FeedFront is the official magazine of Affiliate Summit. The magazine is dedicated to bringing ideas, resources, and opinions from Internet marketing innovators to you before your next project or venture.
The speaker faculty for Affiliate Summit East 2018, taking place July 29-31 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City, has been finalized.
The keynote speakers will be Dr. Sandra Matz, Assistant Professor, Columbia Business School (Sunday, July 29); Mari Smith, “Queen of Facebook”, Mari Smith International, Inc. (Monday, July 30); and Brian Messenlehner, Co-Founder, AppPresser.com and David Vogelpohl, VP of Web Strategy, WP Engine (Tuesday, July 31).
And there are dozens of breakout sessions covering affiliate management, affiliate retention, AI, blogging, copywriting, email, fraud, GDPR, influencers, psychology, SEO, social media, strategy, WordPress, and more on the Affiliate Summit East 2018 agenda.
One of the great things about attending Affiliate Summit, as opposed to some sort of online training, is the total immersion of a conference.
A lot of the most valuable things you will learn over the course of three or more days will be from fellow attendees that you meet during breaks, meals, elevator rides, and late night in the Broadway Lounge on the 8th floor of the New York Marriott Marquis.
Comfort – late July in New York can be hot and humid; sometimes it’s pouring rain. None of that matters if you don’t have to leave.
Convenience – Ever get to the conference and forget your badge? Me, too. If you’re staying in the hotel, you can jump back on the elevator, instead of a half hour or hour roundtrip to fetch it. Plus, you can dump off things in your room, charge your phone, get away from the crowds, change your clothes if you spill something, make a phone call, catch a quick nap, or host a meeting there.
Cost – we have negotiated a group rate of $319/night. That’s a good rate for NYC, but also you won’t have to pay for cabs back and forth.
Free WiFi – the room rate includes complimentary “Wired for Business” in sleeping rooms.
Serendipity – most of the conference attendees are staying at the hotel, and you never know who you will meet and where. The Starbucks line in the morning or a nightcap at the bar late at night. If you are just at the hotel for part of the day at the conference, you’re missing those awesome, random meetings.
Booking at another hotel or Airbnb may save you a few dollars or yield some reward points, but at what cost to your networking, convenience, and productivity?
The latest news to rock the social media world is Facebook’s announcement of its algorithm change stating, “…posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”
This is a big signal to brands that the free ride on Facebook is likely about to end if it hasn’t already. With the ever-changing landscape in social media, understanding how to reach your audience organically can be a challenge. I’m here to tell you that there is no secret sauce and no shortcuts.
Quality Versus Quantity: This old adage couldn’t be more appropriate for social media today. There are many tools to manage your schedule, identify influencers, and analyze performance, but none of these are going to help you create more engaging content. People are overloaded with content every day, and we don’t need more of it — just for the hell of it. Do you have the unique creative skills needed to make your social media marketing a success?
Be Genuine: People like to engage with other people, not brands. Have you thought about letting people in behind the scenes, and letting them see what your operation is like, or meet the team? Talk about your failures and struggles, as well as your successes. People want to know why you started your business and why you’re passionate about it. If they can relate to your story, they will want to work with you, recommend you and your business, and ultimately buy your products and/or services.
Video is Hot: According to TechCrunch, over eight billion videos were watched on Facebook daily in 2016. You don’t need fancy cameras or big budgets. Share inspirational stories and make them relatable to your audience. Leverage your best blog content and pull out their highlights to create a series of videos. Turn images into videos by adding music, voice overs, or quotes.
Go Live: All of the major platforms have some form of live video broadcasts and they give preference to that type of content, including notifications to their followers. Turn on your camera while attending an event or conference, capture something spontaneous at the office, or celebrate a product launch. For big events, I recommend creating a “Facebook Event” that you can share via email and social media, so you can update attendees and keep them engaged leading up to the live broadcast.
Be engaging: Engage with people who interact with your brand, and even those that don’t. Thank them for sharing your content. Get involved in conversations with other brands that share your interests, values, views, and mission. Participate in Twitter chats. Share other people’s content first. Retweets cost nothing.
