July 07, 2015

Controlling Fraud in Lead Affiliate Programs

Author : Dan Fink

For a lead-based affiliate program fraud prevention can be a daunting task that is critical to success. If done correctly from the beginning, it can save thousands of dollars in unnecessary commissions and fees. Here are three steps to ensuring your program is protected against fraudulent publishers.

Choose the right tracking platform.

One of the most important decisions for preventing fraud in a new affiliate program is choosing the correct tracking platform. There are a myriad of tracking platforms out there and they all have their benefits and drawbacks. Make sure that the tracking platform you’re considering is vigilant in vetting publishers and has a strong QA process in place for all traffic. Some of the larger tracking platforms place equal importance on fraud prevention as its merchants, which leads to expanded services to help control fraud such as real-time fraud detection and brand monitoring.

Set up program terms appropriately.

Once the tracking platform is in place, make sure that the program terms are not attractive to black-hat publishers. If you have a multiple-action program, such as paying on a lead and then a conversion to a paid sign-up, put the weight of the payout on the second conversion. In a pure lead program, keep the payout as close to the competition as possible without putting too much money out there. The bottom line is if you have a strong offer and the publisher drives quality traffic, they’ll understand that larger payouts come as private offers. A high, default-rate payout attracts publishers who may be more interested in taking advantage of the offer as opposed to converting high quality traffic.

Create a rock solid vetting process for new publishers.

All tracking platforms have their own publisher vetting process, with some being much more detailed than others. To ensure a trust-worthy publisher base, personally review all affiliate applications. It is a manual and time-consuming process, but is worth the effort in the end. To help speed up the process, put countries where fraud has a habit of originating from on auto-decline. The most common type of fraudulent publisher I am seeing lately are publishers with content sites that are related and look good for the program I am managing while having little actual traffic. If someone unseasoned was reviewing the application they would assuredly be accepted into the program. Once in the program they generally have a very high conversion ratio with bad leads. However, these sites do have a few tells that are easy to spot:

1) The banners for various programs in the tracking platform are listed on the site

2) They have low traffic scores when looking at Alexa and Google

Another type of suspect application I see are random publishers inserting extremely popular sites into the URL portion of the application. It is obvious that these people have nothing to do with the site, so that is an easy decline. But when it isn’t obvious, there are a few easy ways to gain information and put yourself ahead of the fraudsters:

1) Review the website – In many cases there will be information on the site that does not match up with the application or vice versa

2) Impose traffic restrictions – Create a minimum traffic requirement based on Alexa/Google/Anything else you want. Sites over a million in Alexa generally won’t generate any volume.

3) Make good use of a WHOIS tool – In many cases the domain information will be private, but when it’s not that information is helpful in determining the validity of an application

4) Reach Out – Any publisher that you are on the fence on in terms of acceptance or will be accepting you should reach out to in order to determine their marketing methods and begin a relationship. If it is a publisher you are unsure of and they don’t communicate back, well there is your answer. Invariably, some good publishers will be caught up in the net we’ve laid to prevent any fraud from entering the program.

This is a small price to pay for a clean program and in many cases they will reach out themselves allowing you to review everything again in a different light.

In the end, the most important way to keep your lead program fraud-free is to build long-lasting mutually-beneficial relationships with your publishers.




June 25, 2015

Nexus Tax Law Update: Nevada Passed

Author : Kris Ritchie

​​Nevada passed a click-through nexus law that affects the affiliate marketing industry.  Nevada AB380 has two effective dates – one on July 1st and one on October 1st, 2015. If you are an out-of-state retailer, as most of our merchants are, compliance is required by October 1, 2015. The enactment of this bill was based on the existing nexus laws in Colorado and New York. As a result there is a work-around included similar to the New York bill, using non-solicitation.

For more information, check out our Affiliate Nexus Tax Guide, last updated May 2015. 


Nexus Call-to-Action pic



 




June 22, 2015

Schaaf-PartnerCentric Launches REACH

Author : Jessica Griffin

Schaaf-PartnerCentric Launches REACH

We are excited to announce the launch of REACH, our newest service offering! REACH is an engagement solution that provides curated outreach and guaranteed placements on influencer websites and social outlets. Web retailers can now expand beyond performance marketing through Relationships, Exposure, Advocacy, Connection, and Hype.

