Tag : branding

Winning at Affiliate Survivor

affiliate survivalSometimes being an affiliate can be like participating in Survivor. To win you have to need to outwit, outlast, and outplay your competitors.

There’s a reason the show Survivor has endured on TV for 36 seasons. The premise is very simple. However, it plays out with unexpected twists and turns each time as the mix of various personalities navigate a social experiment with many factors out of their control. Participants surely understand the basics. Many are even super-fans or devoted students of the game. But crucial to the competition are adaptability and savvy in all facets of the game.

And while there’s no getting voted off the affiliate island, consumers do “vote”with their wallets. That means affiliates must be able to deftly navigate a myriad of areas including social, content, brand building, SEO, business planning and more. Faltering in any of those areas might extinguish your affiliate aspirations. Game over.

Outwit

Have a Plan – You’ve got to have a plan and execute on it. It’s inevitable  that things change – and rapidly. You’ll need to adapt and be flexible. But without a solid plan going in or an evolving plan, you’re not going to be able to move forward.You should review your business plans every 6 months and update as necessary.

Go Deep – Going a mile wide and an inch deep, isn’t going to get you to success. Instead think about doing the opposite. By focusing on a very specific niche and taking deeper dive into that specific market, you’ll be able to better serve the needs of the audience. It’s a more effective tactic to have a small, extremely loyal user base. , than a huge base that isn’t invented in what you are promoting. Maybe as a travel affiliate your niche is Las Vegas or vacationing families or roadtrippers or foodies.

Outplay

Leverage Content – One way to outplay rivals is to create content they can’t compete with. Because affiliates are often smaller companies they are more nimble than the brands they promote. This enables them to innovate more quickly. That’s true of leveraging content marketing as well. Creating unique, compelling content that has a laser focus on the target market, can be done very quickly by affiliates. And by using analytics it’s simple to see what resonates with the audience and what converts.

Be a Trendsetter – Get in front of breakout and seasonal trends. If you’re planning in advance it’s easier to see in July what might be hot for the holidays. There are also more seasonal events emerging – like Spring Break. Always be on the lookout for new trends in pop culture, art, among celebrities, etc. Often trends from other areas can be easily translated (with a bit of creativity) to specific niches. It might be a color that is hot, a style of decor or a something in fashion. For example if you’re a travel affiliate, you could leverage a return to nostalgia. More people are looking for experience getaways that recreate their childhood – like renting an RV and visiting all the National Parks or taking in baseball games at several major league parks.

Get Creative with Content – Think beyond the blog. Posts are great for some content. But think about mixing it up. You can use quizzes, infographics, video, reviews, user generated content. unusual content formats for recommending products and more. Variety keeps regular visitors interested. It also adds interest and can help with search rankings. Check out more ways to get creative with your content.

Outlast

Build a Brand – Consider what you’re doing to develop the brand of your affiliate website. That’s because brand building comes with many benefits. They include recognition, loyalty, a perception of size and quality, and the perception of experience and reliability.  These combine to provide a significant comfort level for potential customers. Establishing overall trust helps shoppers eventually become repeat customers, which can increase average order value and lifetime customer value – all important success metrics.

Think Recurring Revenue – With affiliate marketing, there is no assurance that your current strategy will work in a month. It could be Google updating their ranking algorithm, your favorite affiliate program shutting down, or media buying costs increasing. It’s wise to mitigate against the possibility of major changes.

Diversify Revenue –  Don’t rely on a single traffic source or a single monetization method. Affiliate, pay-per-click, sponsorships, paid placements all help your affiliate business from being vulnerable to one source of making money.

Look for New Promotional Opportunities – There may be some brands that perform well for your affiliate sites, but consider also joining new programs. Don’t get stuck in what’s working now. But you may be overlooking other programs to help increase your affiliate revenue and work well with in your niche.

Take Advantage of Tech Trends – Staying on top of what’s hot in tech can put you ahead of the competition. Whether it’s AI, chatbots, new mobile tech, blockchain and cryptocurrency developments or whatever else is coming down the pike, it’s always an advantage to be thinking about how developments might impact your business. Or better yet, how you can leverage that tech to make more money.

Careful consideration of all these areas can help make you the ultimate affiliate survivor with a sustainable, successful business.

Affiliates Need to Consider the Brands’ Customer Service Rep

affiliate customer satisfaction

As most affiliates work to establish themselves as a brand, it’s worth putting more emphasis on the customer service of businesses they opt to promote.

Since affiliates are not the actual sellers of a product or service, they don’t always consider the quality of the customer service of the retailers they work with. But similar to the manner in which affiliates choose to represent a brand can have an impact on the brand itself, it cuts the other way as well. Affiliates working with brands that have less-than-stellar reputations for customer service could actually end up negatively affecting the affiliate’s brand.

That’s because often the experience of buying through an affiliate link is so seamless that consumers don’t differentiate between the affiliate and the brand. So, if something goes wrong there may be some people looking to blame the affiliate.

Satisfaction is Job 1

Customer satisfaction plays an important role within business. It is the leading indicator to measure customer loyalty, identify unhappy customers, reduce churn and increase revenue. It’s also also a key point of differentiation that helps businesses to attract new customers in competitive business environments.

And keeping a current customer is valuable. According to White House Office of Consumer Affairs, on average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase. Some research says that it is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one. Econsultancy data shows that around 70% of marketers say it costs less to retain a customer than it does to acquire a new one.

