Window on the World: Performance Marketing
The inexorable rise of mobile has dominated digital discussion over the past 12 months. Working in the performance space with many of the largest UK retailers has enabled Affiliate Window to build its own snapshot of the mobile landscape.
In November 2011, Affiliate Window launched its own white paper, mCommerce: The Complete Picture, discussing various mobile trends, mCommerce opportunities within performance marketing, new mobile platforms, and tracking requirements for mCommerce. The company has been closely monitoring mobile trends over the past 18 month and in this time the network has seen exponential growth in terms of both traffic and sales coming through mobile devices. Total network traffic has risen from 2 per cent to 9 per cent in this time and sales from 1.5 per cent to 6 per cent. This trend has mainly been driven by Apple devices – with the iPhone and iPad accounting for 75 per cent of all mobile traffic and 85 per cent of mobile sales.
The percentage of sales generated through mobile devices was just over 1.5 per cent back in December 2010. With smartphone penetration as well as Tablet adoption increasing, coupled with advertisers developing mobile friendly sites, this has risen to over 6 per cent.
In this time, the number of transactions recorded through mobile devices has increased from 28,000 to 110,000. During the Christmas peak, 140,000 transactions were made through mobile devices.
The main drivers of these sales have been the Apple devices, with the iPad now accounting for over 50 per cent of all mobile sales, as Tablet adoption has increased. The iPad first overtook the iPhone in terms of sales in August 2011, and has been the main driver ever since.
Despite the adoption of Android devices growing at the fastest rate, they only account for just over 10 per cent of all mobile transactions. This is indicative of Android users being less prone to purchase through their mobile than iPhone users.
BlackBerry and 'other' handsets both accounted for just under 5 per cent of sales back in December 2010. Since then the share of sales through Blackberry has been above and beyond that of 'other' devices, yet both have dropped below the 5 per cent mark. Although the split of sales through these devices has decreased, the actual volume of sales through each device has increased over time. The rise of the Apple devices and the sheer volume seen through them has led to a drop off in the share of sales through each of the other handset devices.
Mobile traffic through the network has increased from 2 per cent - 9 per cent since December 2010. With Tablet devices stripped out, 5.7 per cent of all mobile traffic is coming through mobile handsets. With the volume of mobile traffic increasing month on month, there is an opportunity for advertisers to capitalise on the increased number of visitors through mobile.
A slight dropoff in sales through mobile devices despite an increase in traffic indicates a drop in conversion rates. This could be down to advertisers not having an optimised mobile site in place, or having an optimised site but failing to put affiliate tracking in place. An optimised mobile site enhances the customer journey when arriving through a mobile site. We have seen conversion rates and average order values increase significantly when landing on a mobile optimised version of a site rather than a standard eCommerce site.
Mobile conversion rates
Conversion rates through mobile handsets are below what we have been seeing through desktop and iPad. With a significant volume of traffic coming through mobile devices, there is evidence to suggest mobile is used within the research phase of the path to purchase. As more advertisers develop sites optimised for mobile, consumers will find it simpler to transact on their handsets allowing for an improvement in conversion rates. This is something we have already seen for a number of our retailers that have a mobile optimised version of their site in place as mentioned above.
The importance of affiliate tracking
There is a fundamental disconnect between what some of the largest brands in the country are doing in the running of their affiliate campaign and the preparedness for the implications of mCommerce on affiliates.
Without including network tracking on the mobile version of a site, affiliates will not earn commission for the sales they have generated through these devices. When considering that mCommerce sites load by default when accessed on a mobile handset it becomes clear how problematic this is. Advertisers who have embraced mobile and have developed mobile-optimised sites may miss out on a plethora of opportunities that present themselves through the affiliate channel if they neglect the importance of adding affiliate tracking.
Mobile traffic has been increasing month on month, and our figures show no signs of this growth slowing. It is important that advertisers are fully prepared for this shift in consumer behaviour and change in purchasing habits.
Developing a mobile-optimised version of a site will certainly help improve the user journey and provide the ability to convert a higher percentage of this mobile traffic. To make the most of the affiliate channel and the increased reach that it opens up for advertisers, it is vital that affiliate tracking is put in place.
Matt Swan is a client strategist at global affiliate networks Affiliate Window and buy.at. He works with advertisers on both platforms, offering strategic advice to optimise campaigns. Matt is a regular guest blogger on E-Consultancy and the A4U among other titles.