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Sarah Bundy, Founder & CEO, All Inclusive Marketing Inc., is a performance marketing veteran who was recognized in the fall of 2017 by Business in Vancouver’s 2017 Forty under 40 Awards for her forward-looking business acumen and thought leadership. Her 8-year-old Vancouver, B.C.-based firm handles affiliate, influencer, and search marketing in addition to SEO services, digital strategy, analytics, attribution, and conversion optimization. As the year draws to a close, we asked Bundy about the trends she’s focused on in the performance marketing space.

Bundy told us performance marketing has evolved significantly over the past year. She cited advancements in technology, new top-of-funnel publishers entering the space, the rise of global expansion opportunities, and changes in consumer behavior all of which are impacting cross-channel and cross-device shopping experiences. Given those dynamics, we asked Bundy to identify the trends that will take shape in 2018. Here’s what she shared:

mCommerce, Mobile Web, and In-App tracking will become extremely relevant.

As shoppers spend more time on their mobile devices, and the growth of mobile transactions scaling into the billions each quarter, we will continue to see both publishers and advertisers capitalize on these trends. At All Inclusive Marketing, we have seen mobile transactions account for anywhere from 20% to over 80% of affiliate-tracked revenue.

“Being able to accurately track engagement, conversions, and transactions on the mobile web will become more important than ever.”

This means that being able to accurately track engagement, conversions, and transactions on the mobile web enabled by ecommerce platforms such as Shopify, in-app, and through mcommerce stores (built through mobile commerce companies such as Mobify), will become more important than ever to properly track and credit sales to the correct channel and media partner.

If you’re not tracking mobile accurately in the performance marketing space, you could be skewing your numbers. This means the data you’re looking at is likely telling you an inaccurate story, and you could be missing opportunity or misallocating budget effecting ROAS and ROI.

Attribution will be the norm.

The performance marketing industry has spent the last few years trying to figure out how to get visibility into the buyer’s click-to-consume paths. Technology today, which allows advertisers to view and credit media partners according to first click, last click, last to cart, or other, is now the norm for most programs. Everyone should have some form of attribution in place now, and companies will become more well-versed on it, and understand which model will work best for them.

The challenge is in determining which type of attribution modeling works best for different types of programs and partnerships — recognizing and crediting the values that are most important to both the publisher and advertisers, mutually. If you want to drive new customer acquisitions, you’ll want to consider a more top-of-funnel attribution approach. If you want to credit sales to bloggers and content affiliates where buyers are in the research stage, you need to set up and understand attribution properly to track and credit those types of actions tied to the acquisition strategy.

“Savvy brands have tested or set up diversified attribution models.”

Many companies still have affiliate program attribution set up on a last click model, either because they haven’t tested different attribution models or because they don’t yet know what to do. More savvy brands have tested or set up diversified attribution models tied to different corporate objectives and KPIs, such as rewarding more top of funnel new customer acquisitions with bloggers, social influencers and content aggregators.

Impact Radius also has a last-to-cart option, which is a unique feature, meaning whomever gets the buyer into the shopping cart first (rather than which link the buyer clicked on last), gets credit for the sale.

We are now at a stage in the industry’s maturity where we can start to really focus on industry- wide standards, A/B testing, and baselines that create the types of data insights and results that help us make more educated and insightful decisions. This will allow us to spend budget more wisely while achieving the desired results all advertisers and media partners are looking for: revenue, new customer acquisitions, profitability and the retention of loyal shoppers (measured through frequency of purpose and extended LTV).

API Integrations and Social Tools will make top-of-funnel and “consumer engagement” partnerships even more possible.

With advertisers looking to diversify their partner portfolios outside of the usual coupon and loyalty partners, they will need to look at more top-of-funnel and engagement partnership opportunities that can leverage and utilize API integrations and social sharing (and tracking) tools to engage buyers in channels while they are in research and discovery stages of their buyer journey. Examples of these types of partners include remarketing and shopping cart abandonment technologies, social influencers, micro-bloggers, meta-search engines, and more.

“Partners will become more savvy in helping consumers convert without having to go to coupon or cashback sites.”

Additionally, partners will become more savvy in helping consumers convert without having to go to coupon or cashback sites such as RetailMeNot or eBates to get a deal.  As media partners gain access to more tools, API integration options and widgets to quickly track the referral back to them, they will focus more time and attention to reaching, engaging and helping convert buyers on a performance basis directly from their own sites and social channels. Mix some intelligent attribution tracking and crediting logic into this, and high value, top-of-funnel consumer engagement types of partnerships will become even more possible.

Publishers and Advertisers will get savvy about tracking specific KPIs tied to incremental revenue, new customer acquisition and retention of shoppers.

Over the years, we have come to learn more about growth strategies and measurement capabilities involving incremental revenue, new customer acquisitions, and program profitability measured by ROAS and ROI.

Many companies have had a hard time finding efficient and profitable ways to reach, engage, and convert new buyers online. It’s generally true that it’s cheaper and easier to retain an existing customer than it is to find, engage, convince and convert a new one, especially if they are brand loyal to someone else, or not brand loyal to anyone at all. Performance marketing can now impact both, and the insights are becoming more available to better understand how they work.

“Everyone wants new customers. Everyone is hyper-competitive.”

Since advertisers have generally been focused on revenue, they haven’t yet adjusted to be laser-focused on incrementality. Publishers and advertisers can now advance in optimizing different KPIs outside of just revenue. Everyone wants new customers. Everyone is hyper-competitive. You have to track data specific to affiliate marketing tied to KPIs to be able to optimize it. In 2018, both publishers and advertisers will get smarter about all of these capabilities and insights in order to understand where incremental revenue is coming from, and optimize different types of buyers and media partners, customer personas, frequency of purchase, lifetime value, and more.

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