Just a decade ago, influencer marketing wasn’t a concrete strategy that brands were employing because it didn’t really exist. Sure, there were bloggers and various YouTube channels dedicated to fashion, reviews and trends but the brands were still setting the rules and telling consumers what they should be purchasing. Oh, how times have changed!
In a modern world full of competing viewpoints and general information overload, consumers want to know that they are making well-informed decisions when it comes to the brands that they support. The much-discussed millennial generation is comprised of over 75 million Americans. There is endless chatter about how to engage these millennial consumers. While it is known that they want to spend money on experiences and brands that aim to do good, how come so many large brands find it so difficult to connect with these coveted consumers?
Influencer marketing has become a great tool for brands to access because it allows them to reach a targeted audience in a more authentic way. A millennial might not trust a large clothing brand, but if their favorite blogger is touting the clothing and the company’s ethics, that millennial could very well turn into a loyal follower and consumer. Here are just four reasons why you should make influencer marketing a part of your overall marketing strategy:
Consumers Want Trusted Brands Only – In 2015, the percentage of brands people trusted in North America was only 22%. That’s quite low when you consider the fact that every brand wants to be considered reputable and attract loyal consumers. The term “influencer” is bestowed upon individuals who have built trust in order to grow a targeted and loyal following. If a brand works with an influencer and that influencer gives an honest review of a product, it builds trust for the brand. A consumer will feel comfortable making a purchase because a blogger they admire and respect has touted the benefits of the brand.
Authenticity is Valued – According to Forbes, “43% of millennials rank authenticity over content when consuming news.” Consumers are savvier than ever and want to make sure they support genuine brands who champion causes and are honest and clear with their values. The easiest way to convey this authenticity is to work with influencers who respect the brand and vertical. They often have a targeted group of followers who engage with them for their honesty. The key here is to work with influencers who understand your brand and who are authentic with their reviews and opinions. Fortune 500 brands can often appear “faceless.” Because they are so large, they can’t connect with consumers the way an influencer can. Influencers aren’t on the corporate payroll and have more freedom to express themselves in a “real” way. There are no canned statements and PR departments when you’re a blogger telling people about the brands and products you genuinely like.
Know Your Audience to Make Meaningful Connections – Plain and simple, make sure you understand the audience you’re trying to connect with before you consider influencer marketing. A fashion blogger won’t build meaningful relationships with your target audience if your brand sells car accessories. Know how your intended audience thinks and understand their unique demographics.
Take A Targeted Approach – Now that you know how influencer marketing can help your brand connect with targeted consumers in a genuine way, how do you get started? REACH is Schaaf-PartnerCentric’s service offering that focuses on engaging influencers. We act as an extension of your team and partner with the best and most relevant influencers for your brand. With our years of knowledge and expertise in the industry, we have established many meaningful relationships with influencers and understand their unique audiences. Based on campaign objectives, we then report on chosen metrics.
The ideal REACH clients are brands that are looking to begin or expand their influencer marketing efforts, regardless of whether or not they have an existing affiliate program. If you’re ready to see what influencer marketing can do for your brand or just want to learn more about REACH, contact us.
We all know there’s fraud out there – in fact, it’s a huge buzzword in digital marketing right now. Truly, it is crucial that all affiliate marketers monitor the quality of their traffic and converters. Picture this: You are an e-commerce jewelry company. Your affiliate program is skyrocketing, revenue is strong and everyone is happy. But suddenly, all that jewelry everyone bought is being returned. All your beautiful converters disappear in a puff of smoke. This type of problem happens too often in affiliate marketing.
Schaaf-PartnerCentric takes an extremely vested approach to handling fraud. Below are just a few of the ways we ensure compliance:
Our Internal Support team proactively monitors known violators network-wide
Your dedicated account manager is constantly on the look-out for major changes or discrepancies week-to-week by publisher to identify trends that seem suspicious
Vanity code and promotional audits are conducted bi-monthly to proactively address any potential issues
Additionally, here are a few other best practices to prevent against fraud:
Analytics – Look at the quality of your visitors that are converting via certain partners. Now, we know that not everyone has the best tracking tools but even with a free version of Google Analytics, you can see metrics that indicate if these partners are truly high quality. Did the consumer come to your site, spend 30 seconds on the site and then buy a $10K ring? That’s a sign to start digging.
