FeedFront Magazine, Issue 24
This issue of FeedFront Magazine includes Strengthen Your Q4 Site Offense by Shawn Collins, Affiliate Activation: 3 Steps to Maximizing Performance by Geno Prussakov, Who is your First Defense in Compliance? by Ninfa Cabello, fixing an email list, optimizing long-tail affiliates, FCC's TCPA, increasing your conference ROI, building your own brand, how to fix online shopping, and more.
Aﬃliate Summit West 2014 in Las Vegas: January 12-14 Issue 24 · October 2013 We’ll Always Have Paris Unless you don’t register for Aﬃliate Summit West 2014 in time! Strengthen Your Q4 Site Oﬀense By Shawn Collins - Page 2 Aﬃliate Activation: 3 Steps to Maximizing Performance By Geno Prussakov - Page 11 Who is your First Defense in Compliance? By Ninfa Cabello - Page 24 Issue 24 · October 2013 Table of Contents 2 3 4 5 7 8 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 21 22 23 24 25 27 30 31 32 Strengthen Your Q4 Site Oﬀense How To Fix Your Flailing Email List Five Ways to Optimize Long Tail Aﬃliates Get More Out of Your Aﬃliate Promotions Keeping Safe When You Work From Home Get Your Oﬀer on Top Aﬃliate Networks Creating an Eﬀective Aﬃliate Forecast Aﬃliate Activation: 3 Steps to Maximizing Performance 5 Steps to Starting Over Know When You’ve Failed by Setting Goals What Managing Aﬃliate Programs Has Taught Me Process for Recruiting Educating and Retaining Aﬃliates Did You Prepare for FCC’s TCPA Deadline? 5 Ways to Increase Your Conference ROI When Specialty Links Go Wrong Size Matters: Proven Strategies to Grow Sales Taking the “Aﬃliate” Out of Aﬃliate Marketing 5 Things to Know About Health Marketing Would You Get Aﬃliate Summit Ink? Who is your First Defense in Compliance? Why You Must Build Your Own Brand Aﬃliate Summit East 2013 Recap Big Data: Making Your Stats Really Count 7 Ways to Stay Out of Court How to Fix Online Shopping By Shawn Collins By Hunter Boyle By Matthew Bell By Sarah Beeskow Blay By Missy Ward By Travis Glen By Jonathan Goodwin By Geno Prussakov By Erinn Groh By James Thompson By Kim Salvino By Shawn Collins By David O. Klein By Lyndsie Ezell By Sam Engel By Jesse Morgan By Rachel Hirsch By Jordan Barker By Shawn Collins By Ninfa Cabello By Zac Johnson By Shawn Collins By Jeremy Coon By Eric Crusius By Shawn Collins STAFF Co-Editors in Chief Missy Ward, Shawn Collins Co-Publishers Missy Ward, Shawn Collins Jordan Barker, Matthew Bell, Sarah Beeskow Blay, Hunter Boyle, Ninfa Cabello, Shawn Collins, Jeremy Coon, Eric Crusius, Sam Engel, Lyndsie Ezell, Travis Glen, Jonathan Goodwin, Erinn Groh, Rachel Hirsch, Zac Johnson, David O. Klein, Jesse Morgan, Geno Prussakov, Kim Salvino, James Thompson, Missy Ward Contributing Writers Graphic Design Logan Gattis Designs www.logangattis.com Magazine Coordinator Amy Rodriguez Aﬃliate Summit 522 Hunt Club Blvd. #411 Apopka, FL 32703 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: feedfront@aﬃliatesummit.com © 2013 Aﬃliate Summit, Inc. and Individual Authors. · Issue 24 · October 2013 Shawn Collins Editor’s Note Your Q4 Site Oﬀense by Shawn Collins Strengthen Y ou started the fourth quarter with a game plan, and things are going right so far, but are you prepared to call an audible if need be? count on other people telling you. Instead, use a company like Pingdom to alert you immediately, so you can act on it. » Invest in quality hosting: Lots of people are tempted to go with the cheap hosts to save a few bucks, but at what cost? This tip ties into the previous point about monitoring your site performance. Basically, if your site is going down, it’s probably because you have a subpar host. » Speed up your site: People and search engines dislike slow sites. But do you even know if you have a slow site? Check out PageSpeed Insights from Google to ﬁnd out what you should ﬁx to increase the speed that your site loads. » Make your site responsive: Your site should be optimized for any device out there, whether it’s a mobile phone, table, or desktop computer. Test it in all of these environments, and evolve if it’s not responsive. Many WordPress themes will take care of this. » Stay on top of updates: If you are using WordPress or another platform, it’s vital that you update your version and related ﬁles as needed, so you can avoid making it easy for creeps to sneak in the back door and cause mischief. Taking these steps should help to preserve some sanity, and to make it easier in the event you have to call an audible. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Just like in football, you’ll sometimes have to call a sub- stitute play in business to adjust to sudden changes that you see. It’s not ideal to have to switch things up to react to external events, but if you are prepared, you can make it work for you. This is a tricky time of year, since it’s the crazy rush for commerce, and lots of people are oﬀ for extended periods of time for the holidays. What are you going to do when Muhammad Wilkerson (obligatory New York Jets reference) knocks your quarterback out of the game? OK, that’s probably not a real scenario for you in particular, but how about if your server goes down, your site is hacked, or there is some other time sensitive disaster and nobody is around to help? How about if you are simply turning people away, because your site is slow or inaccessible? Start preparing now for things that might happen, so you don’t have to pull all-nighters or run away from the Thanksgiving table to deal with messes. Here are some tips to fortify your Q4 site oﬀense… » Password security: First, change your passwords now, and make them stronger. Second, be sure you know all of your passwords, or use a service like RoboForm to keep them organized. » Monitor your site performance: If your site goes down, you’d better know about it right away. Don’t 2 Shawn is Co-founder of Aﬃliate Summit and Co-Editor-in-Chief of FeedFront Magazine, and blogs at aﬃliatetip.com. · Issue 24 · October 2013 How To Fix Your Flailing by Hunter Boyle Email List he money’s in the list.” Ever heard that one? While there’s truth to that statement, it’s easy to overlook the $1,000,000 follow-up quesShort answer: Build trust that leads to long-term busi- “T » What needs does this email address, or what problems does it solve? » Is the value and WIIFM to readers clearly expressed? » Is it easy for readers to respond and reach me directly? » Rate the quality of the email content in these areas: » Copy: Appropriate voice, style, length? Personality? Spelling? » Oﬀer: Is it compelling? Expressed well enough? » Design: Does it look professional, and match the copy? » Relevance: Is the content, oﬀer or topic timely for this list? » Shareable: Will this compel readers to share via email or social? tion: “What’s the best way to make money from that list?” ness relationships and referrals, not just one-and-done sales and a lack of customer loyalty. Walk a Mile in Their Shoes Are you excited about most emails you get these days? How often do you feel a strong connection to the organizations that are marketing to you? Let’s face it: we’re all inundated by marketing messages, pitches, deals, updates and so on – but as marketers, we’re also contributing to the overload. We can do better. Instead of getting caught up in the numbers game (list size, stats, send schedules), we need to step back and examine how closely our goals align with the goals, needs and wants of our readers. After all, if our emails aren’t solving their problems or addressing their needs, why should they keep paying attention, much less buy from us, or share our content? Try This WIIFM (“What’s In It For Me?”) Mini-Checklist … Today it’s critical to think of our email audience as real people we’re doing business with, not just list names and statistics. With that in mind, here’s a mini-checklist that can help evaluate your email for optimal engagement: » What is my primary goal with this email? » What is the true value to the recipient? Can it be increased? … And One Simple Yet Powerful Tactic To really understand what your audience cares about and needs help with, you have to ask them. Constantly. Annual surveys don’t always cut it. Try this: In your welcome email, test a short survey asking new readers to tell you about themselves, what they do, and what they need your help with. Derek Halpern uses this tactic with SocialTriggers.com to learn more about his readers, inform the site’s content and provide plenty of value and WIIFM. Does it work? With that reader-ﬁrst mindset helping to drive the content and build relationships, tactics like this helped triple the email list in one year. Now it’s your turn. What steps will you take to ﬁx your email list? Hunter Boyle Hunter Boyle is a content marketing and optimization expert. He leads business development for AWeber. 3 Matthew Bell 5 · Issue 24 · October 2013 Long Tail Aﬃliates Ways to Optimize by Matthew Bell I 1. f you’ve ever managed an aﬃliate program before, then you’re probably no stranger to the 80/20 rule, that 80% of your aﬃliate program’s revenue comes from 20% of 4. It’s true. A typical aﬃliate program relies on a small aﬃliates are usually passionate about their sites. They can become loyal aﬃliates in your program through a strong relationship. Put in hard work. Like any aﬃliate relationship, it will require relationship management, outreach, communication and maybe some negotiating. When working with the smaller volume aﬃliates, it may seem like it’s not worth it. I assure you, it is! Remember, one long tail aﬃliate won’t move the needle, but 100 will! 5. Repeat. Do steps 1-4 again and again. Remember, the value of long tail aﬃliates is at scale. You’ll need to develop a deep network of long tail aﬃliates. They will drive very high quality traﬃc but a lower volume. The key to generating value from a network of long tail afﬁliates is to have as many as possible in your program. Not convinced? Here’s a personal success story. When I was Aﬃliate Manager at Shutterstock, I kept coming across this one site in my research eﬀorts that was a perfect ﬁt contextually, yet I never bothered to reach out to because it was such a low traﬃc site, according to Alexa. I ﬁnally got fed up with seeing it all the time and brought this site into the program. It turned out to be the highest converting site out of all of other aﬃliates in the program. The traﬃc quality was extraordinary. Even with the low traﬃc volume, it referred close to $50,000 in new customer revenue annually. This proved to me that a clear long tail aﬃliate strategy could produce amazing results. your aﬃliates. group of high-performing aﬃliates to drive most of the volume, but what if it was possible to grow the group of afﬁliates that comprises 80% of your program, known as the long tail aﬃliates? It most certainly IS possible. Here’s how: Understand the value of long tail aﬃliates. Program managers often overlook the niche and lower volume sites. If one long tail aﬃliate can drive you ﬁve sales per month, that’s certainly not going to move the needle. But what happens when you add 10, 100, or 500 long tail aﬃliates to your program? It adds up quickly. 