April 16, 2015

Fundamentals of a Successful Retreat: a 2015 Recap

Author : Stephanie Harris

Corporate Retreat, You Say? Let’s Do It The SPC Way

Ever plan a vacation for your family? What are your intentions? If they’re like mine, you want to reconnect, remove the distractions of everyday life, and get back to what matters most. You want to have meaningful conversation, and make lasting memories. You want everyone to have a good time, and return home feeling rejuvenated, refocused, and perhaps most importantly, happy and proud to be part of your clan. Well, these are the objectives I keep in mind when I plan one of our team retreats, because we are in a sense one large family both figuratively and literally – we are owned by two brothers after all.  We don’t all live under the same roof,  some are at the Austin HQ, others are in NYC, LA, Minneapolis, and even as far as Rome and Sao Paolo, so these get-togethers are crucial for maintaining our unity and our cohesion. We do them every 18 months or so, and it is some of the best money this family spends.

Here’s an inside peek at our most recent retreat that happened from March 23 – 26, 2015.

Work Hard

Brook Schaaf        Julie Avila

We are, first and foremost, in the business of generating the best ROI for our clients. So we use a majority of our time away from the onslaught of our daily work to discuss how we can best accomplish this. What are we investing in as a company? What are our goals? How can we best serve in our role as trusted advisors to our clients?

We each did a lot of talking… ok seriously a lot of talking!

Stephanie Harris CEO










Each “role”, whether a team or an individual contributor, presented on their unique challenges, what it is they do that we might not understand, and the kind of support they need from the rest of the organization to be successful. Interestingly, two groups used the same imagery to depict how they feel sometimes: being under attack from “bombs” of requests. I think we can all relate!

Dan Bryant







It was a great example of our first value, professional intimacy, as it was a look at different personal perspectives – how we relate to each other, what we need from each other, how we can be better understood. Sounds like the core of all family dynamics.

We also did a demo of our proprietary enterprise management solution, which is being custom-built from scratch, ChocolateMalt (the actual chocolate malts to celebrate this session were DELICIOUS).

Affiliate Management Agency

We all were very excited by the cool things it can and will do in the future, and brainstormed additional features. As one of us pointed out, thankfully we hadn’t dubbed this an olive sandwich or we’d be less excited by this surprise culinary tie-in. Needless to say, we were rocking sugar highs for the rest of the morning.

Brian Littleton, ShareASaleWe even had guests join! Our friend, CEO and President of ShareASale, Brian Littleton did an amazing session on the exciting advances in the network. Another two core values, expertise and improvement, were on full-on display during this info-sharing and info-gathering meeting of the minds.   We came home with LOTS of ideas. I think ShareASale will be sorry we gave them so much homework!

Thanks to Khorus CEO Joel Trammell for also coming out. We have been working on our team alignment so that we all move in concert toward the achievement of our common goals. Our fourth value is responsibility, and it’s very important to us to own our actions. Khorus is a cascading goals software that will take this to the next level. One of our owners, Forrest Schaaf, even said it was perhaps the best presentation by a software provider he’d ever heard, which is high praise from Forrest! I had to agree – we were all inspired by the internal clarity this brought us.

Play Hard

All work and no play is “no way” for SPC. We work hard so we can play hard, and play we did! Since our retreats are the only opportunities we have to all see each other until the next time, we make the most of it! Check out our zip-lining high above the trees.

Schaaf-PartnerCentric           Schaaf-PartnerCentric

There was a sky bridge you had to walk over to get from one landing to the next, and one of us thought it was funny to shake this treacherous thing for the others still carefully balancing across. Talk about a bonding moment – he shall remain nameless, but I will never forget the look of pure terror on our team member’s face when felt the uncontrollable shaking of a very rickety bridge high above that he was still many steps away from crossing. The hysterical laughter from the rest of us safely watching from our perches made it all worthwhile. He likely will not agree.

We also did a fond farewell to Brook Schaaf, our departing CEO who stepped up into the Chairman role in March. We each went around discussing our favorite memories of Brook – some only the family should ever know about ;-) But some the world should share in – Brook serenading us at our last retreat at Disney World or wrapping his desk in plastic wrap, or his penchant for gag gifts (he once tried to send me an actual car dashboard because I kept mentioning I’d love to see a dashboard of, you know, KPIs and such).