Customer Reps – Track the returns, refunds, and complaints from each affiliate partner. Sometimes this can involve walking over to your customer reps team and talking with them about something a consumer said. But if your consumer is calling to say, “I was incentivized to buy this ring and return it,” you might have a problem.
Legality – Make sure your affiliate marketing agreements state that if a product is returned, the commission is de-valued or nulled. That way, you are also making sure your company isn’t losing money. In addition, make sure your agreements also have strong minimums in returns/complains. If, suddenly, ten of out of the last fifteen purchases made are returned, there needs to be a solid legal plan to opt out of the contract or stop using the affiliate.
By incorporating these best practices, you will be on your way to having a strong affiliate program. To learn more about how Schaaf-PartnerCentric ensures that your affiliate marketing program maximizes ROI while protecting it against fraud, contact us.
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.
Calling all ‘pinning’ fanatics!! Whether you’re looking for the perfect dinnerware to impress your in-laws, seeking inspiration for your living room decor or hunting for the perfect outfit to wear to your company holiday party, Pinterest is the pretty little hub for all things fabulous. Its status has grown exponentially and quickly become the place where shoppers everywhere start their journey to from first-click to shopping cart check-out! This is why we are SO excited that Pinterest is allowing affiliate links again! This infographic says it all on why this is such great news. Take a good look because Pinterest is about to transform your affiliate program!
As we all know, performance marketing is an ever-changing industry. There is no shortage of new trends, changes, acquisitions and surprises. We’ve already seen some really exciting things happening in 2016 and thought an infographic would be a great way to share it all with you…
At Schaaf-PartnerCentric, one of our favorite things about the affiliate marketing industry is the fantastic partnerships we’ve been able to form. Affiliate Window is one of those, and today we are excited to have PR & Marketing Coordinator, Courtney Lowenthal, guest posting on our blog. Continue reading to find out five summer content ideas!
With the lack of gifting holidays during the summer months, this time of year tends to lend itself as a slow period for both advertisers and publishers. Although this season can be quieter than others, the warmer weather brings the opportunity for consumers to participate in more activities and events, most of which require new purchases. So, if you’re a publisher and looking to beat the heat (and summer slump), check out these content ideas from Affiliate Window, sure to boost sales over the next few months.
Sporting Events and Equipment No matter which state or country you are in, summer is a time full of major sporting events. Aside from the typical MLB season, this summer will be jammed packed with events including the UEFA Euros, Wimbledon, Tour de France and of course, the Rio Olympic Games which begin in August. Although many of these events are hosted internationally, all provide the opportunity for people to come together and watch games, purchase gear and host parties for family and friends. From decorations and recipes, to jerseys and décor to cheer on their favorite teams, publishers have an abundance of content topics to choose from that will help your readers enjoy the games. Why not create a guide on ‘How to host an Olympics party’ or ‘Wimbledon Party Essentials’, to name a few.
The warmer weather also increases consumer’s involvement in outdoor activities such as cycling, tennis, hiking and golf. Publishers can create blog posts on their favorite local golf courses, or gather reviews of equipment for more experienced athletes. Wedding Season Love it or not, wedding season is upon us which means consumers are evaluating their party attire and searching for gifts. According to data from eBay, searches for ‘wedding presents’ and other wedding related items are set to surge this month, as June 2015 saw a 33% increase compared to the two months prior. To stand out from the traditional wedding bloggers, tailor your content to include gift ideas on a budget, DIY gifts or alternative wedding attire options. BBQs and Gardening There’s nothing better than firing up the grill for the first barbecue of the summer! Grilling equipment, outdoor furniture and summer recipes are great ways to target this market. Why not get even more creative and suggest ways how to spruce up gardens, make the most of smaller outdoor spaces, and garden on a budget. Last Minute Travel The peak travel booking season may be in January, but that doesn’t mean that all consumers have booked their summer vacations yet. Now is a great time for publishers to put together a list of the best last minute travel bargains on destination near and far. For those readers who are well prepared and have booked their travel in advance, create a guide full of the essential items they will need on their trip: beach apparel, sunscreen, travel adapters, headphones, car rentals, airports transfers…the list goes on!
