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Our insights and predictions for the year ahead.
When the digital space is evolving fast, and the continuous emergence of channels and platforms from TikTok to Twitch are making it even more difficult for content creators, affiliates and businesses to stand out from the digital crowd. It becomes more crucial to acquire new skills and keep up to date with any innovations, trends or skills to stay relevant and be noticed.
When affiliate marketing is increasingly becoming digitalised every day, it is essential for all businesses and affiliates to keep up to date with any developments to keep thriving. Which digital media is spreading universally and increasingly becoming a more integral part of our daily lives, the gap in skills is also increasing. This rapid digital revolution is demanding content creators, publishers and affiliates to adapt quickly in order to succeed in this space. This is why digital literacy (being able to create and share digital content, communicate and solve problems using digital technology) should be the foundation to the skills you need to acquire next year. In this article, we go through some of the basics to highly specialised digital skills you need to master in 2022.
1. Market research
This is the foundation of your business or marketing plan, and content creators, influencers, publishers and businesses need to know the macro external forces that are likely to have an influence in their niche or space. This is essential to stay competitive as they look towards opportunities and any underlying threats to mitigate in order to stay strong competitively.
Some examples of market forces which can influence your business or niche could be:
What demand is there for the product? What is the current cost of living for the target audience and how is the economic stability or growth/decline impacting your target market?
What are your target audience’s values, ethics and motivation? What is their decision making and buying habit? What are their trends and tastes?
Any artificial intelligence impacting important technology? Any ground breaking disruptions? Or any current or anticipated systems in the digital space?
Whilst it’s wise to stay up-to-date with current affairs, it’s equally encouraged to use market research skills by questioning or interviewing your target audience, that way you can get into their heads and have a deeper understanding of their needs which other news or articles can’t give.
Some examples are:
Use qualitative questions to collect answers so you can get their honest opinions, tastes and thoughts about your niche, product or service. Ensure the questions are not biased so that it does not influence their answers, whether that be by how you ask your questions to show gestures which imply agreement/disagreement. I.e.
Don’t you think that 3D printers can be a waste of money?
Rather, it should be:
What is your opinion on 3D printers?
This is something you can do using survey monkey. It is a questionnaire that is answered by prospects or customers, to understand their perception or opinion on anything pertaining to your affiliate niche. This way you can understand their needs and interests better, their values and beliefs and motivations and barriers. This will help you to make effective decisions to grow your business. For example:
What is your age? What is your education level? What are your hobbies and interests? What are your biggest challenges? What is most important to you? What problem does this (product) fit into your daily routine?
Surveys can have answers blank, or provide the respondents with multiple choice answers, ratings 1-5 or Yes, No or Don’t know.
Working with focus groups
This is another great way to get delve deep into how your target audience interact with your products, brands or services. It is a when a group of individuals come together to discuss a niche topic. This can be done face-to-face or alternatively, (mainly since Covid-19) can be conducted through Zoom or video call. With this you can directly measure how participants respond to affiliate product you wish to promote and you can probe deeper into certain questions. For example, asking “why?” to understand their motivations.
2. Creative video marketing abilities
This comes as no surprise, but it is probably the best way to engage and interact with your customers. From cinematic editing to atmospherics generated and artistic creativity which hooks viewers, the production of quality and enticing videos is becoming more and more critical and a form which reflects one’s personal or business brand. Whether that’s with animation, or story telling type film, creativity is the way to stand out and leave a lasting impact on your viewers as you become memorable.
With advancements in technology, it’s becoming easier to produce quality and unique content. Social media apps as well as video apps make this feasible, efficient and smooth.
Remember, to script or make a storyboard for longer forms. This will make sure that your resources stay on track and don’t waver in the process. It should seem natural as authenticity is the key to attract word of mouth or influence buying. It also helps create an emotional connection with the audience.
