FeedFront Magazine, Issue 8
Issue 8 of FeedFront Magazine, the official magazine of Affiliate Summit. This issue of FeedFront Magazine includes a recap of Affiliate Summit East 2009, as well as articles on auditing affiliate programs, productivity, pro digital video camera formats, PPC, email, advertising tax, and the death of an affiliate network. Plus, interviews with Loren Feldman of 1938 Media and Joel Bauer from the "Your Business Card is CRAP" video.
The Official Magazine of Affiliate Summit Issue 8 | October 2009 IT'S AFFILIATe SUMMIT Affiliate Summit east 2009 Recap Page 27 Five Minutes with Loren Feldman By Missy Ward Page 7 $150k a Day on PPC: Lessons Learned By Scott Richter Page 14 Death of an Affiliate Network By JB McKee Page 25 www.affiliatesummit.com Live from New York , � TM Table of Contents 03 Affiliates: Stop Waiting for Overnight Success Matt McWilliams Cover Photos By Brad Crooks: Wil Reynolds 12 13 14 15 16 18 21 22 Pro Digital Video Camera Formats explained Peter Fitzpatrick 23 Taking the Leap Across the Pond Jodi Rieger 04 05 Importance of Auditing Your Affiliate Program Stephen Robinson Serious Content: The Key to Serious Traffic Dylan McDanniel 24 25 26 27 Making the Most of Your Show experience Dina Riccobono Productivity Upgrade: The Dash Aaron Dragushan $150k a Day on PPC: Lessons Learned Scott Richter Death of an Affiliate Network JB McKee 06 Affiliate Marketers Give Back Takes on the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Missy Ward The Power of Guest Posting Eric Schechter Lessons from North Carolina's Affiliate Tax Fight Matt Enders Affiliate Marketing in the Regulators' Cross-Hairs Thomas A. Cohn Affiliate Summit east 2009 Recap Shawn Collins 07 Five Minutes with Loren Feldman Missy Ward The Infotainer.com Shawn Collins 10 The Coming of Age for Affiliate Marketing Michael Sprouse Choosing the Right email Service Provider Andrew Paul 11 Getting Noticed Fast Follow Up Mike Buechele Staying Productive on the Road Michael Vorel FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE | OCTOBeR 2009 | 1 Issue 8 | OCTOBER 2009 FeedFront editors' Note � 8th Issue TM Another October of Affiliate Marketing STAFF Co-editors in Chief Missy Ward, Shawn Collins Co-Publishers Missy Ward, Shawn Collins Contributing Writers Mike Buechele, Thomas A. Cohn, Shawn Collins, Aaron Dragushan, Matt Enders, Peter Fitzpatrick, Dylan McDanniel, JB McKee, Matt McWilliams, Andrew Paul, Dina Riccobono, Scott Richter, Jodi Rieger, Stephen Robinson, Eric Schechter, Michael Sprouse, Michael Vorel, Missy Ward Missy Ward & Shawn Collins, FeedFront Co-Editors in Chief Graphic Design Lynn Lee Design Magazine Coordinator Amy Rodriguez Affiliate Summit 1253 Springfield Avenue, Suite 327 New Providence, NJ 07974-1935 tel (417) 2SUMMIT (278-6648) fax (908) 364-4627 Articles in FeedFront Magazine are the opinions of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of the magazine, or its owners. FeedFront Magazine always welcomes opinions of an opposite nature.. For more information, visit: www.FeedFront.com Interested in advertising? Please visit http:// feedfront.com/advertising/ or email us at: email@example.com "October, and the trees are stripped bare, of all they wear, what do I care. October, and Kingdoms rise, and Kingdoms fall, but you go on... and on..." (October, U2) It was a year ago this time that people in the performance marketing space, and pretty much every other sector, were freaking out about the economic future. Recession. Depression. Obsession. Would we no longer to be able to call ourselves affiliate marketers when the dust settled? Some people fell off, but just the same, there were others that entered the industry. But we didn't persevere by being an industry in stasis. We have focused on solving problems and building social capital - two concepts that were reinforced by the keynote speakers at Affiliate Summit East 2009. Peter Shankman, founder and CEO of The Geek Factory, confided in his keynote address that he's been diagnosed with something worse than ADHD when it comes to attention. He suffers from "ADOS... Attention Deficit ooh, shiny." But seriously, folks. One of the hallmarks of a successful affiliate marketer is their ability to pay attention, and to capitalize on problems with solutions. In one of the early cases for Peter Shankman, he took notice of the mass popularity of the movie "Titanic" in the late 90's and created a t-shirt that played off the film ("It Sank. Get Over It.") Long story short, he cleared $100,000 with this limited shelf-life idea and started his agency with these shirts. He was paying attention and that attention paid for his future. Then there was Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, co-authors of the New York Times bestseller, "Trust Agents". The duo tag-team keynoted and imparted how trust is the most valuable online currency. They shared how social networks and personal connections can be leveraged to build your brand's influence, reputation, and profits. It's not as easy as it sounds to be in the right place at the right time, and to gain the trust of an audience. As U2 once sang, "Kingdoms rise, and Kingdoms fall". While the others get caught up in reports on how the sky is falling, you go on... and on. Because you're an affiliate marketer, and you're not going out like that. Missy Ward & Shawn Collins FeedFront Co-Editors-in-Chief Affiliates: Stop Waiting for Overnight Success By Matt McWilliams "When it comes to getting things done, we need fewer architects and more bricklayers." -Colleen Barrett Are you an architect or a bricklayer? Recently I received an interesting email from an affiliate. I tried my best to reply in detail and help the affiliate, but in the back of my mind I wondered if it would really help. What this affiliate wanted to know was how to go from being a newbie to being a $100,000/month affiliate. Of course, we all want to know that, right? What this affiliate failed to understand, and it is the harsh reality of... well, any business, is that most people don't jump directly from a newbie to a $100,000/month affiliate. They make $1,000/month, $5,000/month, $20,000/month, and so on. This affiliate had a list of approximately 20 questions. He had all the best intentions in the world. He reads all the blogs, gets all the newsletters, and probably reads all of the forums, but what I often fear with affiliates like this is that he will fail to act! As the great German writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe says, "Knowing is not enough; we must apply!" I see many affiliates who suffer from the proverbial "paralysis by analysis" and it is unfortunate because these Matt McWilliams Leave a spot on your to-do list open for new ideas, too. If you read of a new idea and want to try it, try it! Don't let it sit too long. The marketing world, and particularly the affiliate world, is full of ideas: weird ideas, revolutionary ideas, and plenty of "why did I not think of that?" ideas. Many of them succeed. Still many others fail miserably. The only way to truly know what works and what doesn't is to take action and risk failure. Let me be clear, there is a time for planning and brainstorming and certainly researching. There is a time to be an architect. But Mrs. Barrett is right when it comes to affiliate marketing, we need more bricklayers. What are you waiting for? Be a bricklayer--take action now! affiliates really do have a thirst for knowledge and a desire to achieve. But too often they live by fear. Fear of failure, fear of losing money, and often a fear of missing out on the latest trend or tip that will make them an instant millionaire. All the while, they are missing out on doing. They are failing to act-- actually working on their site and ads, building content, and testing. When I am asked for advice on marketing our program, I usually limit my suggestions to 3-5 major ones based on the affiliate's areas of expertise and I always end with this simple piece of advice: Be sure your to-do list is no more than five items long. Don't allow your to-do list to become a mountain of tasks that are impossible to attempt, much less accomplish. It's the number one reason I see so many wellintentioned and hard-working affiliates fail. Matt McWilliams is the Affiliate Manager for Legacy Learning Systems' Learn and Master Courses at www.learnandmaster.com/affiliates. FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE | OCTOBeR 2009 | 3 Importance of Auditing Your Affiliate Program Stephen Robinson By Stephen Robinson is promoting your program using search and what additional tools do they need? Often times, upon completion of this exercise, you'll have a clear and concise strategy for taking the necessary steps to grow your program. Many of these questions will also create solid content for an activation campaign. I've found that these are typically the first questions affiliates ask when I'm pitching a program to them. Having this data available can prove to be invaluable in activation efforts. Beyond the benefit to affiliates, knowing this information can also be helpful when requesting additional resources from the merchant. This level of analysis indicates your investment in the overall success of the affiliate program. A performance audit is another way of evaluating the overall success of your program. The first question to ask is "who is in my program that should be performing, but isn't?" You can quickly find out by comparing data year over year (or month over month) to determine if any affiliates that used to be top performers are not performing nearly as well or are no longer promoting your program at all. This list of declining performers will become your activation targets. Review each of these affiliate's sites to determine if they are promoting your merchant in all relevant