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What does the future hold for affiliate marketing when one of the largest software and hardware providers prevents effective tracking?

The latest version of Apple’s operating system, iOS 11, is available this week but it’s a new default feature in Apple’s software for the Safari web browser dubbed “intelligent tracking prevention” that is causing such heated debate and making many in the advertising sector wonder how it will affect advertising revenue and also analytics on the web to effectively measure Return on Ad Spend.

The feature, which is called “Intelligent Tracking Prevention,” and limits how advertisers and websites can track users across the internet by putting in place a 24-hour limit on ad retargeting.

One of the largest trade groups for online advertising is the Internet Advertising Bureau or IAB. They and many others have stated they are “deeply concerned” with Apple’s plans to release a version of the Safari internet browser that overrides and replaces user cookie preferences with a set of Apple-controlled standards.

The group have penned an open letter to Apple which was also signed by the Data and Marketing Association and the Network Advertising Initiative:

September 14, 2017
An Open Letter from the Digital Advertising Community
The undersigned organizations are leading trade associations for the digital advertising and marketing industries, collectively representing thousands of companies that responsibly participate in and shape today’s digital landscape for the millions of consumers they serve.
We are deeply concerned about the Safari 11 browser update that Apple plans to release, as it overrides and replaces existing user-controlled cookie preferences with Apple’s own set of opaque and arbitrary standards for cookie handling.
Safari’s new “Intelligent Tracking Prevention” would change the rules by which cookies are set and recognized by browsers. In addition to blocking all third-party cookies (i.e. those set by a domain other than the one being visited), as the current version of Safari does, this new functionality would create a set of haphazard rules over the use of first-party cookies (i.e. those set by a domain the user has chosen to visit) that block their functionality or purge them from users’ browsers without notice or choice.
The infrastructure of the modern Internet depends on consistent and generally applicable standards for cookies, so digital companies can innovate to build content, services, and advertising that are personalized for users and remember their visits. Apple’s Safari move breaks those standards and replaces them with an amorphous set of shifting rules that will hurt the user experience and sabotage the economic model for the Internet.
Apple’s unilateral and heavy-handed approach is bad for consumer choice and bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love. Blocking cookies in this manner will drive a wedge between brands and their customers, and it will make advertising more generic and less timely and useful. Put simply, machine-driven cookie choices do not represent user choice; they represent browser-manufacturer choice. As organizations devoted to innovation and growth in the consumer economy, we will actively oppose any actions like this by companies that harm consumers by distorting the digital advertising ecosystem and undermining its operations.
We strongly encourage Apple to rethink its plan to impose its own cookie standards and risk disrupting the valuable digital advertising ecosystem that funds much of today’s digital content and services.
Signed,
American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s)
American Advertising Federation (AAF)
Association of National Advertisers (ANA)
Data & Marketing Association (DMA)
Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)
Network Advertising Initiative (NAI)
How will this affect affiliate marketers and affiliate networks?

The first-party cookies that previously lasted forever will now expire within 24 hours while deleting a site’s cookies entirely if the user doesn’t visit the site for 30 days.

For affiliate marketers and networks relying on the ability to track the consumer journey, Intelligent Tracking Prevention could render a percentage of consumers untrackable or at least compromise the integrity and accuracy of the tracking.

The real impact will be on display and the retargeting industry, while first-party tracking may not have any issues within the 30-day window and tracking activity within 24 hours should be (relatively) unaffected but the true damage can only be assessed over time.

For demand-side platform’s that buy inventory for the purpose of retargeting, the downside could be fewer people buying Safari inventory on exchanges, causing an increase in CPMs across other browsers.

What can be done to keep on tracking?

Advertisers will need to revisit their tracking setup or speak to their network representative or account manager and potentially update their network tracking — first-party/cookieless/server-to-server etc.

Advertisers along with their affiliate network partners will need to investigate the overall impact of using third-party reliant attribution platforms, such as Doubleclick or any other form of attribution tracking — which are widely used, as they could be employed solutions that will be the most affected by this update and the reliability of their data could become compromised. Zane McIntyre, CEO of Commission Factory stated:

“This update doesn’t come as any surprise to us and was announced back when Apple first gave a preview of iOS 11 and MacOS High Sierra. Whilst it means we have to review how we do things at Commission Factory, we came up with a solution some time ago and have already been asking our Advertisers to start making changes to their tracking setup so as to have as little upset to our tracking as possible.”

The affiliate industry has become accustomed to this level of upset in the industry and has not succumbed to a state of panic but a more “wait and see” attitude as the effects will be gradual and over time and allow for technology providers to determine other or enhanced methods of tracking and attribution.

Update: Since rolling out our updates to Advertisers, Commission Factory is already recording transactions that may otherwise have been missed due to ITP. We are recording these in our database so as to assess the situation at a later date.

Affiliate Marketing and Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention was originally published in Commission Factory on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Commission Factory - Medium by Commission Factory - 7M ago
Trends are showing that Aussies are becoming increasingly more comfortable buying online.

If the trends have shown us anything, it’s that Australians are becoming increasingly comfortable with making purchases through the Internet. Web Alive pointed out that Australians were expected to spend more than $32 Billion in 2017. According to the same site, 65% of Australians have shopped online as of 2016.

For individuals with a product to sell and a wish to sell through the Internet, this is a veritable gold rush, with many people making purchases and plenty of room for growth besides.

How do you begin to take advantage of the nation’s comfort with online shopping? What do you have to do to market your products through the Internet?

If you’re interested in making sales but new to online advertising, you’ve come to the right place.

Before Jumping Into Paid Internet Ads

Paid Internet ads are a powerful means of marketing online. Not only do you begin receiving traffic right away, but you also have opportunities to generate sales and start making profits right away. However, because you’re paying out of your own pocket, there are certain risks involved.

Before we start talking about paid online advertising in-depth, here are a few general tips to keep in mind.

1. Keep Long Tail Keywords in Mind

Word Stream has a detailed explanation on long-tail keywords are and what they can do. In basic terms, however, keywords refer to the words that people enter into search engines when they’re looking for information.

For example, if you were looking for an in-depth tutorial for beginners on online advertising, you might go to a search engine like Google and type in the words “Online Advertising 101”. Maybe that’s exactly what you did!

The idea is that the longer the keywords are, the closer the searcher is to taking action and making a purchase. When you’re writing your ads, you’ll want to consider long tail keywords and how they can put your ad directly in front of hungry buyers.

