November 4th 2015
How to Overcome the 4 Most Common Mobile Affiliate Marketing Hurdles


From shopping for a weekend outfit to browsing daily news updates, adults in the United States spend 51 percent of their digital media time on mobile devices.

With so many consumers relying on their mobile devices for everything from driving directions to dinner reservations, it makes sense for marketers to drive traffic and sales via new acquisition mobile channels.

Despite these clear and abundant opportunities, it can be difficult to implement mobile affiliate marketing strategies, and many companies still struggle to overcome the same common obstacles:

  • Sites that lack mobile compatibility and are difficult to navigate to checkout
  • Deficient data tracking that leads to affiliates not receiving credit for the traffic and conversions they’re driving on mobile websites or apps
  • The implementation of mobile marketing in a silo, instead of an increase in the effectiveness of these efforts through complementary cross-channel integration
  • A disconnect between the in-store and online experiences, rather than a deliberate symbiosis that drives mobile users to brick-and-mortar stores

Here are specific details about these challenges that you should watch out for, as well as ways to clear those hurdles to take full advantage of the mobile marketing opportunity:

Hurdle No. 1: Hard-to-Navigate Sites

The rise of mobile has bred an expectation of instantaneous results — meaning your customers won’t put up with having their time wasted. In fact, if your site isn’t compatible with mobile, 40 percent of visitors who are using their phones or tablets to access it will click on another search result instead.

Adding insult to injury is Google’s recent algorithm update, infamously known as “mobilegeddon,” which punishes brands that don’t optimize their sites for mobile while giving a boost to those that deliver exceptional mobile experiences. If your content isn’t mobile-friendly, it will rank lower in searches, which can lead to a significant drop in overall traffic and conversions.

How to Clear It: Don’t Treat Mobile as an Afterthought

Too many retailers still consider mobile a simple add-on to a desktop site; in reality, however, it’s a completely different game. Develop creative content specifically for mobile to make it as easy as possible for affiliates to promote your brand. Your creative should work across a variety of mobile devices and screen sizes to boost the scale and scope of your overall mobile strategy.

Mobile offers should also be top of mind, especially considering that mobile users are more likely to try your brand after receiving one — and will typically spend more as a result. Popular and successful promotions include providing a discount or free shipping on a shopper’s first purchase by providing a coupon code.

Hurdle No. 2: The Data Gap

Many retailers lack a clear understanding of the sophisticated data tracking methods required to measure the traffic and conversions their affiliates are driving. Retailers may prompt online customers to immediately download apps when they visit their mobile sites, but if they fail to track in-app conversions, it can seem as if affiliate marketers are underperforming simply because their performance isn’t being measured appropriately (if at all). Many retailers are also intentionally not adding app tracking as they feel it’s an extra expense — they’re already getting the revenue. The problem is that this is really stealing, and it won’t work in the long run.

If your tracking doesn’t work properly, you could lose valuable affiliates when they don’t see the results they’d expected. Affiliates are becoming savvier and dropping programs that convert poorly or don’t convert on mobile. Consequently, failing to pay affiliates what they’re due can derail new customer acquisitions and hurt your reputation.

How to Clear It: Track In-App Conversions

If you’re directing people from your website to your app, your affiliate program must have built-in app tracking. Also, make sure you’re testing your campaigns and refining them based on data, just as you would with any marketing channel. By tracking clicks, installs, in-app events, revenue, costs, and other key metrics, you’ll understand which affiliates are performing best.

Establishing relationships with mobile affiliates creates a valuable community to attract the right audience. As you formulate your marketing strategy, identify the affiliates most aligned with your target buyers; consider providing compelling incentives and higher commissions for specific campaigns. It’s important to reach out to affiliates and make sure their sites also look good and function well on mobile.

Hurdle No. 3: Marketing Silos

Many retailers today still make the mistake of viewing mobile as a silo, failing to integrate it to provide a seamless experience across all marketing channels. A cross-channel approach provides better insight into consumer behavior across all platforms, which you can use to develop the most holistic experience and drive purchases.

How to Clear It: Unify Complementary Channels

Forward-thinking marketers are creating consistent brand experiences across their print, social, mobile, and desktop campaigns. This provides insight into how each channel, campaign, and strategy influences the others and can reduce unnecessary spending. By understanding how multiple marketing channels interact, retailers can better understand which channels influenced the sale and more accurately define their commission strategy for affiliates. This will, in turn, motivate affiliates to continue to drive sales and ideally result in an improved return on ad spend for retailers.

Hurdle No. 4: A Disconnected Consumer Experience

The integration of consumers’ mobile and physical worlds provides a valuable opportunity for marketers to drive foot traffic to retail stores, yet few retailers have been able to do it successfully. Consumer expectations are high when it comes to connecting mobile to their in-store shopping experience, demanding consistency when it comes to branding, pricing, and opportunities to save money on their purchases. A disconnect between mobile and the in-store experience can be off-putting, especially when it’s exacerbated by difficult navigation or a poor customer experience.

How to Clear It: Build on the In-Store Experience

Consumers don’t just use their mobile devices to make purchases; they also use them to research product availability, pricing, and physical stores’ locations. This gives affiliate marketers a unique opportunity to push online-to-offline mobile marketing tactics that incorporate loyalty, coupons, and rewards to bridge customers’ online and offline experiences. As mobile tracking technology becomes more sophisticated, retailers will need to be able to track all offline conversions back to the proper affiliate.

Moreover, you can connect online and offline marketing by creating location-based offers to drive foot traffic to physical stores. For example, when a mobile user sees that he can save 10 percent on a new set of shoes by bringing his phone with him to present a digital coupon, it appeals to his sense of convenience — there’s no need to print something at home or at work, so he could simply drive to the store as soon as he receives the offer via email or finds it on the company’s site as he’s checking prices.

To find greater success with mobile affiliate marketing, make sure you can answer the following questions in the affirmative:

  • Are your online customers able to easily navigate the site on a mobile device and complete the checkout process?
  • Are your apps, websites, and ads optimized for the mobile experience by accounting for the smaller screen size and more limited functionality?
  • Is your content maximized in distinct ways for smartphones and tablets to provide creative offers and content that will work well on both?
  • Do all merchants have affiliate tracking on their mobile sites and apps so they can properly reward affiliates for the traffic they’re driving?
  • Do you offer a consistent brand experience across your print, social, mobile, and desktop campaigns?
  • Have you provided incentives to mobile users that will drive in-store sales for customers who typically shop online to capitalize on both digital and physical prospects?

Managing a mobile affiliate program is no easy task, but if you’re prepared for the hurdles ahead, you’ll know how high to jump to clear them — and come out ahead of the competition.

Check out our webinar, Unlocking Mobile Partnerships, to learn more about how to leverage these types of partners within your affiliate program. 

This article was originally published on SteamFeed

Author: Robert Glazer