Revenue Growth

Author: Lina Nguyen

Marketing and Account Coordinator

How COVID-19 Has Affected Affiliate Marketing

by Lina Nguyen | May 21, 2020 | Merchant

Has COVID-19 affected you and your business? Know that you are not alone. All industries and marketing channels have been impacted by the current ecosystem – and this includes the affiliate marketing channel as well.

While marketing budgets have taken a hit during this time, we are actually seeing digital marketing channels proving to be more reslient and adaptable during this time.

As the landscape continues to evolve during this time, strategic companies are actually using this as an opportunity to rework their digital marketing strategies to focus on higher value channels to drive growth for their businesses.

We’ve put together our findings on how we’re seeing COVID-19 affecting the marketing ecosystem, and in particular, affiliate marketing. 

Who is impacted?

The short answer is – everyone. However, the impact of COVID-19 varies from industry to industry. Forbes states that the affiliate marketing channel has been turned upside down as some industries take off and thrive, while others decline and disappear.

Examples of industries that are sustaining:

  • Health
  • Entertainment
  • Finance

Examples of industries that are negatively impacted:

  • Travel
  • Real Estate
  • Retail

Within each industry, we see a difference in how each product vertical is performing. For example, the entertainment industry is doing well for streaming services and video sharing platforms, such as Netflix, Disney+ and YouTube. However, within the entertainment industry, categories such as movie theatres and sporting events are strained due to the stay at home movement.

With our first-hand experience in the financial services industry, Fintel Connect sees financial products weathering these circumstances better than others. Products in banking, investing and life insurance have experienced increases in consumer interest.

On the flip side, we see a decrease in demand for credit cards, especially travel credit cards, though we do see an uptick in balance transfer cards. With consumer interests changing, it’s important for brands to focus on products that are helpful and of interest to your audience. For example, instead of promoting premium travel credit cards with high APRs, consider promoting no-fee high interest savings accounts instead, as your audience will likely be more receptive.

Traffic and conversion rates

As with any major change in consumer behavior, we can expect campaign performance to be impacted. This includes traffic volumes and the conversion rates of that traffic.

Despite an increase in traffic, Neil Patel noted that this does not necessarily equal an increase in conversions. As more people are at home, the increase in traffic is likely from them spending more time browsing the web. Consumers may be more cautious of their purchasing decisions as they may have less disposable income available. Consumers may also be spending more time in the “consideration” stage of the sales funnel as they are weighing their options before deciding which product to potentially purchase.

Recall from our post on how to Increase Your Revenue Using Data, where we discuss the importance of understanding your audience and knowing who is converting. Take a step back and analyze your data to see how your audience’s behaviour is different to pre-COVID-19.

Based on your understanding of your audience prior to this period, what content were they engaged with and how can you shift your efforts to accommodate to their needs now? Optimize your site accordingly to ensure your content and products align with your audience and their new priorities.

Consumer behaviours and ad spend

According to Big Commerce, consumers’ shopping behaviours are also impacted due to COVID-19. This pandemic has affected how much people spend on products and how they are shopping. With retail stores closed, many people are shopping online instead. Ecommerce sales for grocery, medical, baby and cleaning products significantly increased since March 2020 as many of these products were out of stock at local grocery stores.

The current climate has also caused advertisers to adjust their budgets as businesses are responding to consumer behaviours and their needs. During the pandemic, sponsored posts and display channels are getting less investment than usual as they are typically planned on a campaign basis.

Affiliate marketing continues to receive advertising dollars due to the long-term and sustainable nature of the channel. Plus, in times like these, it ensures predictable acquisition costs for advertisers in a time when it is difficult to predict the market’s reaction.

If you want to learn how you can include affiliate marketing in your business strategy, read our post on The Power of Affiliates in The Marketing Mix.

If you’re new to blogging and want to include affiliate marketing in your content, read our How-To Series: 4 Easy Steps to Becoming an Affiliate.

Conclusion and Key Takeaways

Given our current circumstances, our businesses have all affected in some way. Reflecting on COVID-19’s impact to date, we can better prepare for similar times of future economic uncertainty moving forward. Below are some key takeaways on what you can do:

  • All industries may be impacted during a pandemic. Remember that not all products are equal. See what products are of interest to your audience and focus in that vertical.
  • There may be shifts in traffic and conversion rates. Ensure that you understand your audience and optimize your site to align with your converting customers.
  • Consumer behaviours and advertising strategies may change. Consider affiliate marketing to adapt, stay relevant and have a steady stream of revenue. Should there be any other period of uncertainty, you will already be more prepared to weather it since affiliate marketing is meant for sustainable long-term results.

If you think affiliate marketing would help reach your business goals, reach out to the publisher team and we will be happy to help.

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