December 06, 2016

The Importance of Being Creative

Author : Dan Fink

blog_theimportanceofbeingcreative

One constant always true for an affiliate program is the goal to differentiate from its competitors.  We can do this through payouts, product offerings, publisher communication and the tools available to those publishers.  What I’d like to focus on in this article is one of the most important tools we can provide our publishers: the creative they use to put our products and services in front of the customer.

Updating the main creative of a program is often overlooked and can lead to a poor representation of your company’s brand as well as the products you are trying to sell.  Not only that, but this area is a ripe opportunity for you to interact with and convince your publishers that your program is worth running.  Publishers want to know that you are just as invested in the affiliate model as much as they are, if creative is updated on a consistent basis this will assure publishers that you are invested.   Giving publishers access to a strong creative arsenal can increase a programs performance on two fronts, with both conversion and activity.

Putting new creative in the hands of your publishers is just one aspect of developing a strong creative footprint.  Before supplying new banners or text links, they should be tested on your own campaigns in various channels.  This way you can tell publishers with confidence that they have the best creative for their type of marketing and what kind of conversion to expect.  Available data on performance allows publishers to push out budget for campaigns quicker and get your program in front of more eyeballs.

Recently, one of my clients, Allianz Global Assistance, conducted a publisher survey where we found that publishers felt having strong creative assets was just as important has having a strong product offering.  With this information in hand we took a look at our creative library and worked on creating a piece of creative that would be worthwhile for publishers to take notice of and incorporate into their marketing channels growing both their commissions and our revenue.  This new creative was a quote widget as seen below:

A creative tool such as this widget brings the consumers one step closer to the publisher and reduces the chance of losing them once they make it over to the merchant’s site.

As mentioned, there are many ways to separate your program from the herd.  Building out a creative library and keeping it relevant and useful is one of the more cost effective ways of creating more activity in your program.  Not only will your publishers appreciate the time and effort you put towards your brand image in their tools, but the testing you do to make sure that creative work will also help your other channels be more profitable.




January 20, 2016

Affiliate Marketing Strategies to Take Into 2016

Author : Dan Fink

Affiliate Marketing Stategies

With 2015 behind us, now is the time we look back and analyze what strategy and extra hustle turned a typically strong fourth quarter into a record breaker. One of the benefits of representing so many different verticals and brands is that the Schaaf-PartnerCentric team gets to experience and apply many different strategies. Below are a few samples of some key strategies that really made a difference for our partners during Q4:

  • Activator – One strategy that worked out tremendously well was purchasing placements with non-productive partners. Sometimes in programs you’ll have publishers that for a myriad of reason may not be active coming into Q4. A great way to get on their radar is to utilize a strong offer with purchasing a placement. Even if the placement doesn’t come back ROI positive, (in this case it did) usually this puts you on the radar with that publisher and you are now much more entrenched on their site so you’ll see sales far beyond the fourth quarter. In the end, the overall revenue you get out of that simple placement purchase is so much more than looking at the short term run of that specific placement.
  • Growth – Early adoption of expanding our client’s global reach really helped set the bar high for many clients in Q4. Focusing on not only the large sale dates in the US, but also around the world helped us grow sales with foreign deal sites and drop shippers. Opening discussion with these sites and activating them was only the beginning. Throughout the final quarter, we also communicated offers with them in such a way that made them feel as important as they were to us, resulting in many extra placements and impressions.
  • Technology – Earlier in the year Google Mobilegeddon had already taken place, so our team and clients were already well aware that the mobile landscape was going to be very important to Q4 success. With mobile sales for online retailers increasing over 100% year over year and a third of consumers shopping during Black Friday and Cyber Monday through mobile devices this was a good bet to make. In order to utilize this channel as effectively as possible our clients created mobile specific offers and creative, picked up a lot more site to store utilization, and made sure their sites were mobile certified to increase the volume of mobile specific publishers we could partner up with.

The above strategies are just a drop in the bucket in terms of what our clients utilize during Q4. If you’re interested in trying new things – maybe you’ve never had an offer before and want to see how it performs – we’ve found that the fourth quarter is a great time to give it a go. If you need support along the way, it’s never too early to start planning! Shoot us an e-mail at info@schaafpc.com to see how we can work with you to help your affiliate program thrive in 2016.