2. Find them. You can’t gain value from them until you know who they are. I recommend a very focused grassroots eﬀort, heavy on relevant Google searches. Use tools like Similar Web to ﬁnd similar sites and build a long target list. That blog with Alexa rank 955,232 that you continue to pass by because the traﬃc volume is so low? Add it to your list. That’s a solid long tail aﬃliate. 3. Develop a relationship. Like any other aﬃliate a relationship is required in order to do business together. Reach out and explore the opportunities to work together through your aﬃliate program. These long tail 4 Matthew Bell is an experienced aﬃliate marketing manager and currently Director of Operations at Schaaf-PartnerCentric. · Issue 24 · October 2013 Promotions by Sarah Beeskow Blay Get More Out of Your Aﬃliate Sarah Beeskow Blay I f you are an aﬃliate program manager, you know that one of the biggest challenges is activating your aﬃliate base. You may have 1,000 aﬃliates but only see sales generSound familiar? Fear not, you are not alone. There is ated from a handful of them. The Solution: Personal Performance Goals If the intention is to get a higher percentage of aﬃliate partners active, create promotions that generate immediate action without the intimidation factor of competing with top earners. If a bonus is created as a personal competition, that will motivate aﬃliates on an individual level. Let me give you a few examples: » Increase conversion rate by .5% this month, earn additional 2% commission » Increase orders by 10% month/month, earn $100 » Generate 15 sales via the Thanksgiving banner, earn double commission in December » Sell 20 turkey hats, receive a hat-a-month for a year Working on an individual level may only return a few sales initially, but over time this will pay oﬀ in the long run because the aﬃliate will always remember you and want to continue to promote your program. There is a long tail effect here. Having a VIP commission level or higher payout for top earners is not always a bad idea; it just should not be the only trick in your hat. Save some marketing budget for promotions that apply to the whole aﬃliate base. The goal is to have a diverse oﬀering of incentives that will both reward your top performers and continue to engage the low to mid-level performers as well. always going to be some level of inactivity, but you should strive to increase the percentage of active aﬃliates. The solution: create enticing promotions. One common bonus structure that merchants oﬀer is the top earner promotion, where the aﬃliate that drives the most sales, gets x dollar bonus. If the intention is to motivate inactive aﬃliates or move the middle, there are two issues with this kind of structure, the default winner and perceived unattainability. Default Winner The theory of “When I oﬀer more, aﬃliates will do more” does not apply when there is a blanket incentive. There is always going to be a ﬁrst and last place. The aﬃliate that is your top earner may be earning the bonus without actually increasing any activity or marketing eﬀort. When that happens, they are essentially earning extra cash accidently. Perceived Unattainability Another unintentional side eﬀect of top tier bonus goals is they will seem out of reach for the mid-tier aﬃliates. Aﬃliates do not know the performance numbers of others or even how many aﬃliates are in your program. There is no sense of what the bar is, or what competition they are up against. Spending your marketing budget on ﬁrst place bonuses is not the best way to measure or generate activity. Sarah Beeskow Blay is the Director of Client Services at ShareASale.com, Inc. 5 · Issue 24 · October 2013 Missy Ward Keeping Safe When You Work From Home by Missy Ward W ith so many aﬃliate marketers working from home, home oﬃce safety should be on the top of our list of things we should be thinking about. relax your guard when you hear the doorbell. No matter how safe your neighborhood is, you need to always check carefully before you open the door to anyone, particularly when you are home alone. » Don’t hold meetings at home. This might seem obvious, but even if you’ve had a long email relationship with a client, don’t meet them at your home while you’re alone. Schedule a meeting in a public place such as a cafe or coﬀee shop, or even take advantage of coworking spaces that oﬀer conference rooms for meetings to members. » Use a buddy system. If you work alone, it is very important that you have someone you check in with regularly. If you’re meeting a client oﬀsite, let your spouse or a friend know before you go, and check in with them when you return. Use digital tools such as Skype or Gchat to stay in touch with professional friends throughout the day as well (but be careful to not let them become a distraction). Being connected helps you stay safe. The perks of working from home far outweigh these safety concerns, of course, but it’s still good to bear them in mind. Practicing these basic tips to keep yourself safe will make a diﬀerence. Now, go check those windows. Here are six tips that will help keep you safe when work- ing from home: » Get to know the neighbors. With so many people working from home, it’s highly likely that one of your neighbors also works from home during the day. Take some time to introduce yourself to your neighbors, if you haven’t already, and perhaps ﬁnd a local meetup of others that work from home as well (plus it’s good networking). » Make your house as secure while you’re in it as you do when you aren’t. Sure, we all lock the door behind us and turn on the alarm system when we go out or even when we go to bed, but taking those same precautions when you work from home is a smart bet. If you don’t yet have a home security system, now is the time to invest in one. » Check your windows – and lock them. I’m not suggesting you deny yourself the lovely fall breezes we’re having these days, but I do suggest you be sure you lock the windows in the rest of the house while you’re working in your home oﬃce. Also consider window treatments; while it can be nice to see the yard while you work, it also lets strangers see right into your oﬃce full of expensive equipment. » Exercise caution when you answer the door. Chances are you often receive packages from FedEx or UPS if you work from home, and this can teach you to Missy Ward is Co-Founder of Aﬃliate Summit, Co-Editor-in-Chief of FeedFront Magazine and blogs on MissyWard.com. 7 · Issue 24 · October 2013 Get Your Oﬀer Travis Glenn on Top Aﬃliate Networks by Travis Glenn pages do not leave a good ﬁrst impression on the networks. Replying to ‘Describe your oﬀer’ with non-descriptive information such as “call me” doesn’t give the biz dev managers enough information to know if there is a point to spend any more time considering your company. Another point to note is to ensure that you are coming across professionally. If there are misspelled words, poor grammar, or inappropriate slang, it can indicate that you aren’t a serious candidate. Minor things that could be considered insigniﬁcant in everyday settings can be red ﬂags to networks. Does your email domain lead back to something related to your company, or is from a free email provider? Is it apparent that your website is on a free hosting plan or a MLM-type subdomain? Individually, these factors are not a concrete way to categorize a company as good or bad. Taken in context along with other factors, they can lead networks to believe it isn’t worth the risk to establish a business relationship. Review the information you are giving to the networks. Ask yourself, if someone presented you with that same information, would it encourage you to want to work with them? Or better yet, have an unbiased 3rd party give you feedback. With the volume of new business coming in, the networks have a small amount of time to make a big decision. Make sure to put your best foot forward and don’t let the small stuﬀ stop you from closing the deal. M any startups, established corporations, and individuals are interested in working with aﬃliate networks. They want to increase their sales numbers, obtain more leads, or grow their base of registered users. Aﬃliate networks are always looking to partner with new businesses, so that they can supply their aﬃliates with a fresh supply of new oﬀers. However, the top networks can get inundated with hundreds of new client requests each week. This necessitates a screening process in which business development managers sift through all of the applicants to quickly determine which prospects are best suited for the network. The other applicants are cut and sent a “no thank you” letter. This process works well for the most part; however, it can occasionally result in qualiﬁed businesses getting denied. Why do advertisers with potential get denied? Generally speaking, it is because they aren’t representing themselves