Affiliates Must Overcome Cobbler’s Children Syndrome

affiliates cobbler's children syndromeOne of the things we hear most from affiliates is that they are great at promoting the products and services of other, but not so good at promoting themselves.  It’s the “Cobbler’s Children Syndrome” – where the proverbial children of the shoemaker go without shoes.

This is particularly evident when affiliates are seeking new relationships with brands or potential partners. Affiliates often can’t clearly communicate exactly what they do, their key differentiators, or even the basics – like audience demographics, traffic numbers, the point of view (POV) of their site, and rates for paid placements.

It’s not that they don’t have this information. It’s that they haven’t formalized a way to communicate the information to others. Sure, a phone call or face-to-face meeting often clears up any questions others may have, but those aren’t always the best way to get their message across.

Plus, that tact requires affiliates to be proactive – meaning the affiliate can miss out on opportunities with potential partners who may be searching for a relationship. An affiliate can  be overlooked or not even found because there is a lack of detail about their business or they don’t immediately stand out as relevant for that particular situation.

Shout from the Rooftops

We believe that affiliates are their own brands and as such, have more power than they think to negotiate innovative partnerships. But this is a very competitive landscape and affiliates must toot their own horn to be noticed.

And there are some simple steps you can take to make sure others are clear on why they should work with you, what the benefits of a partnership may be, and why you’re unique.

Differentiators

Affiliates need to highlight why working with them presents a unique opportunity for all parties. To do that, you need to showcase your differentiators. It’s easy to think your company is different from competitors, but it’s often hard to articulate. You should determine your differentiators. Then write them down and have a document (or PDF) that can be easily shared with potential partners.

Here are a few  questions that might spark some ideas about your unique qualities as an affiliate:

  • Are you focused on a specific group (busy moms, healthy kids, yoga for men, reviews for newbies)?
  • Do you take a stance on ethical business issues?
  • Is your preference to only work with like-minded brands (eco-friendly, liberal return policies, etc.)?
  • Do you only allow verified deals?
  • Do you work only with companies that guarantee their products?
  • Is there a community component and are those members engaged?
  • Do you offer cashback or rewards?
  • Is there a specific tone to your content (education, humorous, etc.)?
  • What gives your site a personal touch?
  • Are there a higher than average number of repeat buyers?
  • Do you only allow specific types of deals?
  • Do you have specific tools that help boost conversions?
  • How do you handle paid placements or sponsorship opportunities?

Elevator pitch

Just like a startup business, affiliates need to be able to communicate what they do in 15 seconds. That means you must have a written statement that consists of just one or two sentences to explain what the business does, it’s POV, why its different, and who it serves.

For example: XYZ.com is a daily blog and comprehensive review site that promotes exoctic travel destinations for families by offering deals and travel tips. After 5 years in business and with over 250,000 views per month, we’re able to help families find the best accomodations, airfare, destination tours and more by partnering with the leading global travel providers.

Social Media

Naturally, you have created all the needed social media presence for their sites and are actively engaging followers and promoting products and offers. But you need to take it a step further. Make sure that your affiliate business has a profile on LinkedIn. This is like a resume for the business and goes beyond the website’s About page. This where to include information such as differentiators, and expanded facts about the business. Information, data and facts compiled should be relevant for a business partner to know.  But maybe not things shared with consumers on the website.

One Sheeter

This should be comprised of much of above information, but it must be succinct and organized to be quickly digestible. This is what you’ll likely send to people who inquire about your business and working with you. Include stats about the site’s visitors, conversions, repeat buyers, etc. Additionally, include any information about rates for paid placements or sponsorships.

In addition to providing information for potential partners, compiling these elements help you think differently about highlighting what makes your site special. You might find some information is appropriate to include on the website to help attract a wider consumer audience.

Chateau 20 Hearts Affiliate Marketing

Hearts, flowers, cards and lots of chocolate. It must be Valentine’s Day. This is when we declare our undying love for our sweeties and those that make our hearts soars. The Chateau 20 team is passionate about loved ones, but they also love their work. Here are some things that really makes their hearts flutter.

What do you love about online marketing?

Aaron Yeh, Digital Media Manager: I love how digital marketing allows you to get such accurate feedback – both behavioral and conversational – from your customers and clients. I don’t have to wait 30+ days to understand the lift my clients are getting from our activities. It’s all at my fingertips.

