July 20, 2016

Trends and Moves: July

Author : Tom Rathbone

Head of Technology at Schaaf-PartnerCentric
Latest posts by Tom Rathbone (see all)

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.

Personalization

We’re halfway through 2016 and we continue to see a focus on “Personalization,” which essentially is the idea that merchants tailor advertising and offers to the target customer. Generally, the actual implementation of personalization strategies across the marketing mix does not seem to have taken hold, but the investment into solutions that will allow this certainly has.

Successfully implementing personalization requires a full understanding of what your customers are uniquely looking for as individuals. This requires the collection of a lot of data points, followed by the technology to utilize those data points.

At Schaaf-PartnerCentric, we continue to ask ourselves how we can increase the data we operate with for our clients and how we can develop personalization techniques that apply specifically to the affiliate channel.

Personalization in the News

Video

The growth of video as an advertising medium and the continually increasing use of mobile devices are directly tied together. And it’s not just video on social networks – digital video engagement is outpacing social network engagement.

It brings up the question, why has mobile growth outpaced video until now? The answer is simply a matter of bandwidth. In regions where mobile bandwidth is plentiful, we can expect video to continue to grow rapidly. In other regions, we can expect moving images, such as .gif’s, to connect more.

For us at SPC, this brings up the question of how much of our focus is on video and mobile affiliates. Are we staying ahead of the trends and incorporating video and mobile affiliate strategy into our clients programs in a timely and cost-effective manner?

Video in the News




July 13, 2016

Performance Marketing: The First Wave of 2016 (Infographic)

Author : Dana Pezzin

Marketing Coordinator at Schaaf-PartnerCentric

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…

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June 29, 2016

Five Content Ideas for Summer by Affiliate Window

Author : Morgan Simon

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!

summercontent

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




May 16, 2016

Pinterest Now Allows Affiliate Links

Author : Morgan Simon

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will remember last year Pinterest changed their policy and stopped allowing affiliate links. Tracking links were stripped from pins, thousands of publishers were outraged, and millions of dollars in revenue could no longer be tracked. Pinterest said the move was to stop spammers and ensure that the pinner experience was as authentic as possible. The rest of the world, however, had their doubts. There were hundreds of publishers who made a substantial portion of their living from sharing curated content on Pinterest via affiliate links.

Fortunately, it seems that Pinterest has seen the light and in an unexpected move is now allowing affiliate links as of last week. In a blog post published on May 12th, Pinterest explains “People come to Pinterest looking for new ideas to try, and the very best ideas come from businesses like yours. We understand that businesses and bloggers need a sustainable way to keep making great content. That’s why we’ve decided to allow affiliate links on Pinterest.”

Schaaf-PartnerCentric couldn’t be happier about the news, and we commend Pinterest for improving their systems and updating their policy to allow for affiliate links to be used again. “This is really exciting, game-changing news for many advertisers with products best discovered visually.  Last year’s changes to the Pinterest policy on affiliate links created a significant lost opportunity for many programs, and we are excited to introduce and re-introduce several of our clients to the Pinterest partnership right away.  Pinterest is a natural star for the affiliate world and we are eager to welcome her back into the fold,” says Schaaf-PartnerCentric CEO, Stephanie Harris.

While the announcement may only be four days old, our team has already begun strategizing how to best re-implement Pinterest into our client’s programs. Tracie Gross, Senior Affiliate Program Manager at SPC, is excited to explore the new possibilities for many of clients, “For my Clothing/Home clients, partnering with bloggers and content sites through the affiliate program had been an uphill battle. By not compensating sites that promote your products and goods, there’s no incentive to do so and therefore the advertiser misses out on a large number of traffic and conversions. With this announcement from Pinterest, this opens up so many possibilities for both bloggers/content site and advertisers.”

While Pinterest has been used by influence marketers throughout the past year, this recent policy change will neutralize the playing field and allow for smaller affiliates to monetize as well. As mentioned in the announcement, Pinterest spam detection systems have been greatly improved throughout the past year. As an agency known for our top-notch compliance team, we are thrilled about this improvement and believe it will give quality publishers of all sizes the chance to fairly utilize Pinterest as part of their affiliate strategy. While it goes without saying, we’ll mention it anyways – the benefits for our advertisers will be huge.

