Between now and 2018, Forrester Research Inc. expects purchases made online to reach $414 billion, up from $294 billion this year. Is your business ready to capitalize on the tremendous growth that’s coming through e-commerce in the coming months and years?
Have a Toolbox of Exclusive Offers Ready to Go A great way to get organized for Q4 now (and avoid stress later) is to create a toolbox of multiple exclusive offers that you can disseminate during Q4 in exchange for placements. Publishers will be requesting exclusives, and we recommend you have at least seven exclusive offers ready to go. “Creating your exclusive offers now gives you as the advertiser a chance to really think about the type of exclusives you can offer,” said Schaaf-PartnerCentric Affiliate Program Manager Julie Stepkowski. “Consider what types of offers would allow you to stay profitable while also enticing the customer to make the purchase.”
Secure Your Placements Now
Placements are to affiliate marketing what location is to real estate. In other words, Placements! Placements! Placements! We recommend that you secure your placements as early as possible. “To be ahead of the game, set your budget for Q4 now and start booking placements today to ensure you get prime spots,” said Senior Affiliate Program Manager Lisette Howard. “Some publishers even provide discounts for booking so far in advance.”
Be Ready for Cyber Week
Q4 is the busiest shopping season of the year, and within that mania is Cyber Week, which includes Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If there’s ever a time to make sure you have bases covered, this is the week. Do you have enough staff? Exclusives? Bandwidth? Check out how Schaaf-PartnerCentric performed for clients during Cyber Week 2013 and you’ll get a better sense of why Cyber Week is such a big deal:
Do Your Homework by Taking a Look at the Trends
E-commerce trends from Q4 2013 are a good barometer for how things might go this year – so take a look back at your analytics and those within the larger online landscape. But don’t stop there. “Try to read as much as you can about this year’s forecasts within your niche or category,” said Affiliate Program Manager Tessa Szymkiewicz. “How is your vertical trending this year? Are there any trends you should be planning for now?”
Don’t Forget About Mobile
If you’re going to capitalize on Q4 this year, your strategy must include a mobile component. In 2014, tablet orders are expected to approach 15% of total Q4 orders, while mobile phones will make up 10%. “This is not a time to leave mobile consumers out in the cold,” said Affiliate Program Manager Tessa Szymkiewicz. “If you do, you’ll be missing a big opportunity.”
Review Past Q4 Successes
Reviewing past holiday performance can help you assess what placement to pursue for the best ROI. “When reaching out to publishers to secure Q4 placements, I’ve found that sharing what we did the prior holiday season that worked and didn’t work helped us come to a more thought-out plan for the future,” said Senior Affiliate Program Manager Tracie Gross. “We can eliminate placements that underperformed and optimize and test areas that we know have been successful.”
Design Creative that Highlights Your Hottest Products Q4 is a busy time for you AND your affiliate partners. Help them out by making them aware of your best-selling products or services, and provide them with banners and text links to promote those hot products. “This is the time to put forward any inventory you’re looking to move in Q4,” said Affiliate Program Manager Kristiné Kirschke. “A unique landing page featuring these products is also a good idea.”
While You’re At It, Refresh ALL Creative
It’s great to have creative ready for your top-selling products but Q4 is, for most merchants, the biggest sales push of the year. “Don’t let outdated creative stand in the way of selling your products or services,” said Affiliate Program Manager Tessa Szymkiewicz. “This is the time to have all creative links performing at the most optimal level possible.”
Block Out Your Holiday Schedule in Advance
While you’re making preparations for Q4, keep in mind that many of your employees will be taking time off during the holidays. “It’s important to make sure you have coverage throughout the busy holiday shopping season,” said Julie Ávila, Schaaf-PartnerCentric’s Director of Affiliate Management. “Take the time now to plot out your employees’ days off so you can make a plan for days when your team is spread thin.”
The 2014 Affiliate Summit AffStat Report is now available for download. The report includes insights from 1,800 affiliates who were surveyed about their methods, preferences and strategies. Download the report at affstat.com.
The AffStat Report is a great barometer year over year about what affiliates are thinking and doing – and what they’re promoting and why.