Ashley Holyoak, Publisher Development Manager: One of my favorite things is having the ability to communicate valuable information and products to people around the world. The first time I heard about affiliate marketing was about 8 years ago. Ever since that day I have pretty much immersed myself – both professionally and as a personal passion. Today, we have so much information available to us that enables us to provide immense value to a person right when they are searching for it. That’s amazing!

Brandie Feuer, Director of Strategy: Online marketing is always changing and it’s a true marriage of the art of branding and the science of data.

Chris Park, Partner Relationship Manager: The friendships. There are so many industry folks I’ve met over the years that I now consider friends. I’d miss them all if I left the industry.

Lisa Riolo, VP of Operations and Special Projects: Online marketing engages both the left and right sides of my brain. It’s an expression of art and science. Magic and mechanics. I get to be analytical and imaginative. So, I love that online marketing is technology, data, creativity, psychology (and persuasion), economics and relationships all in one place.

Tiffany Ponds-Kimro, Offer Management/Publisher Development: The fact that it’s so broad and can cover so many aspects (social, affiliate, SEO, content, web development) and just about every industry will have to use it at some point.

How do you show love to a client or publisher?

Aaron: I like to make a donation to a client’s preferred charity in their name for special occasions – maybe it’s an anniversary of starting to work with them, or we just wrapped a huge campaign, or it’s their birthday. Direct gifts can sometimes be awkward, but helping out a cause that’s important to them. And it feels great for everyone involved.

Ashley: Being a bit of a foodie (and having the luxury of living in Las Vegas with so many great restaurants everywhere) I like to treat my publishers to a delicious and exciting dinner. One time our team took some affiliates to Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at the Cosmopolitan. If your looking for a restaurant full of energy and fun, I highly recommend checking it out!

Brandie: I love sending snail mail. Send me your address and prepare to get multiple holiday cards!

Chris: I know many publishers personally, so I always like to ask about their family, congratulate them on personal successes. And I’ve been known to send an Edible Arrangement or two.

Lisa: I try to show my sincere appreciation – mostly expressed in words. I believe in thanking and encouraging business partners. These are little proclamations of “love” that help me stay optimistic and positive.

Tiffany: Dropping a quick call to let them know I’m around if they need me.

Tell us something you love and couldn’t live without during your workday.

Aaron: Having  a second or third monitor for my workstation. I literally don’t understand how anyone can work with a single monitor! I feel like I save at least 30 minutes a day not having to tab out of different applications or web pages.

Ashley: I am going to have to say coffee to this one. Particularly Pumpkin Spice from Starbucks. Yes, I am that girl! Additionally, I have to include personal development audios and books, which are a staple in my day-to-day routine. I can’t get enough.

[caption id="attachment_1354" align="alignright" width="300"] Brandie’s pup Emma[/caption]

Brandie: These days, I couldn’t live without my 2lb pup, Emma. She’s always sleeping right beside me while I work.

Chris: I love my home office. Great view out my window. Alexa plays my favorite tunes. And my office mates may snore a bit, but they’re good company.

Lisa: I’m a little obsessed with pure essential oils and the new diffuser sitting in my home office. Since getting it, I’m all about setting the ambiance to fit my mood. The aromatics and colored lighting is already integral to how I approach my work, energy and time management. It’s a fun gadget that focuses my intentions. I just love it.

Tiffany: I need my coffee for full coherence.

[caption id="attachment_1363" align="alignleft" width="300"] Must-have: COFFEE![/caption]

Considerations for Hiring Family

hiring friends and familyYour affiliate business is booming. You’re stretched thin and need someone to help you get everything done. Or maybe your want to invest in your affiliate site, but need extra hands to implement all the necessary changes to get your business to the next level.

So, where do you turn for help? Well, if you’ve been a solo operation, the first place you might look is to family, friends or maybe even your spouse. That makes sense, since these are people you know and trust. However, there are some things you might want to consider before hiring someone from your inner circle.

Location is not a Skill Set

Perhaps you live in a very rural area and know that means finding qualified employees is unlikely. You might be right. Major metropolitan areas have more people, and thus, more workers with skills you require. However, hiring your unemployed BFF simply because she needs a job, you have a job, and she lives 2 miles away, isn’t a good reason to do so. There are plenty of ways to manage and work with remote employees. A new hire doesn’t need to be in your area to do a good job.

