E-Commerce Companies Cash in with Affiliate Marketing this Holiday Season

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Online shopping on Cyber Monday was the biggest online shopping day in history with sales of $3.45 billion, up 12.5% over last year. Black Friday also broke online sales record with more than $5 billion spent online, a 17.7 percent increase over 2015. This year, consumers spent $1.93 billion on Thanksgiving Day, 11.5 percent more than in 2015.

Acceleration Partners’ data mirrors these trends with Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday persisting as the busiest shopping days of the year to date for e-commerce companies.

This year Cyber Monday affiliate sales were 47.5 percent higher than on Black Friday. The largest year over year growth in sales was on Black Friday, up 12.4 percent with Thanksgiving Day, a close second, up 10.25 percent and followed by Cyber Monday up 9.88 percent.  While Cyber Monday has typically been the marquee day for online shopping, more merchants are releasing their promotions and campaigns earlier and people are shopping online on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday to avoid busy stores and to take advantage of all of the great deals. We also saw a 28.59% increase in sales in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

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The costs of digital marketing programs typically rise during the holiday season as a result of increased demand. According to our data, affiliate commissions increased commensurately with sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday but decreased on Cyber Monday, demonstrating the value and effectiveness of the affiliate channel. This is particularly true when programs are closely managed, ensuring that affiliates are paid in accordance with the value of the traffic they drive.

Affiliate commissions rose 10.55 percent Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday as compared to a year earlier. Black Friday commissions increased by 15.11 percent and commissions were down by 6.28 percent on Cyber Monday.

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If you are a marketer still looking to cash in on holiday sales, don’t fret. Here are three tips to make the most out of the rest of the holiday season.

  • Provide compelling offers. Ensure your holiday sales offers are competitive throughout the holiday season so affiliates are compelled to promote them. Shoppers are price-aware and may be holding out until later in the holiday season to get the best deals. It’s a competitive market so you can’t let up for an instant.
  • Offer incentives. Incent affiliate partners by offering bonuses for hitting sales thresholds. This can help to cut through the holiday clutter and inspire affiliates to promote your holiday offers throughout the season.
  • Feature the right products. One of the most important decisions you can make for your holiday affiliate campaign is selecting the right products.  Affiliates are always interested in hearing about best-selling products that convert at the highest rates. And as holiday shipping deadlines approach, consider promoting products that can be shipped to arrive by Christmas and gift cards that can be delivered electronically.
  • Select the right partners.  Traditionally, many affiliate programs were focused on coupon and loyalty sites. As the industry has evolved, content bloggers have taken a more prominent role in many programs.  Innovative marketers are expanding the definition of affiliates to include Performance Partnerships™ such as app-to-app marketing platforms, influencer marketing, and business development partnerships.

As more and more brands compete online during the holiday season, the need to stand out is even more crucial. Few marketing channels for digital marketers are as effective for driving conversions as affiliate marketing. At the end of the day, affiliate marketing is incredibly effective at not only driving incremental sales, but also delivering an impressive return on investment for your brand.

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