August 16, 2009

The Power of a Twitter Suggestion, Product Reviews & Video Sharing

By Li Evans

Earlier this afternoon I was getting a little disheartened by some .... pardon the expression,.... lame ass marketers touting that everyone needs a Blog .. type promoting social media marketing.  You know the type, they think they know social media because they have a blog and a twitter account.  A friend of mine asked me to check out some links from some webinars that .. well frankly, some schmuck put together who thinks social media is about links from a blog directory.  Pardon my candidness - but schmuck is about the best way to describe who presented the information.

For the record, like my respected pal Mike Grehan, I hate the term Social Media ... there's got to be a better term to explain this form of conversation/promotion/marketing.

With that all said, I set off then this evening to find a shredder.  Yes, something as plain Jane and utilitarian as a shredder.  See I got new checks, but the bank made an error and put the wrong number in the account area - so they sent me the correct ones.  I also have a bunch of CDs I need to shred.  Thus started my quest.

I went to Twitter and asked:

Low and behold a local pal Shawn Collins of Afflilate Summit tweeted me back:

Of course I thanked him!

But .... me being me not only did I watch his review:

I did a search.Google-Ativa-DQ120-Diamond-Cut-Shredder  

Look closely at what I have highlighted in red boxes (click image for larger view), it's all Shawn.  Shawn's review ranks highly from the website I visited, not only that his YouTube VIDEO ranks highly.  Followed by the listing (highlighted by blue box).  Funny thing - Shawn's link links right to the Office Depot product.

Now, If I wasn't such an in-depth internet user that I am, and as loyal to Staple as I am, I wouldn't have done a search on the Ativa™ DQ120D Diamond-Cut Shredder in Google to find alternate sources for this product.  However neither Staples nor Amazon carry this product.

Point is, I trust Shawn - he's one of my followers on Twitter who actually holds conversations, I've met him in person, and he even runs a respected conference called Affiliate Summit.  He's got authority in my book, a trusted authority.  Add to the fact that he's ranking in Google for all this, I'm buying the Ativa™ DQ120D Diamond-Cut Shredder from Office Depot.

That's not just the power of Twitter, it's the power of a blog post review and video sharing - Social Media Marketing (by an Affiliate Marketer) in action.

October 28, 2008

Optimizing Your Product Data Feed for the Holiday Rush

By Donna McCarthy

Holiday-season As we get closer to the 2008 Holiday season, everyone is asking how can I best optimize my product data feed and how can I increase my conversion rate to get more sales over my competition. Below I will outline a few helpful simple helpful hints to increase your conversion rate and increase your revenue.

Optimize Production Descriptions

First, your product descriptions need to stand out to make the consumer want to click on your products links instead of your competition. The primary goal is to differentiate your products from your competition. How do you do that? You need to really take time with your product descriptions. Make them as unique as possible, do not use the general product descriptions provided by the manufacturer.  Chances are this is what everyone else is using. Include things like your shipping costs, if the item is available online only, or if you’re running a special discount. Your descriptions are key to making your products stand out among the competition.

Update Feeds Frequently

Second, make sure you are updating your product data feeds frequently. You should update your feeds as often as your inventory changes. Pricing and products need to be as fresh as possible. Nothing depresses a conversion rate more, than when a consumer clicks on a product which is out of stock.

Check Your Landing Pages

Third and I think the most important, is your landing pages. Make sure your landing page URLs go directly to your product pages. So many times, I’ve seen data feeds where all the landing pages go to the home page. Why would you send the consumer to your home page, when they have already selected the product they want?

These helpful hints probably seem really obvious, but you would be surprised how many companies are not using these best practices. That’s good news for you! You now have the advantage to get better conversion rates and earn more revenue.

August 05, 2008

Online Marketing Tips Video: What Is Affiliate Marketing?

By Li Evans

This week we're bringing Donna McCarthy of DCM Consulting back to explain all about Affiliate Marketing.  There was a slight mix up in our tapings, we filmed Donna twice, once before she explained the difference between Network Client Services verse Outsourced Program Management when it comes to choosing who to run your affiliate program.  That's actually the video that should have came today.... we here at SMG messed up!

Today we're bringing you the "What is Affiliate Marketing Video" that was suppose to air back on July 8th.  It's still quite relevant and a pretty informing video.  Donna's one of the best in the businesses, and she shares her knowledge of the different types of affiliate publishers out there.


Full video transcript after the jump...

Continue reading "Online Marketing Tips Video: What Is Affiliate Marketing?" »

July 08, 2008

Online Marketing Tips Video: Affiliate Marketing - Network Client Services verses Outsourced Program Management

By Li Evans

This week's Tuesday's Tips in Online Marketing is from SMG's Affiliate Marketing writer, Donna McCarthy

Donna's tackling the subject of whether companies should look to network client services or perhaps taking a deeper look at outsourced program management firms.  Donna discusses the pros and cons of each and what companies who are considering running an affiliate program to sell their products or promote their brands should look at when making their decisions about who should run their affiliate marketing program.


