The small business guide to mobile affiliate marketing

Whether you are in marketing, sales or product development, mobile is the new buzzword. It is a new communication and/or revenue channel for businesses in every sector. Liane Dietrich, UK managing director of LinkShare, explains why mobile holds exciting and profitable opportunities, and how to work out your mobile strategy.

With the continuing boom in smartphone adoption and the birth of the tablet device, consumers are increasingly using mobile devices to shop online. Brands are also picking up on this consumer shift and are heavily investing in the mobile arena with big-budget apps and marketing campaigns designed to grab the attention of their target audience. But until now, it has only been larger companies that have benefited from the potential of mobile marketing techniques.

Big campaigns and budgets have created the false assumption that mobile marketing is useful only for the heavyweight, but this is far from true. Mobile marketing is now starting to deliver significant return on investment for advertisers or all sizes.

Small businesses need to step forward and grab hold of the opportunities available to them across the mobile channel. One of the most effective and measurable mobile marketing strategies for SMEs is mobile affiliate marketing.

Mobile affiliate marketing enables a small business to partner with a wide range of affiliates and experiment with varying tactics to discover those which yield the most positive results. This process also offers both parties a valuable insight into the most up to date consumer behaviour, allowing mobile marketing programmes to be adapted and fully optimised quickly.

Taking the strength of the online and mobile market into account, we have identified three major areas in the affiliate marketing space which any small business developing their mobile strategies should consider:

  1. Mobile linking: there is now a wide range of m-commerce tracking technologies available to help advertisers and publishers reach and accurately measure the buying behaviour of mobile consumers.
  1. Dynamic rich media: the future is feature rich and consumers of every shape and size are more likely to respond to messages and advertising that is eye-catching and engaging. As a result, we'll start to see increasing use of HTML5, Flash and Javascript technologies as well as dedicated widgets to encourage a higher level of interaction with the end-consumer.
  1. RSS: RSS feeds will start to be more widely used to share information about particular products and services with target customers. Not only does this help to drive higher conversion rates, it also helps make marketing more targeted and relevant which will in turn drive increased traffic to a site and improve sales.

  1. Geo-targeting: Marketers can make use of the fact that many people no longer leave the house without their phone by using location-based services, i.e. determining where a website visitor is currently based and delivering different offers and content to that visitor based on their location.
  1. Real-time offers: Marketers can offer short-term deals lasting anything from a few hours to a day to users' mobile phones. These can be delivered directly, using geo-targeting technology, or linked to social networks, such as Foursquare or Facebook Places.
  1. Personalisation: Mobile tracking technologies that comply with the new EU privacy regulations help marketers accurately measure the consumption habits of mobile users. This data can be used to deliver personalised content and ads to consumers' devices, which will be based on a user's interests and history. This will mean a higher level of engagement and ultimately click-throughs and sales.

As a small business you can't afford to sit still. You need to be more aggressive and innovative than a large counterpart. To ensure you remain ahead of the game and that you maintain your competitive edge, mobile affiliate programmes should be high on your marketing agenda. Affiliate marketing provides an excellent opportunity for small businesses that really want to utilise the power of the new mobile technologies, and is also a tried and tested way to implement effective marketing campaigns by enabling you to monitor and tailor every pound spent.

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