Trend watch: four to watch in 2021

| By Lee-Ann Johnstone
As a challenging year fades from view, it’s now time to turn attention to how the digital landscape is shifting to identify opportunities for new niches and growth in 2021. LEE-ANN JOHNSTONE identifies her trends to watch out for
TREND WATCH

With 2021 now upon us, it is important that affiliates and affiliate managers begin to take a look at how the digital landscape might begin to shift in the future. Covid-19 has impacted the way we behave online and how we spend – and these effects could have a long-term effect on marketing as the year ahead approaches.

In this issue’s column, I’ve taken a closer look at the areas I think will impact the way we market and promote our clients. I’ll be sharing the key areas of influence that may see some major changes compared to the best pivoting actions you took in 2020.

While there are going to be key shifts that could arise for affiliate marketers in 2021 the future is bright and we can look forward to an industry that continues to innovate and grow next year:

1. THE RISE OF MICRO-INFLUENCERS

Micro-influencers – influencers whose followers number between 1,000 and 100,000 people – are able to impart significant influence to their target audiences. Sales are almost immediate and brands should be capitalising on and harnessing these influencers as part of their affiliate strategy. According to Markets and Markets, the global influencer marketing industry is currently estimated to be worth $5.5bn and is forecast to grow to $22.3bn by 2024.

These numbers cannot be ignored any longer. Brands who embrace working alongside influencers can reach a higher number of customers in segmented areas across more varied social channels. Yes, it’s tricky – and requires a bit of time and investment to monitor and deliver influencer campaigns due to the nature of our industry and the regulations on advertising that are applicable. However, it’s going to be worth the time, effort and investment to reach more varied sources of traffic that you normally wouldn’t be able to influence or reach with traditional brand- or promotion-led marketing.

2. VIDEO WILL CONTINUE TO DOMINATE!

Digital market research company 99Firms believes that 80% of consumers prefer to watch a video, particularly live videos, over reading a blog. What’s more, video streaming accounts for 82% of all internet traffic. Casino channels such as CasinoGrounds and FruitySlots have seen the benefit of this growth in the past year. Affiliates are not just acquisition partners; they can utilise content and video streaming to help with game releases and promote exclusive player offers or retention campaigns too.

As the internet gets busier, video is the best way to break through your competitor noise. Affiliates who invest in video have a better rapport with their audience and they convert better. While SEO is not dead, you will want to branch out and test new types of content in 2021. It doesn’t have to be expensive or produced, the latest iPhone and a ring light would do! Customers are 39% more likely to reshare video content compared to text or audio. This makes it ideal for affiliates to promote their own platforms. Any affiliates who do turn to video as their prime form of media in 2021 are likely to outperform those who remain focused on text only.

3. POWER TO THE PODCASTERS!

Podcasts have been growing in popularity over the past few years. Their format is easy to digest and caters to many different topics of interest. They are only set to increase in popularity and will offer affiliates a less competitive way to gain audience engagement.

It is thought that there are over a million different podcasts available to try on the internet, across all different genres. According to PodcastInsights.com, in the US alone, some 50% of households listen to podcasts, with 80% of those listening to either all or most of the episode. With the US becoming an interesting marketplace in which to position yourself and a number of affiliate acquisitions already taking place, focusing on this channel could be beneficial to build up your audience segment.

When you add in the improvements being made to audio and voice search, and the growth we are seeing in searches made here, it is clear that this is an area that affiliates should pay attention to. Podcasts will grow in popularity this year as time gets more scarce and we change the way we process information online. There is no doubt that this channel will continue to gain in popularity and affiliates should look to grow with them.

4. SHIFTS IN SOCIAL MEDIA

Affiliates might need to diversify and switch up their social media sprawl. There is no doubt that these platforms are becoming bigger than ever, and many individuals are diversifying their content across multiple platforms. My advice? Pick one. Be consistent and present every day.

I have chosen LinkedIn as my channel of choice. It’s the first place I share new information, intelligence or insights and my following on the site doubled last year. Social selling has been a key part of the growth we experienced at AffiliateINSIDER. It therefore makes sense to recommend you consider your social channels and invest more time into them in 2021 too.

Affiliates should also invest in repurposing their content to improve their cross-channel presence. Dominating across a singular channel will not be enough as we go forward but it is a great place to start. For the most effective mass reach, an affiliate will have to be able to manage content and leads across many different channels. Finding the tools and tech to listen to and monitor social media chatter is a key component of driving audience engagement and getting traction for new traffic and interest. Social and SEO are not mutually exclusive. We need to be thinking about fewer ads and more engaged useful content that customers find interesting.

It is likely that affiliates will have to undergo a quality litmus test at some point in 2021 as Google’s algorithms will be changing. They must be prepared for this. Affiliates who cannot or do not produce original content will likely struggle to obtain unique or repeat visits, or even generate significant engagement with their marketing activities. The phrase “content is king” will most definitely be a top trend here. All content needs to add value to their consumers’ journey to purchase.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS…

As the world slowly recovers from the pandemic and we return to a more normal way of life, we are undoubtedly going to see some great change and product innovations that push digital marketing forward. Customers will become more value-driven during the economic downturn and, in turn, this could lead to a more decisive search and selection process for product-based programmes like those offered by igaming operators. Affiliates must be willing to take on these trends and push harder if they are going to build success in 2021.


LEE-ANN JOHNSTONE is an award-winning digital marketing strategist and affiliate management coach with almost two decades of digital marketing and affiliate experience within the retail, payments and igaming industry. In 2018, she founded AffiliateINSIDER, a Google News-approved curated content hub and affiliate marketing agency that helps brands implement best practice within their affiliate marketing teams. Lee-Ann runs an exclusive affiliate manager coaching programme: AMPP (Affiliate Marketing Performance Programme) and in 2019 was voted one of the Top 10 Most Influential Women in igaming by iGB. For more information about her and AffiliateINSIDER visit affiliateinsider.com.

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