appropriately. There are several common mistakes that are made by potential advertisers. You can avoid those missteps by being aware and carefully crafting your ﬁrst contact with a network. The most common mistake potential clients make is simply not providing enough information. Networks will typically utilize a contact form requesting your name, business name, website, and a text ﬁeld that asks for a description of the oﬀer you want to promote. Things such as blank ﬁelds, not listing your full name, and URLs that lead to dead 8 Travis is PeerFly’s Director of Business Development, you can follow him @TravisPeerFly on Twitter. Available in paperback, Kindle & Nook Jonathan Goodwin · Issue 24 · October 2013 Creating an Eﬀective Aﬃliate Forecast T he signiﬁcance to creating an aﬃliate forecast is simple. It sets the expectations and goals for you and your team to achieve for the program. I also view by Jonathan Goodwin this as an opportunity to demonstrate your value and credibility that you can be trusted to hit / surpass revenue goals. These revenue goals are the foundation to success, which will drive your actionable plan with you and your team to reach these milestones. One of the key points to creating an eﬀective forecast and actionable growth plan is providing that added sense of value that can be very integral to your relationship with your client. Each client that relies on a forecast plan for growth heavily leans on your ability to manage and convey metrics to hit or surpass revenue goals. Demonstrating your knowledge and expertise in creating an eﬀective forecast can really go a long way with client retention, having a trusting relationship with your contact, and establishing your credibility in the aﬃliate space. The most important thing you can do as an aﬃliate marketing manager, during your early engagement with your client, is to ask, “What are your revenue goals for the program?” Your client will provide you a dollar amount for the year, and then you and your contact will be able to dive deep in the aﬃliate forecasted plan. You should also seek additional marketing materials (promotional cadence calendar), data via their backend system (Omniture, Core-Metrics, etc), and information regarding promotions, which will allow you to eﬀectively forecast and manage your aﬃliate budget. During this discussion, both parties will be able to pinpoint and reveal why and how the dollar amount can be achieved through the aﬃliate space. Below are a few quesNow that you have your questions answered, this should provide insights into your planning process. You should be able to anticipate peaks and valleys, plan on speciﬁc times of the year, and look at historical data and depict the percentage of decrease or increase each year, which will illustrate what you anticipate the upcoming year, will be for the aﬃliate program. Establishing an aﬃliate forecasted goal is the blueprint for success. This can provide you and your team solid actionable items to help achieve or surpass your goals. Securing paid placements, exclusive coupons, or just relying on your promotional calendar will provide you that roadmap to success to eﬀectively manage the aﬃliate program. tions you can start oﬀ with. This should deﬁnitely create a good discussion with you and your contact. Questions: » What contributing factors are included with this goal? » What is your eﬀective ERS (eﬀective revenue shared) for the program? » Do you have peaks and valleys during the year? » Do you have historical data? Last 3-5 years? » Can we have access to your backend analytics? » Do you anticipate any major changes year-over-year in promotional cadence calendar? » What’s the percent lift you anticipate over LY? » Are there any white periods throughout the year where you do not have any promotions planned? 10 Jonathan Goodwin is a Senior Aﬃliate Manager at JEBCommerce (Rakuten Agency of year 2012). · Issue 24 · October 2013 3 Steps to Maximizing Performance by Geno Prussakov Step 2: Embed calls-to-activation right from the start While very few aﬃliate managers do it, I recommend encouraging aﬃliates to get active right from the ﬁrst time you’ve invited them into your program. Motivate them to put up your links both in your recruitment, and in your approval emails. Incentivize this type of activation by oﬀering them commission increase(s), longer cookie life, or cash bonuses. Also, in your approval email, include a performancebased incentive – one that would presuppose additional extrinsic motivators upon customer referrals. The goals may range from one sale (with a ﬁrst-sale bonus as a motivator) to a speciﬁc number of conversions within a certain time period past their approval into the program. Make sure your goals are realistic. I f you have run an aﬃliate program of any size, you know that the proverbial Pareto Principle – also known as the “80/20 Rule” – doesn’t apply here; at least not “by default.” The disheartening reality is that, when it comes to aﬃliates programs, it turns into more of a 95/5 rule, where only 5% of aﬃliates are responsible for 95% of activity within your aﬃliate program. Also, when analyzing such KPI as activity index, or the percentage of aﬃliates active in your program, many advertisers and managers arrive at something between 8% and 12%. However, in the aﬃliate programs where we strongly focus on aﬃliate activation, we notice that the activity index can rise to 20% or higher. I strongly believe that, in addition to conversion rate optimization, aﬃliate activation is one of the two most effective ways to boost any aﬃliate program’s performance. But how do you go about it? Here’s a 3-step process that has worked well for my clients: Step 3: Make activation an indispensable part of management Those 90%-95% of inactive aﬃliates aboard your program joined it not because you made them join. They had an idea on how they would promote you, but for some reason they never got to it. Segment the inactive aﬃliates into a separate group (or three groups – each corresponding to the above-outlined types of activity), and every time you send your aﬃliate newsletter, customize it towards the group, providing (a) compelling reasons for them to activate (be it conversion or EPC data, success stories of other aﬃliates with all sensitive information removed, of course), and (b) ongoing incentives for them to get active. Remember, the number of recruited aﬃliates is irrelevant. It is the number of active ones that matters. So, activate them continually, compellingly, and contagiously. Step 1: Determine what constitutes “activity” There are three basic ways to deﬁne aﬃliate activity: (i) as a display of links, (ii) as a referral of traﬃc, and (iii) as conversions (be they sales, leads, calls, subscriptions or whatever it is that you seek). Prior to talking about aﬃliate activation, make sure that you (the advertiser), your aﬃliate program manager, and your aﬃliates are all on the same page as far as what an “active” aﬃliate means. Geno Prussakov Aﬃliate Activation: Prussakov runs AM Navigator OPM agency, chairs Aﬃliate Management Days conference, speaks, writes, blogs, consults. 11 · Issue 24 · October 2013 to Starting Over by Erinn Groh 5 Steps Erinn Groh E 1. you are excited about the change. Share your enthusivery now and then we decide to make a change that can impact our professional life. Change can be a variety of things; good, bad, scary, tough, and exciting. 4. asm with your publishers. Let them know that you are thrilled to learn and try new things. Positive attitudes are contagious. Before you know it, your publishers will be rooting for your brand. Understand risk involved: Remember, you are not the only one taking a risk by making a switch. Publishers put much time and eﬀort into promoting a brand. New and unknown advertisers can be scary. Be aware that publishers may bump a more mature, successful advertiser just to give your new brand some coverage (potentially at a lower cost and revenue share rate). Thank your publishers for the opportunity and be sympathetic. Only time will tell if the risk was worth it. Be conﬁdent and it will be for all those involved. 5. Be persistent… and don’t get frustrated: After many years of hearing yes from your publishers (or others in your ﬁeld), you are likely to hear the dreaded word NO. Don’t throw a tantrum like a 2 year old when you hear this and don’t get cozy with the word either. Instead, use it as fuel to forge forward. Persistence shows you are serious and conﬁdent in your brand. If you are polite and understanding, while being persistence, you and your brand will earn the respect that it deserves. In the end, all change is good. You have given yourself the opportunity to look at things in a new light while improving your skill set. In many cases, it is necessary for innovation and growth. Sometimes you have to take a step back from your current success and begin all over just to try and move ahead. Whether you have decided to make a radical career move or simply jumped to a new company where you have to start an aﬃliate program from scratch, here are 5 steps that will help you start over: Remember your relationships: This is KEY. Aﬃliate programs are useless if you don’t have a good team of publishers behind you. They are your sales force and reason for your success. Reach out to the publishers you have worked with in the past and reintroduce yourself. If you are new to the game, do your research and start making friends. It is a simple as a phone call. No one will know the brand you represent if you don’t take this step. 2. Identify what makes your brand unique: You are at a new place and have wonderful new things to oﬀer. Be sure to tell your publishers all about it. Do you have exciting creative, high quality products, great pricing, awesome technology, high commission rates, or big bonus opportunities? Whatever it is, make it known. 