Full video transcript after the jump...

Continue reading "Online Marketing Tips Video: Affiliate Marketing - Network Client Services verses Outsourced Program Management" »

May 14, 2008

Overstock Terminates All New York Based Affiliates

By Michael Abolafia

Months before the Former Governor of New York, Elliott Spitzer was in the news for his scandalous behavior he was making news for his potential major impact on e-commerce.  The buzz was from his attempt to pass legislation that would make it necessary for online merchants to collect taxes on Internet sales made by New Yorkers.  Specifically, the legislature would make it necessary for merchants to collect taxes from New Yorkers if they work with any Affiliate Marketers based in NY.

Current NY Governor, David Patterson has move forward with the Spitzer plan.  Starting June 1, 2008 merchants will be required to collect taxes or face repercussions.

On May 2, 2008 Amazon filed a complaint in State Supreme Court in Manhattan objecting to the law.  Amazon is challenging the constitutionality of the law.  According to a New York Times Article, Amazon states, "It is impossible,...for it to determine which of its affiliates are actually in New York State".

Yesterday, Overstock dealt with this issue by removing all New York based affiliates from their program.  Below is the email sent to their affiliates.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  How will other large online only retailers react?  Will other states follow suit?

ABestWeb, a forum for Affiliate Marketers has started a conversation on this topic.


*Image credit - downtown ecommerce blog


January 21, 2008

What Affiliate Marketing has Taught Me About Email Marketing

By Michael Abolafia

In a recent discussion with our email solution provider I was asked to potentially speak at their next conference on the topic of Affiliate Marketing.  When thinking about what I may speak about it sparked me to look back at the first 6 or 7 years of my career and how much Affiliate Marketing has allowed me to learn.   I know that I am slightly biased but I cannot think of another online marketing specialty area that touches on so many niches of online marketing.

Email Quick Career Update:  In November of this past year I joined Taylor Gifts as the Director of e-Commerce.  In this new role I am responsible for all areas of online marketing. In the interest of full disclosure it should be known that I am not currently directly managing our Affiliate Program but am excited to be working with the great folks over at Converseon.

Effective Communication is the biggest differentiator between great and average Affiliate Managers.  There are thousands of Affiliate Programs all vying for the same real estate.  Top Affiliates receive hundreds of emails a day all asking for placement.  The affiliate program that can stand out from the others will have the best chance of winning the placement.  The communication techniques that I have utilized over the years for affiliate marketing carry over into successful email strategies that I am implementing today.

4 of the most important strategies / rules that I have learned from Affiliate Marketing that carry over into Email Marketing are:

1.  Be Unique
2.  Segmentation
3.  Offer
4.  Create a Two Way Interaction

Continue reading "What Affiliate Marketing has Taught Me About Email Marketing" »

January 18, 2008

Affiliate Marketing Is Not on the Decline

By Donna McCarthy

This is my first post for SMG so please bear with me if I don’t follow the usual rules of  blog posting.  I’m sure I’ll pick it up along the way.  My posts are primarily going to be about my observations working in the affiliate marketing space.  One of my biggest pet peeves as you’ll soon find out are those folks who criticize the affiliate industry and who have truly never really taken the time to do their research to learn how the industry works, or put the time and effort required into making a successful program.

I’ve read a lot of posts recently which state the affiliate industry is dying or on the decline. (How the Affiliate Marketing Industry Killed Itself.)  I find this quite fascinating and can only assume these folks are not looking at the same year over year results I am.  The preliminary 4th quarter data I have seen so far indicate the affiliate industry isDollar_arrows  actually on the increase.  Early revenue numbers indicate the 4th quarter of 2007 was stronger than ever.  In most cases, merchants reporting double digit revenue increases over last year.  With results like this I think I would disagree that the industry in a decline.      

Steve Denton, President of LinkShare addressed the same topic in recent interview with Revenews titled “LinkShare 2008 Preview - Part 1 of the Revenews 2008 Affiliate Network Preview Series”.  When Steve was asked about the annual proclamation of the affiliate industry's demise?  His reply was: "It's simply not true." Every year someone is posting something that announces the death of affiliate marketing. You remember when a certain large search engine was going to kill affiliate marketing because they changed their business model? Many people said when they changed their model it was going to kill affiliate marketing, but it didn't. Again, when all the adware and spyware issues first surfaced several years ago others predicted that was going to kill affiliate marketing. But it didn't. As an industry I think everyone works hard to resolve the issues that exist. I think we continue to demonstrate it is a proven, valuable channel." 

I think Steve summed it up best when he said “ Year in and year out this channel continues to deliver. Affiliate marketing is a robust channel that can't be ignored, especially as part of a multi-channel strategy."

