Affiliate Marketing Fanatics – A couple of hyper-caffeinated affiliate marketers (Mike Buechele) and (Trisha Lyn Fawver) talk about all things Affiliate Marketing. From blogging to branding, social media to search, video and more!
Mike and I jump back into the saddle with this whole podcasting thing. We talk briefly about how great Affiliate Summit West 2012 was, get off track in some places, and try to get the innocent kids in the Midwest hooked on some affiliate marketing conference goodness. In in this episode we discuss:
- Affiliate Summit Central – a gateway conference to bigger conferences.
- Speculation about the night life of Austin, TX.
- Anybody using Pinterest? Thread on the Affiliate Summit Forum
- The Story of Skimlinks and Pinterest by Shawn Collins
- Pinterest “Pin It” Button WordPress Plugin
- 0% of Affiliate Marketers are Female. Say whaa? The rebutted 10 Great Women of Affiliate Marketing
- Some chatter about the Affiliate Summit Meetups in NY and SF
Special thanks to GeekCast.fm for hosting Affiliate Marketing Fanatics!Read More
Guest Post by James Martell.
With over a decade’s experience in the online marketing business, I can tell you that things have changed. Just a few years ago, the best way to have success online was to get a high volume of unique visitors on a regular basis. To an extent, this is still important, but the key to success today is to have your visitors come back to your site on a regular basis.
Websites with a devoted following of users are among the most successful today, with a prominent example being daily deal sites such Woot or Groupon.
The significance of return traffic
In a recent interview I did for my Coffee Talk series with Ryan Allis, co-founder and CEO of iContact, a leading provider of email marketing software boasting more than 700,000 users, he told me that you will never see a whopping 70% of your traffic ever again if you don’t get them on your list. In other words, your time and effort would be best spent on getting your visitors to return to your website on a regular basis.
In general, if a product or service is expensive or complicated, a consumer must be exposed time and time again to the product or service before they will truly consider purchasing it. If a visitor to your website never comes back, they will not likely result in a sale or increased advertising revenue for you.
Search engines also play a very large part in this equation. Google and other search engines continue to monitor information about your website’s visitors, including how many times they return. Ranking highly in search engines for topics such as car insurance quotes, lift chairs, inflatable boats, wood routers, or doll houses requires you to get your users to come back.
In this article, I will discuss the five best strategies for creating effective return traffic.
1) Make use of RSS to Email
This is a fantastic piece of email automation software that can inform members on your list about the new content that you post. Best of all, you never have to lift a finger, with many options for automation.
Creating a weekly or monthly newsletter or sending email auto-responders can be incredibly difficult and time-consuming.
Fortunately, RSS to Email allows you to send out newsletters and auto-responders, but in a much simpler and easier way. Their automated service can allow you to notify your list members every single time you add new content to your website. This is a fantastic way to get your readers to return to your website and check out the new content you have posted.
My favorite feature on this program, however, is the scheduling tool. This allows you to send out a regular newsletter automatically with little to no work on your part. The scheduling tool can run as little or as often as you want, and it can crawl a number of websites, effectively combining different pages of content into one handy newsletter. It can even send out a newsletter to your list automatically, but you can also have it send you a preview newsletter so that you can approve its content yourself.
2) Release podcast updates
Considering the amount of people with online businesses today, very few marketers are making use of podcasts. However, they are easily one of the best ways to engage your visitors and have them return to your website.
Currently, I am the host of one of the longest running podcasts about affiliate marketing (The Affiliate Buzz) as well as my own series (Coffee Talk with James Martell). I use these podcasts to pique my visitor’s interest and convert them into devoted followers.
You could put together a 30-minute podcast in under an hour fairly easily. However, shorter podcasts (5 to 10 minutes) are becoming more and more popular. It is also very easy to automate your podcast publishing, allowing you to update your list members with very little work on your part.
3) Comment on your own blog
Users that are involved in your website will return regularly. One of the best ways to get your users involved on your website is to reply to comments on your own blog.
Thousands of visitors might read a post on your blog, but it’s typically quite rare for a reader to get involved and post a comment. For this reason, it’s important to write out thoughtful replies when someone takes the time to write a comment on your blog.