categories to maximize exposure to their site visitors. If not, reach out to them and provide them with any updated creative, copy or other offers to increase your placement. The key to successfully executing these strategies is to create relationships with your affiliates and make them feel like they are part of the solution. While maintaining relationships with your top performers is important, don't overlook the "long-tail" affiliates that can also make a difference in growing your affiliate program. In these tough economic times, one of the challenges affiliate managers constantly face is ensuring the growth and health of the affiliate programs they manage. Perhaps the most important thing is making sure their programs are financially prosperous. One of the best ways to do this is by auditing your affiliate program. There are two very effective strategies that an affiliate manager can utilize to determine if their affiliate programs are growing and competitive in their respective space. These key strategies are competitive analysis and performance audit. A competitive analysis is a great way to identify any strengths or weaknesses within your affiliate program. This analysis will also dictate what steps to take to grow your program. After completing this analysis, you should be able to answer the following questions: � What is the current EPC (earnings per 100 clicks) for your program? � What is your conversion rate and is it on par with your top competitors? � What is the average order size? � What creative is available to your affiliates? Is it outdated? Should it be refreshed? � PPC (pay per click) policy � Is search allowed in the program? If so, who Stephen Robinson is the Director of Affiliate Relations for the affiliate management agency JEBCommerce.com, MyAffiliateCoach.net and NewsForAffiliates.com. 4 | OCTOBeR 2009 | FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE PRODUCTIVITY UPGRADe: THe DASH By Aaron Dragushan Procrastination isn't rational. Even when we know we're procrastinating, and we want to be working, getting back on track can be difficult. Instead we check our email, or our traffic numbers, or see what's happening on Twitter today. Luckily there are a few tricks and tips that can jump-start you. This one is called, "The Dash". example: "I'm going to clean this room for 1 minute" or "I'm going to open the project and write one sentence." How it works: The longer you avoid doing something the bigger it gets inside your mind. Any progress that gets you started wipes away that feeling and gives you a fresh start, and from there it's easier to keep moving once you've got a little momentum. The Secret: Getting started is the real challenge, not getting the project done. The Problem: No matter what you do for a living, success involves getting things done. Unfortunately reality often involves a lot of trying to get yourself to get things done. The Trick: A "dash" is a quick burst of effort on whatever you're avoiding. The idea is to start small; ridiculously small if necessary. Aaron Dragushan is the founder of UpgradeMe.org, a site dedicated to helping entrepreneurs move faster. FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE | OCTOBeR 2009 | 5 By Missy Ward Affiliate Marketers Give Back Takes on the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer For the third year in a row, Team Affiliate Marketers Give Back took to the streets with their feet to do their part to fight breast cancer; this time during the 39 mile Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Los Angeles. This year's team consisted of Brook Schaaf of Schaaf Consulting, Chris Pearson of DIYThemes, Melissa Salas of Buy.com, Kevin Strawbridge of DealTaker.com, Lynette LaPlante a 1-year survivor and Team Captain, Missy Ward of Affiliate Summit and Founder of AffiliateMarketersGiveBack.com. After months of fun and sometimes whacky fund raising activities, Team Affiliate Marketers Give Back blew past their goal and raised nearly $53,000, earning as them the #5 highest fundraising team spot overall. Day 1 started at 5:30am for team as they geared up and headed on the bus for the Opening Ceremony. After some stretching and motivational words, we set forth on our 26.2 mile walk for the day which would take us through panoramic waterfronts, charming neighborhoods, Pacific Coast Highway and the tree-lined parks of Long Beach and Seal Beach. We loaded up on healthy snacks and hydrated roughly every two miles at the welcoming rest stops. We were doing great until the blisters started setting in and spent lunch wrapping all injured toes with mole skin. Miles 20-26 were the roughest. All of the hours of walking were finally taking their toll. But watching some of the women at the cheering stations that were currently undergoing treatment We blew past a number of rest-stops out of fear that if we sat for even just one minute, we'd never get going again. With the Queen Mary in sight, our finish line, we drummed up the final burst of energy to make it to the end. Amazingly, even with stopping for a relaxing lunch and a couple of pit-stops, we finished up today's half-marathon in less than five hours. We were all excited to learn that the walk that we participated in this weekend raised a total of 4.6 million dollars to support five areas of the breast cancer cause, including: awareness and education; screening and diagnosis, access to treatment; support services and scientific research. Missy Ward for breast cancer along with survivors encouraging us on gave us the motivation to keep on trucking. The first day ended at Wellness Village, located in El Dorado Park, where many of the 1,800 walkers had dinner and snuggled up in their tents. Our team however, went directly out for a victory dinner at the Grill Restaurant in the Westin Hotel, sans showers. (That could have been the reason why they kept us away from the other diners.) After sitting down for an hour or so for dinner, it was very difficult to get back up. We clearly provided entertainment value to the employees as they laughed at our stiff waddling leaving the restaurant. All of us were out cold before 9pm as we knew that 13 more miles were ahead of us in the morning. Day 2 started out rough for us. All of our muscles were hurting and blisters were oozing, but we knew that the day was only half as long as the Day 1 and we were determined to finish. Missy Ward was recognized as a top fundraiser during the opening ceremony. I am proud of my team and I thank them so much for volunteering their time. I'm also very grateful to all of our sponsors and supporters who helped us reach our fundraising goal. To view our exciting journey or find out more about participating in the 2010 walk, please visit www.AffiliateMarketersGiveBack.com Missy Ward is the Co-Founder of Affiliate Summit, Co-Editor-in-Chief of FeedFront Magazine and Founder of AffiliateMarketersGiveBack.com XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Chris Pearson, Brook Schaaf, Missy Ward, Lynette LaPlante, Kevin Strawbridge , Melissa Salas, 6 | Kevin Strawbridge | FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE OCTOBeR 2009 Missy Ward, Chris Pearson Brook Schaaf, Kevin Strawbridge, Chris Pearson Photo By Shawn Collins: Missy Ward and Loren Feldman By Missy Ward Five Minutes with Loren Feldman is the Founder and President of 1938 Loren Feldman Media, which helps companies develop a sound internet strategy and communicate their messages through videos. His entertaining and sometimes biting videos razzing on the tech industry, (often featuring a puppet or two) have become cult favorites. FeedFront's Co-Editor-in-Chief, Missy Ward, recently talked with Loren about creating compelling videos, what prompted him to create puppet videos about the tech industry, and the "shock-jock" persona he portrays on the internet. Missy: Tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you created 1938Media and how you landed into this crazy industry. What is the story of the 1938Media name and what is the goal of the company? Loren: I was a struggling actor and comedian in Los Angeles. I came back to NY and started `38. We originally built Web sites, but switched to video production about Loren Feldman a year or so in. The name comes from when I started the company. I was 38 and my Creative Director was 19. The goal of the company is to help companies communicate their message via video and sound Web strategy Missy: A lot of people know you for your sometimes acerbic videos mocking the tech industry. Tell us how you came up with the idea to do these. FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE | OCTOBeR 2009 | 7 Loren: People truly being honest with each other. True transparency comes at a price that many don't want to pay. Missy: Any advice for people that want to get started using video in their marketing efforts? Loren: Just try and be as natural as possible, and don't underestimate sound. The most important thing is to just be yourself. Missy: Complete this sentence: Social Media was _________ two years ago, but now it is all ________. Loren: I come from a comic background so it just seemed natural to me. Plus let's be honest, there is quite a bit to mock. The whole thing happened very organically. Missy: How about the Audience Conference. Tell me a little more about why you are starting that conference series and what it's all about. Loren: It's a mixture of my friends from various industries. Tech, bloggers, the arts, affiliate marketers. We all have something in common and that is to be able to reach and engage an audience. So, I figured lets all get together have some fun and see if we can learn what we all have in common and how we can take things from each discipline. Missy: What has been the highlight and lowlight of your career thus far? Loren: Highlights would include the