Prime Day just made its mark on the marketing landscape, and that means affiliate efforts are gaining attention. There’s been a lot of build-up for this, the fifth year of sweeping deals and sales from the world’s biggest company. And Amazon was making the most of the buzz: This was the first year that Prime Day lasted a full 48 hours.
In an extreme example of power affiliate marketing, Amazon launched Prime Day festivities with a live-streamed concert featuring Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa, Becky G. and SZA. Prime members were able to watch the musical extravaganza for free on the Prime Video app Wednesday night in anticipation of Prime Day itself.
But you don’t have to be Taylor Swift to reap the benefits of Prime Day. If you have an audience of any size, affiliate marketing can be a competitive way to expand.
Affiliate Marketing Grows
Amazon’s not the only company to recognize the power of affiliate marketing, of course. Business Insider reported in 2016 that 15% of digital media revenue came from affiliate marketing, and it was already keeping pace with email in terms of driving e-commerce orders. Likewise, Forrester Consulting and Rakuten Marketing predict that by 2021, affiliate marketing will be a nearly $ 7 billion industry.
The biggest predictors of affiliate success, the joint Forrester and Rakuten study found, were multichannel strategies and affiliate networks. The more integrated a company’s efforts were — and the better able it was to spread those out across a variety of influencers and affiliates — the higher the payoff.
Amazon happens to be a good outlet for affiliate marketing because of its volume of marketers and products. The behemoth brand capitalizes on these factors, too. In addition to compensating businesses and influencers for sales and leads, Amazon offers a flat-rate commission to affiliate marketers who promote Prime membership sign-ups. That means people can start small and still succeed.
If you already have an affiliate strategy underway, here are a few ways to take your game to the next level for Prime Day and beyond.
1. Publishers can become powerful sales funnels.
Digital Trends has already made a name for itself with creative and impactful affiliate campaigns. The company was nominated for a ThinkTank 2019 affiliate marketing award for its collaboration with HP, and it landed a Digiday Content Marketing Award for a creative partnership with animation studio HouseSpecial. For last year’s Prime Day, Digital Trends got a nod from Digiday for its affiliate work.
The premium publisher marked another year of its layered partnership with Amazon for Prime Day, and the partnership offers a few lessons. Digital Trends has the advantage of reaching a young, tech-savvy audience ready to buy. For activations like Prime Day, Digital Trends’ editors cherry-pick their favorite deals, vetting them without the use of robots or AI. True to the publisher’s authenticity standards, Digital Trends reports its favorites and drives traffic to those Amazon Prime deals.
The brand is supporting the event with media programming as well. A four-hour broadcast on Digital Trends Live between its New York City and Portland, Ore., offices featured editors discussing the best deals on top products. Digital Trends also became the first publisher to be invited to broadcast on Amazon Live. This year, it featured brands and retailers beyond Amazon itself, making Prime Day into a more widely celebrated deal event.
2. Video content is king, but live video is emperor.
Digital Trends isn’t the only place to provide live coverage of Prime Day. Amazon-owned Twitch was commandeered for “Twitch Sells Out,” a live event in which Twitch’s most popular channels will become home shopping network-style promotional programs during the sales.
“Amazon is pushing brands that have deals on Prime Day to be live-streaming when the deals are actually up,” Will Margaritis, SVP of e-commerce and digital marketing at Sellwin Consulting, told AdAge. His agency helps people fuel the growth of their Amazon-based businesses, and he says capturing audience attention is the focus. “They just want to keep an audience there longer, watching for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, and therefore adding more [merchandise] to their carts,” he explained.
Live video, vertical video and custom video are the content forms people are engaging with in 2019; brands wanting to take advantage of Prime Day-style deal events should take note.
3. Partner with brands to offer exclusive coupons.
There’s a reason Groupon became one of the most prominent affiliate marketers: When people find a good deal, they’ll keep coming back for more. To capture some of those good vibes, partner with brands willing to give your audience members a discount or offer them some kind of exclusive promotion.
If you’ve been building an affiliate marketing business for a while, you probably have a list of brands you’ve established trust and rapport with over the years. See if you can come up with some creative arrangements for your mutual benefit. A study by RetailMeNot, a coupon marketplace site, found that two-thirds of people made unplanned purchases as a result of finding a discount or coupon. The survey, conducted by Kelton Global, also signaled that discounts don’t diminish goods or services — 93% of those surveyed said they’d make repeat purchases from retailers with strong discounts, and 65% said getting a good deal was more important than getting good customer service.
Prime Day has become an annual boon to affiliate marketing opportunities, but it’s not the only time to capitalize on smart affiliate strategies. There’s no reason you can’t take a page from Amazon’s affiliate playbook. Designing your own calendar of seasonal deals and keeping step with the round-the-clock marketing your partners are doing will keep you moving clicks before, during and after Prime Day.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.