A recent Nielsen study, commissioned by inPowered, sought to shed light on “the role of content in the consumer decision making process.” Over a period of two months, they conducted in-person controlled lab tests where 900 respondents participated in online surveys. To measure the impact of online content on the respondents the latter had to take a survey before and after being exposed to content. The full results may be found/downloaded here, but here are a few highlights and their implications for affiliate marketers:
Top 3 Information Sources
While in the decision-making phase, consumers are most frequently being influenced by three types of online content: (1) social media, (2) user reviews, and (3) online advertising. All of these must be interwoven in every affiliate’s content marketing strategy.
Most Influential Content Is…
Clearly, not all content types are created equal in terms of magnitude of their impact on consumers’ purchase decisions. Expert reviews win this one hands down. I always say that it is imperative for affiliates to strive to become a top expert in the field/vertical on which they’ve chosen to focus. This data only validates and underscores the importance of such an approach.
Expert Content v User Reviews v Branded Content
Here again, regardless of the product type “content written by credible experts” outperformed all other types of content. As the study summarized, “on average, expert content lifted familiarity 88 percent more than branded content and 50 percent more than user reviews; they lifted affinity 50 percent more than branded content and 20 percent more than user reviews; finally, they lifted purchase considerations 38 percent more than branded content and 83 percent more than user reviews.”
Once again, you may download the full report here. It is 100% free and will be worth every online marketer’s time.
Yes, we are only about one-third into March, but there are already some notable news to report. Much is happening in the overall affiliate marketing sphere, but today I’d like to draw your attention to five news that relate specifically to affiliate managers and advertisers/merchants that reply on affiliate programs for business. Here they are in a chronological order:
1. Top Industry Influencers Announced
Shawn Collins announced the news a week ago. “Using various tools including Twitter, Traackr, Little Bird, Group High, and Google” Impact Radius identified the top performance marketing leaders of 2014, publishing the results in a nice graphic which you may find here. They put together a similar list in 2011 [see my blog post about it here] which raised a lively discussion [here and here]. However you may treat lists like these, one thing is indisputable: it is important for affiliate managers to know who the movers and shakers are and where to find them.
2. Affiliate Management in 2013 Compared to 2014
David Iwanow of Lost Press Marketing interviewed me asking a number of really good questions including the “biggest change in affiliate management in 2013″ (which I believe was top brands shifting from networks to in-house solutions) as well as challenges and opportunities in 2014. You may find the full interview by clicking the image below:
3. LinkedIn Group Reached 2,500 members
I run a closed (by approval only) Affiliate Program Management group on LinkedIn and yesterday we’ve reached a milestone – 2,500 members. It is a very targeted group (for affiliate managers, digital marketing professionals and advertisers with affiliate programs). So, the number is truly impressive to me.
4. Report on CPA Marketing in Russia Published
This is the fourth year that they are running the survey, and the results of the newest one have been published just yesterday. If you are interested in this emerging market and speak/read Russian, I do recommend studying this one carefully. It is by far the most thorough one they’ve done to date.
Interested in the Russian market (& read Russian)? See this new report on how they monetize websites: http://t.co/5V3J4Aa2tL
— Geno Prussakov (@ePrussakov) March 12, 2014
5. Affiliate Management Days Show Beats the Records
As blogged earlier this morning, the upcoming U.S. Affiliate Management Days (which will take place in San Francisco on March 19-20, 2014) is already set to beat its previous records — as far as the number of exhibitors, attendee count, and the numbers of prominent brands go — becoming the busiest show we have ever had in the affiliate management space specifically. I, therefore, especially hope to see you in San Francisco in a week!
— AM Days (@AMDays) March 12, 2014
It’s that time of the year when Affiliate Summit is looking for your help in compiling the speaker roster for its upcoming show — the one set to take place in New York City on August 10-13, 2014.