Perhaps the best future memory of all though, was a presentation of a classy portrait for our departing leader that even had him blushing. We did this for a client once – his idea– so turnabout is fair play, no?

Brook Schaaf

We might do a separate blog post on the creation of this work of art. It’s not your everyday team that can put their collaborative minds together to come up with such a unique statement.

Socialize with Friends

Affiliate Program Management

A retreat is not complete without some socializing with the outside world, and we love to make an occasion of us all being together to eat, drink, and be merry. We invited everyone in the industry, clients, affiliates, contacts, vendors, and the like, to join us for a “community night” happy hour. We had a great time seeing old and new faces, connecting and deepening relationships, and walking around barefoot because our shoes killed us (that was me, but it was a pool location in my defense).

BuildASign Affiliate Program

Thanks to everyone who came to hang out with us at our community night. It is always wonderful to see and be seen, and I always love showing off my family. They were all well behaved … unless they were on the “late return” bus :-).

Now It’s Time To Say Goodbye…

Before you know it, it’s time to go home. Everyone always gets sad when the vacation is over. You know your family gets along well and loves each other when you see tears during the goodbyes. I take this as a testament to the strength of our bond, our culture, and our commitment to each other and our work. It’s that much more special when we don’t see each other every day to take time out of our busy lives to get together, re-engage, reconnect, and renew our dedication. That’s what successful families do, right?

On the way back to the airport, I kept thinking about our Start/Stop/Continue exercise (we do one at every retreat – if you haven’t done them, I highly suggest trying it out after a quick google search). We brainstormed a ton of great suggestions and ideas from each category to make our business stronger, our lives more productive, and deliver on our promise to our clients. Under “Continue” was the proposal “team retreat” with lots and lots of votes.  That’s one suggestion we will happily oblige.

Check out the full photo album on our Facebook page.


April 14, 2015

Introducing the StartMeeting Affiliate Program!

Author : Jessica Griffin

StartMeeting Affiliate Program

We are happy to announce that the StartMeeting affiliate program has launched under Schaaf-PartnerCentric management.

StartMeeting is a new audio and web conferencing service to help businesses communicate more efficiently. It is the product of a tenured executive management team with a combined 80+ years of telecommunications and multi-point communications experience. This experience has established a customer base of 15-20 million monthly users on various other communications services.

To learn more and join the StartMeeting affiliate program click here.

The StartMeeting affiliate program is professionally managed by Elia Badran, Schaaf-PartnerCentric Affiliate Program Manager.

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

April 13, 2015

4 Tips to Recruiting Affiliates in a CJ Affiliate Account

Author : Tracie Gross

Recruit affiliatesAffiliate recruitment is an important aspect of launching and growing a successful affiliate program and can help new programs gain traction in the marketplace. Affiliate programs managed in CJ Affiliate by Conversant (CJ) offer easier affiliate recruitment than other tracking platforms. Most of the high-earning affiliates in the industry are accessible within the CJ  interface, and CJ’s recruitment tools make it easier to find and recruit theses affiliates to your program. Find and recruit affiliates using these tips:

Recruit Top Affiliates with the Publisher Recruitment Tool

For newer programs, a good place to start for affiliate recruitment is the Publisher Recruitment Tool. You can recruit top affiliates through the Publisher Recruitment Tool by:

  • Logging into your CJ account and following this path: Manage Publishers > Publisher Recruitment Tool
  • Search for Top Earning publishers by specified criteria and push an offer to them to join your affiliate program
  • When pushing an affiliate the offer, you have a chance to group the recruitment effort and add a custom message highlighting the benefits to join your program. Make sure to create the group ahead of time so it shows up in the list.
  • Expect a high response rate for new programs. Typically around around 50% – 75% of affiliates will join.

Recruit Top Affiliates

Recruit Content Affiliates

Every merchant wants to recruit new content affiliates as they can drive top-of-the-funnel sales. You can use the same recruitment tool to recruit content affiliates by narrowing the search criteria.

  • Select the “Content Certified” option and then select the category that fits with your merchant program.
  • Use a custom message to your targeted group to improve join rates. For example, when reaching out for a bedding merchant, mention why the bedding products would be a great fit for their site.
  • Expect a lower response rate of 5% – 10% to join from this effort as it will often take more effort on the affiliate’s part to set up your program on their site

Recruit Content Affiliates

Recruit through the CJ Top Performers List

CJ publishes a quarterly Top Performers list. As a merchant, you can request this list directly from CJ to cross-reference to your Joined Publishers. Create a group for those not in the program and then push your offer to these affiliates along with a custom message inviting them to join your program.