The traditional performance marketing model rewards publishers for sale conversions, but REACH shifts that model to compensate based on the ability to engage with consumers, and ultimately influence their behavior online. Rather than rewarding influencers for the conversion of a sale, REACH tracks and reports engagement metrics like the number of shares or comments for each placement.

REACH can be embraced by any web retailer, not just those serviced by Schaaf-PartnerCentric’s affiliate program management services.

REACH helps web retailers:

  • Maximize brand exposure.
  • Build hype and exposure for new product launches.
  • Roll out targeted giveaways and contests to unique audiences.
  • Build a brand ambassador program with a troop of bloggers at the ready.
  • Open the door for long-term relationships with bloggers and influencers.
  • Increase a brand’s community awareness and engagement.
  • Build brand authority with original content.

We’ll be offering special launch promotions through September. If you’re interested in learning how REACH could help your brand, please request a consultation.


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June 17, 2015

Brook Schaaf Is Married!

Author : Guallie Garcia

 

SchaafWedding

On Saturday, June 13th, Chairman and Co-founder of Schaaf-PartnerCentric, Brook Schaaf, got married. The wedding ceremony was held at the First United Methodist Church, with the reception at Hotel Ella, on a warm and humid day in Austin, Texas. Allison Stevens Schaaf displayed no outward signs of trepidation, and the wedding ceremony itself could not have been more picturesque.

 

The evening was filled with delicious, paleo-inspired food, embarrassing stories from family members, and a full dance floor. The newly weds have plans for a month-long honeymoon in Africa.

It was a beautiful evening spent celebrating the love and partnership of two beautiful people. The Schaaf-PartnerCentric team extends only the highest of well wishes for Mr. & Mrs. Schaaf.

 

If you would like to see more photos of the wedding as well as other articles we post from Schaaf-PartnerCentric, check out our Facebook page here




June 16, 2015

Meet The Team: Gayoung Lee

Author : Guallie Garcia

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Welcome to our second “Meet The Team” blog post, where I interview new members of Schaaf-PartnerCentric and talk to them about how they ended up in the affiliate marketing industry and how their experience is here at Schaaf-PartnerCentric. In today’s Meet The Team blog, I have decided to interview Gayoung Lee who is an Affiliate Marketing Analyst for Schaaf-PartnerCentric.

What is your background and how did you find Schaaf-PartnerCentric?

“Before Schaaf-PartnerCentric, I was a Marketing Manager at an exhibitionist center in Korea and spent seven years as a director in a private school in South Korea. I started using Social media campaigning in Korea and the U.S. and I received a MBA from St. Edwards University in Austin. What brought me to Schaaf-PartnerCentric was their need for a Korean Marketing Analyst and I was amazed by the size of the industry and it’s potential for growth.”

What do you do for SPC and what do you like the most about your position?

“My daily routine starts by checking my emails with publishers and then creating weekly and monthly reports for clients with data. I also aid in recruitment and generate sales and new accounts as well as data mine for potential client recruitments. Other duties that I have throughout the day are PR reports, correcting data, aiding with program manager support and trademark monitoring. Whenever I am free from working on reports, I also work as the team photographer by taking pictures for new members as well as pictures for our networking events.”

“What motivates me when working is knowing that I am helping people by giving them good information. I love learning more about the industry as well as compiling data and integrating it into reports. I take pride in being very detail-oriented and making sure all of my data is correct before presenting it to clients.”

What do you like the most about SPC?

“I love the company culture, the idea of how it was founded, and especially the team members that I work with. I like the idea that everyone is open for change and improvements with the company.”

What do you work on outside of SPC?

“When I am not working in the office, I like to work on my Korean blog, manage a movie social media platform, and produce international documentaries. My other hobbies include loving animals, traveling, and taking photos.”

What advice would you give to new hires here at SPC?