Previously Established Dynamics

There’s no one you can count on more than your mom. And while she’s been there for you through the highs and lows of your life, her role has probably been that of a cheerleader, supporter, caretaker, nurturer and even a friend – not an employee. Think about what it’s going to be like for you to have to give specific directions, set deadlines, and review the performance of your mom or husband or sister. Depending on personal dynamics of any relationship, you may find it hard to change long established roles. And that friend or relative might find it difficult to view you as their boss.

It Can Get Emotional

It can be hard to take the emotions of any relationship. But if you hire a friend or family member it’’s hard to claim that anything that happens at work is “just business.” It might be hard for everyone involved to separate their personal and work entanglements. People tend to take things personally and your success (or failures) could make for a messy emotional work environment. That’s bad for business.

Perceived Favoritism

Down the road, if you need to hire even more people, having a relative or friend on staff may cause problems. Other employees may think that person gets more favorable treatment or has insider information. That can cause resentment and create discord among your workforce.

There are times when affiliates have successfully grown their company into a family business. It takes a lot of work and requires some finesse to navigate the challenges. But it can be done.

Here are a few basic tips for making it work:

  • Have a well thought out job description that objectively clarifies what knowledge, skills, and duties are required for the available position.
  • Make sure the compensation is in line with the person’s skills. If they are being trained for a job they’re not currently qualified to do, their title, position and wages should be reflective of that.
  • Create a path for their success by giving regular performance reviews and raises inline with their performance.
  • Treat them with the same professionalism you would any other employee.
  • Have a heart-to-heart talk with them about keeping personal and business separate.
  • Provide an opportunity to receive feedback and suggestions for improved workplace dynamics. Open lines of communication need to flow both ways to create mutual trust and respect.
  • Even though they are a friend or relative, consider having them sign a non-disclosure agreement to protect your business.

Employing a close friend or relative can help you grow your business as long as you’re willing to offer them the same workplace professionalism that you would extend to any other worker. Plus, having someone who has your back can go a long way in the success of your business.

What Affiliates Need to Know About New Privacy Laws

gdpr, privacy data collectionThe deadline is looming for businesses to comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on May 25, 2018. Yet many US-based companies may be woefully unprepared for the impending privacy regulations. Many don’t fully understand how, or even if, they are impacted.

The GDPR has been called the most important change to data privacy regulations in the last 20 years. That’s because the new regulation requires businesses that process or store personal data to protect the privacy of EU citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states – even if your business is not based in the EU.

What Businesses Must Comply:

  • If your business has a presence in an EU country
  • No presence in the EU, but processes personal data of European residents
  • More than 250 employees
  • Fewer than 250 employees but data-processing or storage of personal data impacts the rights and freedoms of EU citizens and includes certain types of sensitive personal data.

That effectively means almost every company – including US-based affiliate businesses – must comply with GDPR.

If you’re an affiliate, here’s how you might be affected. If you collect a visitor’s personal data for an email list, a newsletter, or to send out deals, coupons and special offers, you need to comply with GDPR if you have any visitors from EU countries. Although affiliates are not handling the actual transaction data for purchases, they may still be gathering specific private information on visitors – even if  those visitors willingly opt-in for a newsletter or deal email.

Any affiliates doing retargeting campaigns that involve EU citizens would also be impacted by GDPR.

Additionally, under the new rules, any third-party partners you use are also directly and legally obligated to comply with GDPR. Let’s say you use an application like MailChimp or a CRM system like SalesForce, it’s not enough if they are compliant. Both parties must comply. That’s because your business, is responsible for passing data to that third-party and in charge of how it will be processed and for what reason.

Applications frequently used by affiliates, including MailChimp, Constant Contact, Hubspot and Salesforce are among the providers who report that they have certified with Privacy Shield, showing their intention to follow GDPR’s rules on the transfer of data between countries.

What Constitutes Personal Information?

Under GDPR, personal information is anything that can be used to directly or indirectly identify a person.

  • Basic identity information such as name, address and ID numbers
  • Web data such as location, IP address, cookie data, and RFID tags
  • Bank details
  • Email address
  • Photos
  • Posts on social networking sites
  • Health, genetic, and medical data
  • Biometric data
  • Racial or ethnic data
  • Political opinions
  • Sexual orientation

What Compliance Looks Like

Companies will be allowed to store and process personal data only when the individual consents. And for “no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed.” Personal data must also be portable from one company to another, according to the regulation.