This year, we’ve seen an uptake of cross-channel videos; from Snapchat product reviews to Instagram Live Q&A streams to animation or film style short video grabbing attention and bring an affiliate products’ story to life in a fun, engaging and memorable way. 2022, will see that only increase in more unique and creative forms. It is smart to start working on skills that other competitors are not doing from 3D-world creation, to animation or immersive films.
3. Audio marketing skills
With more people looking for hands free way of engaging with brands or affiliates, as they multi task from cooking to driving, they look to listen to engaging stories, interviews or discussions around a topic of interest. This has a significant potential for affiliates; a unique way to promote their affiliate product with just an audio recording. This can also be uploaded as an MP4 file on a blog or website, on YouTube or SoundCloud and can be shared with your target market whether that’s on email or social media post.
Similar to videos, sound has the capability to transport us to another place (because our imagination brings us to those places immensely and intimately), it can make people nostalgic, it also trains us to associate specific cues with things or products, i.e. jingling bells with Christmas, it can also change our mood, all of those things make it a powerful medium.
This is why content creators, affiliates, influencers and brands need to consider a staple sound or musical theme to be associated with or recognized with immediately. This is why you should consider your audio characteristics that align with your brand or how you’d like to be associated carefully. More and more consumers are consuming sounds and is becoming a key channel alongside videos, live streams and so on.
Our prediction is that where videos have evolved to become interactive, we believe audio will also be the same in coming years. Perhaps, this is a creativity you can embrace?
Our tips to ensuring you create and deliver a combination of sounds which align with your brand are the following:
Are the sounds (or combination of sounds) consistent with your brand?
Whether that’s a welcome sound or a chime when certain actions or events are taken, these can embody your brand or products emotion and aesthetics. It could express anything from musical (i.e. simple guitar or jazz), indulgent (i.e. lyrical or orchestras) or dramatic (i.e. piano). Perhaps start with exploringyour competitors or other brands, which embody feelings you’d like to express. All of this should be well thought out.
Whilst the sound or musical quality of sound help represent a brand, it is also important that the voice or voiceover deliver such experience, where it matches the brand personality. Therefore, it is also wise to ensure there is a consistent voice throughout.
Are the sounds (or combination of sounds) unique?
It is highly important that you find a sound that reflects or becomes the DNA of your brand. See it as a logo for your brand but in sound form. When it becomes successful, it becomes highly recognizable when people are listening in or watching videos just from hearing the sound. When it comes to radio adverts or podcasts or discussions, or even social media videos, sound logos will help enhance your identity and facilitate how target audience recognise the brand.
Because sound logo is so essential, it is necessary that it is original. So that it is not mixed up with other brands. It is an opportunity to differentiate oneself from others.
What emotions, images or feelings do your sounds evoke?
Use a song that embody the feelings you want to convey with your audio brand. With a touch-poiny analysis . Does it reflect your brands positioning and values? Are there other sounds which might communicate these better? Remember, these sounds should enhance your current content or medium and clarify what your brand personality is. I.e. Innovative, upbeat and happy, autumnal, festive. What ever the language is, it should also tell your story and not just create a bond with listeners. A good starting point to find sounds are Audio Jungle and Premium Beat.
4. Storytelling abilities
Stories bring people together, where the universal language or feelings of happiness, sadness, fear, hope and so on can be shared where words are not always enough to explain. It gives the audience a personal experience whilst creating a narrative around your brand or product which should not only connect (or tap into people’s emotions) but inspire and motivate them. It requires creativity and imagination and they are more effective than content about product or business, instead it brings them to life which allows for deeper engagement. This is a tactic publishers and affiliates should learn in order to set themselves apart.
Some of our tips to get you started are:
Keep it concise especially where attention spans are dwindling. And to make it effective, do not elongate sentences, videos or discussions when something has already been mentioned. It is also worth knowing the ideal length of different types of content. I.e. For blogs it’s usually 1,600. Just remember, it also depends on your purpose and audience type.