3. Share your excitement: Whatever it may be, you decided to start over for a reason. Chances are 12 Erinn, a successful aﬃliate marketer, recently became the Senior Marketing Manager at Piping Rock® Vitamins. · Issue 24 · October 2013 Know When You’ve Failed by Setting Goals by James Thompson S etting goals is important. I’d say it’s important for the success of your business, but the opposite is true as well. A lot of people start a venture without a clear cut deﬁnition of when they’ve failed. Most people just set a goal and assume success will come. What if it always stays just outside of your reach? Will you continue on forever with little to no traction? It’s important to deﬁne concrete criteria for success and milestones for when you’ve met those criteria. If you don’t meet your objectives in the time allotted, you should pivot, move on, or reassess your situation. Sometimes, those are the hardest decisions to make, but that’s not the same as quitting. As a project manager, business owner, or entrepreneur, that’s a thing you’ll need to get used to, so start now. Most projects have a primary mission that can be broken down almost inﬁnitely into smaller tasks. You should practice breaking down large goals into smaller chunks that can be completed quickly. Don’t divide it up much smaller than an hour or so though, because you’ll just spend all of your time managing time. By breaking a project up into smaller bites, you’ll ﬁnd yourself building conﬁdence and momentum. That’s very important for morale. The next most important thing you can do now that you’ve broken up your venture into smaller bits is estimate the time you’ll spend. I’m not saying track your time for those chunks. Just try and estimate them. You’d be surprised how much clearer a timeline becomes once you estimate each individual piece that adds up to the greater whole. When you’re done, reﬂect on the accuracy of your estimates. At my company, we use a service called Pivotal Tracker. It’s great for creating a ‘story’ for something you want to do and attach a ‘point’ estimate. Over time it will track how many points you or your team can complete in a sprint (predeﬁned amount of time). It should be your goal to meet your sprint estimates. If you don’t, you should reassess your situation and act accordingly. All of those disparate parts can come together to help you make important decisions about your workload vs. deadlines. If you’ve been estimating your throughput for a few weeks, have a pretty healthy average, and estimate realistically, you can get a pretty accurate picture of what is possible, given your timeline. Let’s say you’ve done everything I’ve said and have a deadline in 4 weeks, but Pivotal Tracker says you need 8 weeks to complete the project. That means you need to do one of three things: abort and land softly, change the scope, or change the timeline. Knowing that can help you manage expectations, keep stakeholders happy, and ultimately save (and make) more money. Don’t be afraid of making hard decisions about cutting features or asking for more time. It will save you stress in the long run. James Thompson James is co-founder of Daft Labs, a tech/marketing company. Find him on Twitter @jtgraphic. 13 Kim Salvino · Issue 24 · October 2013 What Managing Has Taught Me n my professional journey, I have learned largely by trial and error, and by mirroring those I most admire. When I started managing my ﬁrst aﬃliate sands of valuable contacts through this industry. Be kind and do what you say you will do and folks will never forget it. Your reputation will always precede you and in a day where everyone can Google you, be sure that the only trail you leave is a positive one. Treat folks the way you want to be treated and you will accumulate a long list of contacts you can trust. Aﬃliate Programs O by Kim Salvino program in 2005, degree programs that taught you the in’s and out’s didn’t exist. After 8 years in the industry, I wanted to share some of the most important things I have learned that I have also been able to apply to other areas of my life. Don’t Make Rash Decisions Without Examining Data The proof is absolutely in the numbers. Conversion rate down? Analyze individual click data to determine if one partner is the culprit. Revenue down? Conﬁrm that tracking is working as expected and that your top partners aren’t promoting expired promotions. Always turn to your data to conﬁrm opinions as fact before jumping to conclusions. Education is Mandatory, But Degrees and Fancy Titles are Not Don’t discount someone because they don’t have an impressive sounding degree or a top notch title. Today’s Internet Marketing Administrator could be tomorrow’s Director of Publisher Development. I have found years of experience to be much more valuable than grad school. Get to know the person vs. judging them strictly on their LinkedIn proﬁle. Change is the Only Constant Just when you have found your groove, your weekly and monthly schedules are mapped out; revenue is on the rise and…BAM! A new product launches, your channel suddenly has to save the entire online revenue forecast for the quarter or there is talk of a new site launch. Change will happen. It will never be at a great time and you must be willing to adapt and stay ﬂexible. When You are Doing What You Love, You Radiate Joy It’s true. Think of a job you may have held where you felt underappreciated or “stuck.” You were unhappy in that environment and when you are unhappy, everyone around you can tell. When you ﬁnd your niche and are blessed to do what you love each day, you are more productive, more content, a better friend and a better parent. Kim Salvino is Director of Publisher Development for Chateau 20. Relationships are Valuable Beyond Measure I am still in regular contact with the very boss that hired me to look after my ﬁrst aﬃliate program. I have made thou- 14 · Issue 24 · October 2013 Recruiting, Educating, and Retaining ates you think will be the best ﬁt for your company. And, just like I was doing way back when, you should treat them like your sales team. That means you provide them with the educational materials they need to best promote you; and you also focus on retaining them, because it’s a whole lot easier to keep the aﬃliates you have than it is to replace them. You should be recruiting all the time so that your base of quality aﬃliates continues to grow. Please read through my tactics, but don’t stop there. Apply them, too. Aﬃliate Manager Boot Camp: Recruiting, Educating, and Retaining Aﬃliates is available in paperback and on Kindle at Amazon.com. Aﬃliates by Shawn Collins I just published a new book, Aﬃliate Manager Boot Camp: Recruiting, Educating, and Retaining Aﬃliates, where I present a three-step approach for aﬃliate managers to reDrawing on my ten years of experience as an aﬃliate cruit, educate, and retain aﬃliates in their aﬃliate programs. manager and my work as an aﬃliate marketer since 1997, I reveal a process for cultivating and maintaining relationships with aﬃliates. The book describes a method that focuses on quality over quantity when it comes to aﬃliates, and it recommends working side by side with aﬃliates as valuable partners in a mutually beneﬁcial aﬃliation. Aﬃliate Manager Boot Camp: Recruiting, Educating, and Retaining Aﬃliates is not about the other nuts and bolts of starting and running an aﬃliate program. You won’t learn about policing aﬃliates, setting budgets and projections, determining commission rates, etc. It’s all about recruiting, educating, and retaining aﬃliates for a strong aﬃliate program. My process is based on one important thing, which is that aﬃliate marketing is all about relationships. You want to have aﬃliates you can trust representing your brand. That means you should know each aﬃliate in your aﬃliate program and have an ongoing dialogue with them. Sure, you’ll get some aﬃliates who apply to your aﬃliate program organically through exposure in an aﬃliate network, but it is your responsibility to actively recruit the aﬃli- Shawn Collins Process for Shawn is Co-founder of Aﬃliate Summit and Co-Editor-in-Chief of FeedFront Magazine, and blogs at aﬃliatetip.com. 15 · Issue 24 · October 2013 David O. Klein Did You Prepare for FCC’s TCPA Deadline? by David O. Klein a concerted eﬀort to understand and comply with the TCPA’s new requirements. Since October 16, 2013, prior express written consent has been required for all marketing calls/texts made to cell phones using autodialed technology and/or pre-recorded messages. Additionally, prior express written consent is required for pre-recorded marketing calls made to residential landlines. The FCC has made clear that complying with the E-SIGN Act satisﬁes the “written” requirement, meaning that electronic or digital forms of signature are acceptable. Courts have strictly interpreted, and in some cases expanded the plain meaning of, the TCPA in order to ﬁnd telemarketers liable. There are two crucial aspects of the TCPA that should concern marketers: the TCPA deﬁnition of “autodialer” and the language used to obtain consumer consent. The FCC has expansively interpreted the term “autodialer” and courts have found telemarketers liable for contacting consumers through systems that have the ‘capacity’ to make automated calls, even if the call was placed by a live person and the automated features of the system were not used. Consumer TCPA consent must be unambiguous, meaning that the telemarketer must provide “clear and conspicuous disclosures” that the consumer will receive calls that deliver autodialed and/or pre-recorded telemarketing messages to the number(s) provided by the consumer and that consent is not a condition of purchase. It is advised that telemarketers consult with an attorney to construct proper TCPA consent language. The new TCPA requirements impose unprecedented burdens on telemarketers, which shouldn’t be taken lightly. B y the time you read this, the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) deadline will have passed, one which requires telemarketers to obtain consumers’ prior written consent before using autodialed technology and/or