If you’re having trouble keeping track of comments on your blog, I would recommend WordPress plug-in called “Subscribe To Comments“. This plug-in can notify your website’s visitors when someone responds to their comment. It doesn’t cost anything, and it can be a fantastic way to deepen your website’s sense of community and get your visitors involved.
4) Utilize chat forums
Bulletin boards and chat forums have played a large role online since the birth of the internet. However, many online marketers tend to neglect internet forums. However, they remain one of the most effective tools for building a community on your website and getting your visitors invested. They also allow you to communicate with your visitors and have your visitors interact with each other, giving them valid reasons for returning on a regular basis.
My wife Arlene and I have had great success in building online communities with chat forums. Arlene’s website, EpilepsyMoms.com, has thousands of chat forum members that regularly participate in discussions about parenting children with epilepsy. These are the type of invested returning visitors that I consider to be the most valuable type of traffic.
5) Provide useful information
In today’s world, content is king. However, it is important to provide your users with well-written, informative content.
Try to remain open and interested to your community members, and provide useful information to all of your visitors. Through various forms of media, such as video, audio, or simple written articles, you can provide helpful advice, useful information, and fun, interesting content to your users, prompting them to come back on a regular basis.
Keep the visitors you have
If you wish to increase the traffic of your website and rank high in search engines for topics like car insurance quotes, Pride lift chairs, inflatable boats, wood routers, doll houses, and arc welders, it is likely a good idea to shift your focus from new visitors to return traffic.
James Martell is a successful author, podcaster, and speaker. He’s a leading expert in affiliate marketing and outsourcing as well as a specialist in SEO. James is host of the Affiliate Buzz podcast on WebmasterRadio.FM (the first ever and longest running podcast about the affiliate industry), and creator of the Affiliate Marketers SUPER BootCamp where he teaches others how to make money with affiliate marketing. He lives in White Rock BC, a seaside suburb of Vancouver on west coast of Canada with his wife, Arlene.Read More
Once again, on the eve of ad:tech SF, OfferVault put on another afternoon Performance Marketing Leadership Summit. Last year’s topic was compliance, whereas this year’s summit focused on growth, transparency, and improving CPA networks everywhere. The 2011 summit was graciously sponsored by CPA Detective, LashBack, LinkTrust, EFFECTUS, & HasOffers.
While I didn’t explicitly learn much myself from this summit as it was definitely geared towards CPA networks, there was a lot of good information for those folks I’d like to share with you. Here are some highlights of information I took from the afternoon’s speakers:
Founder & President of Bulldog Media Group, Inc.
- Why Diversify?
- Create value & enhance margins.
- Stability & structural positioning.
- Do you have the resources?
- Technology (in house, other).
- Cash Flow.
- You have to do something special in the market.
- You may need to diversify just to survive.
- Where to diversify?
- Do you own your own products?
- Do you have your own technology?
- Internal development.
- Strategic alliances.
- Joint ventures.
- You’ve got to have a good database, not just emails but information about these people. That’s where the real value is.
- You’ve got to be able to work well with others.
- Reciprocating traffic works well.
- Pay day loans have higher traffic, as do prepaid cards and rewards programs.
- You must have a stable strategy to survive.
- What direction to diversify?
- Analyze, evaluate, and plan strategy.
- Future areas of diversification:
- Major players of influence (Google, Facebook, Apple, Groupon, others).
- What’s the next generation?
- What are the trends? (Chase them or plan for them).
- The economy has created more reasons to look farther into true performance. Who’s checking out your backside?
- Who’s aiming for what current teens will be looking for?
- Spending marketing dollars doesn’t mean a lot of you don’t know what the ROI on that money is.
Panel 1: Diversification Strategies
Darin Namken (Bulldog Media Group, Inc.), Chad French (PeerFly), James Murphy (BurstDirect), Bob Regular (Kitara Media), & Curtis Fullmer (AdKnowledge)
- Is it enough to just be a network?
- There’s not much barrier of entry.
- The relationships are what set the networks apart from each other.
