The end of the year always brings about much discussion about trends, particularly in Web business. Which search terms rose the fastest during the previous year? What will be the hottest products in the coming year? Which categories are currently climbing and which ones will falter or fall off completely?
Understanding trends is an immensely important facet to affiliate marketing success, and the more information one is able to gather about a trending topic, the higher the rewards will be. Below are three simple steps to help affiliates gain a better understanding of trends, and how to turn that additional knowledge into additional revenues.
Explore the trends in your niche
With a cursory understanding of a particular niche, you may already have some upcoming or annual trends on your radar. An affiliate marketer with a website somehow connected to gourmet chocolate, for instance, is sure to be looking ahead to Valentine’s Day by now. An affiliate that produces sports-related content will be tracking college football results while anticipating the NFL playoffs, the Super Bowl and the NCAA basketball tournament for future promotional opportunities. For this example, the trending topic that I can relate to my niche and that I want to explore more deeply is Easter. A good first step would be to use a tool such as Google Trends to drill down a little deeper than normal.
From the information provided I am able to construct a precise timeframe for my Easter-related promotions, based on the length of time the search trends have lasted over the past seven years on Google. The momentum and decline is virtually identical for every year, leaving little to no room for adjustments. I also gain a snapshot of which of the world’s regions are most actively searching about Easter, but for deeper geographical data I move on to Step 2.
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Search for clues
The next step is to use another free tool such as Yahoo! Clues. This gives me more comprehensive demographic and geographic data that I can use to get the most out of my Easter affiliate promotions. For example, I learn the age groups, genders, approximate incomes and geographic regions down to the state of the people in the U.S. most likely to be looking for information on Easter. This information tells me that a middle-aged woman living in the northeastern United States and making less than $50,000 is a significantly better sales prospect for my Easter promotion than perhaps a slightly older male with a higher income and living in the Northwest.
Get social with it
The sets of data gathered from these two simple resources gives me a wealth of useful information that is most likely more valuable than most conclusions I could draw on my own. However, the real value will come from how I use the information. Knowing now what I do about the sequential, demographic and geographic makeup of a trend about Easter on the two most often used search engines in the world, I go immediately to the two most often used social networking sites in the world. Using Facebook and Twitter, I get word of my Easter promotions circulating on the social Web, being sure to target the groups I have identified as the most interested in this particular topic.
All that's left to do after that is to watch the profits roll in and direct my attention toward the next trend that I believe to be worthy of this simple three-step process. There are many useful tools available that will provide the same information as the ones mentioned above, but the point is that a little deeper exploration into a trend on the front end and some social networking on the back will almost always deliver better results.