February 29, 2016
We are pleased to announce the addition of FreedomPop to the SPC Family. Based in Los Angeles, California, FreedomPop is a wireless internet and mobile phone service provider offering free wireless internet, free home broadband, and free mobile phone services. Founded in 2011 by Stephen Stokols, FreedomPop is the fastest growing US mobile carrier, disrupting in the mobile market with free voice, text and data.
The FreedomPop Affiliate Program is run through Commission Junction, Impact Radius and Affiliate Window. It boasts earnings of up to $15 per sale, high-volume conversions, regularly updated data feed, industry-leading conversion rates and a 14 day cookie period. The program is being professionally managed by Jacque Wakim and Elia Badran.
Are you new to the world of affiliate marketing? You may not yet be familiar with the booming industry and how it is changing the world of marketing. With all of its jargon and intricacies, it’s easy to get confused. I’m here to help. Allow me to enlighten you with a little Affiliate Marketing 101!
When I got my start in the marketing industry, a seasoned veteran once described affiliate marketing to me with a simple example that clearly illustrated how the channel works.
“Have you ever told your friend to go see a movie because you liked it and thought they might enjoy it as well? You send a quick text raving about it to your friend and tell them to go the movie theater and see it! What about the restaurant that you recently went to that you just know your parents would love to check out? You call them up, let them know how amazing it was and they make a reservation for the next day. Imagine if that movie theater or restaurant paid you for referring your friend or parents. That would be pretty cool right? This is the basic principal of Affiliate Marketing.” –Warren Marayag, Head of Sales at CAKE
So how does this translate to online marketing? Well, let’s say I have a website running an offer (an item or service for sale) and my friend Morgan has a successful blog. If I launch an affiliate program, I will offer to pay Morgan to send her audience to my website. When Morgan raves about my offer on her blog and directs the reader to my page and he or she makes a purchase, I will pay Morgan a pre-determined and agreed upon percentage of that sale. In this scenario, I am the advertiser (also called a merchant) and Morgan is the affiliate (also called a publisher). Simple enough, right?
Now think about a large advertiser such as Nordstrom.com. A large company like this can have hundreds of thousands of affiliates, therefore gaining traffic and conversions, or purchases, from all over the world round-the-clock.
“The arrangement is a win for both sides since it helps marketers acquire new customers and increase revenues, while affiliates can generate revenues.”
– Shawn Collins, Affiliate Summit Founder & Industry Veteran.
While it is simple to understand the basics (and we hope you do now!) implementing and running a successful affiliate program for your company can be a time-consuming and difficult process. That is where we come in! We are currently offering a complimentary affiliate audit to any merchants who have an existing affiliate program. Simply fill out this quick form and we will be in touch to discuss next steps!
February 18, 2016
With over 10 years offering outsourced program management services, and a collective experience of over 100 years amongst our seasoned team, we felt we might have a tip or two about what makes the client/agency relationship tick! Building meaningful relationships is a core value at Schaaf-PartnerCentric; so cultivating and nurturing the relationships we have with both advertisers and affiliate partners is at the heart of what we do, every day.
To ensure I was representing Schaaf-PartnerCentric as a whole, I decided to conduct a survey with our affiliate management team about what they felt makes a great relationship between an OPM and a client. The feedback had an underlying theme…communication. We often hear that good communication is the foundation of a healthy relationship, but typically associate it with what is needed for a romantic relationship to thrive. Turns out, it is equally important in the professional realm. But, what is it exactly that we should be sharing and how do we do it within the OPM and client setting?
An Open Book
We widely accept that honesty, sharing, and trust are needed for a healthy relationship. As an OPM, we consider being candid and forthcoming a necessity, so that issues, should they arise, can be laid out on the table before they fester. For us, this is the only way to discuss real strategy and adjust accordingly. Along these same lines, transparency about the work an OPM is doing across a client’s company, especially with key decision makers, is critical. Regularly sharing the performance of the program including wins, losses, and how the affiliate channel stacks up against other marketing channels will proactively answer questions from ‘higher ups’. An OPM never wants to be in a position where decision makers begin questioning the value an agency offers their company. It’s also important to keep in mind that an OPM wants to be an expert on a client’s business. Tell them about new product launches, explain why your product or service is better, and send samples if you can.
Ultimately, the ongoing dialogue between a client and OPM should educate and create visibility, which creates trust, which leads to a deeper level of ‘professional’ intimacy where sharing is easy!