2. Utilise A/B Split Testing

For all the talk about how making and running good advertisements is an art, A/B split tests provide an element of science to paid online advertising. As was pointed out before, in paid advertising mistakes are literally costly. A/B split tests allow you to see which of your ads are most effective while simultaneously allowing your best ads to continue to make you money. If you’re looking for a great tutorial on A/B split testing, Optimizelyhas one of the best on the web.

3. Understand the importance of ROI

“This is a business, not a charity.” — Joe Dirt

It’s important to understand that your advertising needs to be profitable at all times. Whether you’re putting your own money into your ads or you’re utilising affiliate marketing, the important thing is that you’re increasing your ROI, or Return on Investment.

The Commission Factory has an awesome in-depth tutorial on calculating ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). This primarily addresses affiliate marketing, but it’s great advice in general on ROI within the context of online advertising.

Paid Pricing Models

A lot of people are familiar with seeing online ads while browsing the Internet, but let’s take a quick look at some common terms that you’ll be seeing a lot as you market.

  • CPM — CPM stands for Cost Per Impression. Investopedia defines it as a term that refers to the price of getting 1,000 impressions, or unique views, to your ad.
  • PPC — PPC refers to the Pay Per Click method of advertising. With this type of ad, you pay every time your ad is clicked.
  • CPA — This stands for Cost Per Acquisition. As the name states, with this model you pay for a piece of contact information like a phone number or an email address. In online marketing circles, you may see marketers treating CPA as a means of making money and not necessarily as a means of self-promoting. That being said, this model can also be used to generate leads quickly online.
  • Revenue Share — Sometimes also referred to as RevShare, this is an advertising model where the marketer and the product-creator work together by sharing the revenues on sales. This is a very common arrangement in affiliate marketing where product creators reward their affiliates with a flat rate or a percentage of each sale. You’ll see more on that in a moment.
Which Method is Best for You?

All of these methods have their pros and cons. For instance, CPM guarantees you views, while other methods like revenue share don’t necessarily require a lot of funds up front. Grow Traffic compares CPM and CPC, but a lot depends on the specifics of the product you’re promoting as well as how your chosen business model.

Besides advertising models, there are also different types of ads that you can use.

  • Banner and Display Ads: Have you ever clicked on a website, intending to watch a video or read a blog post, only to get your attention grabbed by a flashing sign at the top of the website? If you’ve ever seen this on a site, your attention has been caught by a banner or display ad.
  • Search Ads: This is an ad format that comes up in search engines and that you’ve probably seen while running a Google search. This ad type is very useful for marketers who have a specific product or set of products to promote.
  • Video Ads: As the name suggests, this is an ad that’s in video format. You may have seen this before on YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram. This is an ad type that is very popular with marketers and consumers alike.
  • Pop-up Ads:Once more following the name, this is an ad that “pops up” on the page and forces the web page visitor to either click on the ad or press the red “x” on the upper right hand side to end it. The strength of this ad type is that the visitor literally can’t miss it. However, due to visitor frustration, the return on this ad type is often more profitable for website owners who are getting paid to feature them.
Advertising Channels

The more time you spend advertising on the Internet, the better you’ll get at finding new and unorthodox ways to market yourself. That said, there are numerous advertising channels on the web that are utilised by beginners and experienced marketing gurus alike. Here are a few of the most popular ones in Australia to get you started.

  • Google Adwords: PayPerClick observed in 2015 that Google search dominated Australian search engine traffic with a reach of 92.82%. In addition, Mainstreet ROI astutely observed that while the top three ad spots for searches demonstrating high commercial intent accounted for 40% of views, for every $1 spent on Adwords, businesses are making $2. In short, as far as paid ads go, Google Adwords is literally one of the most effective advertising channels at your disposal for Australian traffic.
  • Bing/Yahoo: In 2015, Bing (4.88%) and Yahoo (1.33%) controlled 7.18% of the search engine traffic in Australia. While Google is clearly king in the battle of the search engines, Bing and Yahoo may be worthwhile advertising channels for you, depending on the specifics of either your product or the one that you’d be promoting. This is because with Google Adwords you’re competing with other marketers for advertising space. If you find that your search keywords are very competitive, you may be able to get cheaper clicks through Bing and Yahoo.
  • Facebook: In order to not know about Facebook, you would have to literally never be on the Internet. This social networking giant appears to be Australia’s preferred place to congregate online with approximately 6 out of every 10 Australians using Facebook. Between this and the growing realisation that Facebook is becoming older and thus populated by individuals with more income to spare, there’s every reason for marketers to be excited about what Facebook ads have to offer.
  • LinkedIn: This is a networking site used primarily by professionals. With approximately 3.6 million Australians using this site in January of 2017, it might not have the breadth or the numbers of other sites, but it certainly has plenty of working individuals who are interested in finding solutions to their problems. Since it’s a smaller site, there’s also less competition for marketers on LinkedIn. If you’re promoting a product that would primarily be used by other businesses, this is the site for you.
  • YouTube: Second only to Facebook, YouTube is one of the most popular social media sites in the country with 50% of Australians using the site. Advertising on YouTube is a bit different from placing ads on these other sites because of the video format. As such, you have a choice between shooting your own video ad directly or using a text-based ad the way you would with Google Adwords.

One of the Most Underutilised Advertising Channels To Date?

Imagine having a sales team for your product that would work overtime to push your product to people? How would your marketing strategy change?

Now take the same concept and imagine paying this sales team on a commission-only basis. Earlier, we discussed revenue share as a payment model and we mentioned the fact that a strong benefit of this marketing model was that it didn’t require any money upfront on the part of either the product creator or the affiliate.

The trick is in finding affiliates from Australia who are familiar with the country, the people in it, and who don’t have to be cajoled into working as an affiliate.

Where do you begin on recruiting affiliates to your cause? The Commission Factory may very well be the only affiliate network of its kind.

How to Choose the Right Ad Network

Entire posts have been published about identifying niches and demand for products, and sites like The Balance and Niche Hacks offer excellent advice on that front. At the end of the day, however, it’s about remembering what all online marketing boils down to: finding out where people are online and meeting them where they are.

Are you selling children’s clothes to stay at home mothers? Facebook may be the place for your ads.

On the other hand, if you’re selling to corporate clients, LinkedIn might be your site.

Still feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry. AdNgn has a CPC network checklist that you can use to get started.

Refining Your Paid Ad

For Australian marketers, there’s good news and bad news when it comes to online ads.

The bad news is that Australia is one of the most ad-blind nations on earth. Along with not clicking on banner ads, Signal observes that as many as 81% of Australians use ad-blocking software.

So what’s the good news? The silver lining in all of this is that Australians have a much more positive response to targeted advertising.

