As dramatic shifts in technology and demographics continue to take place across the globe, affiliate marketing has to adjust to keep pace. When it comes to technology, we as affiliate marketers need to learn how to adapt to trends in smartphone use and website tracking, for example. On the demographic side, affiliate marketers cannot afford to ignore the growing number of international consumers. More people around the globe have smartphones, tablets, and access to the Internet. These changes have significant impacts for the future of affiliate marketing, but how?

Mobile Commerce is an Unstoppable Force

Mobile commerce experts at eMarketer have estimated that revenue generated through mobile purchases will top $100 billion by 2017. Many retailers remain on the outside looking in because they lack a solid approach to mobile commerce. If your company has not optimized its website and advertisements for smartphones and tablets, you need to do so. A survey conducted by TheFind discovered that 49% of shoppers find a lack of mobile optimized websites and apps to be their biggest pet peeve. Unhappy customers won’t be customers for long.

Adapt your website and/or app by adding secure checkout, a better user interface, and support for constantly evolving mobile platforms. More importantly, never stop testing to ensure your site remains optimized and performs at high levels.

Content is Increasingly Important

Content marketing is an emerging field and its importance will only continue to grow in affiliate marketing. High-quality content is beneficial not only for your search engine rankings, but also in developing trust with your users. You need to give customers a reason to visit your site, click on links to your products, and make a purchase with your company.

Content Marketing will Create Niche Publishers

We just finished discussing the importance of content in digital marketing strategies. It has been shown to drive greater traffic to websites and help boost conversion rates in the process. As a result, 60% of marketers plan to increase their spending on content marketing in the coming months and years. One result of this will be the emergence of more niche publishers in affiliate networks. Everyone from luxury brands to fashion bloggers has experienced success with a heightened focus on fresh content that is engaging. As brands continue to target focused audiences, niche publishers will emerge to take advantage of those opportunities to advertise to those target groups.

International Profiles Need to Grow

The markets in North America and Europe are saturated today. The future of affiliate marketing lies in the emerging markets of Asia where growth has been exponential in recent years and shows no signs of slowing down. China has added some 600 million Internet users in the past four years, and mobile growth there has increased 20% each year during that same timeframe. If you want to remain competitive as an affiliate marketer, you need to understand the dynamics of these emerging markets, what factors contribute to the decisions of these consumers, and adjust your offers to match those factors.

Established Markets W ill B ecome M ore Diverse

While Internet and mobile use is reaching a saturation point in North America and Europe, that does not mean there is no change coming in these markets. The rate of new users entering markets might be slowing, but existing users are starting to have a wider impact. People are using their tech devices in more comprehensive ways to interact with companies and brands. Additionally, segments of the population that previous had little to no online activity are now increasing their activity. Affiliate marketers in these regions will need to adjust to a market that is broader and more diverse.

Big Data Can Improve Customer Experiences

When it comes to technology, there is no buzzword we hear more than “big data.” In 2014, big data was applied more effectively and broadly across marketing channels. Successful brands and companies in the future won’t be the ones with the biggest profile or the deepest pockets, but rather, the winners will be those companies that use big data to accurately target customers and generate fresh, relevant content that targets shoppers.

Luxury Brands Will Spend Big on Performance Marketing

Affluent shoppers are going mobile with the rest of us. A study from Ipsos MediaCT found that these shoppers are spending more time and money engaging with luxury brands online. Affiliate networks report strong growth in luxury niches, and that won’t slow down in the future. However, luxury brands are protective of their image and aren’t going to settle for methods used for common brands. Luxury product and service providers have stringent compliance requirements to protect their brand’s image and will look for affiliate marketers to offer a specialized set of criteria for their niche.

Ad Networks are Critical

In order for affiliate marketers to succeed in the changing world we live in, they need to find the right partners to help them achieve those goals. A reliable partner in the modern world of affiliate marketing is one that has the expertise and range of services available to these challenges and adapt for success.

Growth and Consolidation Coexist in the Industry

Affiliate marketing has experienced consolidation in the recent past. Consolidation doesn’t mean a shrinking industry though. Forrester predicts that affiliate marketing will continue to grow through 2016, at which point it is estimated that the industry will generate $4.5 billion in spending. Consolidation will create affiliate networks that have the skills and expertise needed to answer the demands of companies and brands in a changing world.

All of the advice offered above reflects the reality of the modern world. Consumers are interacting with companies, brands, and advertisements in different ways. While it is enticing to ignore some of these changes and stick to what works, it is undeniable that these changes are altering the manner in which affiliate marketers get their job done. In order to remain relevant, affiliate marketers need to digest this information and prepare to adapt for the future of affiliate marketing.