Social media takes thoughtful planning, coupled with creativity and manners. I don’t recommend outsourcing community management, because nobody knows your brand better than you do. I do recommend regular audits, detailed reporting, and determining what part of the marketing mix you’d like social media to be for you.
Sal Conca is a marketing consultant and entrepreneur working in digital marketing for 18 years.
There will be a keynote session covering psychological targeting at Affiliate Summit East 2018 on Sunday, July 29, 2018 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City.
This keynote will feature Sandra Matz, an Assistant Professor in the Management Division at Columbia Business School.
More details on Sandra Matz:
Combining methodologies from psychology and the computer sciences, her work explores the question of how insights about people’s psychological profiles (e.g. personality) extracted from their digital footprints (e.g. Facebook Likes) can help individuals and businesses make better decisions.
Dr. Matz works with business around the world and is a frequent keynote speaker for established organizations and institutions, including Microsoft, Trivago, or the European Commission.
She was named one of the DataIQ’s 100 most influential people in data-driven marketing in 2015 and 2016, and was recognized as one of the 30 top thinkers under 30 by the Pacific Standard Magazine.
Her work has been published top-tier journals such as Psychological Science, the American Psychologist and PNAS, and has attracted worldwide media attention from outlets like the Independent, the BBC, CNBC, Wired, Business Insider, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the World Economic Forum.
Be sure to come to this keynote to learn more about psychological targeting: how it works, how effective it is, and how can we use it (ethically).
Sounds great right? For years we’ve enjoyed the many benefits of link cloaking. Most affiliate programs don’t mind because it means more visitors through the links. This in turn, leads to more commissions paid out.
But the popular Amazon Associates program managers have recently begun cracking down on link cloaking, deploying a dedicated team of website reviewers – your site could be in their crosshairs.
WHY DOES AMAZON HATE LINK CLOAKING?
After speaking with Amazon representatives, I found their primary reason for this clause in their program terms. They want to see exactly which page the visitor is coming from. Cloaked affiliate links mask this on the HTTP headers. It’s a fine distinction, but one Amazon is paying attention to.
OTHER AFFILIATE PROGRAMS
So far, the main program that is enforcing specific conditions regarding link redirects is Amazon.
But due to their sheer size and weight in the industry, it’s just a matter of time before someone else jumps on the same bandwagon.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN IF YOU IGNORE
As mentioned, Amazon Associates now have a dedicated team whose job it is to review websites for compliance with their terms and conditions.
With the use of backend tools, this team manually reviews websites. If they are found not to be compliant, you can be banned from their program altogether.
HOW TO BE COMPLIANT
Getting compliant is easy – Amazon just wants to see that the Amazon links on your site are direct links, not cloaked links.
Most link cloaking solutions, including sites like bit.ly or goo.gl link shorteners, don’t have the option to uncloak links. The only option there is to not use those services at all for Amazon affiliate links.
However, some modern link cloakers support selective “uncloaking”. This can be used to give you the benefits of link cloaking while also satisfying stricter affiliate programs that require you to have no intermediate link redirects.
Your best bet is to deploy a link cloaker on your site that can handle this uncloaking stuff for you, or failing that, manually update all of your Amazon affiliate links so they aren’t cloaked. Do this and you will stay safe from Amazon’s ban hammer.
Josh Kohlbach is the founder of ThirstyAffiliates.com, a link cloaking tool for WordPress.
If you’re looking to amplify results, digital marketers are on the ready across the globe. Global affiliates are eager, they’re innovative, and the same commission you might pay a U.S.-based affiliate has greater value to someone in a country with lower income expectations. The sheer numbers can be staggering, and as anyone in the business will tell you, affiliate programs are a numbers game.
The challenge is that dealing in multiple countries could hamper affiliate operations. Language barriers, regulations, cross border payments, currencies, controls, and communication efforts add cost and complexity with every additional country. On the other hand, even small operations have been able to dive into international waters to accelerate their growth. Here’s how.