- It’s more about conversion & yield than the type of offers. it starts with the offer but it can’t overcome traffic sources.
- It’ll be tough if you don’t have the right mix of affiliates and offers (e.g. Gaming affiliates but pet product offers).
- Understand where the publishers are getting their traffic from.
- Most networks don’t have a good handle of where the traffic is coming from. Which leads to the bigger question – as long as you’re not dealing with risque sites, does it even matter?
- Go with what you know. There’s no one path. Go from there and then expand.
- What are you solving? Are you solving anything? If you want to grow, you need to ask “What are you solving?” or are you just opportunistic? If you’re not solving something the relationship can’t last very long. It’s all a supporting mechanism to fixing the problem.
- Remember that you don’t have to be all things to all people. Build your identity and have a solid foundation to build it upon.
- Where is a bad idea to diversify into? Chasing trends too heavily is dangerous, like with re-bills. Focusing on a trend too much means you’ll go down when the trends go down. Don’t act like an affiliate. Haves multiple eggs in multiple baskets. Facebook fan page marketing is tricky these days, hard incentives tricky,
- What traffic is ok? All traffic is fine. You want everything in between. All traffic has a value, but it needs to be transparent. Understand the transparency of where your offers are running. If you know that, then you can calibrate your offer to suit the traffic being driven. Take those factors into consideration & you’ll get better yield. Bad traffic isn’t necessarily fraud, just mismatched traffic to the offer. There’s a place for incentives, but it takes focus, time and understanding. What you ultimately have is a user with no intent & no interest in your end offer. If you don’t understand how to create the intent, stay far far away.
- What do you need for resources & focus to pull a true diversification off? Make sure your core competency is solid to support the side stuff.
- How do you measure if something is worth getting into? In our industry you don’t have to be 1st, there’s still a lot of room. How does it fit into your core strategy? Evaluate what’s the dollar value you could potentially build that business or division to? I there a growing market there? If the answer to any of those things is no, consider moving on. Don’t chase, identify if it’ll help what you do. If you can’t do it very well & be superior at it, run away. Know when to cut your losses. (i.e. affilicert, affiliate certification that OfferVault was attempting to do). Be mature as a company & don’t look at it as a monetary thing.
- How do you diversify the traffic flow to different kinds of offers in one network? Make sure to understand the performance metrics, it becomes an education thing, be transparent, educate the affiliates on the performance of other offers. Just ask if they have traffic for those kinds of offers. How many times can you tell your publishers to “trust me!”? If they had an answer, they’d probably not share it lol. Get them to believe in the offer & why it’ll work for them. Look at the whole marketing funnel. Don’t kill your credibility by pushing something you’re not sure will work. Educate them that it’s in their best interest as well for them to diversify because advertisers can back out on offers in the blink of an eye for various reasons.
- Should you be a network without an in-house media team? It helps. The easiest way to get knowledge on traffic and performance is it do it yourself.
- Do you consider who your ultimate client is? Advertiser or publisher? Does that come into play on how you diversify? Consider the end user, if they don’t want to participate in these offers, the advertisers wont have the money to write the checks. There needs to be a balance. If you work direct with the merchants, you can look at things as more of a partnership with affiliates.
- Do you have issues where an advertiser is asking for full transparency (double verify) and how do you work with that? You give it to them. if they demand a certain quality and you want to work with them, you have to give it to them & meet that quality or the alarm bells start ringing. The money flows downhill. The increase in transparency is coming to more verticals and more industries. It goes back to relationships, if you build these good relationships then transparency is second nature. Why hide? It’s a two way street.
- Do many publishers say they won’t run 3rd party ad tags & want to hard code everything? If they’re that resistant, you have to ask yourself if they’re worth the time to work with or career to.
- International a great way to diversify? Is it? It’s key to future growth, but you’ve got to be prepared for the challenges of fraud, compliance, policy issues. Canada & UK fairly easy to get into, but do it in a very stepped, focused way. Consider your offers if they appropriate for international traffic as is, are there any TOAs that prohibit the international traffic, etc. Do you have the resources for that kind of expansion.