friends I've made; lowlights would be people judging me based on a character I play in videos. Missy: What are some of your personal goals? Loren: I'd like to get off the Web one day, but I don't see that happening soon. So, I guess I'll just keep making the best videos I can to help clients or entertain viewers. Missy: What do you believe is the largest hurdle that social media faces? Missy Ward is the Co-Editor-In-Chief of FeedFront Magazine and Co-Founder of Affiliate Summit and GeekCast.fm. She also blogs on MissyWard.com. Loren: "Misguided Angel" by Cowboy Junkies. It's about a nice guy who's misunderstood. I can relate to that. Missy: If your life can be summed up in a song, what would it be? Loren: I like techmeme.com. It's quick, current, and gives me the info I need. Loren: Social Media was innocent two years ago, but now it is all business. Missy: What is your favorite Web site today and why? Photo By Shawn Collins: Loren Feldman and Mike Wayne 8 | OCTOBeR 2009 | FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE | OCTOBeR 2009 | 9 The Coming of Age for Affiliate Marketing By Michael Sprouse If you are an advertiser or publisher, ad network or exchange, "super affiliate" or small blogger, you can't deny that affiliate marketing has changed dramatically since its earliest days. The industry is certainly not "new" anymore, but compared to other traditional advertising platforms, is probably in its adolescence. This is why I think the industry is at a crucial inflection point now more than any other time in its history. Why now, you ask? As 2009 progressed, the overall visibility of the industry increased. We see this on a daily basis from large advertisers who had not previously even considered the affiliate channel to be a major part of their strategy now considering it - and even staffing and budgeting for it. This makes sense when considering the overall recession and economy, and the negative impact it has on ad budgets, but also is a major reason why performance-based, affiliate marketing has been somewhat recession-resistant (since nothing is truly "recession-proof"). Before you know it, the calendar will turn to 2010. What, now, to expect from our adolescent phase next year and beyond? How does our collective industry enter "responsible adulthood" stage? Ready to blossom further as a major platform Michael Sprouse before worldwide, and more money being spent on performance-based marketing than ever before. These facts have all been publicly documented and validate what we do. The demand isn't waning and what energizes so many of us that work in online performance marketing is that we see light bulbs going off for some, or companies coming out with a great new tool or application, or a single affiliate registering success that they hadn't yet seen. It's really how we collectively react to the demand � and adjust to new challenges that a broadened universe of advertisers brings - that will chart our future. I've often said that we work in the most innovative of industries and it's that innovation that will help sustain us in the months ahead ushering in our next phase of growth. Michael Sprouse is the Chief Marketing Officer for Epic Advertising, and is based at the company's headquarters in New York, NY. underneath the broader online marketing umbrella? We must first realize that we still collectively account for a small percentage of online advertising spending at large. Amazing, right? There are major advertisers who just started thinking about performance marketing in 2009, but who will be doing more in 2010. It's this reason that we really need to have a hard look at what we can collectively do together to ensure affiliate marketing rises even higher to keep up with potential demand. Think of some of the major trends that have occurred recently: a huge influx of ad networks (all types), more and more active affiliates than ever 10 | OCTOBeR 2009 | FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE From left to right: Lisa Picarille, Stephanie Lichtenstein, Jen Goode, Mike Buechele, Trisha Lyn Fawver Getting Noticed Fast Follow Up By Mike Buechele I've heard some great responses since my panel, Getting Noticed FAST, at Affiliate Summit East 09, and I wanted to share some of the major points. Getting Noticed Fast is about effective networking using your personal brand, social media, and face-to-face. My fellow panelists were Trisha Lyn Fawver (@trishalyn), Jen Goode (@JGoode), Stephanie Lichtenstein (@StephARC), and the panel was moderated by Lisa Picarille (@lisap). Personal Brand Be consistent with the photos and avatars you use. Avatars appear in blog comments, your Twitter profile, your Facebook page, MySpace, FriendFeed, Disqus, and other social network platforms. Update them when necessary, but remain consistent. If your goal is to look professional, then present yourself that way. Social Media Retweet (RT) Tweets you like or mention and credit Tweeters in your Tweets. Join a Twitter directory like WeFollow.com or use it to search for others in your favorite topics and follow them. Sharing your experiences and expertise will make others want to follow and engage with you. Giving before you get will get you a lot in return. For Facebook, get your name, brand, or something easy to remember in the URL of your profile. You can find me at Facebook.com/mikebuechele. If your friend lists starts getting out of hand, you can organize them into groups. Some of my groups are Old Friends, Business Contacts, and Co-workers. Use search to view topics your friends are posting and then comment and share your ideas. Stay at the "top of people's mind" by wishing your friends a happy birthday from the list on your home page (thanks to Peter Shankman for the idea). Other ideas are to start a fan page and link your blog's RSS into your profile. Face-to-Face Networking I don't think anything is better than in-person networking. It leaves the best impression on people. Have unique business cards, or give swag like thumbnail drives, stickers, and buttons. Wear a T-shirt with your blog URL or Facebook/Twitter name on it and give some out to people. There's a good chance they will blog about you. Make an impression. Nothing beats a handshake. Bonus Tips Always say yes to an interview or guest blog post. Stay on top of your niche and blog or share links over Twitter and Facebook. Follow people already known within your niche and comment on their blogs. There are other social communities like LinkedIn, Blip.fm, Ning, and many more, so find the ones right for you. Create content in different media. You can use text, audio, and video. Some helpful resources are TubeMogul, Seesmic, and 12seconds for video; and TweetDeck, Seesmic Desktop, and HootSuite for Twitter. Mike Buechele is an affiliate marketer, and he can be found at MikeBuechele.com and on Twitter at @mikebuechele. FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE | OCTOBeR 2009 | 11 PRO DIGITAL VIDEO CAMERA FORMATS EXPLAINED By Peter Fitzpatrick cameras. The video has great quality, but is compressed more and has a lesser quality picture than higher end HD formats. HD: High Definition is the highest quality digital video format available. There are three leading HD camera formats that include DVCPro100, XDCAM HD and AVCHD that are all spectacular. HD cameras can shoot at 1920 x 1080 pixels (full HD) which may be overkill for some online video purposes that require much smaller video sizes. Before selecting a video production company, make sure they can shoot with the camera format you need and remember no video will look professional without proper lighting and sound. Peter Fitzpatrick Thinking about having some online videos professionally produced? It can be confusing trying to figure out which format will work best for your needs. Here's some helpful information on the most popular professional digital video camera formats: DV (Digital Video): A good, but lower quality, standard definition format used with both prosumer and professional cameras. You get a lot of bang for your buck, but don't think you'll get the same image quality using your handheld camcorder as you will with a full or medium sized camera that has a pro lens. These cameras shoot to MiniDV (or DVC) tapes and are very popular in the Internet video world. Digi-Beta (Digital Betacam): This format is the big brother of long-time industry standard, Beta SP which is still used by many television news stations that haven't moved up yet fully to HD. Great picture quality and color � a noticeable difference from DV. DVCPro & DVCPro50: DVCPro is a medium quality format that is used with professional Panasonic cameras. This format is popular and used by lots of TV news stations and production companies. These cameras can shoot to DVCPro videotape or hard disks. Panasonic also offers DVCPro50 which is a very high quality standard definition format that creates a gorgeous picture. DVCam: A small step up from DV � similar to DVCPro but used with Sony camera products. HDV: This is a high definition format that records on DV cassette tapes and hard disks. Many prosumer Sony cameras use HDV and they can be a solid value compared to more expensive HD Peter Fitzpatrick is the Founder/Executive Producer of RippleKey LLC � Creative Media & Productions (www.ripplekey.com). WHERE EARN MORE! Top Payouts Guaranteed Expedited Payment Terms Over 150 Campaigns 25 True Exclusive's Campaigns Added Daily Decades of CPA Experience Proprietary Leadgen Platform Performance Incentives 24/7 Customer Support Focus on Brand Name Offers Visit us at Booth # 2118 Novermber 4-6, 2009 New York Ad:tech Javits Convention Center Sign up Now www.bluephoenixnetwork.com 12 | OCTOBeR 2009 | FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE Search Marketing Bloggers Email Marketing Websites By Dylan McDanniel Serious Content: In this fast-paced world, people have little patience for options that don't generate results. Yet too often, publishers of affiliate sites mistakenly assume that if they flood their domain with the right keywords, but pay lip service to content quality, site visitors and, by extension, their advertisers, will be happy nonetheless. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Online advertisers, more than anything else, seek quality referrals. Think about it: do merchants want "window shoppers", or people who are serious about buying? It only makes sense that to attract serious prospects, you need to provide serious information. Hence your need for serious, high-quality content. Not only will higher search rankings result, but you'll also attract visitors who are closely targeted to your advertiser's key audience--and primed to purchase. So what defines serious content, and how do you generate it? First let's look at the traits all strong publishing content has in common: � It satisfies a niche. Web sites don't have to satisfy all aspects of a subject to be useful. In fact, the more completely you cover a subset of a topic, the more value you're likely to be to those interested in your subject area. � It's original. This is the golden rule. Nothing draws and holds site visitors like fresh, useful material. Newsfeeds and syndicated copy are valuable content sources, but they won't score traffic. � It's to the point. Obviously your content must contain critical keywords, but just as importantly it needs to focus on the subject matter. It's remarkable how many publishers fail this test with long home page introductions or bait and switch text. � It contains no flowery language. To hold your visitor's attention, avoid needless adjectives, polysyllabic mumbo-jumbo and self-important technical jargon (unless, of course, keywords are in play). And if you can say something in five words instead of ten, do it. � It's updated regularly. Active Web sites score higher in searches. You don't have to rework your entire site every week, but make sure you're adding content regularly. While there's no shortcut to creating a high quality, content driven site, the payoff more than offsets the investment required. If funds are tight, you can save by writing the content yourself, as long as you have expertise in the subject matter or can research it adequately. But don't be afraid to hire a professional writer; freelancers are affordable. Don't forget that original videos, sitespecific applets, graphics and animation all count as fresh content. What's more, free online services such as DM-2.com enable you to easily organize your content using attractive page templates, and even host your site at no cost. Strong, unique content is your key to success as an affiliate site. Chances are your core audience will return frequently, bookmark you, even refer you to others. Dylan McDanniel Sites with serious content are also naturals for community pages and forums that count as original material. Pay close attention to the content you furnish, and you'll create a destination that benefits--and profits--both you and your advertisers. Dylan McDanniel is COO and Co-Founder of Epicenter Network (www.epicenternetwork. com) , an integrated affiliate marketing network and provider of affiliate publishing software. FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE | OCTOBeR 2009 | 13 Lessons Learned By Scott Richter teach my boy's Granddad how to do PPC on PerfSpot.com, and soon he was doing $1k a day. You can learn to do successful PPC from scratch too! Here are some tips to get you started: � Focus on international traffic. US traffic is too expensive. If you have a friend that can speak another language, ask them to translate your ads and landing pages. � The two schools of thought are brute force and prototyping. Brute force is about massive keyword lists and automated programs that cull out the garbage. Prototyping is hand-building campaigns to find trends and clever ad copy. You can get the best of both worlds by prototyping first and then getting an engineer friend to scale for you based on rules. � Rent A Coder and oDesk are best for submitting your engineering. The services are cheap and reliable. � Run content network and weed out the bad sites. Try demo targeting. You'll be surprised how differently combos for age, gender, geography, and time of day affect conversion. � Rotate between direct linking and your landing page to see which converts better. � Work closely with your reps from the advertiser, affiliate network, and publishers. Your relationships will give you the head start on what's hot, plus give you sustainable profits. � Every ad group should have just two or three ads, not just one and not ten. This allows you to choose winners quickly. � When you start a new account, you want to build great account history, or else your ads will go under review if there are too many disapprovals. � MSN converts better than Google, but it has lower volume. � Always run the same offer via two networks: your primary (that makes the most money for you) and a backup (just to keep your primary honest with payouts and scrubbing). � Learn Google AdWords Editor and Google Analytics. They're free and most affiliates don't understand that you can tie these together to create awesome reporting. Scott Richter Many affiliates boast inflated earnings, and then spread misinformation, perhaps intentionally, to mislead everyone else. Their "secrets" no longer work and are therefore safe to release. And then there are folks who hawk their ultra expensive Pay Per Click (PPC) training courses and software. Not saying these aren't useful. Just saying it's hard to get a real education on PPC. What forums should you read, what software, whose blog, and so forth? A few years ago, I decided to give the PPC game a try. What did I know as a "high volume email deployer," guy running an affiliate network (affiliate.com), and new to PPC? Well, I started running dating and ringtones ads and within a few days was killing it. Markus Frind, CEO of PlentyofFish.com, was doing the same and was teaching his father, girlfriend, and other people who had no clue about Internet marketing about PPC. And they were making a few hundred bucks a day. I decided to Scott Richter has had huge success in affiliate marketing and shares his experience in building and optimizing successful campaigns at scott-richter.com. 14 | OCTOBeR 2009 | FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE By Eric Schechter eric Schechter The Power of Guest Posting There are approximately 100 blogs related to affiliate marketing, according to the 2009 Affiliate Summit AffStat Report. With all of these blogs, it's hard to stand out, hard to get noticed, and hard to achieve success. So how can you continue to increase your traffic, attract advertisers, and create a loyal fan base while competing in such a heavily saturated market? One of the best ways to do that is by guest posting, which provides a number of benefits. Authority Credibility is huge in this industry. As I mentioned before, there are many blogs out there (according to TechCrunch, over 100 million), so in order for you to gain a loyal audience, you have to stand out and prove that you are an expert worth listening to. The more people start seeing your name and content on other credible industry blogs, the more you will be acknowledged as a leader and expert in the industry. This will help you attract advertisers to your blog, sell your own products/services, build a reputation for yourself in the industry and in turn, open doors to many other great opportunities. Relationships Relationships are a key component to success in business. By guest posting, you are not only establishing a great relationship with that blogger/affiliate, you are also forming a connection that may lead to more connections and other valuable opportunities in the future. Furthermore, you will be engaging and creating relationships with a brand new audience, which is a great way to expand your network and build a loyal fan base. Search engine Optimization (SeO) Another benefit to guest posting is that most bloggers will allow you to include a short bio with a link back to your site in the beginning of the post. This can be an excellent opportunity to increase your site's rankings on Google for a specific search term, thus allowing you to capitalize on that traffic. Imagine how powerful it is to rank organically in the top 5 results for your key terms. So think about some terms you want your site to rank for and include them in your byline. Free Advertising There are tons of ways you can advertise your site, but the problem is, most of them cost money (some of them a lot of money). Guest posting is an effective way to advertise your blog/site for free to a very targeted audience, but can also be a lot more helpful in getting readers to click over to your site. Just make sure that you put your time in and write a powerful and informative article. Now that you understand how beneficial guest posting can be, start writing some great articles and contact the top blogs in your niche. You may be surprised at how fast you start seeing results. Eric Schechter is responsible for ClickBooth's Social Media efforts and works hand in hand with industry bloggers and the company's top publishers. FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE | OCTOBeR 2009 | 15 Affiliate Marketing in the Regulators' Cross-Hairs By Thomas A. Cohn Advertising claims by merchants have long attracted the attention of state Attorneys General (AG) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), but recently these regulators have signaled a willingness to pursue advertising cases against a new target: online affiliate marketers. Until recently, affiliates