“My job as a marketing analyst is very specific and the industry is always changing. New hires do not expect to know everything right away so keep an open mind when learning about the position. Everybody is nice and helpful so try not to stress out and remember to relax to the new information and the environment.”

If you liked this blog, go check out my article on what it is like being the Marketing and Events Coordinator here and go ahead and give us a like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.




June 08, 2015

Join the Allied Shirts Affiliate Program Today!

Author : Guallie Garcia

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We are happy to announce that Schaaf-PartnerCentric is now managing the Allied Shirt Affiliate Program.

At Allied Shirts their love for T-shirts goes beyond the cotton. They strive to offer custom, great looking t-shirts for all of life’s milestones. T-shirts are an awesome way to let your personality out and to remember a special event or give your team some real spirit.

Allied Shirts works to infuse every aspect of the company with their love of T-shirts. Their team literally checks every shirt order that comes in for print quality and overall look. You never have to worry whether you uploaded the image incorrectly or if it will look great on a Tee. They check it over, and if necessary, fix it. They do all this by hand for every individual order. What does this mean for the customer? It means that your T-shirt order is going to come out right and look great. Allied Shirts guarantees it.

To learn more and join the Allied Shirts affiliate program click here.

The Allied Shirt affiliate program is professionally managed by Kris Ritchie, Schaaf-PartnerCentric Affiliate Program Manager.

If you’re interested in determining how Schaaf-PartnerCentric might help your affiliate program, please request a consultation.




June 01, 2015

5 Tips to Build a Strong Affiliate Program Brand

Author : Gary Marcoccia

How to Build an Affiliate Program Brand

Online retailers work hard on a primary store brand, but they also need to be mindful of their affiliate program’s brand. Offering compelling terms and consistently showcasing good management practices moves the affiliate program needle quicker, so it’s no surprise that supported programs with good reputations are the best publisher recruiting tools.

There are steps a merchant can take to establish affiliate program authority in any given vertical. By planning and investing time cultivating a strong program brand, merchants can mitigate risks and lower costs. Below are five important components for building a strong affiliate program brand.

Program Manager Visibility

Perhaps the most important component of building and maintaining a strong affiliate marketing program is having a knowledgeable, personable, and easy to access day-to-day program manager. Extra points for a manager who’s a thought leader, or one engaged in meet-ups, tradeshow panels, forums, etc. The more visible the program manager the better. Having an effective program manager matters, so choose wisely and understand their worth.

Launch/Re-Launch Hype

Affiliate programs launching (or re-launching) can get great online publicity. Creating hype often starts with a merchant press release and blog post. Follow-up with a social media blitz linking back to the authoritative source (generally the blog) and encourage others to share. To spice things up offer a launch promotion like “First 5 affiliates to send $1,000 in sales gets a $100 cash bonus”.

Dialed First Impression

Create a solid first impression for new publishers coming on board. Pay close attention to network acceptance email templates and craft the welcome with a branded, sincere, informative note that’s not too long. If possible embed a discount code in the email and mention launch promos or incentives. Reach out with a personalized 1:1 intro to any key publishers who sign-up, in addition to the packaged welcome email.

Maintained Ad List

There is nothing worse for an affiliate program’s brand than having stagnant, outdated, or expired banners and text ads available for publishers. If it’s summer time and there are winter banners, that’s a key indicator to serious publishers that support for the program is lacking. Stay on top of ad creative, be sure to sync all promos with networks, and send out notification emails to maximize publisher exposure to the offers.

Useful Communication

Effective, to-the-point publisher communication is key. Publishers get many emails daily from many merchants so program-wide messages should be useful and include promotions, special offers or codes that generate strong sales. Consistent and potent outreach that impacts revenue for publishers sets a standard, and ultimately helps an affiliate program shine.

Build a strong affiliate program brand, become more visible and attract top publishers. Program managers can utilize the five tips in this article, and other simple measures, to help their programs stand out. Everyone wants access to the same top players. By supporting publishers and doing performance marketing better, a more healthy program develops which translates to a stronger ROI over time.

If you’re interested in learning how Schaaf-PartnerCentric builds respected affiliate programs for online merchants, please request a consultation.