Activities for Children
While summer is an exciting time of year for most people, let’s think about the parents who now have to keep their children entertained for two months! Here is where you can step in with a list of activities and toys perfect for a hot summer day, such as pools and trampolines, as well as trips to local theme parks, zoos, festivals, museums, and more. For most publishers, the more local the offers, the better as this will ensure you are targeting the correct audience. For those with larger amounts of traffic, try contacting local businesses directly to enquire about a partnership. If you don’t ask, you will never know what they can offer!
Slow season? I think not! With all of these content ideas, plus countless more possibilities, publishers have an endless number of ways to keep readers engaged this summer.
Thanks Courtney, and if you’d like to read more great performance marketing tips and tricks head over to the Affiliate Window blog.
Schaaf-PartnerCentric is currently working on a thought leadership piece on incremental revenue and the personalization of the commission segmentation process between advertisers and affiliates. We are looking for insight from both advertisers and affiliates and your feedback is highly valuable to us.
We will be publicly sharing the survey results once our piece is published, and the findings will be used in a presentation Schaaf-PartnerCentris CEO Stephanie Harris is giving at Affiliate Summit East on “Managing Incremental Revenue” this year.
If you have any additional feedback or questions, don’t hesitate to let us know and in the meantime feel free to download our latest white paper on Creating an Affiliate Program that Drives Incremental Revenue…
We don’t want to brag, but at Schaaf-PartnerCentric, when it comes to employees, we have the best. You’ve likely heard us mention that our Affiliate Managers have an average of 10 years in the industry, but have you heard about our technology team? From program implementation to solving tracking issues to addressing attribution, they are performance marketing experts through and through. We’ve been keeping their expertise to ourselves and our clients, and have decided it is time we share their wealth of knowledge with the world. We will be doing this through a new monthly series called ‘Trends and Moves’ where Tom Rathbone, Schaaf-PartnerCentric Head of Technology, will share news stories and updates on where the industry is headed.
May Trends & Moves: Bot Buying
As consumers begin to engage in brands more conversationally, it opens the door to a different level of interaction where purchasing is done proactively at a time of need or desire, not relying on a consumer to come looking.
This involves consumers interacting with a bot conversationally, which then goes out and makes a purchase for you. Facebook opening this up is the biggest shift here, as bots move from a site popup (“How can I help you today?”) towards interaction that can immediately result in a purchase right when a consumer would need it.
What effects could this have?
It will certainly pull dollars away from the traditional marketing channels we are so used to seeing funds go towards. And here, at Schaaf-PartnerCentric, where we spend countless hours thinking about the future trends of performance marketing, we have been actively seeking, engaging, and nurturing relationships with affiliates partners utilizing this technology. As the year progresses, we expect to see more and more affiliates innovating and leveraging the world of bots. Here are a few real-world example of bots in the digital landscape…
The week when digital marketing entered the bots era
“Now, chat bots — as well as chats with, you know, actual humans — have begun to populate websites, like helpful sales associates promptly showing up as you walk through the door of a store in a mall. It’s so much more convenient to ask a sales associate/bot what you really need, than having to figure out yourself what that is and where to find it.”- Marketing Land
How I sent Mark Zuckerberg flowers using a Facebook Messenger bot
“To test this pitch, I decided to send him a bouquet using Messenger’s new ability. And it worked!” – Marketing Land
Slackobot: Taco Bell pilots an order bot on Slack
The Mexican food chain has teamed with workplace messaging service Slack to refine a bot capable of processing and arranging food pickups. TacoBot leverages artificial intelligence for group and single ordering through natural language – fully equipped with Taco Bell’s sharp and witty personality. Read More here.