I have applied to speak too. If accepted, this will be my eleventh time speaking at Affiliate Summits. However, for any speaker to be selected they want to see people voting for the proposed session(s).
In a nutshell, when Affiliate Summit’s speaking proposals are reviewed and decided on, besides the founders of the conference and its advisory board, prospective attendees of the conference also have a vote on the session topics.
Today Shawn Collins has announced the voting for the 2014 New York show. The “voting will be open through March 14, 2014″ and I would highly appreciate your support there. Below you may find links to the two sessions that I’ve proposed (they will choose only one, but you may vote for as many as you wish). Registration is required, but between the registration and the voting, all of this shouldn’t take longer than 2 minutes of your time.
Many thanks in advance for your support. I will only go if I’m chosen/invited to speak. So, if you want to see me there, you do want to vote.
An interesting situation was described to me by a merchant/advertiser the other day. They run an affiliate program where a specific type of affiliates is being paid lower-than-default commissions. However, there are ways for these affiliates to disguise themselves in order to receive the full commission.
Affiliates who (due to the promotional methods used on their websites) are entitled to lower commission rate join sub-affiliate networks to get paid at a higher rate, instead. How can an affiliate manager police this?
While you could choose not to work with sub-affiliate networks and platforms altogether (this would, certainly, be one solution), declining them from joining your affiliate program, you don’t have to do so missing other opportunities that these relationships may bring about.
Rather than cutting them off entirely, you could work with cooperative sub-affiliate platforms, provided they agree to disclose where specific traffic has come from.
There will be non-collaborative sub-affiliate networks and platforms, but it is best to stay away from these, anyway.
When approached about the subject of this post, David Naffziger of BrandVerity (a company that already offers a coupon policing tool for affiliate managers) said:
Yes, I’ve heard of this a bunch. I believe most sub-affiliate platforms would be responsive to a query on the topic, and will make available detailed source reporting if the advertiser presses them for it. I would ensure someone has a regular process (monthly? quarterly?) to request these sources, and then compare the list of sites to their own affiliate list (active and historic).
Obviously that only helps if the affiliate isn’t trying to deceive the sub-affiliate network which does happen. In that case, a solution such as our coupon monitoring service could be used to monitor coupon sites in their program. A user, for example, can pull a report of both VigLink and Skimlinks IDs to see what sites are using them.
I also asked Lori Weiman of The Search Monitor (who also now does coupon policing) the same question, and her reply was:
The Search Monitor has a list of coupon sites and all of their network affiliations.
Someone could do a lookup of their sub-affiliates against our list to see all of the network affiliations that the sub-affiliate has.
Having said all of the above, there still seems to be room for an additional tool here. A third-party solution (based on technologies similar to the ones used by BrandVerity and The Search Monitor) which would strip down the link, showing both the actual source and the tool used to monetize the source (be it Skimlinks, VigLink, FlexOffers, MediaWhiz, or any other sub-affiliate platform) would be of tremendous help.
Naturally, the tool would not be able to support the reporting side of things (as it won’t be able to track the conversions), but the merchant/affiliate manager does not even need it for the policing. Knowing how the link strips down would be sufficient enough to know whether a specific affiliates disguises or not.
What do you think?
Exactly one month before the U.S. Affiliate Management Days 2014 show, I’ve decided to poll speakers asking them to pick 3 sessions they want to attend, or are looking at attending.
Today I bring you their responses (with special thanks to those who have provided additional comments/rationale as to why exactly they have picked these particular sessions):
Wesley Brandi selected:
- 10 Things New Affiliate Managers Should Know by Martin Marion (Deluxe Corp)
- Hiring, Firing, and Compensating Affiliate Managers by Brook Schaaf (Schaaf-PartnerCentric) and CC Mullen (Compensation & Organization Solutions)
- Using Affiliate Forums and Blogs to Create an Online Reputation by Chuck Hamrick (Hamrick.biz)
Todd Crawford wrote:
- Performance Secrets of Amazon’s Success by Bryan Eisenberg — Every retailer competes with Amazon and I think it will be interesting to get more insights into how Amazon does what it does.