Additionally, companies must erase personal data upon request. This is known as the right to be forgotten. However, there are some exceptions. For example, GDPR does not supersede any legal requirements that an organization maintain certain data. An example of this would include HIPAA health record requirements.

However, GDPR  isn’t always explicitly defined. It states companies must be able to provide a “reasonable” level of data protection and privacy to EU citizens. What the GDPR means by “reasonable” may be open to interpretation.

In addition, companies must report any data breaches to supervisory authorities and individuals affected by the breach within 72 hours of when the breach was detected. Another requirement, performing impact assessments, is intended to help mitigate the risk of breaches by identifying vulnerabilities and how to address them.

Non-Compliance Could be Costly

The penalties for non-compliance are steep – 20 million euros or 4 percent of global annual turnover, whichever is higher. For some companies that could be in the billions. The GDPR supervisory authority has the power to impose administrative fines based on several factors, such as the gravity of the infringement and whether or not steps were taken to mitigate the damage.

Still, it’s unclear how those penalties will be assessed. The biggest questions center around impact. Will fines differ for a breach that has minimal impact on individuals compared to a breach where exposed personal data results in actual damage? In any case, penalties could cripple small companies or startups.

The consensus is that the regulators will try to send a message early on by dropping the hammer on violators. However, it’s also not defined how those offenders will be exposed to the supervisory board.

Maybe that’s why some question the GDPR’s enforcement reach into non-EU member countries – like the United States. Will the EU be able to patrol, enforce and levy fines on small US-based businesses? In theory, yes. But the legalities are sure to be tested.

Behind the GDPR Curve

Big global corporations have long had GDPR compliance efforts underway. But smaller US-based companies are lagging behind. If your business is not in compliance by the May 25 deadline, you won’t be alone. According to a survey by Solix Technologies released in December, 22% of businesses were still unaware that they must comply with GDPR. Thirty-eight percent said that the personal data they process is not protected from misuse and unauthorized access at every stage of its life cycle. Half of those surveyed expect to be fined.

There is no one-size-fit-all GDPR readiness plan. But companies (and yes, even affiliates) need to implement appropriate technical and organizational measures for data protection provisions. Depending on the size of your business that means appointing a dedicated data controller or responsible team. It can also include staff training, internal audits of processing activities, and reviews of HR policies, as well as keeping documentation on processing activities. To prepare for GDPR, bodies such as the ICO offer general guidance on what should be considered.

The bottom line is that ignoring GDPR or failing to comply can result in serious fines that may cripple your business.

What Affiliates Must Know About Cryptocurrency

bitcoin cryptocurrencyAs an affiliate it’s hard to stay on top of all the new innovations, developments and technology advances.

One topic you probably hear pop up a lot is Bitcoin or cryptocurrency. You may have wondered how, or even if, Bitcoin impacts your business. That depends on many factors – if you want to part of a program that sell the cryptocurrency; if you want to be paid in Bitcoin,  or if you just want to understand how some of the underlying currency shifts might affect consumer buying behavior in the future.

Regardless of why you’re interested in Bitcoin, here are some basics to help you have an understanding of the cryptocurrency.

What is Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and worldwide payment system. It is the first decentralized digital currency. Meaning it works without a central bank or single administrator.Transactions are verified by network nodes using cryptography, These transactions are recorded in a public, distributed ledger called a blockchain. Bitcoin was invented by an unknown person or group of people under the name Satoshi Nakamoto and released as open-source software in 2009.

Bitcoins are created as a reward for a process known as mining. They can be exchanged for other currencies, products, and services. As of February 2015, over 100,000 merchants and vendors accept bitcoin as payment. Research produced by the University of Cambridge estimates that in 2017, there were 2.9 to 5.8 million unique users using a cryptocurrency wallet, most of them using bitcoin.

You can also read an explainer here.

Ok, So Now What?

Because there is consumer interest in obtaining Bitcoin, many cryptocurrency businesses have launched affiliate marketing programs. These programs (which include exchanges, sweepstakes, crypto wallets, and more) are using the affiliate channel as a way to promote their services and offers to a wider audience. These programs – which can be CPA or a revenue share – are often paid out in Bitcoin (or other cryptocurrencies)

Affiliates can join programs that invite miners, and gain a percentage of their profits, or gain a fixed amount of cryptocurrency in exchange.The number of such Bitcoin affiliate programs is on the rise. However, because of the constantly evolving nature of this growing space, not all programs will survive the changes. There is a big earning potential for affiliates, but there are associated levels of risk. Thorough research into specific program terms and conditions is always advised.

