Last week, Shawn Collins and his team released the 2011 AffStat Report which shares the results of a 1400 strong survey of affiliate marketers. To date, this is the most objective survey of its kind, providing information from affiliates who work across many different networks, niches, and traffic types. I didn’t get a chance to really dive into that data until this week, and I have to say there were a few pretty big surprises for me.
#1 Wait, How old are affiliates these days?
One of the very first figures in the report shows that 40% of affiliates started participating in affiliate marketing since 2009. This is obviously encouraging to me and the rest of the industry because it means we have a ton of fresh blood, new people hitting the scene. Traditionally I would think this group of affiliates is made up of some young bucks that have entered the space, much like our founders did back in college. What I was surprised to see later in the report is that 70% of affiliates are older than 36. Really? That means a considerable amount of that new growth has to be from people that are older than 36 years old. In fact, 61% of affiliates have children. Wow, that certainly says something about the maturity of our industry and the direction things are heading. I’d say this is a really good sign – not that I don’t love young guys coming in and disrupting the marketplace 😉
#2 Finding new affiliate programs the same way as yesterday
I was also pretty surprised to find that affiliates are still finding new programs by simple Google searches and affiliate directories like Offervault: 24% through search engines and 25% through directories.
#3 Keep the mass emails coming
This is something I have already harped on in a previous post about mass emailing your affiliates, but according to this report, 26% of affiliates like to hear from their affiliate managers through mass emails. The only thing beating out mass email communication was simply putting information directly on the site or in the tracking platform (34%). It looks like affiliates enjoy getting your mass emails about the latest offers and payouts, so keep it up!
#4 Show me the money
I would actually expect most affiliates to want a wire payment in their perfect scenario, but it looks like direct deposit, paypal, and checks are the close leaders. This makes choosing a single payment method for affiliates a little difficult. Companies like PayQuicker are working to solve this problem by allowing the affiliate to choose their payment method by just setting up a PayQuicker account. This definitely makes things a little simpler for making payments to multiple countries as well.
#5 How do I like my links?
Affiliates have to get their unique tracking links, code, ad tag, etc in order to promote an offer in the specific format they prefer; ex. email, text, banners, etc. According to this sample of 1400 affiliates there is no clear winner for giving affiliates the tools they need to start promoting. It seems to me that there needs to be a very easy way to generate any of these tracking types, easily choosing to promote via banners, email creatives, shortened URLs, etc. The simplicity of this process is vital to working with affiliates and quickly giving them the tools they need to get moving on their unique campaign styles.
#6 I’m talking tiny
Tiny URLs have now been woven into the fabric of affiliate daily activities. According to this report most affiliates still use bit.ly at 46%, I assume because of their built in tracking abilities to reconcile with their other platforms. 26% are using tinyurl.com still, and the rest are scattered across various providers. However, I do believe the future of this is keeping those tiny urls in line with the brand/advertiser they are promoting. This grows increasingly popular for use in social media, quickly showing the user that they are going the the site they intend to visit.
#7 Social by Storm
A whopping 71% of affiliates are incorporating social networking sites into their affiliate marketing campaigns. Facebook and twitter make up 61% of that number, and I’m guess that number will continue to grow. The interesting thing about social media is it’s ability to provide brand engagement for advertisers as well as direct response advertising. The nature of it both exposes users to new brands and products and often makes a direct sale. The trick will be to make sure those affiliates doing most of the exposure are still getting some credit for influence while the direct response style affiliates are closing the deals on social media. We have some ideas cooking on this right now.
If you haven’t taken a look at the report, be sure to check it out. After all of these great segment graphs there is a wealth of information directly from the mouths of affiliates, giving their feedback on the industry and what they’re looking for. If you are smart, you’ll copy this information and make sure your team reads through each one. Think about how you can respond and I guarantee your business will move forward. Here are a few of the quotes I thought were notable.
“Easy access to text links”
“Affiliate managers, clean up expired links”
“I would love for affiliate programs to send out a regular, timely email with current promotions.”
“I prefer to work with merchants who manage their own affiliate program”
“I have a MAJOR problem with reporting”
As usual, the AffStat Report really provided excellent information this year. I can’t think of any more actionable data for improving your own affiliate program. Make sure you take this stuff to heart. Digest it, come up with solutions, and execute.
A performance marketer by background, Peter is the CEO of TUNE, the world's leading mobile marketing platform. Peter has lead the company to 9 offices around the world and nearly 300 employees, now trusted by companies like Expedia, Starbucks, Supercell, and Uber. Follow @peterhamilton