The year 2012 is coming to close and the New Year is about to launch.

With it comes a sweeping array of changes to affiliate marketing in which you must embrace in order to adapt and evolve your business.

You will need to consider investing into your business. Now is not the time to take all of your earnings and throw it in the bank – siphon that money back into your business assets so you can turn 2013 into the most amazing year yet.

In this post, you’ll learn of six big changes and predictions for the up-coming year in the world of affiliate marketing – be prepared …

1. The Embrace of Social Commerce

The Web wouldn’t be the same without the social element that we’ve all fallen in love with. Social networks give us connections to long-lost connections, access into the lives of our closest friends, and awkward moments when our family comments on our posts.

The big element in affiliate marketing, which showed a significant gain in 2012, will be social commerce – the usage of social media and integrating social elements into the shopping experience.

Businesses will begin to keep a keen eye and ear to the ground for recommendations for their next product release based on community response rather than dumping money into research firms. Likewise, consumers will use the social element to share feedback, recommend products, and tag products/services/brands when discussing items. Sure, all of these elements have been around for some time in one form or another but now we’re seeing that the social element is becoming a greater deal in the buying habits of individuals.

In affiliate marketing, products you’re recommending will need social proof. You can’t solely rely on a flashy sales page or testimonials. Facebook comments, retweet count, reviews, and LinkedIn endorsements of the creator will become standard as a form of measuring value in a product or service.

2. Phone/Tablet Traffic gets a Slice

Businesses have put off the adoption of social media for far too long and there are still pockets of resistance aimed at websites. Yes, even websites. In this day and age, what business owner doesn’t understand the substantial impact of a website? It’s mind boggling.

On this notion, we’ll see mobile roll out to be one of the big changes coming to affiliate marketing because we can already see a dramatic rise in mobile traffic to our websites. Mobile versions of a website need to be implemented as well as easier forms and user experience for navigation and checkout should become normal procedure.

As we see the growth of smartphones and tablets in the West, we’ll see that mobile will quickly be a defining element of online sales; begin integrating mobile-friendly features now otherwise your business will be left in the dust.

3. Facebook Advertising & Promoted Posts Go Big

Facebook has implemented quite a few changes during 2012 in the realm of privacy and design but the big thing for affiliate marketers has been ‘edgerank’ and promoted posts.

We now know that only a fraction of our audience receives our message through our fan pages as compared to before. Whether it’s a money-grab or some bigger plan by Facebook, it’s still a shot to the gut since we worked so hard to build an audience on the network.

But, rather than complain, you need to adapt and embrace these changes. During big promotions and affiliate offers, run a few promoted posts for your reviews, launches, discounts, and giveaways. You’ll be surprised how far you can reach on just $5 of promotion through Facebook.

Likewise, advertising is beginning to evolve; things are a little more expensive but advertising is being integrated into a lot of the feeds and they’re featured more often than before. From a user experience, ads are an annoyance but you’re a marketer so you need to get in front of your potential customers however which way you can so set aside a part of your budget to utilize Facebook in your work.

4. App Development is in Demand

Why do people flock to an app versus just visiting a website that’s mobile-friendly? It’s an interesting question to say the least but much of it can be answered by the fact that an app is generally streamlined in terms of navigation and information. There’s less clutter.

App development is getting easy. There are plenty of tools available around the web that can help you get started in app development or you could go the freelance route and pay up for the work. Whatever you choose, apps are going to be very important in 2013.

Relying on a mobile version of your site, only, requires the user to type in your domain … but people are lazy and would rather just click on an icon to bring up the site (shockingly enough). Take a gander through some of the top selling business apps to get a few ideas for yours and work on streamlining your site to the bare essentials. You may not get the same type of real estate through your app but you’ll certainly engage them if they’re seeking new content – keep them in the fold, don’t force them to take an extra step, and invest a bit of money into an app.

5. SMS Marketing may finally make a Break

SMS marketing has been trying to make a break for the last few years but there has been much resistance because people do not like the idea of advertising through their phones (despite being okay with advertising in apps and while they’re browsing).

We all learned how email got a bum rap because of spammers in the past and early mobile efforts started to take this route. Good thing for us, legal guidelines came down and SMS marketing is evolving naturally, as a viable method of promotion.

Permission is the keyword with SMS marketing. Like an email list, give your visitors and customer base the option of signing up to your SMS marketing campaigns through opt-ins. Remind them that they’ll receive an occasional message and offer from your feed or alerts during big events. Give it a whirl because this form of marketing will start to become regular in 2013.

Side-note: This is the one prediction which is 50/50 because many of the same benefits of using SMS marketing can be done through apps; apps are more widely adopted with users but that doesn’t mean you should give up entirely since it gives you a secondary option and vehicle for marketing.

6. Everyone should have Mobile Websites

Get it together. Mobile is here to stay and there’s no reason not to embrace new technologies in mobile browsing especially since the smartphone and tablet market has exploded within the year 2012.

Far too long small businesses have held off creating a website because of misconceptions that it’s expensive and time consuming and so the adoption of mobile websites have seen this same resistance.

The fact is: websites and their mobile counterparts can be setup for less than $100 using website templates especially in WordPress. There are also many free and premium tools for creating a mobile-friendly website by doing a quick Google search.

We will definitely see a rise in mobile visitation on our websites in 2013 as phone and tablet sales continue to grow; if you’re not integrating it than you’re missing a lot of opportunities for your business in 2013.

Embrace the Changes and Succeed in Affiliate Marketing

This next year is going to be an amazing time for affiliate marketing.

Sweeping algorithm changes to search engines have dropped many lackluster websites, abusing SEO, from the results which mean the cream of the crop may now rise to the top. Embracing the projections in changes to the affiliate marketing landscape will allow your business to excel and create massive authority within your industry. The road is open for opportunity and adapting, rather than resisting, to the changes of the Web will have you positioned to gain incredible earnings.

What are your plans, goals, and strategies for the year 2013? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comment area, below.