By Rob Durkin
Online shopping is convenient and simple. It saves time and money because you don’t waste time and money driving to the shops and paying to find a parking space. Also, products can usually be found cheaper online than on the High Street. Shoppers almost expect low prices and online promotions, as they are used to searching for the best price online via comparison shopping engines and marketplaces.
Everyone loves a bargain. Instead of visiting shop after shop to find out which one offers the best value, we can now browse online (even in-store from our smartphone) to compare prices and deals at hundreds of retailers. The easiest way for online shoppers to compare product descriptions, price and value is with affiliate sites.
Using affiliate sites is becoming the norm for online shoppers, even if they are unaware that they are actually using one.
Uses of affiliate marketing
Some of the most useful affiliate sites are content sites that provide consumers with impartial information, advice and opinions that are not hidden advertisements or sales pitches. Review sites and blogs, such as TripAdvisor, West End Wilma and HOWL, help consumers decide where to go on holiday, what to see at the theatre and which clothes are currently cool.
Social Media Today discovered that just under two-thirds of customers were more likely to purchase independently reviewed products because of their impartiality. It’s also very easy to purchase items from these sites, because if you see a picture of a dress you want, you can buy it directly through the affiliate.
A survey by Forrester Consulting revealed that 90% of shoppers visit more than one site to compare prices before buying something. For customers who want the cheapest deal, comparison search engines (CSEs) are extremely beneficial, as a quick search displays the price of almost any product at various retailers, making it easy for shoppers to see where the best price is.
Consumers can also compare items on individual product features, making shopping even simpler. To buy an item, consumers merely click through directly to the product page or checkout, which saves them both time and money.
Voucher sites are starting to become household names as more shoppers search for offers when they buy on the internet. Even high earners are swallowing their pride and using voucher sites to save money (although only 6% of those earning over £60k admitted using a restaurant voucher and fewer than 3% of them had used a printable voucher in store).
Meanwhile, cashback sites are helping consumers earn money for shopping, by offering a percentage of their spending back to them if they buy through the cashback site. This also encourages people to shop online, as they can potentially save even more money this way.
But does affiliate marketing really improve the online customer journey?
With more people looking for the best value items, affiliate sites are becoming more prominent, as consumers spend longer researching items to make sure they choose the right product, at the right price.
What makes online shopping so appealing is that it’s easy to find impartial product information and compare item prices. The appeal of cashback or a voucher is also a priority for those looking to save money. Chris Bishop from 7thingsmedia believes that “Consumers are becoming as addicted to shopping via deals as they are to shopping itself.”
Very few people have money to burn, so reading a positive opinion from a third party can clinch the deal for an online shopper. As voucher and cashback sites grow in popularity, it’s possible that brands could even become less important, with shoppers choosing the item that’s the best value, or that offers the most cashback over a specific make.
Affiliate marketing has successfully evolved through time, becoming more innovative and now beginning to define the way that people shop online. With mobile performance marketing gaining popularity, people can access affiliate sites on the move, so no doubt using them to shop will become even more common.
About the author
Rob Durkin is FusePump Founder. A natural entrepreneur, Rob Durkin’s first foray into internet marketing was when he set up a DVD e-commerce site at the age of 16. His success and interest in this field led to his decision to read Computer Science at Girton College, Cambridge where he met fellow student and entrepreneur Chris Conn. Upon graduating they formed a partnership and began working in e-commerce and data extraction. After teaming up with Lee Brignell-Cash, their business focus shifted more towards marketing and thus FusePump was created in 2009. A classically trained singer, outside of FusePump Rob is often found enjoying musical theatre, both on and off stage. A frequent race-goer, he owns a Bay Gelding racehorse named Calypso Cay.