In other words, as a marketer, you’ll want to narrow your focus as much as possible.

Here are a few strategies that can help:

  • Day Parting: This is a word that describes scheduling ads at times when they’re most likely to be seen. After all, you don’t want to spend time and money crafting an ad only to find out later that most of your target demographic wasn’t online then. How do you know when the time is right? Wordstream has a post on the topic that will have you day parting like a pro in no time.
  • Geotargeting:Targeting according to location is a proven approach to reaching potential buyers. It’s a strategy that fits nicely with the concept of day parting because of time zone differences and it allows you to narrow your audience even more according to the places that are likely to show the most interest.
  • Interest-based targeting:As Caroline Risi explains in “What is Interest Based Marketing?”, this is about speaking directly to people who are interested in what you have to offer just as they’re looking. This strategy is so effective, that Business2Community has argued rather convincingly that Interest-based user acquisition should be the new norm in marketing.
  • Retargeting: Falling back on the old idea that the easiest customers to acquire are past customers, retargeting is about looking for people who have bought your products or engaged with your content before and advertising to them again. It’s been said that in order for prospects to purchase your product, they need to be exposed to it at least seven times. Retargeting is not only often cheaper for ad purposes, it’s also useful for promoting brand awareness.

As you can see, any one of these approaches can dramatically improve the ROI you get on your ads. Use all of these ideas together and who knows what your campaign will be able to do.

Landing Page

Coffee is for closers. — Glengarry Glen Ross

Once you have the traffic clicking through your ad to your website, that’s only half the battle. You still have to find a way to convince your visitors to stay on your website, click around, and make a purchase.

Kissmetrics gives an in-depth tutorial like no other on how to use CONVERTSto create landing pages.

An essential point to note, however, is the formula’s emphasis on the user experience. Everything from the Call-To-Action to the emphasis on headlines and social proof is designed with the thoughts and feelings of the consumer in mind. Give people reasons to get excited about doing business with you.

Conclusion

It wasn’t too long ago that the thought of being able to make money online was often regarded with suspicion. If the current trend is anything to go by, however, it’s clear that e-commerce has come a long way in Australia. The sheer number of online advertising methods at your disposal can make it difficult to narrow down a strategy that factors your budget, your product, and your target audience effectively. Affiliate marketing is an underutilised marketing channel that is more than capable of dramatically increasing a company’s sales volume. Don’t just take our word for it though. Try it out for yourself and see the difference it makes for yourself.

Online Advertising 101 was originally published in Commission Factory on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Commission Factory - Medium by Commission Factory - 7M ago
With over 1.32 billion active users, Facebook is a diverse and dynamic venue for a small business or an affiliate marketer.

With over 1.32 billion active users, Facebook is a diverse and dynamic venue for a small business or an affiliate marketer looking to make a big splash. But given the size and the complexity of the audience, it’s hard to know where to start. What sort of content should you provide? How do you measure your success? How can you tell what’s working and what isn’t?

It’s important to make sure that your business is putting its best face forward. Anyone who has a Facebook account knows that it’s impossible to say exactly what you want to say all of the time, but by adhering to a few simple strategies, you can streamline your company’s message and attract new customers with the power of likes, shares, and comments.

Who is on Facebook?

Quite literally almost everyone is on Facebook these days. Mark Zuckerberg’s social network is especially ideal for marketing because the majority of users are between 18 and 29 years old. These are young people full of hopes, dreams, and desires. They’re also frequent sharers, and if you happen to create something that tickles their fancy, they will promote your business.

Facebook isn’t just for young people anymore. Consider that figure I mentioned earlier: 1.32 billion users means that approximately one out of every six people on earth has a Facebook account. If you’re interested in taking your business abroad, Facebook affords ample opportunities to network with international clientele. Given such a vast audience, you can rest assured that no matter which demographic you want to target, that group exists in droves on Facebook.

Source: Facebook & Social Media News AustraliaHow can you market on Facebook?

If you’re marketing your business on Facebook, there are three main tools that you can use to get your message out: pages, ads, and groups. By intertwining your use of these tools, you can get the most out of your Facebook marketing plan. Ads attract users to your page, and groups keep them talking about your product.

Pages

Pages are the easiest tool to start with because you’ve probably already worked with them. Your Facebook profile is a page. You know how to edit it, how to dress it up, and how to market yourself. The page that you create for your business operates similarly. These days, all sorts of businesses, organizations, and prominent public figures have public pages that users can “like” in order to receive regular updates in their news feed. A page gives your company a face. A business with a Facebook page starts to feel less like a cold-hearted conglomerate and more like a lifelong friend.

Facebook is free, which makes it an excellent means of promoting your business. It costs nothing to set up a page for your business. The challenge, however, lurks in cultivating an audience. It takes time to build a user base, and there is no guarantee that you will develop an audience at all. Every day, 4.75 billion items of content are shared on Facebook, so there’s a lot of competition. Facebook only displays the most relevant stories to each user, and the stories that attract the most attention are the ones that get promoted. The fewer interactions a post receives, the less likely it will be seen.

This means that you need to consider carefully which content you want to post. Spamming your audience will annoy them, but posting too infrequently will mean that they might forget you exist. A happy medium should be striven for. Post once or twice a day, and keep your posts concise and clever. Speak with verve and vivacity. Use images and dynamic prose. Post what is vibrant and vital about your company. Don’t post whatever comes to mind; post the sorts of things you think your clientele would want to read.

Ads

How does Facebook make its money? Though it is a free service, Facebook draws the bulk of its revenue from its advertising platform. Facebook boasts a user-friendly ad service that is extremely affordable relative to other forms of marketing. The diversity and vastness of its audience allows for precision marketing, including targeted ads that zoom in on specific ages, education levels, and geographic areas. Affiliate marketers are well acquainted with testing landing pages and incentive offers, and Facebook cultivates a similar environment. The primary advantage of Facebook, however, is that there is no guesswork with regard to who’s clicking what. Only your target audience will see your content. Because Facebook depends on advertisements, it values companies that are socially dynamic. Promote your business effectively, and Facebook will promote you.

Groups

Facebook groups are an underestimated marketing tool. Think of groups as a cross between a page and a discussion forum. Users can post messages and share content on a wall. The group moderator or administrator can post content, or reach out to users privately. If you visit a group, you’ll notice that there is the option to contact the organization directly. If you click the “message” button, you’ll see a disclaimer that provides the frequency with which the business responds to its audience: “typically replies within an hour,” for example. It doesn’t reflect well on a business if they haven’t responded in days, so you’ll want to make sure that at least one of your staff members is monitoring your Facebook group at all times. Facebook users value connectivity, and a company that stays active with and responsive to its clientele is one that is perceived as caring about its customers.