If you are a current client and want to know more about the recent Pinterest policy change, reach out to your Account Manager today. If you aren’t currently working with SPC but are interested in learning if Pinterest may make sense as part of your affiliate program, sign up for a complimentary program audit today:

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May 10, 2016

Trends and Moves in the Digital Landscape: May Edition

Author : Tom Rathbone

Head of Technology at Schaaf-PartnerCentric
Latest posts by Tom Rathbone (see all)

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!




April 21, 2016

The Top 6 Biggest Misconceptions in Affiliate Marketing

Author : Megan Sabo

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!




March 21, 2016

The Ultimate Affiliate Program Checklist

Author : Morgan Simon

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…

aff_program_checklist_infographic_full

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!

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March 08, 2016

New to the Industry: Thoughts on Affiliate Marketing

Author : John Bleecker

While the average Schaaf-PartnerCentric Affiliate Manager has ten years of experience in the performance marketing space, every once in a while we find a candidate so great they are worth bringing on despite a lack of industry-specific experience. John Bleecker is one of those individuals, and today we’re sharing his story of breaking into the affiliate marketing industry and what he has learned about performance marketing in his time here.

Entering the performance marketing industry as a novice, I wasn’t quite sure what I would encounter. I only knew that entering a new industry after the military would likely present me with an array of unknown unknowns. The world of affiliate marketing has not disappointed. In the short time that I have been in the industry, I have learned way more than I could have ever anticipated. The learning curve was much steeper than I expected, too.

I was only a casual user of the Internet when I started here at Schaaf-PartnerCentric. “But,” I thought, “how hard could it be, right?” Build a website, slap up a banner ad and watch the money roll in. All we need to do is find a suitable website, match them with the right advertiser and stop the fraud. Not so much. This is a complex machine.

I failed to appreciate how many wizards were behind the curtain making this multi-billion dollar industry happen. Once I saw how the sausage is made, I realized how little I knew, how wrong my assumptions were and ended up with more questions than answers. I would love to say that’s improved, but only by a little. I guess that’s how we learn.

What I have learned is affiliate marketing is as strategically and tactically as challenging as warfighting–thank goodness no one is shooting at us here! I knew marketing was all about influencing a decision and enticing a purchaser to act. I never assumed that would be easy. I did not foresee, though, the additional planes on which the affiliate world operates. We’re not merely attempting to influence purchasers; we’re working with our advertising partners and our publisher partners in a very elaborate dance. We have to keep a lot of people happy, even if they may be working at cross-purposes. The beauty of that challenge, however, is that we’re all in it for the same thing. We can all have our fair share if we want to. This isn’t a zero-sum game. And it’s actually a lot easier–and a lot less headache!–if we work together towards that end.

I feel very fortunate and grateful to have encountered so many helpful and cooperative minds already in the affiliate world, both inside and outside of SPC. As Aristotle said, “Individually we cannot help but fail, but when we pool our understanding we have a chance.”

Strong relationships are essential. This may seem an obvious point, but is so much easier said than done. It is a delicate balance of wants and abilities, and personalities. “Quid pro quo” may have seemed a simple proposition to Hannibal Lector, but not everyone is in it for mutual benefit or operating in good faith. After observing some patterns, and studying some industry history, I’m seeing that the cream truly does rise to the top. Those who do the best are those willing to operate with a cooperative spirit. Sometimes that can be as simple as merely not stepping on toes.

As the compliance officer here, it’s worth noting that I have been exposed to the unfortunate dark side of the affiliate world. The Internet is still the Wild West and can present some hostile terrain. I have had a few encounters that have made dealing with Afghan tribal elders seem easy by comparison. Needless to say, those folks will not be getting their “fair share.” This has only proved to me how necessary it really is to build meaningful relationships.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned so far is how imperative it is to be on the same page as your partners. The affiliate landscape is fertile ground for so many opportunities and advancements. We can maximize these best when we have those strong relationships that provide the know-how to envision and actualize these ends. And while we’re busy doing that here at Schaaf-PartnerCentric, bad guys beware, I’m watching you…




February 08, 2016

Affiliate Marketing Trends in 2016

Author : Lisette Howard

Affiliate Marketing Trends to Watch in 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:

Influencer Outreach

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 info@schaafpc.com.




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.