August 11th 2020
How retail brands are leveraging the affiliate channel to reach online shoppers
The COVID-19 global pandemic caused many retailers to temporarily close their brick-and-mortar stores and drastically adjust their marketing activities. Despite the easing of the lockdown across the UK IMRG reported that online retail sales increased 41% YoY in June, a trend that is predicted to stay with the CBI reporting that eCommerce sales will grow to 61% in August this year.


With eCommerce spending continuing to grow in popularity across the UK, and many consumers seeking to purchase goods and services online, it's more important than ever that brands have a robust online marketing strategy. Here are five ways retail brands can use the affiliate channel to drive growth.


Content is king

Screen time significantly increased across the UK during the lockdown, with the average UK adult spending 4 hours a day online during April.  With users spending an increasing number of hours online, during the height of the lockdown, content partners became one of the largest affiliate segments. We have seen this trend continue as restrictions ease, with revenue driven by content partners up 37% MoM in June across Acceleration Partners global clients.

Acceleration Partners 

There are various types of content partners that brands can engage with, but they all have one thing in common, they produce quality content to highly engaged and targeted audiences. For any brand looking to engage with content partners, it's important to consider what type of partner aligns best with your products and promotions, whether it's a niche 'vlogger' or traditional mass media partner such as the Telegraph or the Independent.

Content affiliates are a great way to increase brand awareness at the top of the funnel as well as contributing towards your SEO rankings.  As content rises in popularity, many content affiliates are looking for new ways to monetise their content campaigns. To engage with these partners and grow brand awareness, we recommend reviewing your commission structures as well as considering hybrid payment models.


Blend online and offline promotions

As brick-and-mortar stores open, many retail brands are looking for ways to create a seamless offline and online experience. We are seeing brands such as John Lewis offering personalised shopping experiences via Zoom and Pets at Home is reported to be significantly investing in omnichannel marketing.  For brands that are re-opening their brick-and-mortar stores, affiliates can support a brand's omnichannel marketing strategy, blending the online and offline customer experience.


Partners such as can target specific customer segments and serve dynamic promotions to consumers based on their geo-location or how close they are to a physical store.  Other partners, such as Fidel, allow advertisers to offer in-store cashback to customers. Similarly, partners like Airtime Rewards provide solutions that help customers pay their phone bills by shopping both online and in-store.


Create a personalised shopping experience with technology partners

As eCommerce rises in popularity, consumers are increasingly looking for a tailored and personalised online shopping experience.


The affiliate channel offers the most cost-effective way of partnering with cutting edge technology providers that can help your brand stand out from the competition and provide a personalised consumer experience. From AI-driven solutions that create personalised and unique shopping experiences to being able to serve bespoke promotions based on individual consumer needs, partnering with these technology experts will make each journey on your website a unique and customisable experience. Partners include, Increasingly, Particular Audience, RevLifter, and UpSellit.


Working with these technology partners through the affiliate channel allows brands to optimise their website with the latest eCommerce tools, on a performance basis. One of AP's luxury retail clients increased their revenue by 10% through a partnership with UpSellit, who seamlessly integrated with the brand's site at targeted stages of the conversion funnel to drive growth. You can find out more in our client case study.


Expand reach through CSS partners

Product Listing Ads (PLAs) on Google Shopping has become a significant way for eCommerce retailers to reach their targeted audiences and to drive traffic to specific product pages. However, achieving a good ROI with these campaigns can be quite challenging, as they run on a CPC payment model.


The affiliate channel offers the unique opportunity to partner with third-party Google experts, also known as CSS partners, who are willing to run these campaigns on the retailer's behalf on a performance basis. Partners include Genie Shopping, Kelkoo, Redbrain, and NMPi.


Get ready for the holidays now

A recent study by Rakuten Advertising reported that over 70% of shoppers do not plan to decrease their spending on holiday shopping this year, and 73% of UK consumers are looking to shop primarily online for the peak holiday period.


With consumers expected to move predominantly online for their holiday shopping brands must employ effective affiliate marketing strategies to gain awareness and reach during this competitive period. Strategies include having competitive offers, preparing your website for increased traffic and tailoring offers to partners. You can find out more in our blog on how to prepare for the holiday shopping season.


2020 has been a challenging year for many retailers, and brands are exploring new ways to reach consumers online and offline. For any brand looking to gain market share, customer engagement and interaction will be more important than ever. With continued growth in online shopping across the UK, many brands realise the vital role affiliate marketing plays in achieving growth, driving brand awareness and reaching new customers. If you want to learn more about successful affiliate strategies retail brands have implemented, view our on-demand webinar 'the power of partnerships for retailers' here.


Questions about how to create a better affiliate marketing programme? Contact us! We're here to help.