According to recent shopping data from Google, 40% of online transactions are now done on mobile. Furthermore, before the purchasing stage, shoppers are doing a ton of gift research on their mobile devices. For example, for “Cyber Monday,” 63% of shoppers researched from their smartphones, according to Valassis.
So if your affiliate marketing strategy isn’t ready for mobile shoppers, you are seriously missing out.
Here are the steps you need to take to make sure your referral program is mobile friendly.
Help Your Affiliate Partners Optimize for Mobile
The whole point of affiliate marketing is that customers are finding your product or service via your network partners who drive traffic. So the tip-of-the-spear is to have their sites and blogs be optimized for mobile traffic.
That’s easier said than done.
Obviously, if an affiliate partner’s blog isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re not going to build them a new site. But you can provide either guidance on the right content they should be using, or provide that content directly. For example, mobile shoppers are always looking for ratings and reviews, so put those 4+ star ratings front and center. Images should be optimized for mobile, to speed up load times during research. And there should be big, clickable buttons to start the buying process.
If your affiliates use site elements like Flash, pop-ups, or other annoying things, consider asking them to remove it during the shopping season as well. These tend to turn shoppers off when using their phones for research.
Put Out Holiday Content on Social Media
Next, work with your top affiliates to put out specific holiday content on social media. Since these are all mobile-friendly platforms, the optimization is already done for you. Now all you need to do is create the right content for your affiliates to promote.
We wrote previously on how to maximize your affiliates’ efforts with incentives and special deals, so get creative on what you can offer. One statistic we loved from Google is this:
How about commissioning an affiliate to do a short “unboxing video” for their channels? It serves as a great way to both advertise your product, as well as giving the audience a review as well.
And finally, remember to use the right keywords in the content you put out with your affiliates. “where to buy” and “_______ brands” (ie “men’s watch brands”) terms skyrocket during the holidays.
Optimize Your Site for Mobile Purchasing
Once a customer clicks through from the affiliate site and arrives on your e-store, remember that they’re still on their mobile device. Obviously, your site and ecommerce funnel should be well-optimized for them as well.
Are they still in research mode? Are they looking to make a purchase through your official store? What’s the bounce-rate for mobile on your product landing pages? Can shoppers hit the back button from their shopping cart and not lose all their progress? Answer these questions by diving into your analytics in order to provide the best experience possible for mobile shoppers.
If all this sounds like a no-brainer to you, then you might be in a false sense of mobile security. A report from DMI Mobile Maturity from just last year showed that online shopping satisfaction dropped by 5% from previous years. Furthermore, they found that stores in the US had an average rating of 20 out of 100 for “in-store mobile experiences against customer expectations.”
Businesses keep thinking they’ve got this mobile thing figured out, but the customers don’t agree. So do take another pass on your mobile site!
Treat Your Affiliates Like Human Beings
Finally, one thing that many merchants forget is that your affiliates are human beings who probably are less willing to “work” during the holiday season. They have friends and family to spend time with. Gifts of their own to purchase. Star Wars movies to see. It can be hard for them to give extra attention to their affiliate programs.
The Bottom Line
You know it’s the busiest shopping time of the year and now is the time to strike. So an important thing is to have good ongoing communication with your partners to see how they’re marketing and what they need.
You might have to do the heavy lifting for them in December (ie. provide most of the content) and incentivize them with bonuses and higher commissions (both good ideas). But more than anything else, keeping communication going and treating them like people will go the furthest. Treat them well now, and you’ll find that throughout the year, and they’ll show you love when it comes to gift recommendations.