You may have heard of browser push notifications as the hottest customer messaging channel around. What you may not know is that they can also be a valuable tool for affiliate marketing. In this post, we’ll explore how push notifications for affiliate marketing work, how to launch a successful campaign, and which tools you need to maximize your digital outreach.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing, also called referral marketing, has long been a mainstay of ecommerce. As ecommerce has become more and more about finding a specific niche within a precisely-defined industry, maintaining a full range of content for marketing channels has become a challenge. At the same time, a balance has to be struck between carefully targeting customers most interested in your message and painting with a broad enough brush to engage with markets you may not have considered. Affiliate marketing offers smaller companies the ability to band together and bolster their collective marketing power, meeting both of these goals.
However, affiliate marketing has its share of frustrations. There is an enormous range of affiliate programs, creating relentless competition that often detracts from the goal of promoting the affiliates in the first place. The endless fighting makes it difficult to gain visibility with SEO, let alone grab the attention of customers. Often navigating affiliate programs can feel like a full-time job.
In the end, any company and its affiliates have to create their own marketing strategy and band together behind multiple channels to gain product visibility. This makes choosing the right channels to place your energy particularly important, and push notifications, especially browser-based ones, are an ideal place to focus your referral marketing efforts.
How Push Notifications Work
Web-based push notifications are unique among marketing channels. They’re opt-in for your customers, and simple to install, with just five lines of code pasted into the source on your website. The code can be easily customized to the page, so you can add it across multiple pages on your site to assist with segmenting. When the customer arrives on a page, you can trigger an opt-in request and they can choose to allow or deny push notifications. If they opt-in, your marketing messages go directly to the customers who are most interested in your products.
A second powerful aspect is that push notifications use A/B testing to optimize performance, and over time you’ll discover the many different segments in your customer base, where they overlap, and their other relevant interests. Continuously improving the timing of notifications, click rates, opt-in and opt-out rates, platform response rates, and other points using user data will all help you craft better campaigns and tighter segments.
Assisting your data gathering is that browser-based notifications also aren’t tied to a specific platform. Instead, they’re part of the preferences in your customer’s browser. As long as your customers open their browser, the notifications will arrive where they happen to be.
The immediacy and directness of notifications demand a yes or no response, which makes them an active complement to more passive marketing channels; they can even kickstart the spread of a piece of content. For example, you can shoot a powerful video for YouTube, share it on social media, and push it out to interested customers as a notification urging them to share it on their timelines. Using a multi-channel approach gets that content in front of both passive and active consumers. And for affiliate marketing, push is a notably powerful tool.
A Powerful Affiliate Marketing Channel
The most obvious method of affiliate marketing with push notifications is to look closely at affiliate products and determine which segments would be most interested in them. Then simply push out some information about them, or support your affiliate’s campaign tied to a piece of content. This simple approach is a good start, but as you get more comfortable with the technology, you can get more creative. For example:
- Notify customers about products that complement each other in unusual ways. This is especially useful when you uncover ancillary markets for your products that you hadn’t considered. For example, electrical supply houses will sell primarily to electricians and contractors, but may also find themselves with a strong secondary market of hobbyists or makers.
- Create a waterfall of deals. If you sell bicycles, for example, you might have an affiliate offer a discount on helmets, and then that affiliate might refer them to another that has a discount on lights. This can be a powerful tool, especially for new customers or customers just getting into a specific section of your industry.
- Look at the many “holidays” out there that are trending on Twitter or social media. National Dog Day, anyone? While you might not be able to make use of the specific idea behind a holiday or movement, perhaps an affiliate can, and you can get their message out there more effectively. It may even dovetail with other campaigns you’re running.
- Share data with your affiliates and look for unusual connections among your segments. Sometimes what your customers most engage with can be both surprising and revealing. As you work with your affiliates and collect more data on your segments, more possibilities will come to light.
Remember, push notifications are immediate and direct, so it’s always worth testing new ideas. As you better understand your customers and your affiliate’s clients, you’ll be able to offer more creative and unique approaches.
Push Notifications as a Customer Retention Tool
Affiliate marketing and push notifications are an ideal mix for customer retention. This is true whether you offer an enormous range of products or a niche service, and whether you want to expand your customer base or remain in the minds of current customers.