Recruit Affiliates with “Pending Offers”

Revisit past recruitment lists, specifically the publishers that have Pending Offers. Affiliates are often inundated with recruitment requests and a little persistence can go a long way. Recruit affiliates with “Pending Offers” by:

  • Navigating to Manage Publishers > By Program Terms > Pending Offers
  • Click “Make Offer” and consider offering a higher commission to entice them to accept the offer and driving traffic quicker
  • Group the publishers with already created group and message them letting them know that they are receiving a special higher commission to join
  • Expect a low response rate here as well, around 5% – 10%.

Grouping is helpful as you can review your efforts by pulling a performance report of publishers by group by using the Publisher by Group report in the CJ interface.

Getting an affiliate joined to your program is the first step of the recruitment process. Once recruited, work to get high-value affiliates activated to start driving traffic to your site.

If you’re interested in our top affiliate picks for 2015, download this list:

Top 15 Affiliates List



April 02, 2015

Introducing BrownShoe Brands Affiliate Programs: Famous Footwear and Naturalizer!

Author : Hansi Holzhammer

We are happy to announce that the Schaaf-PartnerCentric is now managing the Famous Footwear & Naturalizer Affiliate Programs.

famous footwear logoFamousFootwear.com is an online shoe retailer featuring many of the best shoe brands with the latest styles for men, women & kids. From flat-out gorgeous flats to sweet sneakers to killer heels, Famous.com has them all.

To learn more and join the Famous Footwear affiliate program click here.

Naturalizer is one of the first brands that women could turn to for feminine style and comfort.  Naturalizer honors the brand’s original promise to deliver feminine, stylish, comfortable shoes in a manner that is relevant to the busy lifestyle of today’s woman.  Naturalizer.com also carries exclusive styles that are only available on the official brand site, so customers will be able to shop for styles that can’t be found anywhere else!  International shipping is available.naturalizer

To learn more and join the Naturalizer affiliate program click here.

The Famous Footwear & Naturalizer affiliate program are being managed by Affiliate Program Manager, Tessa Szymkiewicz.

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

March 19, 2015

Measuring Customer Enthusiasm: You Just Need To Ask The Right Question

Author : Stephanie Harris

NPS Score

Our Net Promoter Score is 67, Amazon’s is 64, and Apple’s is 72. The Net Promoter Score (or NPS) is a customer service metric derived from asking customers a very simple question: How likely are you to recommend us to someone? A score of -100 would mean everyone hates what you’re doing, and a score of +100 means everyone loves what you’re doing (and wouldn’t that be nice?). In reality, a score of 50 or higher is considered excellent, which is why I tout my company’s as a badge of pride. We’re all into big data these days, but here’s a deceptively small piece of information that will give you big bang for your buck. Read on for the insights I glean from it…

The Math

Ask your customers, on a scale of 1 – 10, how likely they are to recommend you to others. If a customer gives you a 9 or a 10, that makes them a promoter, a loyal enthusiast. Scores of 0 – 6 are detractors – these are your unhappy customers, whether they outwardly tell you they are unhappy or not. As for the people in the middle, your 7s and 8s, they are considered passives. They don’t count here in the formula, though they certainly count for what you can learn from them. From surveying your customers on this one seemingly simple question, you can derive the NPS score – subtract your percent of detractors from your percent of promoters and there you have it.

Your Promoters

Ok, so these are the guys that make it all look easy. In your customer base, these are the people who give you referrals repeatedly, tell colleagues and friends about you, and make you feel like you’re doing everything right. And maybe you didn’t even know this about them. You still have a lot to learn from the guys who score you 9s and 10s. Perhaps the high score is a surprise – they don’t seem as engaged as you’d figure an enthusiast would be, or you weren’t pulling out all the stops for these customers. That’s definitely something to look at. When you follow up with them (and it’s best practice in my experience to do so), you’ll be able to find out what exactly you’re doing that makes them so likely to tell others about your business, because if they were a surprise promoter, you’re likely placing value in the wrong things. And what of the promoters you were already counting on? Regularly seeing these loyal cheerleaders in the promoter rank gives you an idea of your true core base – are there trends into the types of customer they are (volume, vertical, demographic, etc.), what they value in your offering, who they interact with day-to-day? These are important insights upon which you can continue to build your success and customer retention.