prerecorded messages to contact them. Eﬀective October 16, 2013, the FCC’s newest Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) regulations are unquestionably the most encompassing and perilous changes affecting the telemarketing and lead generation industries in recent memory. Unlike many other statutes, where a consumer may only recover proven damages, the TCPA sets forth automatic damages per call/message ranging from $500.00 to $1,500.00. No speciﬁc or actual damages must be proven by the consumer. Considering that telemarketing campaigns often involve thousands to, in some cases, millions, of calls/text messages, potential TCPA damages may escalate very quickly. Due to the large potential payday, TCPA lawsuits are up 40-60% in 2013, compared to the same period in 2012. Perhaps even more worrisome are the settlement amounts that defendants are willing to pay to avoid litigation. For instance, in two unrelated class action lawsuits this year, Papa John’s and Domino’s agreed to pay up to $16 million and $9.75 million, respectively, to settle TCPA cases. Likewise, Steve Madden, Ltd. settled a TCPA class action for up to $10 million for texts sent to consumers through a third-party advertiser. These are but a few examples of TCPA settlements that have occurred in the past several months. Obviously, the best way to avoid liability is to make 16 David O. Klein is the managing partner of the law ﬁrm, Klein Moynihan Turco LLP. · Issue 24 · October 2013 5 Conference ROI Ways to Increase Your by Lyndsie Ezell Lyndsie Ezell I f you are exhibiting at a conference, it is likely that you are among hundreds of other exhibitors. There are many ways to increase your brand’s exposure beyond your not throw money at a sponsorship. Reﬂect on your conference goals and select an option that best ﬁts your brand’s needs. Don’t feel limited to the options they have to oﬀer. If you have a great idea, talk to the organizers about it. Keep in mind that the purpose is to drive attendees to your booth. booth, for every budget, that will help you stand out over all the rest. Be Seen & Heard Be a speaker at the conference. By stepping onstage and sharing your knowledge, you are seen as an expert in the industry. This is not just an opportunity for industry leaders or senior executives. With the right topic and pitch, both you and your company can beneﬁt from the networking and exposure that comes from a speaking position. Best of all, it’s free. If there isn’t an open call application process, reach out to your conference sales manager and ask how you can be considered. Bring Your Brand to Life Think about getting a mascot. This can be costly up front, but consider the return on investment. At a conference a mascot is the equivalent of a walking billboard, promoting your brand throughout the exhibit hall. This will give you exposure beyond your booth. When people stop to take pictures with your mascot, ask them to tag or tweet the photo at you. This will expand your reach and increase your presence at no additional cost to you. Get Sweet Swag This sounds simple and obvious, but it’s not about having items; it is about having items that stand out. Know your audience and appeal to not only their needs, but their unique personality traits, as well. These are the items people will keep and use. Don’t let your swag end up in the dumpster. When selecting your show items, ask yourself what makes it better than your competitors. If you can’t come up with a solid answer, move onto something else. Make 24/7 Your 9-5 In the aﬃliate marketing industry, the show does not end when the exhibit hall closes. You have a limited amount of time to get in front of clients and are competing with hundreds of companies in the exhibit hall. Use “after hours” as an opportunity for extra exposure and networking by hosting or sponsoring a networking event/party. If you are spending money exhibiting at a conference, consider some of the items listed above to maximize your exposure. This will not only make you stand out over your competitors, but can potentially yield a higher return on your conference investment in the long run. Boost Booth Traﬃc Most conferences have sponsorships available and offer options for every budget. Biggest is not always best. Do Lyndsie Ezell is the Director of Public Relations at Clickbooth. 17 · Issue 24 · October 2013 When Specialty Links Sam Engel Go Wrong by Sam Engel unique link identiﬁer and then bid on some of your branded keywords to get started. can be useful tools for brands to gain new customers. These systems often have lower barriers to entry than traditional aﬃliate networks, and can quickly introduce fresh traﬃc and incremental revenue. However, because these systems are so open and ﬂexible, they can also be manipulated by black hats, exposing brands to abuse. A lternatives to the typical aﬃliate marketing relationship, such as referral programs, MLM (MultiLevel-Marketing), and sub-aﬃliate arrangements MLM (Multi-Level-Marketing) Scenarios Some brands’ reward systems even go to the lengths of oﬀering customizable landing pages or personalized stores. These allow your brand representatives to take their referrals to the next level, adding some of their own personality and salesmanship to the visitor experience. Complete with vanity subdomains or some other unique identiﬁer in their URL structure, these systems can be gamed in a similar fashion. Furthermore, MLM systems may be more likely to award cash, rather than discounts or account credits, putting them at additional risk. Fewer Hurdles Mean More Potential Threats Although aﬃliate networks are not immune to exploits, such as brand bidding and ad hijacking, they do provide some valuable measures to mitigate these issues. Compliance teams, aﬃliate approval processes, reports, and commission reversals all contribute to accountability. Alternative systems, on the other hand, do not usually provide these layers of security. There are few, if any, ways to appropriately vet or check up on your pseudo-aﬃliates. They are essentially anonymous—making it easier for them to hide, obscure their tactics, or mislead a brand. Sub-Aﬃliate Relationships Transparency can be a real challenge in these systems. While a sub-aﬃliate can usually be added with a simple URL parameter, the brand will have little visibility into or control over how its sub-aﬃliates drive traﬃc. This makes it easy for a sub-aﬃliate to run PPC traﬃc through its unique link. Even though the ﬁrst-tier aﬃliate may still be complying with the brand’s policies, brand abuse can still proliferate. Conclusion Unfortunately, the available data makes it hard to distinguish brand poaching from successful marketing. And without the recourse of turning to the network for these issues, the onus falls entirely on the brand to monitor and police such promotions. So if you run any of the programs above, we recommend putting some eﬀort into evaluating whether they’re truly adding value. By starting with some manual searches for your branded keywords, you can at least identify any obvious examples of abuse. Refer-a-Friend Programs Who makes a better spokesman than a loyal customer? By rewarding your biggest fans for speaking up about your brand, you can stimulate some valuable gains in traﬃc and revenue. But do you know how your brand ambassadors are getting the word out? Unfortunately, if your referral program uses special URLs to assign your rewards (as many do), a good portion of this traﬃc could be generated by PPC trademark poaching. A black hat simply has to locate their 18 The Marketing Manager at BrandVerity, Sam informs the industry on how to prevent brand abuse. · Issue 24 · October 2013 Size Matters: by Jesse Morgan Proven Strategies to Grow Sales M ous year. anaging an established aﬃliate program can be a challenge. Day-to-day responsibilities can be overwhelming, not to mention the daily and monthly test of exceeding the sales numbers of the previWhile all aﬃliate programs are managed diﬀerently, promoted diﬀerently, and have diﬀerent goals, the common denominator for each is revenue. After all, it’s unimaginable to think of a program or entrepreneur out there that doesn’t ask, “How can I grow sales?” As bosses and major stakeholders continue to demand year-over-year growth, consistently delivering and exceeding expectations is more important than ever. To do this, there are a number of proven strategies that can help boost your sales and manage both top-line and bottom-line revenue. Most importantly, your strategy should be tailored to your brand and product’s unique needs. First, start by having a strategy in place. If you have not outlined a plan or identiﬁed goals, your program will more than likely not survive long-term. With the strategy in place, the next step is to determine how you will measure the outcomes of your actions. Identify the key revenue drivers (clicks, AOV, conversion, items per order, etc. .) and forecast revenue based on performance trends. Start with your products. Promoting the right products and managing your program for proﬁt can change the trajectory and success of your eCommerce site. If a certain product sells better than another, ﬁgure out if it’s the product or how it’s being promoted. Most products have different margins so doing your homework to ﬁnd out what products generate more revenue than others. Once you have determined what is proﬁtable, present the best oﬀers and sales message in all sales channels. It’s also a great idea to test diﬀerent wording and creative to determine what resonates best with your shoppers. You may ﬁnd out “save over” verses “save up to” messaging is more successful in terms of driving clicks and revenue. Best advice here is to test, test, and test. Another way to maximize your overall program performance is to segment paid commissions at levels based on incremental value. By segmenting, you can pay out diﬀerently for publishers who are really driving the sale. This can be tricky and requires click path data not available in every aﬃliate network. If you have Google Analytics in place, this is a good place to start. In summary, bottom-line wins, but you want to drive top-line revenue. With a strategy outlined, revenue drivers evaluated, outcome measurements determined, attribution mapped out and premium marketing promotions identiﬁed, you will be taking the most important steps to set up your aﬃliate program for long-term success. Jesse Morgan Jesse Morgan, Aﬃliate Marketing Manager for Magazines.com, the largest magazine subscription agency online. 