What are the benefits of a Facebook group? Why not just stick with a page? Think of groups as your company’s fan club: these are the people who are already buying what you’re selling. This is a niche subset of page followers who are especially interested in what your business is up to. Group members want updates; they want to hear about what’s new with your company. Groups also give you the opportunity to post especially targeted content. If you’re dealing with a variety of industries and products, you may find that you need to set up several groups (one for each arena) to meet the diverse needs of your audience. By creating several groups, people who are interested in one wing of your business won’t be inundated with content that they aren’t particularly jazzed about.

Groups are an excellent way to connect with other businesses. If you’re just starting out on Facebook, you can reach out to other groups with established fan bases and piggyback off their audiences. If you happen to work with sportswear, for example, you can connect with the admins of sportswear groups and encourage them to share your affiliate links. As with all other forms of marketing, tact is important. Try not to spam groups with requests out of the blue. Interact with groups the same way you’d interact with another human being. Facebook is a social network, so it’s important to be social. Try to build a relationship with other groups before you make any sort of proposal to promote your business.

How can you monitor your efforts?

Facebook provides its users with a variety of powerful analytics tools that can be used to measure the efficacy of your marketing efforts. By keeping tabs on the likes and interests of your target audience, you can tailor your content to suit their needs. You can measure leads, conversions, and ROI to more clearly see how your social media presence is impacting your company’s performance.

How does it fit into your marketing funnel?

Facebook marketing is especially versatile in the ways in which it can be adapted to suit every stage of your marketing funnel. Let’s start from the beginning. Attracting visitors to your website or page and building an audience is the first step: the widest part of the funnel. New visitors probably don’t know a lot about your business yet, and it’s important to give them an incentive to want to learn more. Create advertisements that highlight their interests and needs. Next, we’ve arrived at the second part of the funnel: things are narrowing down now. People are beginning to stick around. They have established a rapport with your business and want to know more. When you’re looking to generate leads, you can tailor your ads and page content so that you’re offering something of value in exchange for their continued loyalty. As potential customers move further down the funnel and start to get closer to committing to purchase, you can incentivize their curiosity by offering promotions, discount codes, and offers that encourage further interaction with the company.

People use Facebook to connect with other people. Small businesses and big corporations alike are now discovering the utility of interacting with their audience like they are good friends rather than customers. By harnessing the power of social networking, you can project the image of your company that you want the world to see.

Facebook Marketing 101 was originally published in Commission Factory on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Customers are not created equal but is there a trend of inequality starting to emerge?

In the world of affiliate marketing campaigns, customers are not created equal. Return customer conversions can often generate a lower commission for affiliates (and in some cases, no commission at all!). So what’s the reasoning behind this, and is it fair for advertisers to weigh these return customers differently to new customers?

What constitutes a new customer will vary for each advertiser and vertical. For example some will classify a new customers as someone who has never purchased before while others will stipulate that anyone who hasn’t purchased for a period of 12 months or more should be classified as a new customer.

In addition to the classification of new customers, the length of time an advertiser has traded online will impact their share of new customers. As time passes there will invariably be a tipping point at which it is no longer possible to maintain such a high share of sales from new customers.

Many affiliates argue that they don’t have control over the type of traffic they’re sending to sites and if they’re having a run of just repeat customers, it could be down to sheer bad luck. Different products and services carry a different level of brand loyalty, however, advertisers have the power to recruit content sites that are relevant to their product or niche, so that the affiliate and advertiser are an ideal match.

The more natural sites (content/blogging/comparison sites) carry more value to an advertiser than a coupon site and then what is almost always the case, return customers get lumped into a category of only being after a discount without regard to where the referral originally came from.

What is a “repeat customer” anyway?

The definition of a “repeat” customer is ridiculously broad: it could be a loyal customer who regularly visits the site, or it could be someone who made a one-off purchase a decade ago. So why are these two customers given equal weighting when it comes to affiliate compensation? Well, expanding the customer base is one of the most powerful features of the affiliate network, so once a customer is converted, it’s cheaper for advertisers if they complete any future purchases directly with the customer, and not the affiliate.

At the end of the day, a return customer just isn’t as valuable to the advertiser. However, advertisers do need to tread carefully here: if they don’t see the value in retaining existing customers and building loyalty, they could lose not only affiliates, but buyers too.

Repeat customers are loyal and will keep buying, so affiliates should be rewarded accordingly for driving them to the site, right? But think about this: if the customer was so loyal, wouldn’t they purchase directly from the site? Existing customers consider the affiliate to have a strong influence in their buying process, and this trusting relationship can be a powerful thing.

One reason customers shop around is to see if they can find a better deal elsewhere. More often than not, the intent to purchase may already be there and the affiliate channel and it’s influence is a last stop for some savings more so than the reason the customer took action.

That translates to the indisputable fact that that purchaser is not the merchant’s customer, that they will buy from whoever has the best deal. In the online world there is very little loyalty, when it’s so easy to shop around based on pricing and the fact that someone perceived as “your” customer can be found on 100 other online retail databases around the world — ready to be marketed and sold to.

The customer journey

A single customer is no longer present on just one database — in fact, their purchase journey, whether the end result is via affiliate or directly on the company site, is a lengthy one and can include multiple other channels. For example, a customer may do a general search, browse a few Google ads, then do another search later before finally clicking through and making the purchase. In cases like these, it’s hard to say whether an affiliate is totally responsible for that purchase. A good solution here would be for the affiliate and advertiser to work together to try and identify the paths these customers take. That way, the affiliate program can work efficiently and potentially lead to that customer going directly to the affiliate site.

So what’s the solution — should return customers be assigned the same commission value as new customers? Well, there’s really no black-and-white solution. If the affiliate and the advertiser can work together to come up with a new pricing structure that takes into account customer pathways, loyalty, and spending habits, then perhaps everyone will be happy.

It is important to keep in mind that affiliates cannot differentiate between new customers and existing customers.

Customers that visit affiliate sites are exposed to your brand, click through, and make a purchase — it’s a great method for strengthening your brand, gaining additional exposure, and getting life-time customers. The best and most successful Advertisers reward their affiliates by offering above industry or vertical average rates for new customer acquisition.

Penalizing your affiliates for returning customers, whether those customers bought once since your site came online, registered on your site but never purchased, or somewhere inbetween is becoming a dangerous trend that tells affiliates you don’t value their efforts for bringing customers back to you. Especially if your commission policy for return customers is below what is considered fair compensation for your vertical as far as commission rates go.