- The Value of Working with Different Affiliate Types, the Need to Diversify by Choots Humphries (LinkConnector) — This is a common concern among advertisers and will be interesting to see what Choots presents.
- Hiring, Firing, and Compensating Affiliate Managers by Brook Schaaf (Schaaf-PartnerCentric) and CC Mullen (Compensation & Organization Solutions) — “I do not think enough people in our industry understand how best to compensate a program manager and it is important information that doesn’t get discussed very often.”
Sarah Bundy picked:
- Performance Secrets of Amazon’s Success by Bryan Eisenberg — Everyone wants to understand Amazon’s secrets to success and I believe this session will have some great tips that will showcase some new opportunities yet to be explored by most merchants.
- The Development & Use of APIs for Affiliate Marketing by Ryan Hudgins and Sanarr McLaughlin (InterContinental Hotels Group) — APIs create incredible opportunities for affiliates and brands alike and this is still an area many people do not understand. I’d be interested to see how a hotel group uses theirs for ongoing success for themselves and their affiliate team.
- Turn Up the Heat: Engage & Activate Affiliates Who’ve Since Gone Cold by Jon Levine (All Inclusive Marketing) — One of the major challenges brands face is keeping activity rates high. An even greater challenge is how to get affiliates active if they have lost interest and have gone cold. A lot of effort goes into recruitment, so keeping those guys alive is key to ongoing success. I’m interested to see what strategies Jon recommends in this particular presentation.
Jennifer Myers Ward wrote:
- Affiliate Management: Grab Your Buckets & Let’s Go! by Jennifer Myers Ward (ebove & beyond) — I know it’s mine, but I honestly believe there is not only some valuable, actionable material that will be shared … it will be fun & memorable! Heck, what’s the point of doing it if I don’t think it’s something I would want to attend myself.
- The Value of Working with Different Affiliate Types, the Need to Diversify by Choots Humphries (LinkConnector) — This one did catch my eye as I think much of the time merchants focus too heavily on “couponers” or traffic volume affiliates and do not always even understand the various types of affiliates out there. I mean, if managed correctly, they can leverage content sites, review sites, bloggers, PPC, social media, email affiliates and even cart abandonment. Nice to hear this being brought to the forefront!
- 10 Affiliate Recruitment Strategies that Work (and a Few Bonus Ones Too!) by Sarah Bundy (All Inclusive Marketing) — I think this is a key subject as I think both merchants and even some novice affiliate managers lose creativity sometimes when it comes to recruiting. They stick with what they know and swim in a “shallow” pool of options, thus limiting the program and its success. Plus, Sarah always has juicy info to share.
The 3 sessions that have been mentioned most frequently were: (1) Bryan Eisenberg’s Performance Secrets of Amazon’s Success keynote, (2) Brook Schaaf’s and CC Mullen’s Hiring, Firing, and Compensating Affiliate Managers, and (3) The Value of Working with Different Affiliate Types, the Need to Diversify by Choots Humphries.
Which sessions would make your Top 3 List and why?
By the way, if you haven’t yet registered, there is still time!! The show takes place in San Francisco on March 19-20, 2014. If you register using the coupon code shown on the image (to the right of this paragraph) you will receive $500.00 OFF two-day and all-access passes to the show. Looking forward to meeting you there next month!
Not all affiliate marketing conferences are created equal. No, not in the “quality” or even the “quantity” sense of the word. “Equal” as in “identical” or “same in nature.”
If you carefully look through the list of the 2014 industry conferences to consider attending, you will notice that all of them can be roughly split into three groups: geography-specific conferences, topic- or subject-specific, and platform-specific ones.
To make the most of each type, you want to align your goals and expectations in accordance with the specificity of the conference.