How do your audience see and relate to the people around them? It is important to have the ability to craft your story in such a way that your audience can relate and resonate.
You want to write or create where your audience wants to associate with you. Its not enough to just be a good storyteller but also understand the mind, how it thinks and being authentically human.
Sounds in words or sentences help us imagine better. It helps establish mood and build expectations, with this is that it immerses the viewers, readers or audience into the story by detailing vivid descriptions. To do this ensure the language is tactile and sensory driven. Otherwise, enhance the vividness of the language. Here’s an example:
“As the blue, cloudy-mist birds move in choreographed melody, drawing such buoyant hues. Those wings in the sky became a reminder to lift me off my ground in this wave of sweet earthly joy”
It always a wise idea to time your story at a good time, where it’s likely to be picked up by media outlets making your content likely to go viral. It could be during a time where there’s hot topics, or a sudden surge in people discussing a particular topic, whatever the issue it’s smart to be agile and respond quickly and creatively.
The skeleton of a story should always contain the following (whatever the medium is, written post, a spoken story on video, a digital interactive video or animation, an audio recording):
Who are the characters? This is so that the audience can put themselves in the characters shoes and likely to be influenced by their actions.
This is the most important part, where it moves the audience through relatable challenges. Remember, it is also about how you are conveying this part.
Whether it’s a good or bad ending it should wrap up in such a way that your audience is likely to take an action whether that’s to explore your website or watch another video.
Understand your customers psychology is key to creating effective campaigns. It ultimately means understanding the real needs and want, understanding their motivations, desires, influences, biases, fears, challenges in order to ensure that advertising isn’t wasted. It is about ensuring the campaigns related by understanding the neuroscience of consumers (or the brain activity which leads to a desired behaviour (i.e. converting or purchasing an affiliate product) and facilitating that authentically. There are different types of scientific studies which will help you to efficiently create compelling content. For example;
Avoiding decision making paralysis
When there are too many choice, it can deter prospects from making a decision (and this is especially true where there are so many competitors). By using a variety of setups or options it can help audiences to stop and think.
The headline or first piece of information your audience sees is the most important as it becomes the tone for their purchasing behaviour. As humans, we evaluate the value of something based on its intrinsic worth instead of comparing it with other options. Therefore, it is wise to take advantage of the “anchoring effect” which means for example, when looking at two VCR technologies, and one offers a free video, the audience are more likely to go with what’s free rather than explore more details or quality of the products.
Reward and punishment
Our brain increases levels of dopamine in the brain when it is associated with pleasure and positive associations – this can increase the desired actions. With the opposite, it can decrease this when they feel disappointed or lack of pleasure. Hence, it is good to learn about psychological principles embedded in design or systems to increase the chances of positive behaviour or actions.
Some other ways you can use positive psychology in your affiliate marketing are:
This is an art form, whereby with practice it can be perfected and as you have noticed, it is an essential part which embodies your content creation from writing exciting headlines, to engaging captions. In order to hook audience or stand out from the crowd, it is important to know how to use keywords effectively to reach audiences with their message on various platforms.It’s not easy and a heck of a job. For everything to be successful it requires words in the form of social media posts, blog articles and website content and so on to inspire actions.
Do you make a good copywriter? These are what you should master in order to succeed in 2022:
Grammar seems trivial matter, something that often comes at bottom of priority list.
Poor grammar can tarnish one’s credibility and suggests sloppiness and can put off your audience. Always make sure you take the time to review any typos, or grammatical errors before hitting live. Tools such as Copysmith and Writesonic help.
Acquire deep knowledge
It is important to do deep research to gain knowledge that would be of value to your audience. Or even say something in a completely new way. Deepening you understanding of a topic, will make it better for your audience. Plus, it’s important to simplify that information so its easy to digest, and the main points are conveyed well.