For example, when your commission terms were 10% across the board and you announce that you’re raising your commission rate to 12% for new customers and lowering your commission to 5% for “existing” customers, this is considered a penalty against your affiliates. The fair and reasonable remuneration would be to raise your new customer rate to 12% and leave your existing customer rate at 10%. In this method affiliates are being rewarded for generating new customers but not facing a penalty for traffic referral types that are outside of their control.

I’m the co-founder and CEO of Commission Factory. Our affiliate network helps retailers and e-commerce brands increase their sales by an average of 20%. Click here to learn more. We are trusted by Catch Group, Debenhams, Woolworths, Virgin Australia and 450+ other fast-growing brands.

The new vs return affiliate commission debate was originally published in Commission Factory on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Are you paying close attention to how your customers make their buying decisions?

You’ve spent some time doing your groundwork and figuring out a rough outline for your company’s marketing. You have a good idea about who your customer is, but what do you want them to do? The answer is not as simple as just “click that link” or “buy my product”. You have to pay special attention to how your customer actually makes that decision because 57% of the buyer’s journey is completed before sales actually get involved. It’s called marketing funnels, and here’s the lowdown on how it all works.

What are marketing funnels?

In a nutshell, a marketing funnel is a set of steps a person goes through before they achieve a particular goal. Usually the end goal is a purchase, but often — particularly for affiliate marketers — it’s clicking through to another website or filling out a form. Marketing funnels are an efficient way to get your purchase process to work smoothly.

To get an idea of how the funnel works, think about the steps you usually take before you buy something. Let’s say you want to buy a TV:

  1. You visit an electronics website.
  2. You browse the products and make your selection.
  3. You add your chosen TV to your cart.
  4. You make the purchase.

You’re probably imagining an actual funnel right now, and wondering why this process is named after one. There are four steps to consider: Awareness, Interest and Evaluation, Commitment and Advocacy.

Think about it: At the beginning of the process, there are a slew of people who are taking the first step (or visiting a website). As people begin to travel further along in the purchase process, some of them drop out, thus the crowd thins out a little bit. It’s kind of like if you were to tip rice down a funnel: a lot of grains go in the top, but the rate at which they come out the bottom starts to slow considerably.

Why do marketing funnels help?

One of the benefits of marketing funnels is the fact that they’re a relatively straightforward plan to follow. You can easily and quickly map out each stage of the customer decision process and plan what marketing activities you’re doing in each.

The beauty of marketing funnels is that they can be applied to virtually any consumer interaction, whether you’re an online store looking for sales, an affiliate marketer looking for some clicks, or a company wanting sales leads. The funnel is a great way to clearly see all stages of the sales and marketing life cycle and according to Forrester, generate 50% more bottom of the funnel leads at 33% lower cost.

Another advantage of using the funnel is its measurability. You could be losing lots of customers before they even get to stage 2, so perhaps you need to work on your brand awareness. Or you might be wondering why you have a huge amount of drop-offs before the final conversion — maybe your shopping cart page needs work, or perhaps you need to do more personalised sales outreach. Funnels are great for not only planning your activities, but also for seeing where you might have some weak spots.

According to Aaron Agius, Co-founder of Louder Online, no matter how much care and attention you’ve put into improving your funnel, there can still be cracks and leaks that can cause leads to slip away without ever making a purchase. It is why it is crucial to properly map out your marketing activities in order to optimise and improve your return on ad spend for affiliate marketing.

What marketing activities do I need to do?

You can match your marketing activities to every stage of the funnel.

1. Awareness

The first stage — when the funnel is the widest — is the most critical. You’re trying to drive awareness so that people learn about your brand or website. Think broad, big-picture stuff here: Get your website ranking high in search, look for opportunities for lead generation via white papers and blogs, and consider doing AdWords.

2. Interest and evaluation

This is where things start to get a little more personalised. You can start doing more targeted communications to your customers, like email marketing, social media posts and even product demos if it suits your business. If you’re an affiliate marketer and you want your customer to click through to your partner’s website, you could look at doing A/B testing on certain pages to try to capture different audiences.

3. Commitment

This is the final step in the funnel before a purchase (or other conversion) takes place. A little reward to entice people to make the final leap can work well: For example, you could offer a discount code if they wanted to make the purchase that very day. You could also get customers in the right frame of mind by helping them focus on the benefits after the sale. So, if you sell vitamins, you could write a blog post about how great people feel after taking a particular vitamin for 30 days. This stage of the marketing funnel is a chance to ease any potential worries that may be stopping a customer from converting, and to also make the final conversion process as easy as possible. So if you’re an online merchant, make the checkout process easy; if your conversion goal is for people to fill out a form, make that form short and sweet.

4. Advocacy

The marketing funnel doesn’t end after the conversion is made. You now have the chance to make these people more than just customers: They can be advocates for your brand. Repeat business and brand loyalty is fantastic, but customers in this final stage can be even more valuable as they spread the word about you. Engaged, active customers can unknowingly become ambassadors for your brand, continuing your sales cycle automatically. The key marketing tool here is social media. Online reviews and a strong social community can do wonders for building your brand’s legitimacy in the eyes of future customers.

Example — Groupon.com

Groupon is still a major company reaching millions of consumers every month with personalised deals.

They have a very clear email opt-in pop-up on their site. It focuses your attention and has clearly been a successful strategy for growing their audience since they have continued to use it over the years. Let’s examine the rest of their sales funnel to see how it works.

Steps in Marketing Funnel

  1. Homepage
  • The pop-up on the homepage incentivises you to give your email address. You get a coupon code for $10 off $25 on your first order just for signing up.
  • From there, you can browse and shop for services.

2. Internal homepage view offer details

  • For example, Groupon in Chicago.

3. Purchase form

Marketing Funnel Metrics

All of the above might seem a lot, so the only method in staying focused with your key initiatives is by focusing on a few key metrics and use data to make your decisions in revising expanding your performance metrics. Some key metrics for you to consider:

  • Sales funnel conversions — Prospects that enter the funnel and convert into customers
  • Entry sources — Sources people are entering your funnel from
  • Time in stage — How long it takes to go from awareness to advocacy.
  • Exit rate — The number or percentage of people that fall out of a particular stage
  • Engagement rate per stage — The conversion rate or specific behavioural metric of your marketing activity
  • Opportunity arrival rate — Number of opportunities in your current funnel
  • Close rate — In comparison to sales funnel conversions, this looks at only those that move from decision to purchase.

There are many ways to track this including the use of CRM tools such as Hubspot and PipeDrive, Analytics and marketing automation software such as Google Analytics, Kissmetrics and fix the funnel through heatmapping tools Crazy Egg, Clicktale.