Oh, how spectacular the courtship phase of a relationship is! We hang onto each others’ every last word and the rest of the world falls away with our full attention. We can’t wait to see each other again, and wouldn’t dare miss an opportunity to spend time together. While this analogy may be a bit over-the-top, the point is a client and agency need to continue to show up and stay engaged, even when the honeymoon phase is over. This is fairly straight forward in the affiliate world: respond to emails in a timely fashion, ask questions when you need further clarification, show up for weekly meetings and deliver the information and assets needed to move initiatives forward. Keep the spark alive! Otherwise, stagnation sets in and we become disillusioned with where the relationship is headed.
Change is inevitable, even in the best of relationships. Being notified of upcoming changes means being properly equipped to handle the change, and this translates into a smooth, seamless transition. Otherwise, it translates into a major strategy upset!
For example, no one wants to be faced with the dreaded D word….Down Tracking! It is critical that a client provide advance notification of web site or platform changes which can impact the tracking of affiliate transactions. Tracking tests will undoubtedly need to be placed to ensure there is no interruption. Equally important are changes to an advertiser’s discounts and offers, which requires lead time for an OPM to properly communicate to affiliate partners. Outside of technology and offer changes, personnel changes are never fun to hear about after the fact. Receiving a bounce-back to an email sent to your current point of contact happens more often than you’d think!
Better yet, is the company headed in a new direction? Have the goals of the affiliate channel changed? Every OPMhas been blind-sided by these types of big changes at one time or another…after the client has decided how it will play out in their affiliate program. While directional changes may be necessary and in the best interest of a client, it’s important to leverage your OPM to develop a strategy on how to best implement the changes before all the decisions have been made, instead of leaving the OPM on the sidelines.
The ultimate relationship between an OPM and client really comes down to being in-step and on the same page, so that you can work together toward a common goal. Communication is key! At Schaaf-PartnerCentric, our goal is to be your trusted advisor, and both the transfer of knowledge with full disclosure is needed on both sides to make this happen.
February 12, 2016
With Valentines Day right around the corner, you’ve likely seen more than a few gift guides floating around the web. Top bloggers and publishers leveraging holidays to promote their favorite products and brands is nothing new; and lately more advertisers have wondered how to get in on the action. This whole idea is called “influencer marketing” and its effectiveness has brands adjusting their marketing strategies to ensure they are adopting this powerful channel.
Influencer marketing is simple, really. Instead of a brand seeking out an entire target audience (say, in the way a television commercial would), they seek out those who have purchasing influence over a group of individuals. In the case of retailers, these influencers often look like top publishers who write a blog with a highly engaged audience and/or have a large social following. Because the influencer is trusted by consumers, their recommendations and advice directly impacts the purchases their audience makes. The effectiveness with influencer marketing stems from the message coming from a trusted middle man who has vetted the product thoroughly versus a brand flaunting it’s own products.
How Do I Find These Influencers?
This can be the tricky part, at least according to 73% of advertisers. While almost all merchants buy into the idea of influencer marketing, finding the key individuals can be difficult. There are several things to consider, including:
- Market Reach- How big is the influencer’s circle? Advertisers should be looking at page views, Facebook friends, Instagram followers, etc.
- Engagement – Once you know how big the influencer’s audience is, you should consider how engaged they are. If a blogger has 500,000 monthly page views but a dismal comment rate and click through rate, they may not be the best fit.
- Relevancy – Does the rest of their content seem like it would be a natural fit for your brand? Influencer marketing is a partnership, so when aligning yourself with an individual it is imperative to make sure they are a good match for your company as a whole. This is arguably more important than any other factor when selecting an influencer.
- Expertise – Is the influencer going to take the time to become a product expert? Influencer marketing thrives on authenticity, so you will want a commitment that whomever you work with will truly get to know the features and benefits of your product line so they can accurately represent them to their audience.
How Does This Fit In With My Affiliate Program?
Believe it or not, influencer marketing and performance marketing go hand in hand. Often times influencers make fantastic affiliates, but because of their reach they are less likely to find your program on a network and sign up directly. Proactively seeking out these individuals and partnering with them at influencer level lays the perfect foundation for recruiting them as an affiliate later down the line.
Similar to other marketing channels, there is power in numbers. When consumers read about a product on an influencer’s blog, then see an affiliate link on another website they visit – your product, brand and messaging are all front of mind. For this to be successful, you have to ensure that the messaging is consistent among all channels – internal, affiliate and influencer.
How Schaaf-PartnerCentric Can Help
You may wonder where SPC fits into all of this. While we are proud affiliate management experts, we also recognize the need for strategic influencer marketing support for our clients. Last year, we took that need and turned it into a product offering we call REACH. REACH essentially covers all of the elements of influencer marketing for you: determining an appropriate offer, contacting and partnering with influencers, monitoring results and comprehensive reporting on activity. Interested in learning more? Let us know here or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out some of our awesome REACH results. Nearly 60% of advertisers are increasing their influencer marketing budget this year, don’t get left behind!