have operated anonymously and attracted little scrutiny, because they do not sell the goods/services featured in their published content. But affiliatepublished pages have always been vulnerable: if they contain misleading claims about a product, or fail to disclose connections with sellers, the affiliate may face liability for deceptively driving online sales. Recently, the FTC and AGs have stepped up scrutiny of online claims. Regulators have attacked a variety of questionable practices, from misleading product claims, to deceptive trial offers with unauthorized charges, to falsely implied celebrity/expert endorsements and fake consumer blogs. Affiliate-created blogs, review sites and other pages have proliferated, filled with claims that drive traffic to merchants. When this content contains suspect claims or fails to disclose connections with sellers, there may be liability for deceptively inducing sales. Thomas A. Cohn It is no surprise that the FTC shows increased interest in affiliates. It has long held that it is not just advertisers who are liable for deceptive advertising. Anyone who plays a promotional role, be it ad agencies or shopping channels, is liable for its role in allegedly deceptive advertising. Now the FTC may apply this expanded liability principle to affiliates. It is revising its Endorsement Guides to clarify that both advertisers and endorsers could be liable for the endorsers' false advertising claims, and for failing to disclose material connections between advertisers and endorsers. But it has not confronted this issue � until recently. In May, the FTC sued affiliates who pretended to operate "MakingHomeAffordable.gov," the official Web site of a federal program providing free mortgage assistance. The defendants purchased links on results pages when consumers searched for "making home affordable." A sponsored link displaying the official site's full URL appeared in the search engines' results. Consumers clicking on the ads were directed to sites that sell paid loan modification services. Although the FTC did not sue those Web sites, it alleged the affiliates were attempting to defraud homeowners by falsely implying through search results that visitors were being sent to the government's Web site. Also, state AGs have cited the role of affiliates in their latest actions against online promotions, and these may be followed by other AG and/or FTC actions against merchants, affiliates, and/or networks that either engage in deceptive advertising, or knowingly assist and facilitate it. In addition, affiliates' unauthorized use of celebrity and news images and marks is subjecting them (and the merchants they link) to charges of trademark infringement, false endorsement and related allegations, under state and federal law. Now that the FTC and AGs have brought cases, affiliates should consider themselves on notice: any affiliate who engages in or assists with fraud might end up in the crosshairs of law enforcement. Affiliates must be careful to publish truthful content that is not deceptive and contains the proper disclaimers and disclosures. Mr. Cohn focuses his practice on advising clients on the legal and practical aspects of compliance with state and federal consumer protection regulations and industry self-regulation programs, as well as representing clients during investigations and enforcement actions. 16 | OCTOBeR 2009 | FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE | OCTOBeR 2009 | 17 The Infotainer.com By Shawn Collins I came across a video this past spring with a guy named Joel Bauer talking about his business card. It was an oddly compelling couple of minutes on personal brands that I've re-watched dozens of times. And I'm not alone. The video, "Your Business Card is Crap", has been viewed about 750,000 times on YouTube. So I had to find out more about the man behind the business card. It turns out Joel Bauer is a best-selling author, and he has been a professional performer since he was 7 years old. Also, Joel spent a couple decades creating and producing Infotainment presentations and road-shows internationally for the likes of IBM, Nortel, Dresser Wayne, Polaroid, and ITT, as well as creating systems on personal marketing, branding, passion, Infotainment, speaking, and closing from the platform. All that is great, but what about the business card video? The Most Famous Business Card Shawn: So, the first place I came across you was your business card video. Joel: Oh that thing. [laughs] I didn't put that out there, let me tell you. I think that was someone trying to do damage. It actually didn't do damage, but stimulated a lot of activity out there, in the form of a bunch of television shows and other stuff. It's still ongoing. Shawn: Yeah. I guess the place that actually was brought to my attention was on the show "Red Eye" on Fox News. Joel: Yeah. Yeah, that was fun. It was kind of weird sitting in a room, staring into a camera while you are watching a monitor with a six second delay from New York. Shawn: Yeah. One thing I was curious about there is, I guess, you were saying that you thought someone was trying to do damage to you. And, you mentioned on Red Eye that you were sort of playing a character there. So, was that you just sort of hamming it up for that? Joel: Well, I mean, I'm on the phone with you right now. And you tell me, was I playing a character or not? I mean, obviously; the entire film, called "The Pitch, Poker & the Public", is where it was extracted from. The documentary which was made by a guy by the name of Chris Zubryd, who actually published an apology about how someone had taken this small 25 second or 35 second excerpt from the film, out of context. Because if you watch the film, it has me with my children. It has Joel light, Joel family man. And then when they asked me to go into the pitch mode, I went into what was a trade show-style pitch mode because that's what I was doing then. I was a trade show performer. And I was going into that very intense mode... what you would use on a floor. I'm sure you've been to MacWorld, or Comdex, or some major trade show, and you've noticed that the only people who are noticed there are those that are intense. Shawn: Yeah. Absolutely. Joel: And they're loud and they're kind of carnie. So that personality was very polarizing and very edgy and obviously very effective from a viral stand point because here you have a man talking about a business card, without taking his clothes off; and generating as many hits as usually the sites that do that kind of nonsense. So that was kind of interesting. It's been fascinating. I don't think there's any predictable formula behind viral other than using the word dog or cat. [laughs] Or Megan Fox or one of those things that tends to get people to click on the video. Your Business Card is Crap is not exactly a positive title. And I do know who put it up there originally. And they did try to do damage and it kind of backfired. I think you fight the fire. They want you to start a fire. They want you to respond. And I don't respond, because it doesn't matter. The people that study with me and follow me, they know that what I do has integrity. Joel on Social Media Shawn: I was looking to see your real identity on Twitter, and saw there's one, @TheJoelBauer, that has your picture and your Web sites and everything, so they are certainly trying to give the impression. But is there any reason why you don't bother to go in there yourself? Your Business Card is Crap on YouTube 18 | OCTOBeR 2009 | FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE affiliate marketing. But I do make some recommendations. And obviously with the following I have, if I wanted to make money on people I could just have JV (joint venture) links everywhere. People would click all day. And you might say, well, why don't you do that? It's because, quite frankly, I'm not looking for every dime. And the marketers who are doing that aren't transparent. We all know what's being done. When it has Shawn's last name at the end, forward slash Shawn. Well, we kind of get it. Shawn's making money. I always tell people where I'm making money, and when I'm not. So when I'm doing a training, I say, "Here's my contact for printing. Here's my contact and my resource for audio. Here's my contact." And I tell them, "By the way, I don't make money on any of these resources. You're actually paying direct what they would charge normally. There's no markup. There's no kickback. There's no motivation for me. I don't have anyone's hand in my back pocket." And they appreciate that. They're paying a considerable amount of money to train with me. See Shawn, the difference is when people train with me, they're spending 10, 15 grand to be in a room with me for seven days. That's not a lot of money, but it's a lot to them. And they're blown away. They're absolutely blown away by the training. Again, I've never had a refund, a cancellation, or anyone upset with these live trainings. Anyone. Because I over deliver; I give them too much. So my process is more of an offline process, in terms of what I'm teaching. I'm showing them how to speak on a platform, and generate massive dollars right there, right then, doing what it is they believe in, and communicating from their heart. Their area of expertise. An area they can empower others through. And that's very different than the Internet model. The Internet model complements it. I also believe that without the Internet you're leaving at least 50 percent of your money on the table, and you're leaving your forced continuity. You're leaving that element of your business that would have enabled you to do it once and never have to do it again. And have an automated, replicatable, duplicatable, transferable process that generates income beyond your years. I believe in the Internet. No