For anyone marketing online, it probably comes as no surprise that 2013 was another banner year when it came to holiday retail spending/buying on the web. The major leading digital business analytics firm comScore reports that between November 1st and December 31st – over $46.5 billion was spent by online shoppers. They also reported the two busiest days were Cyber Monday and the day following it, with a total of $3.15 billion spent.
For those like me who are heavily into affiliate marketing, this is one of the best times to rack up sales and earn commissions. Shoppers are simply in the right mindset to buy, and more of them are now purchasing their items and gifts online. Affiliate marketers have to take advantage of this “feeding frenzy” and get their sites or affiliate links to the forefront with extra advertising, more content creation and timely posts.
Like past years, this is the time to do that extra advertising and increase your spending. This year I did a press release each day via PRWeb during the weeks around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I have always found it beneficial to create content that’s directly related to these shopping days, heavily promoting any discount coupons and deals from the companies which I promote with my sites. This also creates links/rankings for vital keywords in Google News and Yahoo News around those special holiday shopping events.
However, I just don’t concentrate on the search engines, I also increased my Facebook ads and Tweets to make sure I was receiving traffic from social media sites. Just like other online marketers, Google’s Panda and Penguin updates have taught me never to rely solely on just search engine traffic, it can all disappear in the blink of an eye.
That said, it should come as no surprise to anyone that 40% of traffic to retailers this holiday season, came from search engines according to Experian, a marketing services company. Apparently this traffic was down by 13% from last year, perhaps because many shoppers are using Google paid product ads to find the items they want. One also has to factor in the growing influence of social networking platforms and forums on the delivery of online traffic.
Affiliate marketers must also take advantage of these social networks with branded Twitter feeds and at least a Facebook Fan page. Highly targeted ads on Facebook can pay off, and many marketers are reporting good results. For me personally, I didn’t find my FB ads as effective at driving large amounts of traffic as press releases or even the search engines – at least not directly from Facebook but I have seen an increase in direct traffic to my site. This kind of traffic is really hard to judge, but it’s probably coming from more exposure of my brand on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Done properly, one’s social media’s fan/follower/subscriber base should be a year round marketing project, building up loyal fans with relevant posts and informative content. After all, during this holiday season, one report shows a 39% jump in traffic coming from these upstream social networks and anyone doing affiliate marketing online can’t ignore these numbers. On Facebook especially, what has really worked well for me is offering handy free guides/videos to get potential buyers onto my lists and into my marketing funnels. Since everything is based on the “sharing” of content, this content can’t be too commercial, or it will turn people off instead of on to your brand.
Experian also reports that discount coupons are losing favor with the buying public, but I would have to disagree with their findings. Then again, I am a little biased because I have effectively used discount coupons in my affiliate marketing for over 10 years. During the peak holiday shopping days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, my promoted companies offer some of the best deals of the year and this is reflected in higher sales. Potential customers are also looking for the best deals at this time, and the affiliate marketer must take advantage.
While all this marketing may make you feel like a used car dealer wannabe, I have always thought of this as a “win-win” situation where the customer gets a great deal and the affiliate earns a small commission. From the beginning, I have always put the emphasis on providing valuable content first and the coupons/discounts as a follow-up or a bonus. If you’re an affiliate marketer and you’re not offering a coupon or discount – just keep in mind, many shoppers (online and off) are postponing their holiday buying until they see these great deals and what discounts each merchant is offering.
If you’re not gearing your online marketing to these special discounts, you may be leaving a lot of sales on the table or for other marketers to acquire. During the holiday shopping season, I simply make sure my subscribers/followers/fans know about these great bargains and we both walk away smiling. And as the above statistics show, more and more customers are turning to online retailers to get the items and gifts they want for the holidays. Affiliate marketers must simply follow the money if they want to survive in this very competitive game.