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May 19, 2015

5 Basic Steps to Launch an Affiliate Program

Author : Tessa Szymkiewicz

Steps to Launch an Affiliate Program

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An affiliate program is an excellent way to drive new traffic and conversions to an online site, as well as increase the buzz around a product. Launching an affiliate program requires a bit of technical expertise, some initial funds, and an understanding of the merchant’s business model. Affiliate programs are often considered a less risky choice by marketing professionals and small businesses as affiliate programs are Cost Per Action (CPA) based. This means that funds are not paid out unless a sale is made through an affiliate link.

Here are 5 basic steps to launch an affiliate program:

Research

Look at competitors and see how their affiliate programs are run. Notice what tracking software or network they are using and the commission structure for affiliate payout. It’s also helpful to try to estimate how much revenue is being driven through the affiliate program, and what could be done better.

Choose an Affiliate Tracking Network

Some merchants build their affiliate tracking software in-house but this option is not recommended unless it is a huge brand. Merchants interested in launching a new program will have more success joining an established tracking network or marketing platform like CJ Affiliate, ShareASale, Impact Radius or LinkShare. Third-party tracking platforms offer better tracking, an easy-to-use interface, multi-faceted reporting, and (sometimes) access to pools of affiliates.

Have an Affiliate Program Management Plan

Affiliate program management is important to the growth and stability of an affiliate program. Affiliate programs can be managed by the merchant in-house, or, more commonly, out-sourced to an experienced affiliate program management agency. When deciding which is best, consider their expertise in the industry, past success with similar programs, and their established relationships.

Set Up the Affiliate Program

Setting up an affiliate program involves:

  • Choosing a commissionable action and a commission amount. Most tracking platforms will allow merchants to pay a flat fee or a percentage of each sale.
  • Drafting an Affiliate Agreement that outlines a search marketing policy, a trademark policy, a refund policy, and how fraudulent orders will be handled
  • Placing and testing the affiliate tracking code on the site
  • Creating banners, logos, and text links that affiliates can use to promote products and offers

Launch the program

Once the affiliate program has been set-up, start promoting. Invite repeat customers to join, announce it in a company newsletter, blog, and even on Facebook. The best promoters are people who already buy.

Once the program is live, begin affiliate recruitment to see traffic and revenue flow in.

For some recruitment ideas, please download our Top 15 Affiliates to Watch list.

Top 15 Affiliates List



 




May 15, 2015

Meet The Team: Guallie Garcia

Author : Guallie Garcia

 

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Welcome to our first Meet The Team blog post, where I interview new members of Schaaf-PartnerCentric and talk to them about how they ended up in the affiliate marketing industry and how their experience is here at Schaaf-PartnerCentric. In today’s Meet The Team blog, I have decided to interview myself to show what it is like to be an entry-level marketer coming into the affiliate industry.

What is your background and how did you find Schaaf-PartnerCentric?

A little bit about myself, I received my BBA from The University of Texas at Austin in May of 2014 and attended the McCombs Business School where I majored in Marketing and minored in Management. What drew me into the Schaaf-ParterCentric office was not my classroom knowledge about affiliate marketing, but instead the nature of my position as a Marketing and Events Coordinator and the wonderful team-oriented culture that we all share here at SPC.

What is your role at Schaaf-PartnerCentric and why do you like your role? 

As a Marketing and Events Coordinator for Schaaf-PartnerCentric for a month now, it is my primary duty to work on general marketing practices, such as website updates on WordPress, blog writing, content creation, social media posting and moderation, and scheduling travel and events for our team. I can honestly say that this has been the best position I have had in my life so far! Not only do I get to learn so much as a young marketer, but I am always on my toes doing different tasks. In other words, I never have a boring day!

What do you love the most about Schaaf-PartnerCentric?

With an amazing culture of a small team filled with motivated workers, I get excited to come to work each day and tackle new projects that I own while getting help by a group of kind and educated affiliate marketers and managers. Not only do I get to work in the heart of downtown Austin, Texas, as the Marketing and Events Coordinator, I get to network with other clients and businesses that we work with at different events and get feedback on how we can be a better affiliate marketing company. This includes coordinating and attending happy hours, sharing our trips and new relationships on social media, and plan for team bonding retreats every year.