Here are some key takeaways from the AffStat Report (including the top five responses for each):
What methods do you use to drive traffic to your website?
Search Engine Optimization – 72.4%
Blogging – 50.8%
Leveraging Social Networks – 48.5%
Email Marketing – 38.8%
Pay Per Click – 37.3%
What are the top five categories you typically promote?
Computer and Electronics – 34.3%
Clothing and Apparel – 32.8%
Health and Wellness – 27.6%
Business – 28.4%
Online Services – 25.4%
When selecting a merchant to promote, what is the top factor that sways your decision?
Product or Service Relevancy – 21%
Brand Awareness – 16%
Affiliate Program Reputation – 15%
Affiliate Network or Tracking Platform – 10%
Commission – 10%
Which of the Cost Per Sale Affiliate Networks do you belong to?
CJ Affiliate – 59%
Rakuten LinkShare – 52.2%
ShareASale – 50.7%
LinkConnector – 48.5%
ClickBank – 34.3%
What could your merchants provide you with to help you generate more business for them? The most common responses were:
The 2014 Affiliate Summit AffStat Report also includes insights into affiliates themselves including how many affiliate programs they promote, how much they earn, education level, whether they work from home or office and more. You can download the full report at affstat.com.
Schaaf-PartnerCentric just completed a survey among its affiliate publishing partners, asking a range of questions to gauge satisfaction with the affiliate program management agency’s services. Affiliates gave Schaaf-PartnerCentric a Net Promoter Score of 73.3%.
The Net Promoter Score is used to gauge customer loyalty and satisfaction. To put Schaaf-PartnerCentric’s score into perspective, any score higher than 50 is considered strong. NPS leaders include Apple laptop (76), Amazon (69), Southwest Airlines (66).
The Net Promoter Score is determined by asking “How likely are you to recommend Schaaf-PartnerCentric to a friend or colleague.” Answers are given on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being least likely and 10 being most likely.
Based on the answer to that question, customers fall into one of three categories: Promoters, Passives, and Detractors. Promoters, those whose answer fell between 9 and 10) are your loyal customers. Passives, those whose answers fell between 7 and 8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers. Detractors, those whose scores fell between 0 and 6) are unhappy customers who might leave and who can damage your brand through negative comments.
Schaaf-PartnerCentric had no detractors.
One respondent wrote, “The Schaaf-PartnerCentric teams does a great job participating in promos, keeping us informed about offers or things that we should know about in the industry.”
To calculate your Net Promoter Score, take the percentage of customers who are Promoters and subtract the percentage who are Detractors. As an example, let’s say you receive 100 responses to your Net Promoter Score survey. Of these, 70 respondents are promoters, 20 are passives and 10 are detractors. Calculate the percentages: 80% are promoters, 20% are passives and 10% are detractors. Subtract detractors (10%) from promoters (80%) and you get your Net Promoter Score, which is 70.
“We feel it’s very important to get regular feedback from clients and affiliates to ensure we’re delivering everything they expect and need to be successful,” said Julie Ávila, Director of Affiliate Management at Schaaf-PartnerCentric. “We received great feedback and will be acting on the suggestions and ideas our affiliate partners shared with us.”
We’ve got some exciting news to share today: we’ve just acquired Paulson Management Group, Inc. Our combined companies now manage more than 75 affiliate programs and will continue to operate as Schaaf-PartnerCentric.
As our CEO and Co-Founder, Brook Schaaf, said when making the announcement: “We are thrilled to announce this deal with Heather. We have had good conversations with her team and clients, whom we look forward to continuing to serve.”
Paulson Management Group was founded in 2007 and is based in Boulder, Colorado.
PMG President Heather Paulson expressed her satisfaction with the acquisition when she said, “I’m pleased to support this acquisition to the benefit of all PMG® clients and associates. Brook Schaaf and his associates will continue our service offerings by enriching a legacy that was born out of passion and will continue to thrive under Schaaf-PartnerCentric management and guidance.”
