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How to Sustain Your Affiliate Marketing Strategy in Times of Economic Despair

Last Modified: March 2, 2023


While we might be told the structure of our national economic system is unbeatable, examples through recent history have proved that it has considerable weak spots, from the Great Recession of 2008 to the current wave of mass unemployment and Wall St. fluctuations brought on by the emergence of the novel coronavirus/COVID-19.

Any company with a profitable affiliate marketing strategy knows its benefits quite well, from emboldening brand awareness to increasing sales conversions and customer retention. But, in the onset of economic despair, your business’s internal marketing team might be questioning whether your affiliate marketing strategy will be able to survive. In particular, it might be questioning whether it’s worth continuing.

While times of economic despair require new attention and introspection to be hoisted onto and into your business, it’s a necessary thing that must be done to ensure the survival of your company. If your affiliate marketing strategy has already proven itself to be beneficial, you should consider doing whatever you can to keep it ongoing, whether by protecting and supporting your affiliates or by finding smart places to cut costs. Here are some things to consider, from actions that can keep you connected with your enterprise affiliate marketing network to moral boosters to keep employees afloat during economic hardship.

Economic Disturbances of COVID-19

The true economic impact brought on by the emergence of Coronavirus/COVID-19 on American soil has not been seen to its fullest extent yet, but there are early warning signs that this is going to have financial ramifications that will be long-lasting.

The immediate causes of these effects, and how it will continue to run rampant, is a multipronged problem, including the following factors:

  • First and foremost, this is a healthcare issue, a disease that is easily spread and potentially fatal. The issue facing our nation, and the rest of the world, is the struggle of containment, a lack of testing resources, and a severe lack of necessary healthcare tools and workers.
  • This healthcare issue is bleeding into other areas of life, including businesses — both small and large — and developers. With people heading into isolation and worried about the foreseeable future, the demand market has drastically dropped off. People are not buying like they once did, and manufacturers and producers are worried they will soon have a large quantity of dead stock on their hands.
  • While not the last issue, one of the primary issues affecting the economy is the worry of what’s to come. National, local, and state governments are attempting to create economic packages to handle this crisis head-on, but there is still little known about what’s going to come from here. For this reason, many workers and businesses are worried about their jobs, financial situations, and more.

Regarding those of us who work in the marketing world, a pertinent question on our minds is how to make sense of all this. Moreover, how do we, as marketers, handle this scenario to a) keep our businesses afloat, b) reassure people that things will be okay, and, c) above all else, ensure that cognizant, empathetic business practices are kept in mind — people are not interested in being sold something as a pandemic is ongoing and a potential economic crisis is looming.

How the Digital Media Market Will Change

This global pandemic and ensuing economic crisis are expected to have serious effects on digital media around the world. Due to changes in consumerism and production, the following effects are expected to be produced over the coming months:

  • Media advertising is expected to drop off in the coming months, at least until the pandemic itself has flattened and the economic crisis can begin to be handled.
  • Ad spending dependent on supply chains, such as referral shopping sites like Amazon and other third-party sellers, is expected to decrease significantly, as there is a tendency to decrease cash flow to such digital platforms during times of economic crisis.
  • Advertising outside of the company (out-of-house) is expected to similarly decrease as companies attempt to retain past customers to keep business afloat.
  • Digital media consumption is going to greatly increase during the time of the pandemic and ensuing economic crisis as people spend more time at home, meaning that social networks are expected to see a similar bump in 24-hour engagement.
  • Ad spending across social media apps, including YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, are expected to see growth — especially from enterprise businesses — to channel traffic toward their website.
  • Networking events, such as large digital conferences, are expected to either be canceled or to move to virtual-only conferences.
  • Content normally created for these events, either in preparation of or following attendance, will either need to be scrapped or repurposed so it can meet content expectations of the time.

These digital media changes are going to be driven by economic necessities, where resources within the company need to be diverted to keep other parts of the company moving.

How Affiliate Marketing Businesses Are Going to Be Affected

The effects to affiliate marketing businesses will become more transparent as the effects of the pandemic and eventual economic despair become similarly clearer. What we know, at this time, is that there will be significant changes within the affiliate marketing world, all of which will require internal modifications to be made. These changes will be related to your affiliate marketing strategy going forward.

The greatest changes that are expected to come concern your company’s approach to affiliate marketing — i.e., the language you use relative to your customers and the content you provide to your affiliates. But what will this look like? And what should you be doing to put your best foot forward during this time?