Often consumers will opt-in on push notifications because the value proposition makes sense for them. Of course, that puts the burden on the company to maintain that campaign, which can be an ongoing challenge. There are only so many discounts you can offer on similar products, for example, before your segments begin to file your content under background noise.
Affiliate marketing allows you to both maintain your notifications’ value proposition and keep what you’re offering fresh and engaging. You can offer daily deals or weekly sales across a range of products beyond just what you sell; products which complement the interests and tastes of your customers beyond your area of expertise. Furthermore, you can use your affiliates to stay visible to your customers while raising the profile of your affiliates in return.
And remember, affiliate networks work both ways. While you’re raising their profile, they’ll be returning the favor by promoting your sales, new products, and other content across their channels as well. With a carefully designed campaign, you can create a rising marketing tide that lifts every boat in your network.
Mobile vs. Browser-Based Push Notifications
Your customers are never in one place long, yet always in reach. Mobile technology means affiliate marketing can reach your most dedicated customers wherever they are. But not all forms of push may suit the needs of affiliates, or those running the network.
Mobile Push Notifications
Apps have been sending notifications from the beginning of the smartphone revolution. But mobile-exclusive notifications, which are usually app-based, have some points of concern for affiliate marketing. Reach is crucial, and there is substantial friction limiting the reach of apps.
Customers need to have installed the app, have enabled that app’s notifications, must be in full compliance with all notification policies (which vary from platform to platform), and which are tied entirely to that app. If it’s deleted or simply disabled, which may be difficult to track, you’ve lost a customer. Even the way notifications are handled by different operating systems may render your affiliate marketing efforts useless, as notifications are all dumped in one tray to be dismissed with a thumb swipe. This may also change between versions, meaning a constant process of catch-up and fall behind.
There are situations where mobile-exclusive notifications make sense. If you’ve seen regular success from the app, if your product is limited to mobile users, if the user base of the app lines up well with your goals, or if it’s a small segment of a larger notification campaign, it’s worth considering. But it should only be a smaller piece of a larger push strategy, and should not be the foundation of your strategy except under particular circumstances.
Browser-Based Push Notifications
Browser-based notifications, by contrast, have several advantages. The notification settings are tied to the browser, not an app; when your customer signs into their browser, their notification settings come with them, making them easier to reach and your campaign less dependent on downloading an app. You can arrange different value propositions across different pages of your site, allowing you to track which value propositions matter the most, instead of having notifications automatically enabled. A simple dialogue box drops down from the top of the page, ensuring the attention of your most committed customers.
This browser connection also means that notifications will arrive on both mobile and desktop platforms, such as the notifications center in Windows. This makes your notification more likely to be seen and acted upon. Unlike apps, which may have complicated permissions, the guidelines for collecting data from browser notifications are clearer and easier to follow.
The ‘platform-agnostic’ nature of browser-based push notifications will require you to pay closer attention to the timing and frequency of notifications. Your notification is more likely to be seen and to have the attention of your customer, so you will need to be sure they’ll be able to make the action you’re calling them to do.
Push notifications are just one channel in a broader marketing strategy that includes website design, targeted email, social media, and apps. But each channel in your marketing strategy must be chosen carefully and implemented with the right technology.
Steps for Push Affiliate Marketing Success
Affiliate marketing needs engaged, thoughtful consumers. Browser-based push notifications are ideal for recruiting the visitors most likely to engage with your affiliate marketing, boosting traffic and the effectiveness of your site. How? It’s due to effective use of the platform.
Create A Funnel
Browser-based notifications are “opt-in.” Visitors are prompted by a small window to either accept or decline notifications. This is usually paired with a short statement about frequency and value (i.e. “weekly discounts” or “daily insights.”) App-based notifications are usually automatically enabled, meaning you have both engaged and apathetic customers. With browser-based notifications, only the interested will continue receiving messages. The messages are also tied to the browser, not the smartphone or tablet platform and the app downloaded onto it, so you don’t lose members of your list when they get a new phone or delete the app.
A customer opting in is someone who has considered your value proposition and wants to keep hearing from you. Simply meeting that value proposition will increase traffic. Use different value propositions on different pages of your site; the opt-in rate will offer an effective metric for future campaigns. Remember to apply the data you gather to your value proposition, to shift it slightly over time and have more customers commit.