Affiliate Summit Co-Founder and FeedFront Co-Editor, Missy Ward shares a poignant personal story, “Succeed in Spite of Your Disability,” about her struggle with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and offers empowering advice for others who are coping with ADHD or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) while trying to succeed in the business world.
And Missy’s fellow Affiliate Summit Co-Founder and FeedFront Co-Editor, Shawn Collins, offers an equally personal and helpful article about “4 Essentials for My Sanity and Productivity.” Taking his cue from the Dead Milkmen (really, shouldn’t we always do that?), Shawn writes about four things he does every day (no spoilers here) to stay on top of his game. Check it out.
Our Senior Technical Solutions Specialist, Tom Rathbone, contributed an article called “Creating a Robust Multi-Market Ecosystem” in which he shares solutions to the technical challenges an advertiser faces when expanding the business internationally. If you’re planning a global expansion, Tom’s got some great advice about things you can do to ensure a smooth transition – from working with international networks and payment processing to anticipating technical needs and capturing data.
Rachel Honoway of FMTC tackled a hot topic, “Making Affiliate Marketing Attractive to Bloggers,” that our business development team (whose focus is affiliate recruitment) has been passing around as gospel. Preach it! Rachel is right on the money. We all want to work with bloggers, yet bloggers don’t always see affiliate marketing as the great opportunity that it is. Check out her pointers for reaching bloggers and helping them get on board with affiliate marketing.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As always there’s a lot of great content in FeedFront whether you’re an affiliate or an advertiser. Natalie Mauro of PCHaffiliate.com writes about “Tips for Building a Better Affiliate Program,” and Casey Pavlick of Atlantic Coast Media Group covers “3 Characteristics of a Great Affiliate.”
The issue also includes advice on multitasking, getting more out of your presence on LinkedIn, optimizing for mobile, boosting SEO with help from Pinterest and capitalizing on hot markets.
If you’re not already a FeedFront subscriber, sign up for your free subscription today. The magazine has 42,000 subscribers and will be hitting mailboxes later this month or in early August. It will also be distributed at Affiliate Summit East next month in New York City.
Speaking of Affiliate Summit, Schaaf-PartnerCentric will be attending the conference, and we hope to see you there. If you’d like to meet with us during Summit, contact us today to schedule a meeting.
Affiliate marketers who are already thriving in the B2B space should consider joining the AppForma affiliate program, which is now being managed by affiliate management agency Schaaf-PartnerCentric on the Impact Radius affiliate network.
AppForma offers agency-quality marketing at a small-business price: New customers, increased loyalty and more sales. Appforma does all the work while your small business reaps all the rewards. Using its innovative, award-winning marketing platform and expertise, Appforma develops a customized, 12-month marketing program, complete with 50 marketing campaigns and ongoing loyalty activities, just for you.
Appforma creates and executes everything — including emails, social media posts, promotions, advertising, landing pages, loyalty newsletters, loyalty points tracking, reports and all content and graphics.
The Appforma affiliate program is being managed by Julie Stepkowski of Schaaf-PartnerCentric on the Impact Radius affiliate network. The cookie duration is 90 days. No datafeed is available. No trademark bidding is allowed.
The commission payout is 100% of the monthly package purchased. Please note: This is NOT a continuity payout; it’s a one-time payout per sale generated.
Here’s an example of AppForma’s pricing. If an end user signs up with 2,500 business contacts and pays the $199 monthly package, which is the best-selling product, then the publisher will receive a $199 commission payout (only once).
Learn more about the Appforma brand at appforma.com. Get more information about the Appforma affiliate program, and to apply to join today.
Our client Light In The Box has been getting some attention on celebrity blogs thanks to a reality TV star’s decision to buy her wedding dress on LightInTheBox.com.
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo star Anna Shannon got engaged on the season finale of the TLC series, and she and her fiancé got married in May in a wedding they planned themselves.
As celebrity blog Starcasm.net reported, “As far as her wedding dress, Radar’s source said Anna would be wearing a white silk dress she found on Lightinthebox.com for $212, a thrifty price her “Coupon Queen” must have been proud of!”