October 29, 2015

Affiliate “Sleeper Picks” for the Mobile Category

Author : Dan Fink

Mobile Affiliates for Recruitment

In a fantasy sports draft some of your later picks can be the most important. Like affiliate, most of the heavy hitters are well known and everyone is vying for their partnership. But, your long-tail players, those diamonds in the rough, can produce massive, unexpected results for your team and can make or break your fantasy season. In the affiliate space, these might be partners that haven’t quite hit your radar, but could show strong performance in your Q4 portfolio. Let’s take a look at a few that fit this description in the mobile category.

Kiip 

Kiip is a neat mobile advertising network that connects consumers with a favorite brand during a positive moment on their phone. For example, Kiip offers pop-up when I hit my water intake goal, thereby associating my personal win with a “reward”. As a publisher, Kiip provides brands with unique targeting opportunities during critical junctures of psychology. Kiip touts access to over 3,000 apps and over 90MM users, and I think it’s worth a test.

Spotzot

There are many merchants out there still not taking advantage of location-based mobile advertising. Whether you’re a retailer or a brand,  hitting up consumers with a special offer in the moment is a great way to beef up sales. Spotzot has years of success behind its belt and is a pro at delivering ready-to-buy consumers.

Credit Sesame

If you run financial offers, you’ll want to look into working with Credit Sesame. Credit Sesame’s consumers are seeking financial education and a better credit score. Traffic from Credit Sesame is high quality for financial offers, due to the demographics of this publisher and the longevity of its users.  With so much value offered to consumers (free credit score, free ID theft protection, personalized offers) consumers spend more time on this site overall, while also coming back to it for months to come.

Jet.com

Billed as the ultimate shopping hack, Jet.com is a great app for smart consumers. Working with Jet.com brings your brand in front of the eyes of a smart and savvy demographic of consumers that is continuing to grow at a fast pace. Also, Jet.com shoppers can earn JetCash by using their jetanywhere program allowing them to shop at over 600 brands outside of the Jet.com site.

If you’d like to see the our roster of 27 affiliates picked to perform this Q4, check out our Affiliate Draft Picks.



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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.

If you’re interested in learning how Schaaf-PartnerCentric builds highly valued lead programs, please request a consultation.


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December 10, 2014

3 Misconceptions about Coupon Cannibalization in the Affiliate Channel

Author : Dan Fink

coupon sites blowing affiliate budget

Throughout our industry merchants are deciding that coupon sites have either less value or no value when compared to other publishers in their affiliate programs. This assumption is leading to lower commissions and outright exclusion from programs for these types of publishers. While the argument of whether or not coupon sites have value has been, and will continue to be, discussed like a hot-button political issue, there are a few misconceptions about their role in the affiliate channel and how we can interact with them to continue to build profitable relationships.

#1 Channel cannibalization is only affiliate related
If affiliate marketing is the red-headed stepchild of a company’s marketing channel spread, then coupon sites are quickly becoming the slingshot that is used to cause trouble in the executive’s eyes. Much like affiliate marketing in general, coupon sites are not given a fair shake right out of the gate and many allowances made for other channels are not given to coupon sites. The bottom line is that in order to make the right decision for your program it is very important to approach the issue with an open mind.

#2 Cannibalization of the affiliate channel via coupon sites is uncontrollable
The largest misconception is that cannibalization of the affiliate channel via coupon sites is uncontrollable. Many networks actually have quite an array of tools at your disposal now that can help you control a coupon publisher’s footprint. Impact Radius, for instance, allows you to control what codes are assigned as commissionable or not, allowing for tighter control of channel promotions. You can also utilize tracking technology to assign commissions based on at what point that consumer makes his purchase in the channel funnel.

#3 The best way to deal with the issue is to cut commissions or the entire vertical as a whole from the program
Finally, the best way to keep coupon sites from taking sales from the affiliate channel and other channels is to control the messaging on the coupon sites through the promotions you offer. Many programs simply make cuts or completely take coupon sites out of the program, but in doing so they leave a lot of meat on the table. Leverage your coupon publisher’s ability to get promotions out to consumers by creating strong promotions for areas in your offerings you’d like to see more sales. Do you have a product that isn’t performing well through all channels? Create a special promotion for it and push that offer out to only coupon publishers, any sales you see will be incremental.

If you’re interested in learning more about the role of coupons in affiliate, download our free introductory slide deck.