Align the content to user journey
It is important to ensure that the potential customers go through a marketing funnel, from awareness to interest to consideration, to intent and evaluation. When writing ensure its tailored to that touchpoint of the journey. For example, it could be on a social media post (awareness related topic – introducing an affiliate product) and on a blog article it could also be focused on the consideration phase where the readers are able to find out more about the product and see if there are any deals. To make your writing even more high converting, is to ensure that you are moving the prospect from one part of the funnel to the next. For example, an Instagram image and caption which demonstrates awareness, this leads on to consideration phase by adding long form post about the benefits and features of the products. And then ends with a Call To Action to click on a website affiliate link for those who have desire to buy.
Make the ordinary interesting
Avoid sub-par content, when there’s dull writing it will mean losing their attention. Capture them in engaging ways, strike curiosity by asking intriguing questions, share startling statistics, an amusing anecdote, a metaphor to liken to something else. A well crafted copy is able to make something sound like the best thing. To make sure your really stand out as a copywriter, you need to masted this technique.
Natural Language Processing
A big part of that is appealing to Google’s algorithms, with natural language processing. The AI behind Google has advanced to understand the semantics, syntax and other natural language beyond just keywords added to optimize for Google rankings. Artificial Intelligence now is able to synthesize data in combinations to help understand the spoken and written human language. So our point is? To write naturally, like humans and don’t fret over fitting in the right keywords in your content. For example, someone could search “why’s my boots damaged” could infer to “What caused by boot to be damaged?”.
7. Content strategy
The actual meat of the matter; your content strategy will help dominate your space if done well. This is where you plan your topics tactfully so it is sent out at the right time and place, with quality output. What would be of value to your audience? A starting point is to use social listening, to monitor the questions, thought processes and concerns your audience hold and how you can invest your resources wisely to serve their needs creatively and tactfully. Once brainstormed you breakdown each piece and plan ahead when you will be writing, filming, photographing, editing and publishing – so there is a consistent flow of works.
One of the fastest growing digital marketing trends is interactive content. We are now seeing more and more content styles which are dynamic and immersive for the audience. From quizzes and polls to augmented reality experiences and even 360 videos. It is now becoming more about the experiences you create for your audience.
It is predicted more brands, marketers and affiliates will be experimenting with immersive technologies. Namely Virtual Reality (VR) which is great at enhancing the audience experience as more of their senses are engaged in another form of reality that is designed and built by the productions. Ikea for example has built their own AR app; IKEA Place and MADE has also created something similar where you are able to move a product around your home to see how it looks or fits in your home.
8. Design and UX
For affiliates wanting to attract their target market, a well-designed digital environment is crucial especially when wanting to convert them. User experience (UX) is the combination of design, seamless navigation, simple purchasing journey and all those elements making the journey positive. It is the interaction between your digital platform and the moments of delight for the user. This not only encourages positive user behavior but also helps impact SEO.
The UX or design elements influence behaviour as they enhance their satisfaction or experience. In a study, an increase in customer satisfaction by 20% can lift revenue by up to 15%.
9. Marketing analytics
This is vital for all affiliates. Its where you gather information from all your channels and consolidate it to gauge the strengths and weaknesses and any opportunities or threats. It’s where you can monitor if your campaigns are on target to reach your goal or vision and most importantly, is it showing signs of return on investment? With data, it can provide you answers to many questions from what should your priorities be to how are your competitors doing?
The world of analytics
Without doubt, this is a maths based discipline which employs predictive modelling, machine learning, statistics all in an effort to reveal insights from user behaviour to impressions and reach of a campaign. However, whilst you delve in to seek patterns and trends, avoiding data paralysis is paramount, too much information could make it a challenge to make real actions in an effort to improve and progress your current campaigns (especially when there will be too many interactions between different variables). Also, its good to stay goal-oriented to think of the right questions to help you find the answers you need. For example;
To ensure that your data works well for you, it is necessary that it is error free, relevant and precise. It can be easy to manipulate data to fit your needs or show your campaigns are working, however, it will add no value in terms of your actual performance especially in the long run. Therefore, make sure when looking at data that it is accurate and relevant to your needs.