19 Available in paperback and Kindle â€“ exclusively at Amazon.com · Issue 24 · October 2013 by Rachel Hirsch W e all have heard of the term “aﬃliate marketing.” Unfortunately, the term aﬃliate can be easily misunderstood, generating confusion and sce- In the Internet marketing industry, advertisers and networks certainly do not want to be exposed to legal liability for an aﬃliate marketer’s misconduct, nor does an aﬃliate want to be on the hook for the quality or eﬃciency of the merchant’s product. And this is exactly where the Federal Trade Commission, among others, appears to be headed. And these circumstances are not merely conﬁned to instances where the advertiser or network is encouraging the misconduct. So what happens, for example, when a network is subjected to liability due to the actions of a rogue aﬃliate? Should a network be liable for an aﬃliate who has gone oﬀ the beaten path, despite the network’s internal compliance procedures? Logically speaking, the answers to those questions should be “no.” But because of the traditional use of the term aﬃliate, staﬀ attorneys at the FTC and motivated plaintiﬀs’ attorneys may be all too willing to answer that question in the aﬃrmative. I have personally witnessed the look of confusion on an opponent’s face when trying to explain why a network is not the same entity as its aﬃliates or vice versa and why imposing liability on one for the action of the other is not logical under the circumstances. While the best evidence of the distinct relationships is often found in the network’s contractual agreement with its aﬃliates and the course of conduct between the parties, perhaps an even better solution to deﬁning the networkaﬃliate relationship is taking the “aﬃliate” out of the term aﬃliate marketing. “Publisher” marketing, anybody? narios that are neither rewarding nor fun. Maybe the time has arrived to rethink the use of the term “aﬃliate.” In simple terms, aﬃliate marketing is simply a type of performance-based marketing in which a merchant business rewards one or more of its aﬃliates for customers generated by that aﬃliate’s marketing eﬀorts. Although the term “aﬃliate” is commonly-used in the Internet marketing industry, the term “aﬃliate” has an entirely diﬀerent meaning in other contexts, which can spell trouble for all parties. Indeed, in other contexts, the term connotes a legal relationship between two businesses. In typical legal parlance, aﬃliates are organizations or individuals that control each other or that are controlled by a third party. Control may consist of, among other things, shared management or employment and common use of facilities, equipment, and employees. One consequence of aﬃliate relationships in business is that merchants can often be on the hook for the conduct of their aﬃliates and vice versa. It should come as no surprise that astute plaintiﬀs’ lawyers are always on the lookout to reach the assets of a parent company in the event of misconduct by one of its aﬃliate entities. To the extent that the business relationship is not obvious, courts, as part of litigation, often require companies to ﬁle corporate disclosure forms identifying any parent or aﬃliated corporations. Rachel Hirsch Taking The “Aﬃliate” Out of Aﬃliate Marketing Rachel Hirsch is a Senior Associate at Ifrah PLLC, a law ﬁrm in Washington, D.C. 21 Jordan Barker · Issue 24 · October 2013 5 Things to Know About Health Marketing by Jordan Barker 3. Chronic Health Conditions are Growing Chronic health conditions are on the rise, and consumers need real solutions to deal with their health issues. For example, the number of diabetics is projected to double, if W know: hat do my cholesterol, Miley Cyrus, and digital health marketing all have in common? They are all on the rise and gaining momentum whether not triple, by the year 2050 according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control). That would mean that nearly 1 in 3 adults would suﬀer from diabetes—the numbers are staggering and the need for solutions will only increase. you want them to be or not. If you haven’t been involved in the online health vertical, or even if you have, here are ﬁve things that you should 4. Health Issues are Emotional This may sound cliché, but health issues are something people have a passion about—tap into that emotion. Everyone has either dealt with health issues at some point, or knows someone who has struggled with health issues. As a marketer, if you can help someone cope with something as serious as a health condition, you really begin to make an impact and add value. 5. Patients Need a Voice Patients need a platform where they can interact with other individuals who are like-minded, and understand their daily struggles. It is human nature to want to belong, and dealing with health challenges is no diﬀerent. Increasingly, social media is being leveraged as a tool for people to support one another and talk about challenges, treatment options, as well as to simply ﬁnd a friend who understands. While obnoxious pop stars and their 15 minutes of fame may come and go, and while I may ﬁnd the will power to put down the doughnut and get on a treadmill to get rid of a few pounds, health issues are not going away. Now is the time to get involved and start the critical conversations. Jordan is the Director of Online Marketing for Alliance Health Networks, Inc. 1. Health Management is Evolving The dynamic of how a consumer manages their health is evolving, and consumers are demanding more transparency and choice. For this reason, consumers are looking to connect with brands, device manufacturers, and doctors through digital channels now more than ever. While some companies have been slow to adopt emerging technologies initially, there are many are who ﬁnally embracing the need to change the status quo of communicating with patients. 2. Compliance is Paramount In some industries, you may get a slap on the wrist if you violate rules and regulations. However, within the health space there are often no second chances, so you have to play by the rules. Recent changes with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and Medicare have required more consumer transparency, and more explicit consumer consent to be contacted and by what entity. 22 · Issue 24 · October 2013 Would You Get Aﬃliate Summit Ink? by Shawn Collins D o you love Aﬃliate Summit? We’ve got a way for you to show it, and we’ll bring you out to Las Vegas for Aﬃliate Summit West 2014 if you take us up on this opportunity. Get an Aﬃliate Summit tattoo, and we’ll provide you with an All Access pass to Aﬃliate Summit West 2014; as well as coach air; 3 nights at the Paris Las Vegas; and dinner with Aﬃliate Summit co-founders, Missy Ward and Shawn Collins, on the night of Monday, January 13, 2014. Some terms from our lawyer about this special tattoo arrangement… » You are 18 years old or older. » Your tattoo will be 1) based on the Aﬃliate Summit logo, an example of which can be found at aﬃliatesummit.com/images/bestlogo.jpg, 2) placed in an area of the body that can be exposed in a non-oﬀensive manner, and 3) permanent. » All tattoo designs must be approved by Aﬃliate Summit in advance. » You are responsible for purchasing your tattoo. » You release Aﬃliate Summit, to the fullest extent permitted by law, from any liability whatsoever, for all claims or causes of action you may have for personal injury or otherwise, including any direct or consequential damages, which result from your obtaining a tattoo to participate in this promotion. » You release all rights to any photographs taken of you and the tattoo by or on behalf of Aﬃliate Summit, and you give consent in advance to their reproduction in print or electronic form. » Aﬃliate Summit may exclude or reject participants in its sole discretion. » This promotion is void where prohibited by law. This opportunity is open through November 30, 2013. Contact Aﬃliate Summit at aﬃliatesummit.com/contact with any questions. Aﬃliate Summit West 2014 is taking place on January 12-14, 2014 at Paris Las Vegas. Shawn is Co-founder of Aﬃliate Summit and Co-Editor-in-Chief of FeedFront Magazine, and blogs at aﬃliatetip.com. 23 Ninfa Cabello · Issue 24 · October 2013 Who is your First Defense in Compliance? by Ninfa Cabello Rebilling/Continuity: All rebilling and continuity programs need to be fully disclosed and not hidden. This also falls in Truth and Advertising as noted above. D id you know that your Advertiser Representatives’ and Business Development employees’ could be your ﬁrst defense in creative and landing page compliance? Here is a quick guide to help you and your employees review landing pages. Truth in Advertising: Everything that constitutes the creative must be true. A good example is saving money on a product or service: “Save 70%” vs. “Save up to 70%”. A company cannot guarantee that each consumer will save 70%, but it can guarantee that each consumer can save up to 70%. The advertiser is not giving a speciﬁc amount of saving; instead the advertiser is giving a broader statement to ensure compliance. Shipping and Handling: Shipping and Handling (S&H) must be easily visible on the creative or the landing page. S&H must be visibly present ABOVE the submit button. This falls in Truth and Advertising as noted above. From and Subject Lines: From lines must be relevant to the site you are mailing on behalf of. The actual site (domain name) is preferred. This falls in Truth and Advertising as