Until 2007, touchscreen pocket-sized computers were the stuff of science-fiction.
Today, over 2 billion people use these tiny pocket computers.
(And I’m not even counting the billions of other dumb phone users.)
For a technology that didn’t even exist until nearly a decade ago, mobile phones have gone on to dominate our lives.
With so much mobile traffic, there is also massive opportunity for mobile affiliate marketing.
But what exactly does mobile marketing involve? What kind of mobile affiliate offers can you run? And most importantly, what are some ways you can take advantage from the mobile explosion?
I’ll answer some of these questions in this post.
What is Mobile Affiliate Marketing?
When it first started out, mobile marketing was easy enough to understand. It essentially involved using mobile-specific marketing channels such as SMS to reach out to prospective customers.
With the rise of smartphones, the distinction between “mobile affiliate marketing” and regular affiliate marketing is rather blurry.
After all, your smartphone can show the same website – and the same affiliate ads – as a desktop computer.
So an enhanced definition would be this:
Mobile affiliate marketing is the process of using offers, tactics and tools tuned specifically for the mobile audience.
This doesn’t even have to be very complicated. The Facebook ad you run on desktop news feeds can very well be made to run on mobile news feeds as well.
If you do that, you are effectively a “mobile affiliate marketer”.
Why Mobile Affiliate Marketing?
Take a look at this image:
This graph shows the growth of mobile users as compared to desktop users.
Now look at this image:
is is a graph of the total number of US local searches on Google done through mobiles vs. desktops.
If that wasn’t convincing enough, here’s a look at the total number of smartphone sales compared to desktop and laptop sales:
You don’t have to have a degree in statistics to see that mobile is very clearly the dominant traffic source online. Don’t be surprised if mobile makes up 80%+ of all online traffic in the coming few years.
Investing in mobile affiliate marketing is essentially investing in the future.
What Are Some Mobile Marketing Channels?
Most marketers are still under the assumption that mobile marketing = sending text messages.
In truth, there’s a lot more to mobile affiliate marketing.
Broadly speaking, you can divide mobile marketing into two channel-types:
- Free: This involves capturing traffic through social media and mobile search, and sending them to a (preferably) mobile optimized site.
- Paid: This involves using mobile-specific advertising tactics and channels to reach an audience and convert them into leads and customers.
Since the first channel is the same as your standard desktop-focused affiliate marketing model (except on mobile), I won’t go into much detail.
Paid mobile channels, however, are much more confusing to affiliate marketers.
Let’s look at a few of these mobile ad types in more detail:
You might have seen these ads pop-up on your games and apps:
These are in-app ads. More often than not, these ads take you to an app install page in either Google Play or iTunes.
App Install Ads
App install ads are exactly what you think they are: ads that urge people to install an app. Advertisers are usually charged on a “per install” basis.
App install ads are among the most lucrative channels for online advertising platforms like Facebook. Reportedly, Facebook made $X billion last year through pay-per-install ads.
App install ads may be shown on social media, mobile web or apps.
Mobile web ads
You can show ads not just inside apps, but also inside mobile websites.
These can either be standalone mobile versions of desktop websites or responsive sites. What matters is that the ad itself is:
- Optimized for mobile screens.
- Is visible to only mobile audiences.
- Takes visitors to mobile-specific landing pages.
Mobile social media ads
You might have seen these “sponsored” posts on Instagram:
Mobile social media advertising is another channel available to mobile affiliate marketers. Besides Instagram, marketers can also show their ads on Snapchat (open only to large brands for now), Twitter and Facebook’s mobile audiences.
In fact, mobile is the fastest growing revenue segment for Facebook:
How Can You Make Money with Mobile Affiliate Marketing?
The same way that you make money with any affiliate marketing – by sending traffic to relevant offers.
The only difference is that the offers will be designed for mobile audiences.
For example, when you search for mobile offers on MaxBounty, you’ll see “mobile-optimized” offers:
Since mobile phones have so much more data about you than desktops (including location, device type, etc.), you can get some really targeted (and high converting) offers. A user in Atlanta and using an iPhone might see a completely different ad than an Android user in Budapest.
On the downside, as a publisher, you can’t show as many ads on the smaller mobile screen as compared to desktops, which can impact your revenue negatively.
What are the Pros of Mobile Affiliate Marketing?
What are the Cons of Mobile Affiliate Marketing?
Unfortunately, mobile marketing isn’t without its downsides. Some of the biggest ones among these are:
Should You Invest in Mobile Affiliate Marketing?
As much as I’d like to say “jump in!”, I would recommend exercising caution.
For one, the design and development challenges are significant. You can’t just tinker around with the HTML or throw in some CSS to make a mobile website look great (you’ll have to mess with complicated media queries for that).
It’s much less “intuitive” than desktop marketing. If you don’t have the patience for it, it’s easy to lose your shirt with bad offers and poor converting sites/apps.
It can be wildly profitable, but for that, you’ll have to be patient enough to test out different offers, ad creatives and content-types.