As 2022 unfolded, big data will continue to grow exponentially. Bid data helps simplify an analysts (you) task as it is more efficient in collating and matching data saving time for affiliates, marketers and brands. The benefits are endless, as it helps them to innovate faster, be more efficient and make designs faster too. We predict there will be an uptake of this in the near future. Predictive analytics is a great area, where it assists you decision making as it helps to look into past trends and specific data to determine if your campaigns would have better results if placed elsewhere or will more money invested make better ROI?
When a visitor lands on your website, they want to make sure they are safe within seconds. Otherwise, an increased bounce rate which is bad for your SEO or ranking signal. We all know that personal data is always being collected and our digital footprints are becoming the new currency. Companies use these to store personal data to help enhance their communications such as advertising.
However the misuse or leak of data over the years has been a concern. And therefore, there is a growing mistrust in consumers of brands if they are handling their data responsibly. It is impediment to communicate to all your website visitors how you wish to use their data and ask for their permission. Generally, they look like pop up boxes, where visitors have the choice to opt in to their data being collected for example. This is especially important in email marketing and without confirmation it can lead to fines.
Hence, it is important to regularly educate oneself on the changes of the GDPR rules to avoid costly mistakes.
What sets affiliates apart are their growth mindset. What can be better than watching your affiliate campaigns or brand’s growth explode and seize popularity. There is no real magic “growth hacking” formula however there are tried and tested methods which increased the likelihood of something going viral.
Growth hacking is characterized by using the least possible resources to see exponential growth. It doesn’t matter if you’re working with hair tools or finance products all of these undergo creative experiments where rules don’t always apply, it is creativity that remains in the driver seat. This is a hack that you should find and when it works, it is unlikely to work for another product. It is basically letting your creativity juices run free as the first step.
The other side to it is to have a series of continuous iterative experiments, just like the dominoes effect one comes after another and they are measured and analysed as they perform. Also, to maximise the performance of each campaign, it is important to manage and track how they are performing and make relevant changes in real time. Therefore, agile is key. And hence an agile environment will help your lean experiment flourish.
If you want to see some growth hacking case studies or some secret formulas, read this blog now.
12. Conversational apps and chatbots
Conversational apps and chatbots are a fun and innovative way to converse with your website visitors or audiences. In the recent years, we have seen a rise in custom made social media messaging apps, innovative chatbots and other forms of conversational apps all designed to connect with audiences and serve their needs efficiently. And when done right, it gives you a powerful database of popular questions which will help enhance and tailor solutions.
It has become easier for non-developers to create conversational apps and chatbots, choosing many elements from design, the decision making map, carousels, buttons, images, payments and authentications. The text can also be designed to be conversational. There are countless benefits for these, from making interactions faster and relevant to making the design experience better. It can be developed to provide a rich, humanlike conversation which engages users and deliver a seamless customer experience (especially as it removes any frictions which can be experienced on a website). It is known to facilitate conversions much more easily.
Our tip for building the app would be to anticipate the end users’ needs, so that you can create a well-structured conversation. It is always worth noting, that they want answers or actions done as fast as possible. At the same time, it’s best to design the conversations so that it facilitates the customers to move closer to your objectives.
Whilst the digital space is constantly change, making it more challenging for affiliates and publishes to keep up, innovation will remain utmost important in order to stand out. In a nutshell, unique immersive experiences for audiences will be a great way to gain their attention and convert them, plus with the rapid developments of AI, more uptake in technologies such as conversational apps and predictive analysis will be seen as competition tries to delve deeper into understanding the mindset of their audience. So, are you ready to build your skills? Check out our blogs to help you gain deeper knowledge in each of these areas all designed to help you do affiliate marketing well.