question about it. Four Suggestions for Your Site Joel: I'd love to close with four simple comments that would probably take us two minutes. I would just like to label them. I constantly see Internet marketers, with Web sites, not talking about your guys. I don't know who your guys are exactly. I have an idea but there are four things they're not doing and they wonder why their Web sites aren't making money. The first is, when you arrive, there's no live video. There's no warm, ingratiating call to action video that inspires someone emotionally. That has specifically you're mission statement and benefit to them and why they would want to come to the other side. The video is generally missing and it's not auto-play. That's a mistake. It should autoplay. Second component missing on those sites is an opt-in. They're not even asking for name, email address. They don't ask, they don't get. Most sites you can go there check out the site and leave. It's a massive error. I don't believe in sites where you just check them out and leave. I believe in sites that inspire a call to action with a video and have an opt-in that requires really only the email address. A double opt-in, of course, using an AWeber, iContact, or whatever service they decide to use. Joel Bauer on Red Eye on FOX News Joel: The absolute, with clarity, revelation here, is that I am so consumed doing what I do for my students. Right now I am sitting here in front of an hour training that is going out to 74 recent students. I train professional speakers. People that want to do what I do. I am on platforms two, three, four times a month, training people in our marketing systems. And as a result of that, I do what most other speakers don't do and that is I actually take care of them. I'm so busy doing this stuff. Traveling. I've got three kids. I don't have time. Really, if you want to be effective on Twitter or Facebook, you need to do it every day. And it needs to become very personal. That's my belief. You need to participate. And I am so busy servicing those who are quite frankly spending a fortune on my attentions. I coach. I coach a very small group. And I'm out there doing it. And I don't talk the talk. I walk it. So if you hear me teaching, they know that I'm actually doing it. Because then that's how they met me or that's how they saw me. The stuff that I reveal actually works. Joel on Affiliate Marketing Shawn: I saw that you had some affiliate links to Amazon for your books. Do you do much with affiliate marketing at all, or is that pretty much the extent of it? Joel: No. Really what we're doing is I have a group building all that. And it will be done. The only affiliate marketing I will do is with people I actually believe in. Where I've actually used their system extensively for significant periods of time and had massive results. For example, there's a link on my blog right now that says, "Cancer free." And I don't make any money on it, and it's not Joel Bauer FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE | OCTOBeR 2009 | 19 The Infotainer.com If they ask for only the email address they're going to have a much higher conversion level or opt-in level than they would asking for more information at that point. We don't have trust, we don't have rapport. We have nothing. The email address is the safest thing to request, but double opt-in ensures that if they're going to put "screw you Johnny" or whatever it is, they're putting some stupid entry in there, that obviously you're never see it. It will get kicked. It will never be confirmed in the system. Opt in, video. Third component. At the end of the video, which is very short, 15 seconds, call to action. There should be social proof. A stream of 10 to 15 seconds of people raving about what it is you do. They should be monetized. "As a result of Shawn, we generated 30 grand in the first three weeks. We couldn't believe it. His writing style has enabled us to write more effective copy that has motivated people from the heart to invest in our products. We never thought it was possible." Then it goes on. "Before John, 30 pounds overweight. After John, his simple guidance and steps..." See, a monetizable testimonial is anything that shows the before and the after the transformation. The fourth component missing from Web sites is the call to action. If there is no specific call to action, none will be taken. I would venture to say that in your group, we could go through a list together. We're not going to. I'm just saying we could, and we could find 20 or 30 percent of them that aren't doing those four things. They may know about them, Shawn. What I'm indicating here is, beyond knowledge, transcending knowledge is application. Are they applying it? Most of them aren't. Dan Kennedy, one of the top marketers on the planet, one of the most brilliant men in marketing, has finally embraced video marketing, and won't argue the fact that it's more effective than copywriting. If you had an audience, and they had to make a choice between sitting and listening to a video, and reading 50 pages of copy, right now they'll choose the video. Now if you do both, video and transcription, you're going to optimize very effectively. That's really effective, new, relevant data for positioning on the engines. Absolutely the video of the call to action is what most are now using, some of the most effective marketers. I'm sure you could name names, because you've seen it done. That's a massive change that's taken place in the last two years. Video now dominates. It's huge. Copywriting is also very effective. I'm not putting it down. There are people that love to read copy, but the majority would rather be sitting and entertained initially, and then read the copy. I think both should be there, but on a different layer. I'd rather have video on the first layer, as it's relatively non invasive and it's an entertainment. Anyway, I just wanted to make that comment. Very simple four principles. Auto-responder sequencing, the silent salesman. I'm Infotainer.com amazed how many Web sites you go there, you opt in. So those are the principles I discuss in detail prior to going to a live event, even though I don't teach Internet at those events. I teach something very different, branding and differentiation, and yet I'll talk about those four Internet principles because most people have a site, and it's not generating any money. They build it, and no one came. They're not Kevin Costner. It's not a field of dreams for most people. They're still dreaming about why it's not working. I would start with those four repairs right there. I would like to ask you something right now. Would you agree that if those components are missing, they've got a problem from the get go? Shawn: Yeah. The one thing I would question is for me, as a user, I can't stand auto-play video, and I've talked to a lot of people that don't like it. So I use video a lot, but I always have the user having to take the action to play it. Joel: No, that's fine by the way. I would agree with your assessment, in terms of having interviewed audiences, but in terms of conversion level, our testing produced a very different result. If we want to strictly go according to the numbers, I would say everyone should ignore Joel Bauer, ignore Shawn, ignore everyone, and do their own test. Shawn is a Co-founder of Affiliate Summit and Co-Editor-in-Chief of FeedFront Magazine. 20 | OCTOBeR 2009 | FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE Choosing the Right email Service Provider A aul ndrew P By Andrew Paul Email marketing is NOT a science. There is no such thing as 100% deliverability or some magic "Pixie Dust" that can be sprinkled on your servers to help you deliver your email creative into the recipient's inbox. There are only "best practices", which you can follow to help you get the best possible results. So, the question is, what makes some email get delivered, some go into the spam/junk folder and other email get lost in space? The answer is pretty simple, reputation. The reputation of your IP addresses will determine, with 95% surety, if, when and how the email you are sending will be handled by an ISP. You may ask, how do I manage the reputation of my IP addresses and where do I start? My answer would be, "Find the right Email Service Provider (ESP)". Choosing an ESP with an intelligent, knowledgeable and educated staff is the first place to start. An ESP that works on a flat rate or monthly fee, versus on the amount of email you send is the way to go. Working with a company that will provide free technical support, monitor and manage your IP reputation, help clean and validate your email data, give you advice on setting up and sending out your campaigns is very important. There are many companies who will sell you a service and get you setup, but you will find that you are on your own after your check has cleared. Once you have made it through the process of choosing the right ESP, here is where most will drop the ball. Many do not realize how important it is to put a competent person in the role of the email marketing system administrator. This role is the key to the success of any email marketing system and whether you make money or not. Many times I have seen this job left to an intern or a receptionist, who hasn't had experience, training or grasps the type of performance required and thus the program fails. This is tantamount to letting a monkey with a wiffle bat rebuild the transmission in your car or manage your 401k. You can have the best email marketing system, with white listed IP's, great deliverable data and the best converting offers on the planet, but if you don't have the right person running the program, there is no chance to make money. Think of your email marketing strategy as if you were baking a cake. Each ingredient in the