I can say that I am truly blessed to work with a great group of people and I could not be happier in this office. If any of you are reading this from SPC, I would like to thank you for this opportunity and I hope to help continue our growth as a strong Affiliate Marketing Agency.

If you liked this blog, go check out my article on the Avangate Happy Hour here and go ahead and give us a like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

 




May 11, 2015

How to Assess Quality When Recruiting Affiliates

Author : Kris Ritchie

Affiliate Recruitment

Loyalty, coupon, content, technology, blogger, social – there are so many business models being used by affiliates, how do you know which will be the best fit for your business, and more importantly, drive sales to develop an effective partnership? As an agency that manages affiliate programs across multiple industries and verticals, we are responsible for quickly understanding the business model of an affiliate, comparing that to the strategy of our programs, then determining if they are a viable fit.

Here are five questions we use to benchmark the potential of an affiliate for a program:

Is the affiliate responsive?

Are they dedicated to making it work? Even the best affiliate sites can underperform if the affiliate is asleep at the wheel. If either side cannot communicate and keep development of an activation or optimization process moving forward, then it will be difficult to understand the potential of the partnership. Lack of communication will result in frustration and inefficiency.

What is the affiliate’s historical performance across other programs?

Keep an eye on top industry performers to make sure they are in the program and driving traffic. These affiliates have typically achieved the highest network earnings and have proven their value by driving revenue across numerous programs. Use network earnings in context as an affiliate may be particularly strong for a certain vertical that is not necessarily a fit for a different program. Don’t categorically decline an affiliate after one bad experience and plan to revisit any missing affiliate categories within a specific timeline. Business strategies shift on both sides and what may not have been a good fit in the past, could prove effective for the future. Work to create diversity in the affiliate program to minimize risk with affiliate categories and individual affiliates. Working with different types of affiliates across several categories uncovers more opportunities for the program in the long run, while providing a healthy foundation to grow on.

Is the affiliate’s business model a good fit for the product and program strategy?

Don’t be afraid to ask the affiliate about the demographics of their visitor base. Ask how they are driving traffic to their site. Make sure the program is aligned with their model and the type of visitors they have on their site. For example, most lead programs do not perform well with incentive sites. An incentive site, a site that rewards members for performing an action, opens the door to low- to no- value actions for lead programs. If a member is rewarded for filling out an interest form for a car loan, the actual desire to buy will likely be non-existent. This clogs the lead funnel and drains an affiliate budget. On the other hand, a retail program may do well with incentive sites.

What is the affiliate’s potential?

Affiliates with a solid base of visitors and a roadmap to continue to grow traffic to their site illustrate that the partnership can grow along with them. Having a significant and engaged audience can be difficult to cultivate, but is necessary when choosing partnerships that have the best chance of driving high quality actions. As a program manager, choose partnerships with long-term potential. Some affiliates may be very enthusiastic, but get a feel for their potential in the initial stages and try to focus on the partners with a proven track record or at least a solid plan for growth. Don’t be afraid to push to establish partnerships you feel strongly about, even if the model is new to the program or industry.

What does the affiliate need for the partnership?

Do they require a datafeed? An exclusive offer? VIP payout rate? Trademark+ allowance? If you can’t allow certain tools, it could be a waste of both of your time to engage. In other words, identify the deal breakers before you get too deep into the conversation. If an affiliate asks for many custom items prior to working with your client, try recommending a phased approach and leverage the tools you already have for optimization to minimize the risk and prove the affiliate’s value. The advertiser will likely be more receptive to custom requests once they can get a feel for the type of volume the affiliate can drive.

The success of our affiliate programs rely on our ability to quickly approve or disqualify an affiliate for a program, and to direct resources toward affiliates that have the potential to drive high-value actions for our clients.

If you’re interested in learning more about Schaaf-PartnerCentric’s affiliate recruitment techniques, please request a consultation.


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