Practical Ecommerce

3 Keys to a Mobile-ready Affiliate Program

Consumers can complete a transaction on a smartphone with just a few taps. Responsive site design and easy-to-use apps enable shoppers to quickly find what they’re looking for. Stored values make it easy to complete checkout forms. Fast data networks ensure orders are quickly submitted and processed.

Increasingly, mobile commerce is commerce. With mobile, commerce extends beyond desktop computers — to commutes, sit-down meals, and waiting rooms, as examples. Today’s consumer can buy seemingly anything from seemingly anywhere.

So how does this relate to affiliate marketing? Content creates demand, and affiliates create content. When consumers are commuting, eating, or waiting, they’re not necessarily shopping — at least initially. They’re likely not starting their mobile session on a retail site.

What they are likely doing is consuming content. When they read a blog post about spring fashion, for example, that post could have affiliate links to products. It should be easy for the consumer to click from the post and then purchase the product, regardless of the consumer’s device.

In this article, I’ll review three keys to ensure your affiliate-marketing program is mobile ready.

3 Keys to a Mobile-ready Affiliate Program

Ensure that you have a responsive website. Responsive websites use CSS to identify the user’s device and screen size and adjust the layout automatically.

For example, if a responsive ecommerce site were viewed on a large monitor, the products might appear as a table made up of rows and columns. If this same site were viewed on a smartphone, the products would likely be displayed in a column. If the site were accessed via a tablet, perhaps the products would still be displayed in a table, but navigation would be a dropdown menu versus a series of links in a horizontal bar.

Well-designed responsive sites therefore plan for smaller screens, limited navigation, and potentially slower network speed. This is important because consumers on smartphones who click to a retailer’s site from an affiliate are likely doing so spontaneously. Perhaps they were reading a blog post on their commute home and clicked on the post to learn more about a product. These consumers expect a mobile-optimized ecommerce site, one that is easy to read and navigate.

Provide affiliates with mobile-ready tools and creative. Provide affiliates with a set of creative ads that are suitable for all devices: smartphones, tables, and desktop and laptop computers. The IAB — Interactive Advertising Bureau, an organization that sets ad standards — recommends display ad sizes for all devices.

Retailers with affiliate programs should ensure those programs are mobile ready, such as using mobile-optimized creative as recommended by the Interactive Advertising Bureau — IAB.

Retailers with affiliate programs should ensure those programs are mobile ready, such as using mobile-optimized creative as recommended by the Interactive Advertising Bureau — IAB.

However, the mobile commerce arena provides affiliate opportunities beyond the standard text link and banner approach. App installs are one example. Say a retailer offers an Android app. Affiliates can promote the app, and earn a commission whenever the app is installed.

Additionally, some affiliate platforms can power and commission click-to-call activity, so that affiliates can include specific phone numbers in their promotions. When a consumer clicks that phone number and initiates a call to the retailer, the affiliate can be commissioned based on several factors, including length of call, quality of call, and whether or not a transaction was completed.

There are also opportunities for retailers to participate in the affiliates’ own apps. For example, say you are a retailer of crafting supplies. An affiliate could build an app around crafting. The app could include instructional blog posts and video tutorials — and your products.

To enable this, ensure your product data feed includes images suitable for smartphones. Also, confirm that your affiliate platform can engage mobile tracking within the affiliate’s app, so that consumers can complete a purchase within the app and without having to click to your ecommerce site.

Ensure the affiliate tracking pixel works for mobile transactions. Check your analytics. If none of your affiliate sales are attributed to mobile devices, your affiliate-tracking pixel is likely not firing properly. In most cases, the same pixel that works on a desktop-optimized website will also work on mobile. If not, contact your tech team to determine why. Mobile comprises roughly 30 percent of all ecommerce transactions. A good percentage of your affiliate sales are presumably coming from mobile, too.

Carolyn Kmet

Carolyn Kmet

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