- What industry trend or issue keeps you up at night? There’s a constant battle with shady publishers & compliance. Regulation from the government. How are government departments interpreting the regulations. The government of Google & Facebook & their control over the Internet & their policy changes. The inability to integrate technologies & lack of standards.
- Patented technology, open sources, propriety
- Apparently affiliate marketing is patented (Patent# US 6804660) filed in 2001, granted in 2004. Probably without merit, companies getting sued. Mid level networks (ShareASale, Blue Phoenix).
- Going to trial 4/17/2012.
- ShareASale has filed a counter suit against essociates trying to invalidate the patent.
- In house, proprietary tracking solution instead of licensing direct track or LinkTrust or another vendor. All the networks mostly with propriety tech have much higher network revenue (i.e. Neverblue) They all started with their own solutions.
- Benefits of in house platform:
- Less reliance upon third party tech products.
- Increased value for investors and shareholders.
- Ability to quickly adapt to changes in the industry.
- Data portability and security.
- More control over your user experience.
- Differentiates your network from the thousands of other networks all using identical software.
- Benefits of an outsourced platform:
- Quick time to market with lower up front costs.
- Software that continues to be developed and improved on their dime.
- Predictable start-up and operating costs.
- Is Open Source the future?
- Tracking202/Prosper202 is open source, and became the industry standard tracking software for affiliates.
- WordPress is open sources and 13% of websites on the internet are powered by WordPress.
- Stop reinventing the wheel!
- Every network is reinventing or licensing the wheel.
- Instead, a group of networks could sponsor the creation of open source software.
- A network is more than software, it’s about people, offers, and relationships.
- Imagine if the resources going into development of the dozens of proprietary networks and the monthly fees for licensing were allocated to building a single universal platform.
- Noteworthy tech solutions:
- If you can reduce the size of your landing pages, offers and/or redirects you will make more money.
- Cloud is virtually infinite scalability.
- No need to overbuild gory intransigent with cloud.
- Software required to automatically scale.
- Pay just for what you use.
- Increases your risk of downturn, not necessarily so with applications that don’t need scalability.
- Dedicated, fine grain control over hardware.
- Dedicated server is likely to be more reliable.
- Model is proven and relied upon but 90% of Fortune 500 companies have it.
- Wouldn’t put whole business on cloud.
- ServerBeach (offshoot of rack space).
- Backup your servers everyday.
- Create scripts to automatically upload from your servers backups to your local FTP email you files, and/or another website.
- Your data is the core of your business, and if you’re not already you need to take measures to ensure you keep it safe.
- Auto backup with Tivoli.
- WordPress is free and open sources, with tens of thousands of templates available. It’s secured and trusted by millions with extreme flexibility. Websites can be developed in hours not weeks.
- Joomla powers 1 in 37 websites on the internet, not many of which are blogs. It’s slightly more complicated to learn, but great for split testing with thousands of themes available.
- Drupal powers millions of sites, including MTV, Lifetime Television, Yahoo, and more higher volume sites. It’s considered the best framework but is most complicated to learn of the open source CMS out there.
- Braintree is a great eCommerce solution that powers sites like LivingSocial, Bright Cove, 37 Signals, Open Table, and more. It’s easy to integrate.
- Visual website optimizer is $49 per month but worth it; it’s like Google Website Optimizer on steroids.
- Be sure to include trust symbols on your website – 100% satisfaction guaranteed logo, privacy seal, SSL certificate, Verisign, McAfee, etc. Avoid less trustworthy things, like GoDaddy right now.
Panel 2: Technology Insights
Ryan Pamplin (Ryactive), Matt Frary (SmarterChaos.com). Lucas Brown (HasOffers), Beto Paredes (Offered Launch Media, LLC), & Jay Moore (BigDeal.com)
- HasOffers goal is more people in the industry. They’re doing a lot to increase data redundancy.
- If you can build something better than anyone else, go for it, but if not, don’t bother. It’s not about if you do it in house or outsource it, it’s do I have go do it in house?
- How can you innovate on a closed platform if you can’t integrate a new technology? Open API is the suggested way.
- HasOffers rather on the spot.