As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on influencer marketing and any questions that you have in the comments. And because no blog post is complete with out an infographic, continue reading on to see some impressive Valentines Day spending stats put together by another company who loves influencer marketing just as much as we do, The Shelf:
February 08, 2016
As we transition into the second month of 2016, a few major trends in performance are beginning to emerge. Affiliate marketing is no longer simply capturing a sale on a publishers website; it has evolved into a much more complex space. Here are Schaaf-PartnerCentric’s top predictions for affiliate marketing trends to watch in 2016:
The term “influencer” became a buzzword in 2015. It went from something progressive brands were testing, to a necessity when planning a marketing strategy. In 2016, we can expect to see the rise of influencer marketing becoming a focal point in overall online strategy. Advertisers understand the value of partnering with trusted content marketers to promote their brand – display ads are out, original content is in! It makes sense; people are influenced by those they trust. It’s no longer about what the brand is saying, but what others are saying about a brand. 90% of consumers look to friends and virtual strangers for advice when making a purchase according to Nielsen.
The big question becomes how to tie influencer marketing to performance if you aren’t tracking sales. Going back to the idea that affiliate marketing is much more complex than it used to be, it’s important to note where in the funnel users first saw a brand and where they were influenced in making a purchase (i.e. attribution). Users typically learn about a brand on an influencer site and from there the user begins to do additional research.
Mobile and Video
Mobile continues to be an important topic as there are still over 4 billion people who have yet to connect to the internet. More people to adapt equals more opportunity. Everyone by now knows mobile is important, however in 2016 we are going see the value of video on mobile. 50% of all mobile traffic comes from video and by 2018 experts believe this will grow to 79%. Mobile is often source of entertainment and the best way to capture a user on mobile is through video. Users are not only watching videos on a mobile device, but they are engaging with them. 65% of all video viewers watch more than 75% of the video. This year advertisers and affiliates need to make sure they are incorporating video until their overall strategy or there is a big chunk of sales being left on the table.
Online to Offline
Advertisers with a brick and motor location need to be doing online to offline promotions. An omni-channel strategy is essential and with today’s technology it is easier than ever to accomplish. Most stores with an online presence have enabled beacon technology to ensure they can send offers to customers while they shop in real time. No longer are the days where you have to cut out a coupon from the newspaper to receive a discount. Getting in front of customers is easier than ever and it’s important you are working with the right partners to do it.
Now that you know our top three predictions for 2016, we would love to hear yours! Are you ahead of the curve and already employing an omni-channel strategy? Or maybe you’re looking for help taking advantage of influencer marketing? Where ever you are at in the changing affiliate marketing landscape, we’re here to help – you can leave us a comment or send us an email at email@example.com.
February 04, 2016
Unless you spent 2015 living under a rock, chances are you’re well aware of adblocking and the shift it is causing in the digital marketing landscape. But what does adblocking really mean? And how does it affect you as a performance marketer? Let’s explore…
Break It Down
Adblocking, in the simplest sense, is selectively choosing content when visiting a website or an app, in turn ‘blocking’ the content the user would not like displayed. Most of the time this is done through a browser plug-in, which checks against a blacklist of domain names/ companies and removes sponsored images and ads before they are displayed on a given page.
There are a few big reasons consumers choose to use adblockers. The first is privacy. Often ad networks are collecting data on each impression, click and page visited – which can then be matched on the back end with user data. Understandably, many consumers would like their online browsing and purchasing history to be private and install adblockers accordingly.
How Many People Are Adblocking?
A lot, that’s how many. Recent reports have estimated that the number is around 10% of online consumers and constantly climbing. That equates to around 198 million people running adblockers each month. While adblocking has been around since 2010, it has really only gained traction in the last two years with mainstream consumers. The more important question you should be asking is how much money is being left on the table – which is over $20 billion in revenue was lost in 2015 alone.
How Does Adblocking Impact Affiliate Marketing?
Bloggers, website owners and publishers produce a large chunk of free content that utilizes ads to generate revenue. As adblockers continue to rise in popularity, the way in which publishers are compensated for the content they produce will have to change accordingly. Websites, advertisers and publishers will all have to prioritize the consumer experience and truly consider how ads are best received. Influencer marketing and native ads will continue to rise in popularity. As we’ve seen in the past, affiliate marketers tend to be at the forefront of digital trends and this will be no exception.
Whether you are an advertiser or an affiliate, we’d love to help you as you navigate the changing performance landscape and figure out how to best approach adblocking. Whether it is through REACH or simply adjusting your current affiliate marketing strategy, we’re here you to help.