While there are some conferences that are as close to being “transnational” as a conference can be (Affiliate Summit is a great example) even they tend to lean more towards the geography where they are being held.
Additionally, with the rapid worldwide growth of the industry, we have a seen quite a number of new countries get their own affiliate marketing conferences. Russia, for example, which in 2011 had no industry conferences at all, had two in 2012, and five in 2013. Also, in 2013 we’ve seen new affiliate marketing shows spring up in China, Brazil, Greece, Czech Republic, and Spain. Naturally, if you have interest in geography-specific affiliate marketing you want to consider attending conferences held in respective geographies. Here are just a few 2014 examples (including a brand-new one in the Ukraine) the dates of which are already known:
- 02/21 – CPA Day (Kiev, Ukraine)
- 02/25-02/26 – Affiliate TactixX (Munich, Germany)
- 05/22 – Affiliate Dag 2014 (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) – I keynoted their 2013 show, and having experienced it first-hand, I highly recommend it
- 05/29-05/31 – Afiliados Brasil (São Paulo, Brazil)
- 06/24-06/25 – Performance Marketing Insights Europe (Berlin, Germany) – I’ll be speaking at this show on the 24th, and hope to see you in my session
- 08/10-08/12 – Affiliate Summit East (New York, NY, USA) – I’ve spoken at 10 of these already, and hope to have a solo presentation at this one too. It’s a great and very busy show
- 10/03-10/04 – Russian Affiliate Congress & Expo (Moscow, Russia)
It is also important to understand that some of the affiliate marketing conferences are either narrowly thematic (or centered around a specific niche), focused on a specific marketing service (e.g.: lead generation) or targeting a specific subject (e.g.: affiliate program management). Needless to emphasize that if a specific topic or subject is of interest/important to your business you do want to put these on your calendar.
Here are some 2014 examples of such conferences:
- 03/19-03/20 – Affiliate Management Days (San Francisco, CA, USA) – For advertisers, CMOs & affiliate managers – use this code to get $500.00 off.
- 03/25-03/26 – LeadsCon Las Vegas (Las Vegas, NV, USA) – Focused on lead generation
- 05/13-05/14 – Affiliate Management Days (London, UK) – Super Early Bird rates end this Friday. Save £500.00 by registering soon.
- 06/24-06/27 – Amsterdam Affiliate Conference (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) – Targeting the gaming niche specifically
Finally, there is a separate group of affiliate platform- or/and network-specific conferences. Unfortunately, the 2014 dates for many of these aren’t known yet, but below you will be able to find their names and links to their websites (I’ve arranged them in the chronological order based on what we’ve seen in the previous years):
- 01/15 – ClickBank Exchange (Las Vegas, NV, USA)
- 02/21 – LinkShare Symposium Japan (Tokyo, Japan)
- 06/25-06/26 – LinkShare Symposium East (New York, NY, USA)
- 08/03-08/05 – AvantExpo 2014 (Park City, UT, USA)
- TBA – Commission Junction University (Santa Barbara, CA, USA)
- TBA – ShareASale ThinkTank (TBA, USA)
Since 2009 I have been keeping a close eye on the industry’s conferences (even more so now that I’m running my own show). In the beginning of each year I am putting together a list of conferences to consider, and I am constantly updating it throughout the year. The list of 2014 may be found (and followed) here.
My most recent Affiliate Summit speaking appearance also happened to be my 10th time speaking at the show, and I have just received some encouraging feedback [quite in line with ASE11, ASW12, and other feedback I've been receiving]:
As Tweeted earlier, I only wish more of the attendees turned in their feedback forms; but happy to see that those who did provide feedback, found the presentation of use. Yesterday, I’ve learned that my session was one of the top-attended sessions at the show.
If you have missed my “22 Effective Ways to Recruit Quality Affiliates” presentation, you may find it on SlideShare.net:
Enjoy it, and don’t forget to review my blog posts on affiliate recruitment here.