Looking for the right affiliates to get the job done? Preparing for Q4 is no small task and if you’re a smaller merchant that doesn’t have much wiggle room for paid placements, it’s a good idea to make a favorable impression with some of our top Q4 affiliates before it’s too late. Take a moment to review your affiliate list and see who your current top performers are. Reach out to them with new and exciting offers that are specific to each upcoming holiday. Provide exclusive promotional codes and semi-exclusive offers to ensure you’ll make sales this holiday season.
RetailMeNot is one of the whales in the space, and you’ll want to make sure they’re joined and active in your affiliate program. Once a relationship is established, you may be able to negotiate a holiday placement or two with strong commission increases and exclusive vanity codes.
Other top performers include: Savings.com, ShopAtHome, and CouponCabin, who offer special, seasonal placements for a more effective reach. But don’t wait until the last minute to recruit or negotiate deals, as these affiliate sites fill-up quickly and placement comes at a price.
I’d also like to suggest a few more noteworthy affiliates for you smaller merchants. Goodshop.com provides the shopping deals on the internet, and also makes a donation to the nonprofit or school of your choice for almost every purchase you make.
Offers.com is a leading online destination for consumers to save time and money. Offers.com serve up the top coupon codes, product deals and other offers from more than 8,000 stores and brands. Offers also strives to help the community through events like volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and awarding a $2,500 scholarship each year to deserving, savings-minded college students. Be sure to check out their Holiday Savings Centers and savings tips on the best ways to save, a few of their more popular holiday content pieces.
Also look into adding UltimateCoupons to your program. UltimateCoupons’ team of veteran bargain hunters is committed to hand-testing and delivering the latest and best coupons to their audience on a daily basis. They partner with thousands of top retailers, and have one of the largest collections of coupons on the web.
Take the time to create a memorable relationship with these top performing publishers and make a statement! You’re still a growing company building a name for yourself, so offer the best savings and biggest deals and beat your competitors’ prices. Drive traffic and increase revenue for your affiliate program this holiday season!
Influencer marketing refers to the process of identifying and leveraging key individuals that have influence over a subsection of a target market, as opposed to targeting the market as a whole.
Influencer marketing is about engaging with key individuals with an online presence, in the hopes of accessing and influencing their followers or subscribers, which will ultimately lead to more brand awareness and brand affinity. This type of marketing often calls for more personal engagement with the influencer, to develop a mutually beneficial relationship.
An “influencer” is identified as a site or person that:
Has an online presence with strong influence over potential customers
Has a defined website audience reach or social media footprint
Can offer strong brand affinity based on their following and target audience
Is perceived as an expert and has credibility and trust on a subject matter
Is a conduit of modern day word-of-mouth marketing
Influencer marketing is an important component to any online content marketing strategy, especially in the retail vertical. REACH influence marketing services, provided by Schaaf-PartnerCentric, can help curate the outreach to, and provide guaranteed placements on, influencer websites and social outlets. REACH allows highly targeted messaging for specific markets. Read more about how REACH helped a boutique fashion retailer engage with a handful of high-value bloggers to effectively represent their brand.
Welcome to our fourth “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 as well as how their experience is here at Schaaf-PartnerCentric. In today’s Meet The Team blog, I have decided to interview Alex Reno who is the Project Manager of Technology for Schaaf-PartnerCentric.
What is your background and how did you find Schaaf-PartnerCentric?
“I graduated from UCSB and worked in sales for four years at SantaBarbara Magazine. After working in Publishing, I decided I definitely wanted to jump into the online world and work with CJ Affiliate. I was a part of the agency team at CJ Affiliate for a couple years and then moved into the integration side of the house for about 2 more. After working in the affiliate marketing space for 4 years, I now have the opportunity to be a part of the Schaaf-PartnerCentric team as the Project Manager of Technology.”
What do you do for SPC and what do you like the most about your position?
“It’s my job to make sure all the pieces of the puzzle fit together during a client integration. I make sure our integrations are moving along in an efficient manner with the highest quality from our team. It is our team’s job to make sure the client’s program is set up for success! I also work on post integration client requests. Additionally, I assist with developing our internal training processes and tools as well as new hire trainings and projects.”
“What I like most about my position is that I get to work with different clients daily and set them up for success in the affiliate world. Learning each client’s new business and how they run it is super cool! I also truly enjoy working on our internal training projects.”
What do you like the most about Schaaf-PartnerCentric?
“I love how Schaaf-PartnerCentric completely cares about their clients and always has their best interests at heart. We tailor the programs to make them successful for each of our client’s needs. I love how innovative and smart the entire Schaaf-PartnerCentric team is! We really keep up with the changing industry and I love collaborating with every person on different projects.”
What do you work on outside of Schaaf-PartnerCentric?