Lead scoring can be also used to help prioritise your prospects. This topic in itself is worth an article.

Recap

We’ve gone through a fair amount, so here’s a recap:

  • Pay special attention to how your customer makes a purchase decision; this is why marketing funnels exist
  • Benefits and considerations of a marketing funnel
  • Marketing activities using multiple channels can fill and support your marketing funnel and customer purchase journey — refer to the Groupon example.
  • Some metrics which support your performance measurement
  • There are many tools you can use which map out, measure, fix and enrich your marketing funnel

What are your overall experiences and challenges of marketing funnels within your business? Please feel free to share this article or leave a comment below.

How marketing funnels work was originally published in Commission Factory on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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APAC Affiliate Network Commission Factory has announced a strategic global partnership with Europe’s largest Affiliate Network Awin.

Asia Pacific’s largest affiliate network Commission Factory has announced today that they have inked a global strategic partnership with Europe’s largest and most innovative affiliate network Awin. This partnership allows Commission Factory’s clients greater reach into the UK and Europe and after this years announcement of Awin’s acquisition of US network Shareasale — significant access to the USA market as well.

Awin is a global powerhouse for affiliate marketing technology and service. With over 900 people, 15 locations and 17 years of experience in the industry and servicing some of the world’s most well known brands such as ASOS, Expedia, AliExpress, Ticketmaster and British Airways to name only a few of their thousands of advertisers being promoted by over one hundred thousand affiliates. Awin are one of the few that have successfully blended global reach with local expertise.

Commission Factory CEO and Co-Founder, Zane McIntyre said;

We’re extremely excited to be partnering with a network like Awin. We’ve watched their innovation for years from across the pond and their values, growth and desire to provide a great experience and service for their clients aligns with our own. APAC’s online marketplace has come a long way in recent years and in partnering with Awin we can accelerate the growth of our home-grown retailers and provide expansion and reach to our clients that on our own we may not have been able to achieve.

Providing powerful technology coupled with service and strategic insights to customers sits at the forefront for both Awin and Commission Factory. In recent years, Awin has launched innovative tools including cross-device tracking and influence payments for publishers, while Commission Factory offers weekly payments on approved transactions, real-time tracking and reporting and a mobile app for both advertisers and publishers.

Mark Walters, CEO of Awin says:

“This partnership is a natural step for Awin and our growing global client base. Like any new territory there are subtle aspects that can mean the difference between good and great. Ensuring this knowledge through Commission Factory whilst applying our proven service and compliance methodology provides the best foundation for success in this region.”

The partnership between the two companies will continue and expand upon innovative technology as well as a dedicated, experienced global team with local market knowledge to propel online retailers even further.

About Commission Factory

Commission Factory was founded in 2011 by Managing Directors Zane McIntyre, Mario Johnston and David Hayman and partners with over 400+ Asia Pacific brands including The Iconic, Catch of the Day, Scoopon, Showpo and City Beach with 50 new affiliates joining per day. Commission Factory is regarded as the clear Australian market leader for affiliate technology and service for global brands looking to expand into APAC.

Commission Factory partners with Awin was originally published in Commission Factory on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Coupons can be the catalyst for a sale when customers are comparing you to a competitor and keep them coming back.

We’re not talking about clip-and-save coupons in your local paper that promise 50 cents off a large pizza. We’re talking coupons that mean big business: big brand awareness, big reach and big customer loyalty. An effective coupon strategy for online retailers can increase brand reach and loyalty, and drive sales even further.

How coupons fit into your marketing plan

First things first: why even bother offering discounts? Well, it’s safe to guess that the majority of retailers who have at least some idea about online marketing will already have the big three already set up: social, web and email. They’re all key to any digital marketing plan, but there’s one online arm that many retailers forget about: coupons.

In a world where consumers will spend two hours a week hunting for online deals, it’s worth understanding the place that coupons have in your marketing plan. Just as your website acts as your shopfront, your social media channel is a friendly face, and EDMs are regular customer touch points, coupons can ensure the loop is closed by enticing customers to complete the sale.

When it comes to online shopping, low prices are number one in customers’ eyes, so coupons can help give a brand some clout above competitors, helping to stand out and cut through the price-comparison noise.

How coupons help you reach more customers…

For anyone still skeptical how coupons can help get new customers, we’ll just leave this here: Recent research found that 78 percent of consumers are persuaded to buy a brand they wouldn’t normally because of a coupon. Offering discounts can open up your brand to a much broader audience than before. Plus, as many coupon sites have a broad reach and a huge user base, coupons can be disseminated quickly and efficiently, maximizing your ROI.

78 percent of consumers are persuaded to buy a brand they wouldn’t normally because of a coupon
…and keep the existing ones happy, too

An effective coupon strategy can also help your existing customer base, boosting brand loyalty. Coupon code giant RetailMeNot found that 68 percent of consumers believe that digital coupons have a positive impact on a brand. Maintaining a positive brand image is vital for holding onto your current customers and encouraging repeat business. Brand loyalty is not just a buzzword: it’s vital for getting customers to choose you over competitors.

How coupons can increase brand awareness

Similarly to how a coupon strategy can help you get new customers, it can also help build your overall brand awareness. Excellent coupon deals often go viral, with internet users sharing the deal on their social media accounts and on forums like OzBargain.

Why coupons need to be deployed with a purpose

Before getting excited about all of the new potential customers you’re going to get, you need to develop a solid foundation for your coupon strategy. What are your objectives? Do you want to push a particular product? Encourage upselling? Or just get more customers in the (virtual) door? There are a multitude of different ways you can offer a discount, so define your objective and create your coupon around that. For instance, if you want to encourage upselling, you could create a coupon that offers 20 percent off purchases above $100.

Next, consider timing and your projected sales cycles — if there’s a particular month where your company usually enjoys good sales, you probably wouldn’t want to introduce a coupon then. It’s also important to consider your coupon channels and your overall demographic: Are your targeted customers more likely to be browsing on RetailMeNot, or checking out Facebook? Being selective about how you distribute your coupons is just as important as deciding what offer is on them.

A thoughtful and strategic coupon strategy can certainly help businesses build their customer base as well as improve their brand loyalty, but it’s vital that they first consider their approach.

I’m the co-founder and CEO of Commission Factory. Our affiliate network helps retailers and e-commerce brands increase their sales by an average of 20%. Click here to learn more. We are trusted by The Iconic, Surfstitch, Debenhams, Woolworths, Virgin Australia and 400+ other fast-growing brands.

