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Deb Carney (aka Loxly) and Jeff Grill presented at Affiliate Summit in a session titled,
Merchant Basics. So why did I, an affiliate, attend a session aimed at merchants? A few reasons:
- Deb and I have done podcasts together, educating merchants on how to run a successful affiliate program. She, from the merchant / OPM side and I as an affiliate. It’s good to make sure you and your partner are on the same page (more on this later).
- I was representing the press (as a blogger) and didn’t want to just cover affiliate sessions.
The session was definitely for beginners, meaning those people thinking about launching an affiliate program, or have just launched one, or have taken over one that has been around for a while, but not active.
Deb stressed educating yourself and preparing before launching your program. Lots of education can be done via MerchantABCs.com, Greg Hoffman’s eBook, or Geno Prussakov’s
Affiliate Program Management: An Hour a Day.
A point that was made: Don’t launch until the site is ready, as affiliates won’t come back later.
The discussion moved to talk about OPMs, and how to select one. I’m a big fan of OPMs, as they’re a great way for programs to launch properly and their connections in the industry can get your product / service in front of the right affiliates.
Then, Jeff and Deb talked about the various networks, and how to go about choosing one. There isn’t an answer that fits everyone, so check out where your competition is, and talk to other affiliates and affiliate managers.
The final step in the planning process is what I was interested in: plugging leaks & increasing conversions.
Affiliates want to work with sites that are converting – Loxly
Deb and I did a podcast on this a few months ago,
Merchant Readiness for an Affiliate Program.
Now that your program is launched, it’s time to recruit by calling and emailing site owners, and telling them about your program. You have to stand out above the competition. Expect 90% of your revenue to come from 10% of your affiliates.
Remember when I said it’s good to make sure you and your partner are on the same page? This wasn’t always the case in this session. Jeff was constantly bashing coupon affiliates, and I’m afraid the audience walked away thinking there are no good coupon sites. While I agree many are bottom-feeders that prey on uneducated merchants, there are useful affiliate coupon sites. I asked Deb about this later in the show, and she agreed that not all coupon sites are bad, and has even outlined how to Build a Coupon Site the Right Way.
Aside from the coupon issue, this was a valuable session for merchants, whether just starting out or running a well-established program. Even if you think you know everything on a topic, listening to others can spark new ideas or provide a different opinion on how you’re doing things today.
I concur about the OPM comment and also wanted to thank Deb, Greg and Geno for educating merchants about better program management. Had a pleasure of meeting Deb, chatting with Greg and working with Geno and every-time I’d learn something of great value. Thanks to their advise our affiliate sales (roas) far exceed the cost of launching the programs.
All of the blogs/podcasts/books and any other content these folks publish are a must read/listen for newbies and more experienced affiliate program managers alike.
Fair point on the coupon sites. Unfortunately, there are so many bad players out there, that merchants are forced to spend a disproportionate amount of time policing the program. The networks are allowing too many in without fully vetting who is behind each program.
To your point, I’d suggest that merchants need a strategy for coupon sites as they do for every other type of site. it should involve helping the honest players benefit from promoting your program, while penalizing those that poach customers. Legitimate coupon sites have a role in the conversion process, it just needs to be planned for and managed.
Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I’ll be sure to provide a more balanced view in future presentations.