recipe is important to the success of the cake as a whole. If you omit one ingredient like sugar or flour, your cake will not be the success you thought it would be. Likewise if you skip one of the important steps in your email marketing strategy, you will not get the deliverability, results or ROI you expected. If you do your homework, you'll be mailing into the world's inboxes while munching on the best chocolate cake you have ever had and getting paid for it. Andrew Paul is the CEO and Managing Director of Boca Networks, an ESP and email marketing publisher. FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE | OCTOBeR 2009 | 21 > By Michael Vorel Staying Productive There was a time when travel and work were not possible simultaneously. But now, with the help of portable gadgets, staying productive while on the road is a reality. I learned how to rely on mobile technology more than ever this summer due to a family vacation, sandwiched by two business trips. With various destinations in mind, I needed a small arsenal of gadgets to be fully mobile. Packing also needed to be kept light, so multi-use items were high on my list. The item that best fits the bill is also my most trusted gadget - the Apple iPhone. I was able to answer emails, take pictures, update social media, listen to music, watch videos, hear podcasts, read Kindle books, and more. With the addition of useful apps, I transformed the iPhone into a social media powerhouse, updating Twitter and Facebook status in seconds. No one was the wiser that I happened to be on a sailboat. Just as effective in aiding in productivity is the MacBook Pro 15, which truly became my mobile office while traveling. Because I use a PC Desktop, I had to be creative in getting this all to jibe, and VMware Fusion was the key. By installing Vista on the Mac I was able to utilize remote access software from GoToMyPC and a mobile broadband card from Verizon to login to my office computer. With two operating systems I had the ability to run either software. The best of both worlds! Michael Vorel After five days, my vacation was coming to an end, and it was time for my mobile office to hit the road. I hopped on an Amtrak train heading to New York City and opted to upgrade to business class for $20. I found the upgrade essential in order to optimize the two hour travel time. I could setup my office on board, access my desktop in Tampa, and listen to Pandora Internet Radio. While mingling at the show I was armed with two essential items; the Flip Cam HD for video interviews and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 digital camera. These gadgets enabled me to catch footage of the show and photograph the highlights. I uploaded the pictures and edited the video with the help of the iMovie software on the Mac and was able to put it all on my blog right on the spot. As the show wound down and my business card collection grew, I almost forgot to reserve my JetBlue seat. With a few clicks on my trusty iPhone, I secured that instantly. Having some time before boarding my flight in JFK, I made a video call to home via Skype to check in. On the flight home, as I was kicking back enjoying my glass of Cabernet I was relieved knowing that although I had been out of the office for almost two weeks, business was running smoothly with the help of some handy gadgets. Now if only I had those noise cancelling headphones. Michael Vorel is President & Founder of Vastplanet.com an E-Commerce & Internet Marketing Consulting firm in Tampa, Florida and blogs on ProjectGadget.com 22 | OCTOBeR 2009 | FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE By Jodi Rieger Jodi Rieg er Taking the Leap Across the Pond insight you need to make good planning decisions. Opening your US business in the UK, where there is a shared language, is the obvious first choice. YesAsia.com, a leading Asian online entertainment retailer, sells Chinese, Japanese and Korean products including CDs, videos, books and games. Stefan Janssens, Internet Marketing Manager for YesAsia.com and YesStyle. com, explains that language was the key reason they launched first in the UK. "We started in the UK, for the simple reason that our site is in English. We then also started programs in France and Germany, because they are the largest markets outside the UK." The Right Partner is Key Launching an e-commerce operation into a new market can be high risk. Which markets should you expand to, when and how? Is there sufficient customer demand for your products and services? How will you handle shipping and distribution in another country? Will you need to consider language and translation issues? Are there legal or tax issues? Even if you have done all the primary research, it may be easier with a local partner who can advise you of local best practices. The right affiliate network can help by: � Providing a bi-lingual point of contact for you and your affiliate partners � Understanding local market conditions � Knowing local affiliates who can best promote your program � Understanding the local competitive landscape and advising on USPs, commission structures and affiliate benefits you'll need to stay competitive � Advising on localized website language, design and presentation Merchants in the United States that are entering new international markets should consider affiliate networks with an established presence to help them roll out their business. With careful planning, running a European affiliate program should become a springboard to greater things. Expanding your US business into Europe can be a great opportunity to open a new revenue stream and increase your brand internationally. Last year, eMarketer estimated there were 136.1 million Europeans online in the five largest European Union countries � France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK. Advertisers spent $7.5 billion to reach all Western Europeans, up 25% from $6.0 billion in the previous year. European online retail activity rose "a staggering 58%" in 2007, with a similar increase witnessed in 2008 (see the Forrester Research report `Robust European Online Shopping Growth to Continue' 2008). Which markets? German based InnoGames (www. innogames.de) is a developer and distributor of browser-based games. It runs affiliate programs for its most successful title Tribal Wars across Germany, Spain, Sweden, UK Netherlands, Portugal and Romania. Julian Bock, Product Manager, believes that the question of which markets to enter first is not simply a case of launching in the biggest markets. "Tribal Wars was a huge hit and we used customer information & the existing user base to give us an idea of which countries to go into." A key understanding of your customer and market data will give you the initial Jodi has ten years of experience in e-commerce and performance marketing and is currently an Account Manager for Webgains USA where she is working with many of Webgains' international publishers and advertisers. FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE | OCTOBeR 2009 | 23 Making the Most of Your Show experience By Dina Riccobono Dina Riccobono If you missed Affiliate Summit East 2009 ("ASE"), you missed a great business opportunity. While sessions are educational, the best networking occurs after-hours. You can wait until you get to town to plan your schedule, but your best bet to maximize your time is to plan ahead, stay connected, and always follow up after the show. Before you book your plane ticket, know what your goals are. What does success look like to you? Whether it's developing new connections or taking advantage of open bars, keep your end goals in mind when planning your show strategy. Take a look at the attendee list and pick three potential partners you'd like to do business with. Set up meetings during the show well in advance. It's almost impossible to track down big names during the show and when you do, they're overbooked and may not be able to chat before hopping on a plane. Do your research in advance; know what your business goals are and who can best help you accomplish them. Find those people now, set up a meeting, and put together a business proposal. Don't oversell, but do show up prepared. If you want to make a big impact and get the most out of the show, get the word out that you're attending. Announce your presence prior to the show on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and the Affiliate Summit social network. While you don't have to set up meetings with every person who replies, you can stay in the loop with the important events that allow you to make the most of the show. The biggest thing I learned from ASE and really all the shows I've been to is that it's a 24-hour event. There are keynotes, panels, dinners, and parties. If you don't plan ahead, you end up missing some great opportunities for meeting unexpected guests. Pack some Red Bull and save up cash for cab fare around town, because the longest nights are the best for getting to know people. When you exchange contact information, keep notes on the back of cards of conversations or points you want to remember. If you did your job, you've ended up with so many cards you won't remember every person you met. Even if you can't place faces with names, do not make any exceptions when it comes to following up. At the very least, send a courtesy email to each person and try to include something memorable about your prior meeting. While you won't end up working with everyone you meet, connections go far in any industry. The social media whiz you meet today could be friends with the super affiliate who helps get your campaigns to the next level tomorrow. Approach each and every show like a business opportunity; at the end of the day, the goal is always the same - to make more money. Dina is the Marketing and Social Media Manager at MarketLeverage Interactive Advertising, Inc., a performance-based online marketing services company. 