Can an effective coupon strategy increase brand reach and loyalty? was originally published in Commission Factory on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Short answer — No. But how will Google Chrome affect affiliates with an ad blocker built in to the browser by default.

Sources close to Google and familiar with their future plans have stated that Google are certainly moving to have an ad blocker feature turned on in their browser by default.

Google could announce the feature within weeks, but it is still ironing out specific details and still could decide not to move ahead with the plan, the contact said.

The news of the ad blocker was worrying to some as Google’s Chrome Browser holds roughly 60% market share when it comes to browsers and the fallout could be enormous for some publishers if they move ahead.

This feature differs to the AdBlockers we know (and sometimes love) that have been circulating for awhile now as this isn’t about simply removing all ads from the browsing experience. Experience being the key word here as they aim to filter out certain online ad types deemed to provide “bad experiences” for users as they move around the web.

Download a PDF of the least preferred ad experiences for desktop and mobile

Ad types considered as a “bad experience” would be those recently defined by the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group that released a list of ad standards in March. According to those standards, ad formats such as pop-ups, auto-playing video ads with sound and “prestitial” ads with countdown timers are deemed to be “beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability.”

We’ve all seen these ads before, popping up and taking over the screen right as you’re reading content or looking through products on site. They’re jarring and in most cases annoying when you are attempting to consume content. So many could argue that removing these types of ad formats is a good thing.

Though there are conflicting reports on how exactly Google’s system would work, it won’t automatically block all ads like the popular Adblockers do and a curation system is put in place where consumers opt to block certain advertisers or websites.

A possible application is they may choose to block all advertising that appears on sites with offending ads, instead of the individual offending ads themselves. In other words, site owners may be required to ensure all of their ads meet the standards, or could see all advertising across their sites blocked in Chrome. So when one of the largest advertising companies in the world are now in charge of the ads you see, does this begin an anti-trust issue?

Are the inmates running the asylum? The anti-trust issue

In collusion with the Coalition for Better Ads it would seem that Google is utilising the experience and standards of an unbiased third party but the coalition has faced criticism in the past. It was put together by some of the largest companies in the internet advertising space, and many worry that it’s just an attempt to whitewash over a lot of bad practices by declaring just the extremely egregious practices as “bad.”

Whilst there are many reactions around the web on this built in adblocker, some have been asking the question of antitrust. It is highly unlikely that Google will consider it’s own ads to be the “bad ones” and filters out others perceived as “bad” in it’s own browser at least raises eyebrows about antitrust issues.

The torrent of court cases we will likely see within days of its release by AdTech firms will surely have a strong argument that this is anti-competitive and a move to suppress competing advertising firms. Google’s key defense here (and not unreasonably so) is that people hate ads and a system put in place to remove those that lessen the user experience is a good thing and Chrome and other browsers have had a form of ad blocker for some time already in that they block pop up/pop under ads.

Strengthening their defences

The ad-blocking step may seem counter-intuitive given Google’s reliance on online advertising revenue, but the move is a defensive one.

Uptake of online ad blocking tools has grown rapidly in recent years, the most popular being AdBlock Plus which is currently at about 300 million downloads and more than 50 million monthly active users.

Generating over sixty billion in revenue from online advertising in 2016, the growth of ad-blocking is a worrying trend for Google and a concern for other publishers and services that rely on advertising revenue to support their businesses.

By switching on its own ad-filter, Google is hoping to quell further growth of blocking tools offered by third-party companies, some of which charge fees in exchange for letting ads pass through their filters — this in itself facing criticism as a form of extortion to adtech companies with Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Taboola among those who have paid up.

With Chrome accounting for such a large portion of web browsing globally, switching on and controlling ad-filters within it gives back the control to Google. If slow-loading websites, inaccessible content, and cluttered webpages that have made many people hate online advertising is addressed then the move could actually be a blessing for the industry and the user.

What does it mean for affiliates?

Affiliates that rely too heavily on pop-ups and other low quality promotional methods may be considered the low hanging fruit on the roll-out of this update and may be hit the hardest.

Banner of ad farms are likely to be blocked and rightly so, they offer very little in the way of quality and experience and a remnant of a different time when such practices would and could rank in SERP’s.

Generally speaking affiliates that are promoting in a manner that adds to the user experience and adds value in general should not be affected unless they engage in practices such as pop-ups on desktop and web and moving to native, in-content and banners can ensure a longer term business strategy — until Google changes the goal posts once again.

I’m the co-founder and CEO of Commission Factory. Our affiliate network helps retailers and e-commerce brands increase their sales by an average of 20%. Click here to learn more. We are trusted by The Iconic, Surfstitch, Debenhams, Woolworths, Virgin Australia and 400+ other fast-growing brands.

Will the Google Chrome AdBlocker be the downfall of affiliate marketing? was originally published in Commission Factory on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Are you are missing a fundamental aspect from your online store that could be effecting its ability to turn inbound traffic into sales? Download our checklist and run a quick check.

In the past 12 months, we have received over 1000+ inquiries from potential advertisers looking to join Commission Factory and have our affiliates promote them. Unfortunately due to a variety of reasons approximately 90% get declined from the network. One of the main factors we look at is the overall development of the online store as it gives us an overall perspective of the optimisation, resources, knowledge and overall how much investment has been focused on converting traffic to sales. We need to be confident that if our affiliates send traffic that it will convert, without a conversion no one wins with our performance based remuneration model.

As you could imagine that after reviewing thousands of eCommerce sites over the years, you build up a mental checklist of what to look for, Therefore we wanted to share with you a list for an online store. This list by no means exhaustive, but it does give the broad strokes to the on-site aspects you need to cover at a minimum to convert inbound traffic. Running through this checklist will reduce some the controllable variables that cause friction to conversion, thus converting more traffic to sales.

Download — eCommerce Checklist (PDF) 213kb

The checklist is broken down to cover the essential pages/areas that make up an online store:

Homepage: A good portion of traffic will hit this page, so it needs to be clear that you are an online retailer, what you’re selling and clear direction to what you want the visitor to do next.

Header: The header of your site that runs across the top every page on your store, its prime real-estate, being above the fold it must include components to support easy navigation and information necessary to assist the conversion.

Search: Often one of the most under optimised aspect of many eCommerce sites, it‘s essential to user experience and ensuring that you match user searches with products that you sell, or in the worst case scenario alternatives for their consideration.

Navigation: Navigation should drill down to give the visitor direction to find the product category they are looking for. Avoid the mistakes of ambiguous category names or failing to not dig deep enough to return enough accuracy needed for the filters on the category page.