noted above. Subject lines must be true and they must have as little embellishments as possible. They must accurately identify the content in the advertisement. As Seen on TV or Radio: Has it really been on TV or Radio? Do some research to make sure your campaign is compliant and has actually been seen on TV or radio. If you are advertising a similar product, and not an EXACT one, as the products shown on TV or promoted on the radio, then your campaign should not reference As Seen on TV or Radio. This falls in Truth in Advertising as noted above. Privacy Link: The Privacy link must be working. Personally, I do not read the privacy language, as this is provided by the advertisers’ legal department; I just make sure there is a privacy link that is working. Logos: Logos can only be used with prior written approval from the company. Pulling a logo from the WallStreet Journal, FTC, FDA, etc. cannot be used without consent from their rightful owner. If prior written approval is not obtained, the logo must be removed from the site immediately. Ad Solicitation: Make sure that it is disclosed somewhere on the advertisement that the message is identiﬁed as an ad. I normally see “This is an advertisement” or “This is a solicitation”. Opt-Out: The Opt-Out link must be working and must also include a physical address to unsubscribe from. Please share this checklist to your employees to assist in compliance. Your employees are your ﬁrst defense in keeping your creatives and landing pages compliant.. Ninfa Cabello is Director of Business Development at Madrivo Media, LLC. Testimonials: The testimonials used must be from real individuals and a notiﬁcation to the respective individual is required prior to using their quote. Advertisers should provide an aﬃdavit stating a testimonial/quote can be used and is legitimate. 24 · Issue 24 · October 2013 Why You Must Build Your Own Brand by Zac Johnson W hen I ﬁrst started making money online over 17 years ago, I knew aﬃliate marketing was going to be huge. Back in the mid to late 90s when I ﬁrst got introduced to the world of aﬃliate marketing, it was still fairly new. weren’t many other ad networks or aﬃliate programs out there to choose from. The growth of the internet and afﬁliate marketing has been massive over the years, and if you are an aﬃliate marketer, your earnings have probably increased with it... but has your brand? A common trend that we are seeing in online marketing right now is that successful aﬃliate marketers are leaving the concept of “just being an aﬃliate” and moving on to become their own brands and companies. This is something I did back in 2007 when I decided to launch my blog at ZacJohnson.com. Since launching the blog, my business and name recognition have increased in immeasurable multiples. Without even focusing on the revenue and business made through the blog, the opportunities of getting my name out there and becoming an authority ﬁgure in the aﬃliate space has been quite amazing. Through the blog I’ve had the opportunity to be a keynote speaker in Australia, travel the world and speak at different conferences, appear on Fox News and ABC News, and launch my own book. Bottom line... you need to start building a brand of your own! It’s about time you stopped making someone else rich through your talents and eﬀorts and started to build a brand that grows with you. Aﬃliate marketing is awesome, and you can still use it to make a good amount of money, but the whole concept of jumping from ad campaign to ad campaign and sending someone else all of your data and customers is ﬂawed. It’s a great opportunity and legitimate business model, but you are limited on your reach and may always be reliant on the success and failure of your next ad campaign. Starting a brand of your own is extremely easy and you can get started right now. All it takes is setting up a few social network proﬁles, grabbing a domain name (preferably your real name or company name) and throwing WordPress on your site to create a blog. Blogging is one of the best ways to get your name out there, as it will grow with content over time and allow other people to follow your journey and connect with you in the process. Start your branding process today and think about where you could be in a year from now. Zac Johnson Amazon.com had their aﬃliate program, but there Zac Johnson is an entrepreneur with over 17 years in internet marketing and branding. 25 · Issue 24 · October 2013 Aﬃliate Summit East 2013 Recap by Shawn Collins S unday, August 18, 2013 was the ﬁrst day of Aﬃliate Summit East 2013 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The Meet Market opened at noon and ran through 6:00 PM with a steady stream of attendees meeting with the table exhibitors. During the day, exhibitors built out their booths in the exhibit hall for Monday and Tuesday. The day wrapped up with Emcee Wade Tonkin leading a series of Elevator Pitches, where attendees could get behind the microphone and share what sorts of people they were trying to meet at the conference. Registration check-in and set-up for the Meet Market I gave my First Timers Orientation for Aﬃliate Sum- kicked oﬀ the day at 8:00 AM. mit East 2013 session at 10:00 AM, and I was glad to see a packed crowd of folks eager to learn how to optimize their time at the conference. This was followed by sixteen breakout sessions throughout the day that covered aﬃliate programs, blogging, aﬃliate management, mobile, legal, video, SEO, social media, and more topics. This was followed by the Newcomer Program meetup, and then everybody heading out for their Aﬃliate Summit evening plans. Shawn is Co-founder of Aﬃliate Summit and Co-Editor-in-Chief of FeedFront Magazine, and blogs at aﬃliatetip.com. 27 · Issue 24 · October 2013 I might be a little biased, but my favorite slide was one where Dr. Pinkett featured pictures of a bunch of diﬀerent entrepreneurs and talked about how none were individuals – they were all teams. Among the teams featured were Missy Ward and me. :) It was fun to see so many of the attendees sharing pictures on social media of their cheesesteaks and visits to the Rocky stairs. Monday, August 19, 2013 was the second day of Aﬃliate Summit East 2013 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. The exhibit hall opened on day 2 and thousands of afﬁliate marketers came together for a full day of networking. In addition to all of the business talk in the exhibit hall, there were also educational sessions throughout the day at Aﬃliate Summit East 2013. And we had a Philadelphia themed lunch complete with cheesesteaks, hoagies, soft pretzels, and Tastykakes. After the education sessions, there were a series of Ask the Experts roundtables, where a number of interactive discussions were led by industry veterans. The day started with a tasty breakfast for VIP and All Access pass holders, followed by some brief announcements from Aﬃliate Summit East 2013 Emcee, Wade Tonkin. Then there was an inspiring keynote address from Dr. Randal Pinkett, Founder, Chairman and CEO of BCT Partners. 28 · Issue 24 · October 2013 Tuesday, August 20, 2013 was the third and ﬁnal day of Aﬃliate Summit East 2013 at Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, PA. The day started with a tasty attendee breakfast, and I got nice and fueled up on bacon and juice. This was followed by a power packed keynote from Wil Reynolds on the changes coming from Google and how afﬁliate marketers should adapt. The ﬁnal day of Aﬃliate Summit East 2013 also featured a series of breakout sessions and lots of networking in the exhibit hall. After Aﬃliate Summit East 2013 wrapped up, we brought speakers and some attendees (there was a chance to get a spot during my First Timers Orientation) from the conference to enjoy dinner, drinks, networking, and general goofy times at the Phillies game. Thank you to everybody who came out to network, learn and have fun with us – Aﬃliate Summit East 2013 was the biggest Aﬃliate Summit ever with over 4,400 attendees! If you haven’t heard, we’ll be back in NYC for Aﬃliate Summit East 2014 on August 10-12, 2014 at the New York Marriott Marquis. The conference closed out with a diﬀerent sort of keynote from Rae Hoﬀman – she talked about things her son taught her about life and business. I will neither conﬁrm nor deny that I got a little teary eyed. 29 · Issue 24 · October 2013 Jeremy Coon Making Your Stats Really Count Where Do I Get Started? It’s easy to look at something as simple as a click-through Big Data: by Jeremy Coon T he early days of online marketing were wild. Entrepreneurs, eager to take advantage of new technology, made a killing overnight with minimal eﬀort. rate and jump to a conclusion about which creatives are working, but you need more information than that. Generally speaking there are two kinds of stats: » Stats that tell you about how the advertisement and landing page perform » Stats that tell you about the type of consumer that wants your product Successful aﬃliate marketers use a combination of both in order to understand what causes a consumer to buy, as well as the type of traﬃc displaying each creative. Referring URLs, countries, day of the week, time of day, and even user agents contribute to telling the story of your target traﬃc, and should be used as you design and test your campaigns. The next time you take a look at your reports, consider these tips: 1. Learn what stats you have in front of you, and what they mean. 2. Take the time to learn Microsoft Excel. It’s a powerful organization and sorting tool where most reports can be exported. 3. 4. Analyze the stats surrounding what has worked and what hasn’t, so you can guide future decisions. If you’re not the advertiser, ask what ongoing information they would be willing to pass back to you. This will give you an idea about which consumers are repeat buyers, and ultimately allow you to trace that back at a deeper level. 