What Affiliate Marketing Trends Can We Expect In 2023?

By Rebecca Barnatt-Smith

In the wake of Covid-19 and the HUGE shift to digital marketing and e-commmerce, the affiliate marketing model is more popular than ever before. With the rising success of influencers and a massive social media boom, more marketers are switching up their campaign tactics and turning to affiliate promotion in 2022.

In fact, experts at Streamline Marketing report that over 80% of all e-commerce brands now use at least one form of affiliate marketing in their strategy, and claim that it is the key to raising both brand awareness and engagement in a competitive online landscape.

So, in this post, we’ll dive into affiliate marketing as a whole for your business, as well as 4 specific affiliate marketing trends you should keep an eye on in the next year! Let’s do it.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

First of all, in case you’re new to the concept, here’s what affiliate marketing is (as defined by Clickbank):

Affiliate marketing is an online business model where you earn a commission by promoting another company’s products or services.

Rather than relying solely on site-based traffic, affiliate strategies rely on a bridge a link between your site and other sources of traffic, whether it be through influencer-based content, backlinking, or paid social ads.

Affiliate promotion is a great way to boost visitor traffic and, most importantly, gain awareness and authority within an industry niche.

From voice search to virtual shopping to the metaverse, the online world is quickly evolving. Let’s look at what this could mean for the future of affiliate marketing in the coming years, and delve into the trends tipped to dominate the sector in 2023!

A Look Into the Future of Affiliate Strategy in 2023

It’s no secret that affiliate marketing has transformed SME success in the last decade. In fact, 84% of marketers claim that affiliate marketing alone has increased their return on investment by a fifth since the onset of the pandemic.

This is largely due to a global e-commerce boom and a drastic smartphone shift across the world. As more consumers than ever before choose to shop virtually, engage with social media platforms and consume branded content, the conversion potential for online brands has skyrocketed.

As we turn the corner into 2023, digital demands will continue to dominate the marketing sector. With technological innovation on the rise, we’re seeing new trends that will affect the campaign strategies of tomorrow.

Let’s have a closer look at some of the affiliate trends that 2023 could push into the spotlight, and what smart marketers must do to ensure they stay on top in the new year.

1) Voice & Virtual Search

The e-commerce sector grew by a third in 2020 alone, indicating the beginning of a new era of virtual shopping. As technological innovations push for a new virtual e-commerce experience, 2022 has seen the birth of immersive AR-based browsing, live social media shopping, and a rise in voice and virtual search.

In fact, 27% of the online population currently uses a form of vocal or virtual search, according to Google. 

This has opened a number of doors for affiliate marketers in 2022 and will continue to do so in the new year. As campaign strategy shifts focus onto smartphone users and a push for immersive shopping trends, affiliate strategies of the future must steer away from traditional link sharing and text-based content.

Instead, marketers should focus on visual and audio-based affiliate promotion. Strategies must be fast-paced, creative, and organic in order to rival user-generated content. With over 50% of all affiliate traffic now coming from mobile devices, embracing the powers of social platform trends has become essential for success.

From investing funds into AR-based Snapchat filters to dropping creative affiliate links into TikTok’s live shopping feature, social platforms are a great place to start. Jumping on new virtual e-commerce trends – such as TikTok live shopping – is a great place to start!

2) Local Link Building

While link building has been viewed as a more traditional tactic for affiliates with websites, there are many ways smart marketers can revamp their approach for 2023.

Rather than aiming to rank globally in a popular niche, demographic, or keyword, link builders should look local if they want to see a spike in conversions. The key here is to start link building internally and blog writing with a local audience in mind, while also reaching out to local, more specific affiliate brands.

For example, did you know that 93% of Google searches in 2020 alone were centred around local keywords/services?

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(Image Source: Bright Local)

Local SEO will continue to trend among digital marketers and small business leaders. Not only does looking local increase the chances of your blog or website appearing at the top of the organic search results, but collaborating with brands and influencers who represent a company’s own vision and values is more likely to generate engagement from relevant demographics and potential sales leads.

3) Marketing in the Metaverse

One trend that has taken off in the past year is the birth of the metaverse. Transforming both remote working trends, the gaming industry, and now marketing/advertising, the metaverse continues to take us one step closer to a “virtual” tomorrow. 

The gaming industry, in particular, has seen significant growth in the wake of Mark Zuckerberg’s 2021 Meta announcement. As metaverse platforms such as Horizon Worlds, Roblox, and Fortnite pioneer the way forward for in-game advertising, digital transactions and immersive marketing may affiliate strategies will centre around the metaverse in 2023.

Affiliate marketers who position themselves within the metaverse have many options to choose from moving forward. From promoting virtual products to becoming an avatar or even creating their own virtual world, there are a number of ways to pair with metaverse platforms and see spikes in user engagement.

Take Balenciaga, for example. Pairing with Fortnite, the fashion brand continues to promote its clothing virtually, allowing consumers to buy digital versions of their products, as well as providing affiliate links to their site within the game. Is there potential for you to do the same, promoting your own products or someone else’s within the metaverse?

(Image Source: EpicGames)

Looking to the future, Bloomberg predicts that the metaverse could be an $800 billion market, as more brands than ever before invest in a slice of immersive advertising.

In 2023, affiliate marketers will have to keep up with metaverse trends – and dip their toes into a future of digital currencies such as NFTs and crypto – if they want to monetize off of the most popular virtual platforms.

4) A Cookieless Future

After Google revealed its discontinuation of third-party cookies in 2021, affiliate marketers will need to adjust to what the future of audience targeting could look like in the coming years – namely, a cookieless future!

While third-party data was once responsible for frequency capping, demographic targeting, and the all-important analytics required to create a successful campaign, 2023 will see a large shift to first-party data campaigning and contextual targeting.

In fact, 51% of marketers have already poured money into contextual targeting in 2022 alone, rendering it a trending affiliate tactic for the years to come. 

Moving into a cookieless future, marketers will have to rely on on-page analytics, conversational marketing, and social listening if they want to create a campaign that targets the right demographic. As we step into a consumer-dominated arena, advertisers must know their audience inside and out for a shot at engagement.

Affiliate Marketing Trends Wrap-up

In a practical sense, many of these affiliate marketing trends are just barely on the horizon. But 2023 is tipped to be a year of digital evolution for social platforms, search engines, and the brands that inhabit them.

We look forward to seeing creative campaigns come to life as affiliate advertising is brought into a virtual future!