“I love running. Running is a way to clear my mind and relieve stress. I love bike rides, hanging out with family and friends, cooking, and reading. Travel is something I definitely would like to do more of down the line. Fun fact about me is that I have an obsession with organizing different things whether it be re-arranging my work files and desk, organizing a friend’s closet, or putting together a fun dinner party.”
What advice would you give to new hires here at Schaaf- PartnerCentric?
“I would advise new hires to not be afraid to dive in and ask about what people are doing within their role in the company. Always get feedback. Keep up with the changing industry and expect change, it will be for the better. Knowing exactly how your department works and what your contribution is to the company is very important. For remote workers, get into a routine of picking up the telephone daily and don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially because you are not in the office. People will appreciate your questions and feedback and this will help you grow.”
If you liked this blog, go check out my other Meet the Team articles. You can see what it is like being the Marketing and Events Coordinator here, learn more about the life of a Marketing Analyst here or walk in the shoes of our Graphic Designer here. If you want to get the latest Affiliate Marketing news, go ahead and give us a like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or subscribe to our newsletter.
As the affiliate industry matures, concerns about the value of the affiliate channel, and of specific affiliates, are coming up. Advertisers are questioning their capabilities in driving incremental traffic to their site. Technology and tracking developments in the past five years have given us access to the data that allows insights into the click path of a customer, which, in turn, enables us to understand the value of each online marketing channel. The use of this big data is still in its infancy, but allows senior online marketers to question the value of the sale that each affiliate brings to an advertiser’s website.
How to measure incremental traffic depends on a variety of factors: the program’s business model, brand presence, consistency in offers across marketing channels, available tools to measure and collect data, in addition to other considerations.
Incrementality is not solely related to new customers. Incrementality is about being included in the consideration set when the customer is shopping, as well as when they are purchasing.
A sophisticated marketer will use company and affiliate program goals, coupled with thorough attribution data, to effectively measure incremental sales in an affiliate program.
How To Determine Affiliate Channel Incrementality
The first step to assessing the affiliate program’s contribution to incremental sales is to define what incremental means to your company. Depending on business priorities, it could mean attracting new customers, clickstream placement, a correlation to internal reports, or any combination of the above. We recently spoke with a retailer who understood that incremental traffic for them was not a new customer, but related more to the life-time value of that customer. For them, a new customer garnered through steep discounting did not equal an incremental sale. What they were looking for through their affiliate acquisition strategy were more customers reflective of the LTV of their core.
Once an incremental sale is defined, put parameters in place for measurement. You can do this by leveraging tracking software and affiliate network features to gather the relevant data. You’ll then want to analyze the accrued data to direct program strategy. Look at the average touch points across channels, the typical initiators, and the typical closers. Work to define an average cost-per-sale across all channels by assigning a value to each touch point.
With a comprehensive strategy in place, resources can now be directed to improve avenues that drive strong incremental traffic. On a per affiliate basis, determine who is driving higher volume traffic and work to optimize that relationship. If an affiliate drives low value traffic, consider decreasing affiliate commissions to value that traffic appropriately.
A Real-Life Example
One of our clients was concerned that a category of affiliates was hijacking traffic at the last minute and getting full credit for the sale. We set out to define the traffic from this group, as well as to define traffic on a per-affiliate basis. We used the client’s internal attribution reporting and compared it to affiliate network data to identify patterns in incremental value per affiliate group. Some affiliates had a high percent of orders credited to another media channel, indicating low value traffic. Others, we determined, had high value referral traffic. We then segmented publishers based on the quality of traffic, lowering commissions for the low quality referrals, and increasing engagement with the high-value affiliates. After the first year, we saved the client $605,000 in unnecessary commissions, while increasing high-quality revenue 25% YOY.
Defining incrementality is a multi-faceted issue that requires a multi-faceted approach. With the right technique and the right clarity into the data, you can feel confident about the value of the affiliate channel.
If you’re interested in learning how Schaaf-PartnerCentric builds custom affiliate programs with a focus on incremental sales, please request a consultation.
July was an exciting month for all the team members at Schaaf-PartnerCentric. For all of our hard work in adding clarity for our clients, our partners, and our team during the 2nd quarter, we were rewarded with a mandatory “Half-Day To Play” as requested by CEO, Stephanie Harris.
Unlike your typical half-day off, we were required to go out and do something fun during our time away from the office and take pictures to prove that we weren’t sleeping or staying in the house. As you can see from the pictures above, we did everything from going out with our families, eating with friends, relaxing while enjoying the outdoors, to even the more adventurous kayaking and running around a water park.
After spending our time away from work, the team was excited to view the pictures and learn more about our lives beyond our computers. This time off also helped us collect our thoughts and push us forward to achieve high goals into the next quarter.
As much as we loved the half-day off, we had important business to get back to – cultivating and growing profitable and productive relationships for our clients and partners. Please note – the animals and kids shown in this collage were not harmed during the making of Half Day To Play, forced picture posing and doing whatever we wanted aside.