5. Don’t be afraid to start your marketing eﬀorts on a broad scale and focus your traﬃc down as you start seeing trends. We’ve come a long way since those early days, though. Innovation, regulation and increasingly web savvy consumers have transformed the industry, requiring marketers to perfect their strategy and decision making. Why Big Data? Right at the heart of eﬀective strategy is information. Not the kind of information that comes from a quick glance at your reports, but the insights you get from watching the ups and downs of your traﬃc and ﬁnding patterns over a prolonged period of time. In the past, the cost and logistics of storing and analyzing that kind of data made it nearly impossible to do so, but as technology has advanced, so too has our opportunity to dig deep. The Big Deal You could stare at stats and graphs for hours, but at the end of your day you’re no farther ahead. The value with big data isn’t in the data itself, it’s in the changes you make through accurate analysis. Whether you’re trying to uncover what leads to the highest sales, what makes the perfect aﬃliate or just who’s pulling their weight, big data can provide important insight into things like consumer demographics, behavior and patterns. As you develop your aﬃliate program with fact-based ﬁndings, rather than assumptions, you’ll increase eﬃciency, cut costs, and minimize your risk of failure. 30 Jeremy Coon Is the Director of Sales and Business Development at aﬃliate tracking leader, LinkTrust. · Issue 24 · October 2013 7 Ways by Eric S. Crusius to Stay Out of Court comes whenever I stand up and speak before a jury, a judge, or a panel of judges is exhilarating; much more so Eric S. Crusius I admit it: I like going to court. The rush of adrenaline that than my very short, and often remarkably unsuccessful “career” in athletics (it took me years to score my ﬁrst soccer goal and I was not on defense; after that, it got better). I enjoy going to court, but I do it for a living. Most of the time, my clients have a much less enjoyable experience. This is not because I sneer at them or make them feel bad (I am known to have a good bench-side manner), but because they are in court when someone has harmed their business or they are accused of harming another’s business. The good news is that there are some basic steps aﬃliate marketers and networks can take to help insulate themselves from legal pitfalls, because, believe it or not, lawsuits in the aﬃliate marketing space are not uncommon. Here they are: Step #1 - Get real and incorporate: this is more of a help if you do get sued. If you’re not incorporated, your personal assets could be at risk. You generally do not need an attorney to do this. Step #2 – Have contracts with your network or aﬃliate: often times misunderstandings can be avoided if the parties know the rules of the road. Also, be sure to read anything before you sign it. Step #3 – Understand intellectual property rights: trademarks and copyrights are guarded jealously by their owners. Any violation will likely result in a demand letter, if not a lawsuit. These lawsuits can sometimes come with extreme penalties – having to pay the attorneys’ fees for the other party in addition to possible six-ﬁgure statutory damages per violation. As such, it is important to understand what rights you have to use another’s intellectual property including logos, copy, and pictures. This should hopefully be explained in a contract. Step #4 - Know the CAN-SPAM Act: if you send out emails, you are probably required to follow certain rules outlined in the Act. There are some attorneys who “troll” for CAN-SPAM Act violations. The Act’s requirements are pretty straight forward, so following them is not too diﬃcult. Step #5 – Stay out of the FTC’s crosshairs: marketers have long been the target of the FTC, and those who engage in aﬃliate marketing are no exception. Be sure to avoid using deceptive formats, false endorsements, or unsubstantiated claims. Step #6 – Beware of State Attorney’s General: State AGs often get involved when the FTC will not, and there are 50 of them. They love getting aﬃliates over “free trial” claims and will threaten lawsuits if they are not happy with proposed resolutions with consumers. Step #7 – Search yourself: bad reviews on review websites can be deadly. Promptly deal with them. These steps are not a guarantee, but will help you stay away from lawsuits. Happy marketing! Eric Crusius is an attorney that helps aﬃliate marketers stay out of legal trouble. 31 · Issue 24 · October 2013 Shawn Collins Online Shopping by Shawn Collins The book includes the winning entries, as well as the others that were submitted, which conformed to the minimum or maximum word count. Online Shopping is Broken: How to Fix It is available in paperback and on Kindle at Amazon.com. Keep an eye out for more Aﬃliate Summit Press books. How to Fix Online Shopping is Broken: How to Fix It. The book is based on short essays from U.S. college students who answered the question, “What is your biggest frustration with online shopping and how would you suggest ﬁxing it?,” in 250-500 words. The essays were part of a contest from Aﬃliate Summit, where we provided ten scholarships of $1,000 each to college students, based on their essay entries. Winners were selected by the Aﬃliate Summit Advisory Board. » Kerry Anderson – University of Maryland » Maria Andrade – Arizona State University » Julia Anthony – West Chester University » Andrew Arredondo – University of Utah » Julia Belsky – Washington University in St. Louis » Clayton Bradshaw – Tulsa Community College » Justin Davis – Cowley College » Jacquelyn D Grammer – Valencia College » Sanya Lalani – George Mason University » Andrew Joseph McCarty – Arcadia University The winning essays, as well as all other submissions, are listed in this book in alphabetical order by last name. A ﬃliate Summit Press, a new publishing arm of Afﬁliate Summit, has put out the ﬁrst in a series of books aimed at the digital marketing space called 32 Shawn is Co-founder of Aﬃliate Summit and Co-Editor-in-Chief of FeedFront Magazine, and blogs at aﬃliatetip.com. LAUNCHED! ShareASale Welcomes the GoDaddy Affiliate Program! As the world’s #1 domain name registrar and #1 hosting provider*, GoDaddy makes it simple for people to get on the Web and successfully accomplish their goals. Why we’re excited: GoDaddy is one of the Internet’s most iconic brands with a worldwide presence and more than 12 million customers. On a philosophical level, both GoDaddy and ShareASale are committed to helping businesses start and grow. We look forward to building a successful partnership. www.ShareASale.com To join the GoDaddy Affiliate Program and learn more about ShareASale visit ShareASale.com/Business Chicago-based ShareASale is a provider of e-commerce tracking and affiliate management solutions for retailers. By facilitating relationships between affiliate marketers and over 3,900 merchants, ShareASale helps its clients tap into new sources of revenue. *GoDaddy is the largest worldwide mass-market hosting provider by annual revenue according to 451 Research (Mass-Market Hosting Report-Fall 2012). · Issue 24 · October 2013 Shawn Collins Editor’s Note Your Q4 Site Oﬀense by Shawn Collins Strengthen Y ou started the fourth quarter with a game plan, and things are going right so far, but are you prepared to call an audible if need be? count on other people telling you. Instead, use a company like Pingdom to alert you immediately, so you can act on it. » Invest in quality hosting: Lots of people are tempted to go with the cheap hosts to save a few bucks, but at what cost? This tip ties into the previous point about monitoring your site performance. Basically, if your site is going down, it’s probably because you have a subpar host. » Speed up your site: People and search engines dislike slow sites. But do you even know if you have a slow site? Check out PageSpeed Insights from Google to ﬁnd out what you should ﬁx to increase the speed that your site loads. » Make your site responsive: Your site should be optimized for any device out there, whether it’s a mobile phone, table, or desktop computer. Test it in all of these environments, and evolve if it’s not responsive. Many WordPress themes will take care of this. » Stay on top of updates: If you are using WordPress or another platform, it’s vital that you update your version and related ﬁles as needed, so you can avoid making it easy for creeps to sneak in the back door and cause mischief. Taking these steps should help to preserve some sanity, and to make it easier in the event you have to call an audible. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Just like in football, you’ll sometimes have to call a sub- stitute play in business to adjust to sudden changes that you see. It’s not ideal to have to switch things up to react to external events, but if you are prepared, you can make it work for you. This is a tricky time of year, since it’s the crazy rush for commerce, and lots of people are oﬀ for extended periods of time for the holidays. What are you going to do when Muhammad Wilkerson (obligatory New York Jets reference) knocks your quarterback out of the game? OK, that’s probably not a real scenario for you in particular, but how about if your server goes down, your site is hacked, or there is some other time sensitive disaster and nobody is around to help? How about if you are simply turning people away, because your site is slow or inaccessible? Start preparing now for things that might happen, so you don’t have to pull all-nighters or run away from the Thanksgiving table to deal with messes. Here are some tips to fortify your Q4 site oﬀense… » Password security: First, change your passwords now, and make them stronger. Second, be sure you know all of your passwords, or use a service like RoboForm to keep them organized. » Monitor your site performance: If your site goes down, you’d better know about it right away. Don’t 2 Shawn is Co-founder of Aﬃliate Summit and Co-Editor-in-Chief of FeedFront Magazine, and blogs at aﬃliatetip.com.