Mobile Affiliate Marketing Basics

Mobile Affiliate Marketing Basics

Mobile is now officially the most overhyped latest buzzword in the Affiliate Marketing world. There is quite a buzz going on over a few courses touting the riches that can be made with mobile marketing. If you have been sucked in by the hype, well one can understand as the numbers are quite compelling.

- Right now only 20% of the US population (65.1 MM) carries a smartphone.  (according to Canalys: http://www.canalys.com/pr/2010/r2010033.html)
- In the next 18 to 24 months we will more than likely see smartphone usage will reach 40% market penetration. According to Gartner, that’s roughly 1.78 billion by 2013 users accessing the internet through their phone. (http://news.cnet.com/8301-1001_3-10434760-92.html)
- Carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile want to sell more data plans, this is why they are pushing devices such as Droids and iPhones. That extra $30 a month over a feature phone subscription adds up to billions in additional profits. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/02/att-data-plan-caps-phone-_n_597285.html)

This all means there is going to be a huge explosion of people using the mobile internet and applications, as well as more sms messages and mobile email. For the affiliate marketer there is an opportunity to apply what you have learned from desktop marketing to capitalize on the mobile space. But you’ll have to adjust your thinking.

Mobile is a different environment.
Mobile phones are mini-computers, this is true, but they are used in very different ways than a laptop or a desktop computer. Mobile users are trying to answer a question that they have a need for an immediate answer, such as the weather or checking on a sports score or an address. The usage time is normally not as lengthy as normal computer use. Also, big surprise here, the screen is a lot smaller. And lastly, a majority of searches are of a locally based nature. Combining these elements, gives a marketer a very short window of attention from the viewer.

Ok, so how do you use this to your advantage? Apple developed iAds platform for this specific purpose. Once you click an iAd you are taken to a full rich experience, not unlike the app you may already have been in when you clicked the ad. If you are a mobile website owner this means providing the end user with the most relevant information that they can use on the go. If along the way you get them interested in something else, well that’s the whole idea of the game. (http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/video-apple-iads-presentation-by-steve-jobs/)

Mobile also offers one giant advantage over desktops. The end user is a captive audience and is not distracted from other screens or tabs. It is a very linear experience, and one that the smart marketer will take advantage of. This means that once a user completes the initial action that they came for they are still being exposed to your site and potentially your marketing message.

Mobile Affiliates Need to Test
Just like desktop marketing, mobile affiliates need to continually test. And just like desktop affiliate marketing, mobile affiliates also use all channels to promote offers. This includes: buying display and text ads from mobile ad networks, mobile pay per click, mobile seo, mobile ad exchanges, mobile in app advertising, idle screen ads, mobile video pre-rolls and sms list marketing. The list of media outlets is growing every week it seems, with new socially based mobile applications such as FourSquare and GoWalla that are starting to experiment with ad inventory as part of their revenue models.

At present, the mobile affiliate channel has been dominated by European players such as SponorMob. Startup OfferMobi has taken an early lead in the US market for mobile CPA campaigns. The difficulties for affiliates, and networks, are the relative newness of the mobile online experience for consumers and business’. Just as in the early commercialization of the Internet, end users were skeptical of the Internet and were afraid of entering their information. As they became more comfortable, and websites became easier to use and purchase goods and services, the amount of purchases online has risen steadily year over year by 11%. Forrester Research projects that by 2014 US eCommerce sales will total nealt $250 billion and account for 8% of all retail sales. (http://blogretailrefugees.wordpress.com/2010/03/09/us-e-commerce-statistics/).

Large brands will be winners at first. Amazon, reported “In the last twelve months, customers worldwide purchased more than $1 billion of products from Amazon using its m-commerce site, mobile app, text message selling program or Kindle e-reader. The number also includes sales of the Kindle hardware itself, not necessarily purchased through a mobile device.” reports Internet Retailer. (http://www.internetretailer.com/2010/07/23/amazons-mobile-milestone-signal-other-retailers)

For affiliates, this is very similar to what we saw in the earliest stages of affiliate marketing, whereby large brands had to forge the path to be able to make it easier for smaller retailers to gain the trust of their audience. Mobile marketers need to constantly be testing every aspect of their campaigns. As with desktop marketing, affiliates who delve deep into niches or are using their own pre-sell pages prior to the end user being sent to the advertiser’s “Silver Bullet” page or funnel experience greater results. In mobile, experimenting (with advertiser approvals) is mandatory for any success.

In a recent article from Revenews.com (http://www.revenews.com/barrysilverstein/mobile-affiliate-network-launches-at-adtech/) announcing OfferMobi’s launch at adTech San Francisco in April 2010, Larry Adams, Product Manager of the Google Affiliate Network commented that he feels that “a lot more smartphones out there people will become more comfortable and start buying stuff on their phones,” says Adams. Revenews also mentions the Adams points out that until e-commerce sites have more mobile experiences, there won’t be a “huge opportunity” for affiliate marketing.

It is true the opportunity is not huge in terms of affiliate revenue at present. But with over 200,000 Droids being added to networks around the world every day, the fact that Microsoft will spend a ton on marketing it’s new MS Windows 7 OS phones and Apple keeps breaking quarterly sales records for both iPhones and iPads, the market is growing very very fast.

The lessons learned now in mCommerce will be much less expensive than in the future. For established advertisers, and brands (and the affiliates who will be marketing them in mobile) this translates into an opportunity to write the rules and set the standard, as Amazon has done. Amazon’s results point to the ability of mobile commerce to extend the relationship to the 3rd screen.

If you are considering mobile affiliate marketing as a way to boost your income, make sure that you keep these guidelines in mind:
- Mobile is a different experience, don’t assume what works on the desktop translates into mobile conversions.
- Creating strong pre-sell pages for both mobile landing pages as well as click to call campaigns seems to have a better conversion percentage.
- Expecting consumers and business’ to fill out long forms on present day mobile devices may be a bit too much at present. End users are for the most part unfamiliar with this environment and therefore more skeptical of giving up information.
- Mobile SEO is not well defined, but converting your present sites for mobile display as well as pairing down content for the mobile experience appears to be a winning initial strategy.
- As the number of smartphone users grows both in the US and abroad, the available inventory of ad placements will expand and create greater opportunity for targeting by affiliates who choose to drive traffic through mobile ad network outlets.
- In App Advertising will continue to get better targeting as ad serving systems become more sophisticated, leading to greater revenue from both free and paid apps.
- SMS marketing campaigns will continue to increase in their use by advertisers to drive more one to one relationships with their existing customer base. Existing affiliates will have a head start if they begin now to build their short code lists and start testing what their audience responds to.
- Local focused, or hyper-localized campaigns should have a better conversion percentage as most mobile web activity is centered on local results.

The main takeaway for mobile affiliate marketing is that it is in its embryonic stages. The rules are being written as we speak and change will of course be the only constant. Those that brave this new world will find that hard work, creativity and a disciplined approach to testing will pay off in increased customer interaction through their “always with them” device, and should translate into higher profits from being more accessible to the end user.

Originally written and posted on MarketingGuerrila.com by Greg Hoffman


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