Putting Your Arms Around the World
Going through the effort of expanding your program into another country? Don’t stop there. Open it up to the entire world. It sounds counterintuitive, but operationally you need to achieve economies of scale. If you’re doing affiliate operations correctly, it should scale regardless of where your affiliates are. Given that, ensuring you have the utmost scalable operation is key to effective growth. Don’t try to hire a lot of staff to manage the program. If you look at how larger networks grow, they try to standardize and streamline as much of the affiliate operation as possible. Focus your attention on attracting and retaining top affiliates, differentiating your service, and growing your client base.
Solving the Communication Effort
To achieve scalability, look first to streamline communications with affiliates. That includes encouraging them to use white-labeled portals to track their performance and provide their contact and choose payment methods. A strong email-based notification stream is key to proactively letting them know when they’re going to be paid and of payment status issues. This dramatically cuts down on ad-hoc emails, tweets, and phone calls to your team. Bonus points for localizing these communication vehicles into various languages.
Preventing Fraud and Minimizing Risk
Some countries are lower risk than others to open your program up to. However, that shouldn’t necessarily exclude countries. The key is to operate above board as much as possible. Ensure proper vetting, for example, by checking prospective affiliates against government blacklists. Collect identifying information about their business entity. This is required by the IRS to meet FATCA requirements anyway, so you’re killing two birds. Proactively look for patterns that can predict fraud. And most critically, check these identification points before every payment, as their status might have been changed.
48% of affiliates have dropped a network or program because of a payment issue. Retaining high-performing affiliates is just as important as attracting them. For global affiliates, who don’t get face-to-face attention, payments are the only affirmation they have of doing business with you. Payments are proof that the network works. And given how socially influential today’s affiliates are – including those in other countries – maintaining a positive experience both enhances and preserves your reputation.
Rob Israch is CMO at Tipalti and the former VP, Global Marketing Programs at NetSuite.
Scrubbing: the process of removing non-legitimate leads, directly resulting in lowering the expected revenue… or is it?
Fraudulent, fake, dublicate, and spam will be considered as ‘scrubbing triggers’ by most advertisers, and will be discarded as such.
A general misconception in regards to scrubbing is that ‘shaving’ and ‘scrubbing’ are definitions of the same… they are not.
Shaving leads relates to a very unethical business practice of either an advertiser or network, not paying for the leads generated in an effort to get as much traffic and/or for as little cost possible. This often correlates with overpricing, and in the end, not paying the actual increased payouts nor volume.
Whether scrubbing occurs pre- or post signup and/or sale is irrelevant – a lead is a lead, a scrub is scrub, and lead shaving is lead shaving.
It All Comes Down to Quality
With the increase of fraud, scam, and other negative connotations related to ‘online advertising’, integrity for both the advertiser, as well as the publisher, is a much needed addition for this ‘eat or be eaten’ business. Scrubbing leads is a way of securing integrity between the parties, as well as organically increasing quality through control, even if the controlling party is more or less one sided (the advertiser).
It makes for a more dynamic market for both advertisers and publishers. It opens up for differentiating pricing/payouts, depending on the network where the offer is hosted; a win for the advertiser.
At the same time, publishers might be willing to take a chance by pushing the offer with the high-payout network, in the hopes of increased revenue. This despite a lower conversion rate, but with a possible reward for delivering quality traffic.
Overall this creates a very dynamic and more safe workflow in the market, where all parties are getting paid equally.
Lowering Your Scrub-Rate
Securing a low scrub-rate and, in turn, a higher conversion and revenue, is primarily in the hands of the publisher. Some examples include pre-scrubbing (XX %) by setting up a funnel, survey, or any other method you can think of, sorting out the low quality leads and generally getting to know your own quality of traffic. And you as a publisher have to adhere to this ‘universal rule’, before pushing it to the advertiser and potentially losing a lot of money. There is no other way around it.
Safeguarding as a publisher will always be to spread your business across multiple networks / direct advertisers, making sure that you don’t put “all your eggs in one basket”. That way you can also A/B split your own traffic, the networks you are working with, and possibly the advertisers themselves.
Looking objectively, this isn’t just a matter of integrity and getting settled in your own market. It is a way of securing both parties in a continued and indeed valuable collaboration for years to come.
Being predictable is often more profitable than the alternative.
Kim Bengtsen, a multiple founder and CEO of gaming, gambling, dating and affiliate companies