Your Passives

This is an interesting set of the customer base. You might think a score of a 7 or an 8 is pretty good, and it’s not “bad”, that’s true. But it doesn’t boost your NPS score, and for good reason. They’re not enthusiastic, and they’re not unhappy, but this set is the one you have to work to nudge in your favor. What more could you be doing to increase their commitment to you and their feelings about you? Because clearly whatever you are currently doing is not resonating loudly enough with them.Again, who do they interact with most regularly, are there other similarities, do they receive the same attention and level of service as your promoters? Do they share any similar backgrounds? When you speak to your passives, work to uncover what is keeping them from giving you that 9 or 10 – this is where the real gold lies.

Your Detractors

This is a scary bunch. If a customer has rated you anywhere from 0 – 6, they are not thrilled with you. Maybe a 5 or 6 sounds fair to you – but from doing this many, many, times I can tell you the exercise does not lie. These guys will all give you the greatest churn rate, and they will often be a surprise. You might think “wow – I thought things were going well with this customer. They seemed happy, or at least never expressed dissatisfaction.” Or, “huh – I’m surprised by how many detractors I have when I’ve just launched this great new line of inventory.” What does this tell you? If you’re surprised by who your detractors are or how many detractors you have (which does pull the NPS score down), you are turning people off in a big way. Learning what is repelling that customer base will not only tell you where your true weaknesses lie (known or otherwise), but it will also force you to look at the hard questions. Perhaps you’re uncomfortably outside your area of expertise with this base, or there’s a department or function within your organization not operating as it should. And what if you get the same detractors over and over? You’re not doing enough to address the dissatisfaction and they will eventually leave. Work to uncover these answers and you could reduce churn, increase stability, and save yourself a lot of headache. Uncovering the source of this segment’s dissatisfaction could give you the wake up call that saves your business.

Your Overall Score

When you put this all together, what does it mean? Looking at the NPS score over time, you can trend your score against major milestones (and issues) in your organization’s history. We at Schaaf-PartnerCentric regularly measure our NPS and whether it’s improved, declined, or remained stagnant. Why do we do this? We want a snapshot of ourselves in time, to compare to the other snapshots we’ve taken, allowing us to look back at this album to see how we’ve grown, how we’ve changed, and how we’ve gotten better or worse in our customers’ eyes. It tells us whether our customers as a whole are becoming more or less committed to us, and more or less satisfied with our service. You gain clarity on a list of questions to ask yourself about your business: what might have affected my score, what were the positive indicators, the negatives? Perhaps most importantly, is their confidence in our direction increasing, enough to risk their own reputation by telling others to do business with us? Are you on the right path or do you need a course correction? The customer is always right, and they will tell you. You just have to ask the right question.

This article first appeared in LinkedIn on March 10, 2015.

March 10, 2015

Join the iCracked Affiliate Program today!

Author : Hansi Holzhammer


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

iCracked is the largest on-demand mobile repair company in the world. They offer a simple, convenient way to repair or trade-in iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Samsung devices. Hundreds of thousands of customers have used iCracked’s products & services to fix their mobile devices or trade them in for cash. Customers love iCracked for repairs and trade-in’s because all the Apple product repair services are covered by a lifetime guarantee and customers receive high quality service without going anywhere–iCracked comes to them!

To learn more and join the iCracked affiliate program click here.

The iCracked affiliate program is being managed by Affiliate Program Manager, Julie Stepkowski.

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

March 06, 2015

Annual SXSW Affiliate Marketing Happy Hour Announced!

Author : Jessica Griffin

Schaaf-PartnerCentric is pleased to announce two exciting events in March:

SXSW Affiliate Marketing Happy Hour

Join MarketingClique, Schaaf-PartnerCentric, coreOPM, & WeMoveWP for an open bar happy hour at the start of SXSW. No badge required. All affiliate marketers welcome!