May 17, 2007

Google "Universal Search Model"

By Michael Abolafia

Andy Beal over at Marketing Pilgrim reported on the upcoming algorithm and interfaces changes out of Google.  The most notable change is that Google will be displaying results from all of its properties including web, image, video, news, etc in order to provide what they feel to be the most relevant results.

Images_2 What does this mean for affiliates?  It looks like it result in less space in the sandbox for affiliates to play.  It will also make it necessary for affiliate marketers as well as merchants to optimize their placements in the video, image and news/web PR space.  In the grand scheme of things I do not think that this change will negatively affect affiliates on a whole but will force the ever resilient group to change how they think about the ways that they are currently promoting their merchants.

April 02, 2007

DoubleClick For Sale - Part 2

By Michael Abolafia

According to a recent article it looks like Google, Yahoo and AOL have joined Microsoft as interested parties to purchase DoubleClick.  As i mentioned in my previous blog entry, the affiliate network GoogleyahooPerformics would be a part of this sale.  I feel as though a sale to Microsoft, Google and Yahoo would have the potential to greatly change the affiliate space.

Many people have come out and said that the new Google CPA network would be the end of affiliate marketing.  I do not believe that to be true at all.  Could it take a small cut out of traditional Affiliate Marketing?  Maybe.  However, to me affiliate marketing is about relationships and matching offerings to the needs of a marketing partner.  This could be in the form of interactive banners, data feeds, search banners, etc.  Until Google could offer these types of customizability and relationships their offerings will not have a big negative impact on the Affiliate Marketing space.  But could the purchase of DoubleClick provide them with this opportunity?

Leveraging Paid Search and Affiliate Marketing

By Account Deleted

Maguire In a recent blog post, I wrote about the Death of Affiliate Marketing in the online marketplace. Citing that companies are being more cost conscious with all of the expensive monthly fees, setup costs, affiliates bidding on Trademark terms in paid search, etc...  Well, after giving this some thought, there are some useful and opportunistic tactics where companies can leverage their affiliate relationship in paid search resulting in a Win-Win for everyone, especially the consumer. I'm NOT talking about traditional Branding.... I'm talking about New Customer Aquisition.

Trademark Bidding Rules:
Ok, so we all know that there are major issues regarding Trademark Bidding with competitors and affiliates bidding on a company 's trademark search terms. In most cases with SEM, the "branding" search terms drive the most revenue at the lowest costs, resulting in a continuous ROAS% profit machine. However, as I have learned firsthand in this industry, acquiring new customers by bidding on more generic search terms is getting increasingly more expensive as competition and saturation influence ROAS and profit margins.

So in order to "not piss-off" affiliates who are trying to generate additional sales, position your affiliate network NOT as a Branding Channel, but as an Acquisition Channel because the "SEM reality check" has taught us that getting new customers is more expensive and just shutting affiliates down because of  Trademark bidding is a ticket for disaster because they will go elsewhere, most likely to a competitor. You need to empower them with genuine and useful information to entice them to  come back to the program and give them the initiative and tools they need to drive more new customers. (ie. share the love!)

Help me... Help you! (Entice your Affiliates in SEM Battles)
After discussing the Trademark woes,  it's a good thing to share with your affiliates new ideas that can excite and bring back to life this once powerful marketing channel. Let them know things like "hey, of the 10,000 keywords that we are bidding on, only 10% are driving successful revenue (mostly brand terms). Share with them that there is a great opportunity for them to penetrate new markets and you need their help do it. Make them feel they are a part of the overall plan and be very clear that they will be rewarded for their participation.

Here are some other things that can be addressed:

  1. Provide them with new products coming to market which can give you that all-important "upper hand" on competitors.
  2. Give them new customer acquisition bonuses based on specific product categories/segments that have historically achieved lower ROAS% in the past
  3. Provide them with SEM tactical best practices docs such as ...
    1. Keyword research for top products (provide them with keywords)
    2. Examples of Ad/Creatives that have work well iin the past
    3. Provide them with new (CTA) landing pages
  4. Just be honest with them. Share some basic analytics/data with them
    1. Conversion rates
    2. Top 100 products
    3. Top converting products
    4. Bounce Rates

If there is anything to gain from affiliate marketing and paid search, it's finding a way to make it successful over the short term but most importantly the long term. One of the hardest things anyone can do with paid search is to turn it into a highly profitable, money-making machine that adjusts itself to market conditions. As competitors continue to saturate the market and raise CPCs, it becomes more and more difficult to acquire new customers while sustaining a healthy ROAS% based on traditional Cost/Margins of products & services. It is this trend alone where the Affiliate Marketing Channel can be leveraged to your advantage. Let your affiliates drive more qualified NEW customers to your website and lastly let the affiliate know that you want them to succeed because if you can help them succeed, imagine the long term benefit of new and repeat buyers over the next 5-10 years.

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