Additionally, social media has given a voice to those that are dissatisfied. According to data from New Voice Media, 59% of people share poor customer experiences online. On the flip side, happy, satisfied customers become the repeat buyers who keep your business alive and well. They also bring new customers your way. American Express noted that one satisfied customer can equal up to nine referrals. And data from Temkin Group suggests that companies with happy customers have as much as a 16% advantage over competitors in consumers’ willingness to buy, reluctance to switch brands, and likelihood of recommending them.

So when looking to promote offers from a business, here are some things that affiliates can do related to customer service:

Social media – Check out the social media accounts of the business. Look for how they publically respond to complaints – both the tone and how quickly they react. Also, do searches on each social media platform for what people are saying about the brand. This can be a good indicator as to issues that may crop up in the future.

Be a customer – It’s always a good idea to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. One way to do that is to make a purchase and see how smoothly – or not – the process is. Even if you don’t have an issue with the product, you can also call the customer service line. Ask some questions to see what kind of response you get. Is it a live human? A chat bot? This lets you evaluate a typical customer service experience.

Check their website – Review the retailer’s website to see if they prominently display a contact information and a customer service number. You want to make sure there is an easy way for customers to contact the brand in the event there is a problem.

Know the policies – Check out the retailer’s policies. Do they accept returns? What are the guarantees/warranties they offer?  Read the fine print and make sure you are okay with all the policies for replacement or repair and liability.

Ask questions – It’s perfectly acceptable to ask the affiliate contact about customer satisfaction. Does the company measure satisfaction? Conduct regular surveys? Is the feedback taken seriously? Are changes actually implemented? What happens if you get caught in the crossfire of an angry consumer? These are all questions that you should ask before promoting an online retailer.

Understanding how those you work with resolve customer disputes and work to improve customer satisfaction can only help you select partners to promote that will benefit your business and increase the loyalty of your customers.

Branding is Key for Affiliates

affiliate branding is keySavvy affiliates understand establishing their website as a brand is key to their long-term success. Even though the foundation of affiliate marketing is based on marketing and  promoting offers from other brands, affiliates need to be a brand in their own right.

That’s because brand building comes with many benefits including recognition, loyalty, a perception of size and quality, and the the image of experience and reliability.  All of these combine to provide a significant comfort level for potential customers. Establishing that overall trust helps shoppers eventually become repeat customers, which can increase average order value and lifetime customer value – all important success metrics for affiliates.

Size Doesn’t Matter

Some of the largest affiliates (RetailMeNot.com, Coupons.com, and LowerMyBills.com) have done a great job at creating unique identities and name recognition for their respective websites. In fact, most online shoppers simply view them as a destination rather than an affiliate site.

Kim Rowley, founder of KEY Internet Marketing, has several affiliate sites (including ShoppingKim.com, WorkInMyPajamas.com, and ShoeaholicsAnonymous.com), and has  been in the affiliate space since 1998. Rowley, who received the 2012 Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Award for Affiliate Marketing Legend, says branding is crucial for affiliates of all sizes.

“Branding is one of the most beneficial things any affiliate can do to stand out from the crowd,” she says. “I have a handful of affiliate sites and by making sure each has its own look, unique value proposition, and clearly defined market position, I am making them memorable to visitors. That gives me a leg up on my competition and fosters loyalty with my audience. And that branding brings repeat visitors because each site is a known entity.”

affiliate branding is keyBuilding a Brand

There are many ways to cultivate your affiliate brand identity including:

  • Creating consistent visual branding (colors, design, logos, fonts, etc.) across all platforms and communications
  • Establishing messaging that solidifies market positioning
  • Touting differentiators
  • Doing SEO for higher search rankings
  • Establishing and sustaining a social presence
  • Marketing and advertising efforts to gain mindshare
  • Consistent engagement  with existing and prospective customers via retargeting, emails, newsletters, social media
  • Providing relevant content and information

Unfortunately, there’s no one size-fits-all for how to implement each of these elements. Specific tactics and execution largely depends on many factors, including:

  • The size of your business
  • Your target demographic
  • The type of offers you are promoting
  • The type of affiliate your are (reviews, content, coupons, etc)
  • Your revenue model

However, there are some common, over-arching themes to keep in mind when working to build your brand. You should be thinking about these cornerstones as you execute on specific initiatives. These are all intertwined and work together to create your brand.

Establish Trust/Credibility

Everything you do should be working towards letting people know you are a trustworthy business. From design to messaging to content you create to partners you work with and everything in between. A big part of that is transparency. Be sure to comply with all disclosure regulations, privacy laws and make those easily accessible to visitors.

If customers feel like are you are legitimate business, they will want to give your their business. There are too many scams out there and people want to know they can trust you.

“Consumers have almost limitless information and more choice than ever,” Lisa Riolo, Chateau 20’s Vice President of Operations and Special Projects, says. “With all the digital noise it’s important for marketers to build trust at every touch point in the purchase journey. Otherwise the consumer will just bounce.”

Put the Customer First

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Think about how they will be navigating around your site. How they want to find the best deals. What they would want to know about products (details, specifications, images). How they might need to contact you if there is an issue (is there an email, contact name and email address). Focus on solving problems for customers. That includes telling them what problem is solved by a product, why they need it, etc. Give them good information in your content. Have them sign up for newsletters or email alerts so you can contact them with good deals that are relevant to them.

Be Authentic

Building a brand means showing who you are as business. A human element can make you more relatable. If you’re all about busy moms getting a deal, share your perspective about things that you found useful. Or deals that helped you in some way. Think about what you stand for. Your ethics. Your position. People want to do business with people. And the best brands have a clear message of what they stand for (quality, good deals, great content, finding helpful item, etc.) .

It takes some effort to build your affiliate brand. But in the end having a recognizable brand will make you stand out, increase repeat customers, protect you from increasing competition, and create a long-term sustainable business.