Where: The Dogwood at 715 W 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

When: Friday, March 13 from 5p – 8p

RSVP here. The password is AffMarkparty2015

Meet The Team Happy Hour

The entire Schaaf-PartnerCentric team is converging in Austin for a four-day long company retreat. On Tuesday, March 24, we’ll be pulling away from our company chats for a night on the town in Austin, Texas. And we’d like for you to come! Join us for poolside drinks and appetizers at a private party at The W pool patio.

Where: The W Residences, Poolside at 200 Lavaca Street, Austin, Texas, 78701

When: Tuesday, March 24 from 6:30p – 9p

Email to RSVP.

March 02, 2015

The Affiliate Overlap (or Lack of) in Retail and Lead Programs

Author : Adrienne Erreca

lead affiliate program recruitment

The affiliate space is always changing, morphing. Affiliates rise and fall based on personal goals, affiliate program tracking, Google algorithm changes, among a slew of other reasons. Our goal at Schaaf-PartnerCentric is to grow and develop as the marketplace does. As a company, we’re able to leverage a vast amount of personal experience, couple it with a significant amount of data, and draw some interesting conclusions that help us gain clarity into the space. This clarity drives our affiliate program management strategies.

At any given time, we manage about 1/3 lead-based affiliate programs, and about 2/3 retail-based affiliate programs. Lead programs require a different strategy, carry with it different concerns, and overall perform in a manner different than a retail affiliate program.

In analyzing affiliate program performance metrics for a portfolio of 75+ affiliate programs, we found only a 6% overlap in the affiliates who drive sales for a retail-based affiliate program versus a lead-based affiliate program.

lead affiliate recruitment

This 6% of affiliates makee up 84% of retail affiliate program sales volume — yet this same segment of publishers only accounts for 32% of non-retail affiliate volume.

lead affiliate program recruitment









This insight indicates that an affiliate recruitment strategy for a non-retail affiliate program has to be approached differently. If you, or your affiliate program management agency, are focused on the same “meat and potatoes” of  traditional retail recruitment, your lead program could be under-performing, at about a third of its potential.

If you’re interested in learning more about top performing affiliates, download our list of Top 15 Affiliates to Watch in 2015.  
Top 15 Affiliates List

February 27, 2015

3 Signs Your Affiliate Program Has a Coupon Issue

Author : Jessica Griffin

Affiliate program coupon issues


Feel like coupon sites are cutting into your margins? Frustrated that they make up most of the volume of your affiliate program? Maybe you think they don’t drive any value to your sales funnel and only “steal” the commissions from honest, content-based affiliates?

Here are three signs that your affiliate program has an issue with coupon affiliates that you need to address:

1. Affiliate Commissions are Not Segmented Based on Attribution Data

If your affiliate commissions are not segmented according to attribution data, you’ll most likely be feeling frustration that coupon affiliates earn 100% commission on a sale. Since most affiliate tracking models rely on the last-click-wins method, coupon affiliates receive 100% of commissions for sales that are considered less valuable to the merchant. One solution is to integrate an attribution data vendor into your site, study all touch-points of a customer that leads to a sale, and segment commissions based on your findings.

2. Coupon Affiliates are Not Allowed in Your Affiliate Program

Some merchants we speak with are at such a loss with coupon sites that they boot all of them from the program. When you remove coupon publishers from your program, you relinquish all control from how your brand is perceived on those sites, as well as any other potential value you could get out of the partnership. Most of the larger sites have loyal subscribers to their email and social accounts, which can help with the dissemination of deals and promotions. In addition, as long as coupon sites are joined to your program, you have financial leverage in the relationship.

3. You Do Not Use Promo Code Blocking Technology

Coupon publishers manage thousands of codes daily and it is often not in their best interest to honor requests to remove codes from the website. This will often leave merchants frustrated as a coupon code for one channel gets blasted over the internet, possibly flipping the ROI of the sale and costing the merchant money. A few of the affiliate networks have understood this frustration from merchants. They have built into their technology the capability of canceling commissions if a specific code is used. You can cancel all commissions for that code, or assign a code to only one affiliate so only they will get commission if that code is used. If another affiliate publishes a code that was intended for another publisher  and attempts to get credit for the sale, the tracking technology will $0 out the commissions.

In summary, coupon sites have a ton of traffic and direct a portion of this traffic to your site. What the value of that traffic is has to be determined, based on research and data. Those insights must be used to influence the overall strategy of your affiliate program.
If you’re interested in learning more about the role of coupons in affiliate, download our free introductory slide deck.