24 | OCTOBeR 2009 | FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE By JB McKee Death of an Affiliate Network As of August 2009, exactly nine years after launching and powering a peak of over 600 affiliate programs at one time, the FusionQuest affiliate network is closing its doors and the domain will be absorbed by ShareASale. Yes, it is a sad day. I had a lot of great plans that may be delayed a bit. However, in the spirit of making lemonade from lemons, is there anything that has been learned from all of this? Well, yes. Quite a lot actually. And I would like to share what I have learned with others in the hope that it may help them to avoid similar mistakes. Stay Focused If you start out with a plan, stick to that plan. Stay focused on your core project and don't let short term enticements distract you from concentrated development on your long-term plan. If you are not starting out with a longterm plan, get a plan. This issue is most pronounced when starting up. Someone offers you involvement in a project that pays a fair amount of money. You may be tempted to do it to get the fast cash. Don't. Stay True to Yourself You have the vision. You have the idea. You know how you want to reach your goal. You want to share your idea with others. Unfortunately, this is the usual response: "Hey, great idea! But, you know, what you really need to do is blah, blah, blah." If they were so smart, why didn't they think up the idea themselves? Believe in yourself and don't let others confuse you. Use Money Wisely If you have start-up capital, please, hang on to it. Repeat this mantra: "Every penny counts!" Seriously consider every single expenditure, whatever the size. And, if your best friend or relative is working for you for pay and it isn't really adding value to your project, let them go. Now. Affiliates Rule If you are a network, or run an affiliate program, your number one asset you need to protect and develop is your affiliates. They are the foundation. Affiliate marketing does not exist without affiliates. There is always a lot of talk about how affiliates defraud merchants. However, from what I have seen, it is the affiliates that really need the protection. They get ripped off more than the merchants do. Stay Active in the Community Give. Freely. And lots. Participate in the community. Contribute everywhere possible. Encourage discussion. Get involved in any and all forums and movements. Keep At It Above all, keep moving forward. Don't get discouraged. Don't give up. Develop the mindset that you have already achieved your success. What the future holds... FusionQuest as an entity may be dead. But, by no means am I. The time and money I invested into FusionQuest is time and money I invested into myself, my education, my personal development. I intend to use it. Bring on the next! JB McKee is a passionate veteran of affiliate marketing and web application development who is game for the next big thing and can be reached at jb@ informdorm.com. FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE | OCTOBeR 2009 | 25 Lessons from North Carolina's Affiliate Tax Fight By Matt Enders Over the years many events, technologies, and companies have changed the face of affiliate marketing. The current battle against the Affiliate Tax (Advertising Tax, Amazon Tax) is one of the most important events to happen in our young industry. The Advertising Tax has the power to both reform and injure our entire industry. To date New York, Rhode Island, and North Carolina have all passed the tax. Other states have seen the damage these laws do to small businesses and have shot down similar legislation. Being headquartered in North Carolina, mgecom took a leading role in the fight against the Advertising Tax. In this fight, we learned many things which could be of great value should you find yourself in a state considering the implementation of the Advertising Tax. My best advice is this: � Start an online petition and gather as many signatures as possible. The volume of signatures is important, but more from your state equals more relevance to lawmakers. � Gather short, personal stories from every affiliate you can reach whose business will be negatively impacted. Print and bind these, and hand deliver them to your legislators. � Use Twitter to get the message out and gain new supporters. Create a hash tag (we used #ncaffiliatetax) and include it in every Twitter update you write. � Talk to the Performance Marketing Alliance and leverage their experience, data, and reach. � Utilize the enormous power and community of ABW (ABestWeb.com) and other affiliate marketing forums. � Organize face to face meetings with anyone in your state who has an interest in seeing the law shot down. Use these meetings to plan your group strategy. � Don't wait to start the fight. Make yourself heard as soon as the legislation appears. Even better, be preemptive and start educating your legislators on our industry. � Visit your legislators in person. Meeting with lawmakers from your county is very important, but talk to anyone who will listen, particularly if they are on your State Finance Committee. � Call your legislators multiple times. Don't settle for speaking to an aide. � Be persistent. In North Carolina, we were unfortunately fighting against the perception of "fairness" in the eyes of lawmakers. Matt enders Many were focused on ensuring that Amazon.com and local book retailers were both subject to the same taxes and removing what was seen as an unfair competitive advantage. North Carolina being in a significant budget deficit certainly did not help our chances. To lawmakers, the Affiliate Tax seemed like a way to both close the budget gap and keep local retailers happy. We found that personal stories from affiliates and getting legislators to see how the Affiliate Tax laws negatively affect small businesses and individuals was much more effective than speaking to them about their misconceptions of fairness and new tax revenue streams. In the end we lost the fight, but we did make headway with key legislators. Now, we will work towards repeal of the Affiliate Tax. Matt Enders is the CEO and Founder of mgecom, inc., an Outsourced Affiliate Program Management firm. Affiliate Summit East 2009 Recap The day also marked the opening of the exhibit hall, which spanned two floors and was crowded until closing. There were also a series of packed educational sessions on the second day. Towards the end of the day, there was a progression of roundtables hosted by a dozen experts on various topics related to affiliate marketing. Day two wound up with a four-hour session of networking and karaoke at TechKaraoke, where a long list of folks in the industry sang their hearts out. The final day of Affiliate Summit started with a keynote address from Peter Shankman, who had the crowd laughing and thinking with his talk. The day also featured a series of educational sessions and the final day of the exhibit hall. The final session was GeekCast.fm Live, where podcast hosts answered questions from the audience on podcasting and a host of other issues. Finally, ASE09 wound up with the Affiliate Triathlon, where participants contributed $100 each to Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City for the chance to win a Registration at Affiliate Summit East 2009 By Shawn Collins Affiliate Summit East 2009 (ASE09), the biggest of any Affiliate Summit East with 3,076 attendees, kicked off in New York City on August 9, 2009. The previous peak attendance for an Affiliate Summit East show was 2,341 in Boston last year. Day one of ASE09 featured a series of educational sessions and the Affiliate Meet Market, where six hours of networking took place. After we experienced some long lines this past January at Affiliate Summit West 2009, a number of things were changed to alleviate the time for picking up badges and registration materials, and lines were low throughout the day. The second day started with the keynote address from Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, co-authors of the New York Times bestselling book, "Trust Agents". The capacity crowd was engaged as the keynote ran beyond the end time with the entertaining banter between Smith and Brogan. After the keynote, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith signed copies of Trust Agents for a line of Affiliate Summit attendees. booth or five Platinum passes at Affiliate Summit West 2010. The three sports in the competition were toilet racers (motorized toilets on wheels), Skee-ball, and Whack-a-Mole. As things drew to a close, I was chatting with a number of people about the syndrome that hits attendees as they leave an Affiliate Summit (or any other conference). After several days of networking, we strengthen our bonds, and there is a sense of emptiness when everybody goes their separate ways. But it doesn't have to be that way � we've got YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, the Affiliate Summit Social Network, and other venues to stay together. Then again, there is no replacing Affiliate Summit West 2010, taking place January 17-19, 2010 in Las Vegas. We look forward to seeing everybody again next January. Shawn is a Co-founder of Affiliate Summit and Co-Editor-in-Chief of FeedFront Magazine. FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE | OCTOBeR 2009 | 27 Affiliate Meet Mar ket Chris Brogan and Julien Smith Keyn ote Address Exhibit Hall Crowd Advertising on Facebook Session ic at th ockin' the M Jim Kukral R e TechKarao ke Event Ask the Experts Ro undtables Peter Shankman Keynote Todd Farmer and Beaudo n Spaulding at the Triath lon 28 | OCTOBeR 2009 | FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE FEEDFRONT MAGAZINE | OCTOBeR 2009 | 29