If you would like to view more adventures of the Schaaf-PartnerCentric team, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. If you liked this blog, check out our Meet The Team Series to learn more about our experiences at Schaaf-PartnerCentric. If you want to hear more about the latest Affiliate Marketing news, subscribe to our newsletter here.
In today’s Meet The Team blog, I interview Kelsey Aschenbeck who is a Graphic Designer for Schaaf-PartnerCentric.
What is your background and how did you find Schaaf-PartnerCentric?
“I studied architecture in college and moved into graphic design. I like to make things easily interpreted by visual means. I found myself at Schaaf-PartnerCentric when I was introduced to Brook Schaaf. After meeting with him a few times, I found myself doing part-time work with Schaaf-PartnerCentric and now I work here full time as a Graphic Designer.”
What do you like the most about your position?
“Every day is a new day for me. I spend my mornings checking my Asana page and then I go from there with my design projects. My days either consist of very big projects or a bunch of little projects. I usually have bigger projects in the morning and little things later in the day.”
“It’s nice to be the main designer in the office. It feels good knowing that I create a standard and represent the company with my work. I also enjoy the company humor and how the company collaborates and talks together as a team to get things done.”
What do you work on outside of Schaaf-PartnerCentric?
“When I am not working, I enjoy making hand-lettered typography. I also have side projects for my designs such as print making, drawing, and photography.”
What advice would you give to new hires here at Schaaf-PartnerCentric?
“I would advise new hires to try to learn the lingo fast. There are so many things related to affiliate marketing that I had no idea existed until I situated into my position. The learning curve is pretty big when trying to work in this industry. Be open and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”
If you liked this blog, go check out my article on what it is like being the Marketing and Events Coordinator here or learn more about the life of a Marketing Analyst here. If you want to get the latest Affiliate Marketing news, go ahead and give us a like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or subscribe to our newsletter.
The affiliate sandbox is shifting. The composite we have played in since the late ‘90s, layered with coupon, loyalty, data feed, and a smattering of content sites, has been disrupted. As the performance marketing industry matures, the perception of what a “valuable affiliate” is, and how it is measured, has evolved. Advertisers want more affiliate revenue, but only from sources and touch-points they recognize as incremental sales.
How many times have affiliate marketers found themselves in challenging conversations about those who “introduce” and those who “conclude” a sale, about “mommy bloggers”, about valuable content or niche sites, and “less valuable” traditional affiliate sites? Efforts are being re-directed to respond to this shift, and a cottage industry has emerged to address a clear gap. There are countless departments, specialist roles, processes, and software aimed at coaxing these high-valued content and blogger sites into the affiliate sandbox.
One of the biggest indicators of this is the shift away from the last-click-wins-all and toward the multi-touch model, with the most valued affiliates pegged as the “initiators”. Advertisers seek to grow this bucket of sites, and to address this need a great deal of time is spent in the pursuit of recruiting potential initiators. Through these efforts, the insight we’ve gleaned is that, with some exceptions, the engagement we need to have with these types of sites is different from affiliate engagement, and requires a pivot in thinking, in workflow, and in the structural model in order to address it. We can still grow the relationships our advertisers have with these types of sites, but not necessarily through the affiliate channel, and not always by working within our own sandbox.
These sites, as a whole, don’t respond well to the pay-per-performance model. Anyone who has tried tirelessly over the years to forge relationships with these sites at their conferences and in their milieu, and drag them out of their box, over the line, and into an affiliate program can attest to this. They are of a different breed. Affiliate marketing is traditionally focused on the conversion of a sale, and the traditional affiliate role is the execution of that sale. To focus on influencing the sale is a different strategy. And it requires a different approach.
To understand the most effective method is to understand the motivation. Why do advertisers want to spend so much time recruiting these sites? It’s not for the revenue they generate, or their sheer volume – typically these sites won’t do near the volume of the traditional affiliate, which is built more for mass appeal. What is valuable is their platform to speak to niche, targeted potential customers with a high customer lifetime value. And what are the sites interested in? They want to introduce brands to their audience, build enthusiasm, and generate content and sponsorships.
The essence of influencer marketing is the same as affiliate marketing: it’s about finding, creating, and fostering direct relationships with sites that advertisers care about. But we need to measure success, the ultimate sandcastle, in terms of reach and engagement, not on a converted sale. Sponsoring giveaways, contests, reviews, or creative paid placement, in exchange for an upfront fee for their time and access to their audience, gives advertisers the traction they’re looking for with these sites. Playing with a different set of guidelines for a different kind of sandbox will allow an advertiser to secure real estate on the coveted influencer sites, as well as foster relationships with site owners who have influence with target brand enthusiasts. This is a new day, and a new way to play.
If you’re interested in learning about how our new REACH program could help your brand, please request a consultation below.
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.
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.