Category Page: Now the visitor is a potential customer. On this page, you are going to display the products of the categories in a clear and concise manner. Page filters, sorting, paging, and relevance are critical to moving the potential customer to the product page.

Product Page: The product page is the business end of your online store, apart from checkout it’s one of the most important pages on your site. Here the potential customer is highly likely to be making their purchase decision and offering up some commitment to move forward to checkout. The product page needs to break down any reasons/objections to why they wouldn’t purchase. Of course, some variables are outside your control such not have stock of a particular size.

Footer: The footer runs across the bottom of your site, it’s likely below the fold, and therefore traffic that engages with the elements in the footer are looking for information to support their purchase. Retailers often make the mistake of not including some more important aspects in the header. If your traffic is running to the footer for answers then you are taking them away from the product or category page you should assess what is in your header or product pages and bring that information into these areas.

Returns: The importance of the returns area will vary depending on the type of products you retail. The aim of this page is to give confidence to the potential customer that if they need to return the product that the process will be easy and that they have the time in which to claim a return. It also is important to outline instances in which you won’t honour a return; therefore clear expectations are set. As surprising as it may seem, an average of 3 in 4 of customers will view your returns policy before completing an order.

Shipping: Customers looking at this page are looking to answer, 1. When will I get it? 2. Do they ship to my location? 3. How much will it cost? 4. Will I know when it has left the warehouse? 5. Can I track it to my door? Therefore it’s grea to go into detail about your handling and shipping process. It’s important not to forget that in your header of your site that you should be broadcasting your shipping speed, costs and reach e.g. Australia Wide Shipping, $9, Orders shipped same day before 3 pm.

Cart / Checkout: With high cart abandonment rate in eCommerce, don’t be fooled to think that because the visitor has made it this far, the conversion is a done deal. The list outlines some common elements you will need but testing your checkout experience, and optimisation should be ongoing.

Baseline Offers: Providing an incentive to purchase is another key factor that you need to consider in increasing the conversion rate of your online store. There are many different types of offers and list outlines some of the most commonly used.

Communication: Communication is broken down in pre and post purchase. Communication is vital to encourage return purchases and even the first purchase. Initially, start with email, then move to investigate social media. Social media acts double fold to market, engage and act as customer service channel thus can be incredibly powerful if you have the resources to leverage it.

Don’t forget on-site performance.

Unfortunately, this list can’t factor in performance aspects such as website load time, design flaws, functionality issues, etc. Many of these problems differ from site to site, and many would be not applicable to most online retailers. Diagnosing these matters comes down to testing and ad-hoc fixes based on the issue. As a start, we would recommend doing a website speed test to see how your site performs.

If you would like to know how Commission Factory can get you started with an affiliate program or increase results on an existing program, please get in touch with a member of our experienced team. Call +61 2 9299 7000 0r email.

Is your eCommerce site missing something? was originally published in Commission Factory on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Affiliate marketing and fashion e-commerce just simply go together.

Online sales exceeded $20 billion for the first time in Australia in 2016 as strong domestic growth offset flat sales at offshore retailers and double-digit gains in fashion (and takeaway food) countered weakness in department stores and daily deals sites. Whilst the 2011 online sales growth numbers are long gone, online spending is still growing five times faster than traditional retail spending and now accounts for 6.8 per cent of total bricks and mortar sales of $296.9 billion.

The online fashion industry as at the end of 2016 made up 12.7 percent of annual domestic online sales. Interestingly, whilst 64 percent of online fashion is purchased from domestic online retailers it only accounts for about 13 percent of domestic online spend but at nearly 29 percent is the largest spend category for international retailers.

There is plenty of room for more local retailers to gain attention of new consumers and you need a performance marketing strategy that helps you get a piece of this ever-growing pie.

Today’s Fashion Consumer

Most of your online fashion buyers are 25 to 34 years old — this group holds an 80 percent market share. During the decision-making process, these shoppers visit three websites on average with a sales cycle of approximately 27 days, and 30 percent of consumers take their phone in-store to do additional research and to look for lower prices. Surpisingly men and women are pretty close in terms of online fashion spend, with men spending on average $1,587, and women spending $1,746 on fashion every year.

Visual content, trends and influencers all play a significant role in the buying process. Consumers often want to emulate a celebrity look or try a new style after seeing it on a leading blog. They look for free delivery and free returns so they can make sure that fashion suits their style without risking additional costs.

The Affiliate Long-Tail

Seventy one percent of online fashion sales are generated by discount and cashback publishers, but content-driven publishers provide a valuable opportunity for your brand. Brand awareness and reinforcement are two areas that editorial content promotes in a big way, as bloggers and other influencers act as ambassadors for your brand.

Fashion consumers often develop loyalty to a specific website or blogger and enjoy seeing someone with similar tastes or the same body type. Buyers trust that the influencer will steer them in the direction of the right brands.

What to Look for in a Fashion Publisher

Editorial fashion publishers are not created equal. A selective approach to bringing in affiliates allows you to work with websites and bloggers that positively impact your brand. If you don’t screen affiliates, you could end up being represented on low-value sites that damage consumer perception of your company.

Here are a few characteristics to look for when you’re evaluating a content-driven fashion publisher:

  • Audience demographics: Do your ideal buyers visit this website? Get as much information as possible about the audience demographics to ensure a good fit.
  • Audience engagement: Does the publisher’s content get a lot of likes, comments and shares? A highly engaged audience indicates that a thriving and loyal community surrounds the influencer.
  • Audience size: How much traffic does the influencer receive?
  • Brand relationships: Does the publisher have existing relationships with other fashion brands? Relationships maintained over long periods are likely mutually beneficial connections.
  • Publisher style: Does the website’s style match your fashion brand? Everything from the website design to the specific fashion styles should be considered here.
  • Content quality: Is the published content free of grammar and spelling errors? Did you enjoy reading through the posts and find them engaging? Does the voice mesh with your brand’s tone and approach?
Publisher Incentives for Your Affiliate Program

There are a few ways you can put incentives in place for content-driven publishers. First, make sure that your payment model accounts for the fact that editorial content probably won’t drive the last click. Many consumers look for discounts before they checkout, which can shift that click over to a coupon or voucher site.

Attract fashion content publishers with higher CPAs or consider view-through tracking for these publishers as most shoppers are blind to banners and may simply go direct by typing your store name into the browser address bar. Their high-quality traffic can earn them a significant amount when you tailor your offers for this publisher category.

Editorial content publishers are a valuable addition to your affiliate mix. Make sure you bring in the right influencers for your brand, and reward them with the right incentives to keep the sales flowing.

Performance Marketing and Fashion was originally published in Commission Factory on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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