Affiliate marketing – incentivising others to promote you by paying them commission on sales – is a long-established marketing technique used by 40% of companies, including many major brands. While the technique has already proven to be highly successful at generating revenue, like every other aspect of marketing it has not remained untouched by the advance of technology. Today, a combination of big data and AI is helping to make it even more effective and lucrative for businesses and their affiliates. Here, we discuss how AI is changing affiliate marketing.
What is affiliate marketing?
For those who haven’t come across affiliate marketing before, essentially, it’s a marketing strategy where businesses recruit brand ambassadors (affiliates) and get them to put tracking links on their websites. Every time someone clicks on one of those links and buys from the business, the affiliate gets paid a percentage of the sale.
A highly popular form of second income for bloggers, online magazines and influencers, the strategy has also given rise to a whole new genre of affiliate marketing websites whose content is specifically written to promote the products the affiliate is trying to earn commission on. You’ll find these in every niche.
The benefit for the business is that by the time the customer clicks the link and lands on the product page, the affiliate has often done such a good job at promoting the product, the sale is in the bag. The boon for the affiliate is that if the customer then goes on to buy other things from the website, they get commission on that too. Indeed, the more generous the deal for the affiliate, the more affiliates the business gets and the more effort they put into promotion.
How AI is having an impact
While affiliate marketing has proved highly successful without the assistance of AI, with it, businesses and affiliates are able to generate even more income. According to research, AI-assisted affiliate marketing strategies can improve sales by up to 30%.
One of the key areas where it is having an impact is in helping affiliates create better content in which to place links. Affiliate stand to earn more commission if their own websites attract more readers. By using data to better understand and predict consumer behaviour, AI can provide businesses and their affiliates with important insights into the kinds of content potential customers will want to read. Placing links within this content improves the chances of the customer making a sale.
Indeed, affiliates at the sharp end are even using AI to personalise the content they provide for their visitors. In this way, they can generate even more sales by providing the content and the links that they know the customer most wants to see.
One of the biggest benefits is the speed at which AI can bring innovation to affiliate marketing. With so much data being created, it would normally take considerable time to analyse the behaviour of consumers. AI helps identify patterns and shifts far quicker, enabling companies to be more agile in reacting to and taking advantage of change in the market. With this information, businesses can tell their affiliates the customers they want to attract, the content that will be most engaging and the best products to link to – and update them quickly when things need to change.
Another advantage of using AI is that it can help boost the performance of affiliate content on search engines. Analysing user data using AI can give businesses insights into the search terms and behaviours of customers. From content ideas, right down to suggestions for the wording of titles, providing this information to affiliates can help them create content that ranks better in search engine results and thus drives even more traffic.
Is AI difficult to implement into affiliate marketing?
The popularity of affiliate marketing means AI-enabled software is now widely available for businesses to use and this includes quite a few open-source affiliate marketing applications. These combine traditional affiliate programme management tools (affiliate accounts, track links and automated commission payments, etc.) with the insights gained from analysing business data. In other cases, there are AI tools that can integrate with existing affiliate marketing platforms.
Putting either of these solutions in place, however, will require greater hosting capacity. Businesses will need enough server space and compute resources to store and analyse all the data required to generate those AI insights. The best option, in this case, is cloud hosting, a solution that provides an environment perfectly suited to deploy these kinds of applications and which offers the on-demand scalability to ensure companies have all the processing power and storage required.
Like nearly every other aspect of running a business, affiliate marketing is being taken to new levels of performance through the magic of AI. Providing quick and critical insights into consumer behaviour, it can help affiliates create content that ranks higher in search results and is more effective at promoting products and driving traffic and sales. Putting it in place, however, will require an infrastructure upgrade, something best achieved in the cloud.
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