Have you been working with bots, as a developer, advertiser, or other? Feel free to drop me a line – I’d love to learn more about your experiences!
At Schaaf-PartnerCentric, we will be the first ones to tell you that affiliate marketing can be a bit confusing. We’d go so far as to say that the complicated landscape for performance marketing is part of what keeps us in business. With that said, we thought it would be beneficial to shed a little light on the top affiliate misconceptions we see. To do so, we chatted with Megan Sabo, one of Schaaf-PartnerCentric’s experienced Account Managers. Continue reading to learn about the top 6 misunderstandings (and the truths that accompany them!) she’s observed in the affiliate marketing industry…
Misconception 1: Affiliate Programs are high risk and low ROI. The truth…
The affiliate channel is inherently low risk due to the structure of a traditional pay-per-performance affiliate program, where you only need to pay commissions when an affiliate generates a sale or lead (sales are inherently less risky), and don’t need to pay for clicks or impressions
There is a huge opportunity for high ROI given that there are ongoing costs are typically only for affiliate management services and commissions, no other associated costs.
Misconception 2: Affiliate could cause arbitrage and conflict with other digital marketing channels. The truth…
You can setup restrictions regarding how the brand is promoted via other channels like paid search trademark terms restrictions, email marketing requires compliance with CAN-SPAM and prior written approval from the advertiser. You should also setup attribution for your affiliate program to help mitigate this issue.
Misconception 3: Coupon sites have either less value or no value when compared to other publishers in an affiliate program. The truth…
You should create strong promotions for products/ areas where you’d like to see more sales (such as a product that isn’t performing well in other channels) and only allow coupon affiliates to promote these types of promotions. You can also segment the commission structure and offer coupon affiliates lower commissions than other affiliates.
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.
Misconception 4: You only need to provide affiliates with text links and banners, and you can use the same creative/ text link copy through the year. The truth…
For better conversion rates, you should try new link types such as video, content, smart links, etc.
You should also create new banners, text links, and offers on a quarterly basis (or more frequently to match what you’re doing in other digital channels) to prevent stagnant performance and coupon fatigue. Pull performance reports to see which banner sizes, text link copy, and offer types perform best and replicate for future needs. Bonus: Ensure your product data feed is regularly updated (daily is deal!).
Misconception 5: Your affiliate program needs to be in as many networks as possible. The truth…
It is often beneficial to consolidate your program into fewer networks for cost savings (your top 1-2 performing networks), and ensure that your top performers in the lower performing networks are okay with moving to the other networks. Also, it’s helpful to give incentives for moving networks to these performers i.e. 1st sale bonus in the other networks, limited time exclusive offer, temporary commission increase, etc.
Misconception 6: You don’t need to communicate with your affiliates, you can just set up the program and forget it. The truth…
You should set up a regular communication schedule with your affiliates to keep them informed of new creative (see above), offers, as well as product updates and other newsworthy items that will keep your brand and products top-of-mind with your affiliates. Bonus: Include sample blog content for blogger affiliates to reuse in their blogs, makes it easy for them to promote you!
If you’re an advertiser, you’ve likely done your fair share of research on your affiliate program. But as your program evolves it is a good idea to revisit the basics every once in a while to make sure your program is set up for success.
To help you with this, we asked our team of experienced Affiliate Managers what key things your affiliate program plan should include. Our handy Marketing Coordinator, Dana then designed into an infographic you can print out and put next to your desk so it stays top of mind year-round…
Now we want to hear from you! What other items are on your checklist? When do you typically do the planning and evaluation for your program? If you need help with your program plan and execution, we’re happy to help. We’re currently offering advertisers with an existing affiliate marketing program a complimentary audit. Simply click on the button below, fill out the form, and we’ll follow up with next steps!