If you watch reality TV or really are alive in any way, you know that Honey Boo Boo’s Mama June is called the “Coupon Queen,” made famous for her mastery of extreme couponing.
When it comes to savings, LightInTheBox.com is known the world over for its unbeatable prices on a wide range of products, and now even a star of Honey Boo Boo thinks so!
Cyberswim (Linkshare MID 36669) just announced a few deals for this weekend and the rest of the month.
Buy One Get Any Bottom 50% OFF Code: BOGOHALF
Starts 7/11 and Ends 7/13
$50 OFF $250 at Cyberswim – Limited time only! Code:DEAL250
Starts Today and ends 8/1/14
Cyberswim is the largest direct supplier online of the Miraclesuit®, the ultimate in tummy control bathing suits which minimize your waist and create curves. Miraclesuit slenderizing swimsuits are available in Misses, D Cup, DD Cup and Plus Size Women’s Swimwear.
The United States alone is a large online marketplace. In numbers, roughly $260B of e-commerce goods and services were transacted in 2013*. And according to Forrester, the forecast for 2017 is $370B**. While that’s a large and impressive number, did you know that in terms of growth, western European will outpace US in the next few years and grow by a compound annual growth rate of 11% (vs. 9% in the US) to reach an estimated $260B by 2017.**
Ecommerce in Asia-Pacific is projected to surpass North America as a region this year, and China alone is expected to surpass the US by 2016.***
If we’ve managed to convince you that “There’s gold in them there hills’, or at least an opportunity worth considering, where do you begin?
Before targeting international online traffic for your affiliate program, ask yourself if:
1. You sell products or services that serve multiple markets (such as consumer electronics, fashion or software) that are not highly localized. Examples of products not readily generating vast international sales, could be thermometers in Fahrenheit, or say a Green Bay Packers Cheese Head (http://thecoloradoobserver.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/cheesehead.jpg).
2. You see web traffic from other countries (5%+). This % is not a hard and fast rule, but more of an indication that there is a demand for your products outside of the US. If possible, you could track the demand by region, to plan and prioritize your global expansion efforts.
If you’re unsure about either of these two factors, then you probably need to re-evaluate the potential of international traffic. On the other hand, if the answer to both of those questions is yes, then the following list of considerations is helpful for planning purposes:
3. You’ll need to ship to local markets: How will your product reach it’s global destination? Some countries may require a different carrier. Must have.
4. You’ll want a local language landing page: Will you translate your product page to other languages? Not a Must, but helpful, particularly in some regions where English is not as accepted, ex. France, Germany, Italy.
5. You’ll want a functional shopping cart. Not only do shoppers prefer to complete the shopping in their preferred language, keep in mind the shopping cart address fields will need to be adjusted to capture and recognize international address conventions. The former is not a Must, but the latter is a Must.
6. You’ll need to account for currency and total price in your shopping cart: Buyers prefer to see the total price in their local currency, including S&H, and taxes and duties. Must have.
7. You’ll need to offer global payment options in your shopping cart: Not all countries have the same credit card adoptions as the US. Other countries offer a variety of payment methods including payment on delivery, bank transfer, or eWallets to name a few. Must
8. You’ll want to consider providing local language support: Does your site provide checkout FAQs in various languages? Not a Must.
All of the above factors are intended to make the consumer feel as comfortable as possible with overcoming the fact that they’re buying from US merchant rather than a domestic competitor.
The above are mainly merchant specific considerations. But affiliates will have some additional considerations, in order for them to gauge the opportunity:
Payment mechanism and currency for publisher payouts: Will publishers get paid in their preferred currency? And through what payment type (check, EFT, PayPal, etc)?
Creative/feeds in local language: For best results, banners and links should be localized, including language, currency and date formating.
Affiliate program Ts&Cs in local languages: This helps publishers understand what you accept and don’t.
Regional Pricing: Some markets may differ from your default US commission structure.
With these items addresses, you’re ready to take advantage of the opportunity and demand outside of the United States and start going global with your affiliate program. And we’re here to support you all the way. Contact Peter Bexelius, Schaaf-PartnerCentric’s International Team leader, to discuss your plans for global expansion today.