What You Can Do

There are seemingly many unknowns when it comes to the onset of an economic catastrophe, but your business can get ahead of the curve to protect itself and your affiliate marketing network. How? By investing in yourself, your affiliates, and the community around you.

Improve your website and other internal features.

One of the first things you should do to improve your affiliate marketing strategy is to invest in your website. While it might seem tedious or sound unnecessary, the quality of your website actually means quite a lot. Why? Because these potential customers aren’t going to just make a purchase based on the word of your affiliate; the last step prior to making a purchase through you is to visit your website.

It’s likely a potential customer will run for the hills if they’re underwhelmed by your website or find the user interface (UI) or user experience (UX) to be overly complicated and frustrating. To combat this issue and hold onto the interest of your affiliate’s audience, it’s imperative that you improve the experience of visiting your website. Easy improvements include the following:

  • Put your brand image on display: Utilize a consistent color palette throughout your website, have fun images that show off your products and staff in a fun light, highlight customer and client testimonials to show just how “worth it” your brand is.
  • Provide useful information and graphics throughout your site that provide people with helpful information beyond just your products and services — if the country is in a state of economic despair, consider sharing articles from government entities that share positive tips to financially protect yourself.
  • Begin blogging, if you haven’t already, and improve the way you’re doing so: Incorporate search-engine-optimization (SEO) techniques to increase organic traffic to your website; create informative blogs that your affiliates can readily share with their own audience.

Authenticity matters most.

Your brand image matters quite a lot, and part of a good brand image relies on remaining authentic. This means presenting yourself as lifelike to your audience as possible. In a time where social media influencers are trying to create their own brand image, it’s important that you jump on this bandwagon — but the way it manifests for your business will be different. Rather than relying on that cold, corporate identity many other businesses settle on, it’s important you take the time to produce a human persona, one that your audience can identify with.

This persona will look very different, depending on your business and its approach to the market, but it all relies on remaining true to yourself. The most effective brand is the most authentic — one that can readily identify what its audience wants to both see and hear and meet those expectations to the best of their ability.

Give support to your affiliates.

If your business has hit hard economic times, it’s just as likely that your affiliates have fallen into a similar position. Now is not the time to let them run wild and free, providing them with little support and guidance. Rather, it’s important that you step in and help them along the way, letting them know that they are taken as seriously as if they were full-time employees of your business. To achieve this, you should consider employing some of the following tactics:

  • Provide regular office hours where you can check in with them, seeing how they’re doing not only in terms of producing content but also personally — let them know that you’re here to support them in this time of struggle.
  • Consider providing them with coupons they can offer directly to their audience, providing them with a special discount that will incentivize more people to potentially convert into customers of your business.
  • Offer bonuses to long-term affiliates and affiliates performing rather well during this difficult time, reminding them that their work is greatly appreciated by both you and your business.

Focus on the positive.

Just as your affiliate marketing strategy should be focused on authenticity, you should similarly be working to lift people up during this time. People don’t want to be reminded of their hardships; they want to be reassured that things are going to be okay.

Let them know that they are seen and heard. Create content that doesn’t put their struggles in the spotlight; rather, your content should be catered to helping these people overcome the issues of the time. Your business doesn’t have to be in the business or financial sector to speak on this, either. You can effectively reach out to your intended audience by crafting content that provides guidance through various life problems in a time of economic need, assuring them that you’re here to help relieve their stress and make their lives easier.

Support your fellow businesses.

You should consider expanding your network if your affiliates just consist of social media influencers. While these influencers might provide you with a profitable affiliate marketing strategy, they might not be covering all of the sectors of the market you could benefit from.

To seize hold of the opportunities available to you, you should look into partnering with fellow businesses, creating cooperative affiliate relationships with one another. While you might not want to necessarily support competitors of yours at such a difficult financial time, you should consider looking for businesses with brand images and messaging that align with your own. It might not be your first thought, considering the world of business is sometimes thought of as a cutthroat competition, but there is a lot to be gained here.

Whether you decide to create a partnered product together or simply tout the benefits of their products and services on your website, you can begin to share audiences, working together to lead to personal business success. Something as minor as a blog referencing their product can be useful to them, where one of your readers is led to their website thanks to a simple hyperlink.

Whatever decision you make during a time of economic despair, it’s worth remembering that your affiliate marketing strategy will make it through. It all depends on smart decision making in a time of struggle, though, so it’s important that you and your business begin planning ahead before the consequences of the market can catch up to you. Thankfully, whatever decisions you end up making, our affiliate marketing network is here to continue supporting your strategies, helping you share your business with the world around you.

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Written by

Ruthie Carey
Ruthie Carey