Segmentation is key to any modern marketing effort, but in push affiliate marketing, push notifications offer a powerful head start. When a customer opts into receiving your notifications, you learn:
- How they got to the site, including search terms
- What value proposition appealed to them
- Time spent on site
- Where they go next on your site, or elsewhere
From there, as your campaign unfolds, what they click, and don’t click, and what they do afterwards will allow you to sort them into specific segments and fine-tune your approach to each.
Remember Relevance, Timing, Clarity
Push notifications need to be relevant to your segment, they need to clearly communicate what you want that segment to do, and they must be timed in such a way that your segment can engage with your message. If you want your segment to watch your latest video, rush hour is not the time to push. Over time, as you test different days and times, you’ll learn what’s ideal for each segment. Remember, however, that all of these variables can “drift,” so study metrics closely.
Fresh copy is often key to an effective affiliate campaign, especially when you have only a handful of actions you want your customers to engage in. Writing copy, however, is a valuable tool for careful testing. A/B testing is a method where one variable in the copy is changed, be it the placement of a comma or a single word. The unchanged copy is sent to a randomly selected group making up half of the segment, while the changed copy is sent to the other half.
A/B tests should be done constantly. It enlivens copy and can yield insights into your segments. Be wary, however, of reading too much into one test. There are sometimes “wild” results, which must be considered.
Four More Tools You Can Use as Affiliate Marketing Channels
There are several other tools your business can use alongside browser push notifications for affiliate marketing to maximize your ecommerce potential. Together, they make the repeat impressions necessary for long-lasting affiliate relationships:
Live chat helps you stand out to customers who are new to the sector or looking to purchase for a business or a family member. Especially with more exotic products or highly competitive industries, potential customers will want to know some specific details, and live chat allows them to tap into your company’s and your affiliate’s knowledge base. It’s particularly useful for products designed to work together, as you can explain step by step how they synergize, whether it’s a set of industrial technologies or complimentary consumer technology.
Video is incredibly useful for illustrating concepts that are difficult to put into words. Consider, for example, how you’d explain to someone in words how to assemble something, versus creating a short instructional video that illustrates it. Especially with modern technology putting a TV in every pocket, video can show customers and potential customers why you recommend your affiliates, and exactly what their products do.
Not every user has the patience, or the data plan, for video, and sometimes video is too brisk to get into details. Infographics are perfect for exploring subjects in more detail while retaining a visual element that’s easily shareable and linkable on blogs. A good infographic will have a flow, much like waterfall marketing, that starts with a specific topic and uses data as you scroll down to support a detailed conclusion. It could also illustrate how to use your affiliate’s products with yours, depending on the approach.
Audio offers a powerful tool to instruct, educate, and provide an opinion. With the wide acceptance and availability of podcasts and apps, as well as sponsored podcasts, all you need is equipment and a concept. What is it about your product or your industry that matters and that your customer needs to know? What’s fascinating about what you do? Podcasts let you tell customers on the go as they stream that audio while driving, working out, or walking the dog.
These are just five channels. Any affiliate marketing campaign can sprawl across dozens of different channels. The key with affiliate marketing is to always remember the value to the customer, in both the product and the medium.
Affiliate marketing is a crucial aspect of modern ecommerce. But like any marketing tool, it needs to be carefully fit into a detailed multi-channel marketing strategy. It only works when every affiliate can help lift the whole group onto a new level, each supporting the other with each channel they have at their disposal. Otherwise, the frustrations and the amount of energy affiliate marketing can demand may be better channeled elsewhere.
Push notifications are an essential tool for assisting with that lift. The data you collect from your push campaigns allows you and your affiliates to choose the best possible content to present while simultaneously letting you fulfill your value proposition. This is particularly powerful for smaller businesses or businesses with a specific niche, especially as this approach can scale up as your business expands and more affiliates join your network.
Harnessing the power of push notifications is critical to any business that needs to reach its best customers consistently and on their terms. Paired with the power of affiliate marketing to open up those notifications to a much wider range of products and interests, the two can serve as a keystone in any company’s marketing strategy.
There’s only one comprehensive push notification for affiliate marketing solution. Pushnami’s machine learning-powered system automatically personalizes your notifications to each individual subscriber, resulting in irresistible calls-to-action. Remember to push smarter, not harder, and try a demo of Pushnami today!