- Innovation is driven by need.
- Cookies vs. Server side calls? You’ve got to make sure you don’t violate Apples rules. Cookies are becoming outdated. It’s inevitable that cookies will be going away. There’s also an element of educating people on the new tracking methods.
- Larger networks are also looking at the tracking solutions with the working group.
- The banks are guilty of screwing the whole merchant services thing up. A lot are just white label stuff.
- By removing inefficiencies, within the existing infrastructures, you’re going go make more money.
- You may find more of the advertisers having moe control on their programs mandated by the networks.
- Make sure your advertisers know how to do things, like tracking a sub ID. What’s lacking is a true integration. The education for the advertisers on the technology that’s available is also lacking.
- It’s not about the technology sometimes, it’s about the willingness to apply it.
- Its not unreasonable to want to know who you’re doing business with. The way things are with affiliates being in the dark is not going go persist. People are going to be changing the way things are done in favor of transparency.
- All industry panels lead to transparency. We all talk about it, but who does it? Advertisers do it, and unfortunately they’re going around the networks and collapsing the value chain. They’re the ones on the hook with the government.
- If the networks used their tech for good, instead of just protecting their own interests, then there’s more money for everyone.
- It’s the business ethics behind the technology that’s going go drive the industry.
- Any tech you’re excited about or think it’s a game changer? Blue Cava (allows you to ID a user all over the net without cookies or server side tracking, browser fingerprinting with ip). Any tech tracking people across devices or without cookies, across platforms, etc. Excited about online to offline to online tracking like pay per call. Anything that’s going go move towards a more sustainable affiliate marketing industry.
- Privacy is dead, if you’re putting all your info out there on Facebook & whatnot, FTC requires everyone offer a way to opt out. Overall it’s going to improve the consumer experience. Theres a lot of opportunities to give people a chance to opt in. The more important privacy issues surrounding ID theft are being addressed.
- Full transparency isn’t necessarily the way, but we want to know who the affiliate is generally speaking & have a way to contact them.
While I was at Affiliate Summit, I was taking more pictures than notes this time around. It occurred to me that the best way to post a recap would be in pictures. I use a plug-in on another site I manage for the San Leandro Historical Railway Society called Next Gen Gallery, and I figured it would be perfect for this application.
Of course, anyone who attends Affiliate Summit, especially the West Coast versions held in Las Vegas, knows that it takes a lot out of you. So I finally get around to installing the plug-in, but apparently I’m having some permissions issues on this website with my new hosting company that I won’t get into. In a nutshell, it’s not allowing me to create the new albums and upload the pictures.
So, while I get this sorted out with my new hosting company, just know that Mike Buechele & I will be recording our recap of the conference very soon for Affiliate Marketing Fanatics!Read More
I’m on my knees, people! I’m looking to raise some funds so I can attend Blog World Expo & New Media Conference this year October 14-16 in Las Vegas. It was highly valuable for me when I went in 2008, and a lot has changed since then! I’d love to go get an update on some of the trends in blogging. But I can’t do it alone. I’ve determined that I can easily cover the flight to Las Vegas to attend, but I can’t cover the $500 registration fee and the $500 it’ll take to stay in Las Vegas for the duration. So that’s where you come in.
A friend of mine clued me in today on a little thing called ChipIn. ChipIn allows anyone to raise money towards any endeavor so long as they have a PayPal address. This is excellent for charities, schools, community organizations, or poor bloggers like me to ask for donations! So my goal is to raise $1000 (or as close as possible) by 10/8/10 so I can register before the show possibly sells out. Below is my widget, and I’d be eternally grateful if you chipped in a few bucks towards my goal.
What do you get out of this, you ask? I’ll tell you!
- Better content from me on TrishaLyn.com
- Notes from all the great sessions I attend.
- A plethora of photos from the event.
- New tools you can use on your WordPress powered blogs and websites.
- A faster, more efficient TrishaLyn.com since I’ll be looking to switch hosting providers.
- My eternal gratitude and gratuitous public thank yous with links to your company or personal website on my Twitter stream, Facebook page, this blog, etc.