into your strategy, and this is a great way to get started.

Time After Time: How Customers are Spending Time with Media

The anecdote that “we’re all tied to our smartphones” seems to ring truer every new study that comes out detailing how much time people spend on their mobile devices. A recent study from eMarketer shows that’s not changing anytime soon. But while time spent on mobile devices is growing, other areas of media consumptions are slowly starting to dwindle.

The study, conducted in April 2016, evaluated how many minutes people will spend on different devices, what they do with them, and how these trends are likely to project through 2018. Not surprisingly, time spent on mobile devices will increase over the next couple years, with slow increases in the usage of radio, social media platforms, and video content. However, desktops and laptop usage are starting to slow down. Minimally, no doubt, but enough that it should be noted and planned for accordingly by both affiliate marketing advertisers and publishers alike.

(Via Emarketer.com)

While other media channels have less of a factor in affiliate marketing, the focus on digital, as well as device usage, are two key factors to integrate into an affiliate strategy. People are mobile, and their device of choice is reflecting that. Building an affiliate strategy with mobile in mind will become more and more critical as time passes, which means publishers will have to optimize to mobile demands and advertisers will have to help publishers by being as mobile-friendly as possible.

What to do next: Publishers and advertisers, breathe easy today – nothing is changing overnight. Your affiliate strategies that worked in January are going to continue working. This isn’t a situation like Google changing its algorithm to favor mobile friendly sites where things are suddenly changing in the course of a single day. But change is coming, and research has demonstrated that time and time again. If you haven’t already, start building out more mobile-friendly strategies. Utilize the Rakuten Affiliate Network Help Center for publishers and advertisers alike to generate ideas, and keep an eye on how your customers are changing their buying behaviors to help adjust accordingly.

Invest Wisely: Advertisers Plan to Invest More in Loyalty Programs in 2017

Whether you’re a “the year is half over” or “there’s half a year left!” kind of advertiser, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: we’re halfway to 2017. And for affiliate advertisers who have already looked ahead towards their financial planning to 2017, t

According to eMarketer, 57% of surveyed advertisers said they were planning on increasing their investment in loyalty programs in some fashion by or during 2017, with 13% said they were going to “significantly increase” their investment in loyalty programs.

This is great news for advertisers and their consumers because it recognizes just how important loyalty programs are to consumers. In the same study, eMarketer found that customers enjoy leveraging loyalty programs because they have a desire to earn rewards and that these are easy programs to enroll in and earn benefits from.

Advertisers who want to participate in a loyalty program are in luck with their affiliate strategy – loyalty programs are some of the most popular and successful affiliate publisher platforms. Customers are attracted to these models because it allows them to shop across a number of brands and earn rewards through the loyalty site. Additionally, customers on these sites tend to see their value earned through the rewards rather than discount offers, which means even if you’re an advertiser with products that don’t go on sale, there’s still a strong benefit to partnering with loyalty publishers.

What to do next: Start evaluating how your customers might benefit from a loyalty program, and consider investing in a loyalty program if you’re looking for ways to innovate your strategy but haven’t done so yet. Affiliate marketing benefits greatly from loyalty program partnerships, so start looking into the Rakuten Affiliate Network and see what loyalty programs fit your organization best.