Blockchain Potential

A lot of attention has been paid to the potential of the underlying transactional blockchain technology. Some say there are viable applications for it in healthcare, finance, insurance, and digital marketing as well.

The verifiable “chain” of transactions makes it attractive. And for digital marketing, there is the notion that it could potentially aid in the tracking and fraud detection. The idea being that blockchain technology could track where clicks come from and ensure clicks were generated by actual people and not an automated process  – like a bot.

Although, the tracking process is currently automated via a tracking pixel, this process can be manipulated, hacked and abused. Additionally, since tracking information is currently stored on in a central location (like the server for the affiliate program), it can be vulnerable to hacking, human error, and equipment malfunction. When blockchain is used, these errors are impossible. The information is stored on all the computers in the network that communicate between each other.

In addition, the use of smart contracts ensures all tracking is 100% accurate and fraud is avoided. This means every time someone clicks on the affiliate referral link, a smart contract is created. It has a unique id of that specific visitor, with the timestamp and the activity in question. This information would be available to both the advertiser and the publisher. And it can’t be manipulated in any way.

Consumer Interest

There are many reasons you should care or at least be aware of cryptocurrencies. The most important is that more consumers are starting to demand paying with them. This shift towards alternative payment methods has prompted online retailers to begin accepting it for their goods and services.. According to a recent article, major brands including Overstock, Expedia, Microsoft, Newegg and others now let buyers pay with cryptocurrency. Currently, Amazon doesn’t accept Bitcoin, but there is a lot of speculation that the online giant is moving in that direction. There are several lists hat are frequently updated with those retailers accepting Bitcoin payments.

In addition to being a secure way to pay, many consumers are interested in the value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.This heightened awareness of cryptocurrencies is only expected to fuel further adoption by both consumers and retailers.

As an affiliate, understanding the basics of the cryptocurrencies may also help you differentiate your marketing marketing efforts as you promote certain goods and services from retailers that accept those types of payments.

The future of cryptocurrency is still taking shape. As more consumers and merchants gain knowledge of the market, it will be necessary to watch this space. It will also be smart to make modifications to your affiliate business leverage its popularity.

Affiliates Have Negotiation Power

value affiliate negotiation power

Affiliates hold more power than they know. The problem is that most are unaware of how to leverage their power to attain better deals or negotiate higher commissions.

In the affiliate/merchant relationship most affiliates assume that merchants (or whomever is running the program) have all the say in setting commissions, defining terms of service and everything else related to the affiliate’s participation.

It’s a typical complaint from affiliates that X merchant has cut commissions. And now the affiliate must either accept this or stop promoting Merchant X and find another merchant that will enable them to make more money. The affiliate feels powerless.

 

Timing is Everything

As laid out, the affiliate has no leverage in the above example. But that’s only because of the timing. Once a merchant decides to reduce commissions or removing a certain type of affiliate (maybe coupon or deal affiliates) the affiliate’s power to minimize the impact of the merchant’s decision is long gone.

Had the affiliate actively negotiated with the program manager prior to those decisions, they might be in a different position. Merchants use historical performance data and analytics to make most program strategy decisions. Unfortunately, affiliates are often lumped in together when merchant business decisions about their affiliate channel.

But affiliates can have more influence by taking some simple steps:

Determine Value

Most affiliates underestimate their value to a program. They don’t have to be biggest affiliate or driving the most revenue to have an increased value to a merchant. The affiliate’s value can be bringing in first time customers, or driving sales via promotions in their newsletter, or bringing in a desirable audience that the merchant wants to reach. It can also be having higher conversion rates than other affiliates.

The key for affiliates is to determine what they may be worth to a specific merchant based on the merchant’s goals and objective for the program.That requires the affiliate to know and understand those objectives. This knowledge requires ongoing discussions with the program manager. Most program managers (whether in-house or at an agency) are willing to test affiliate performance and set up win-win.

Be Realistic

Each program has a set of key metrics to indicate performance of the program and the individual affiliates. Often this will include: Revenue or a sale metrics–including Average Order Value, number of items or transactions completed, leads generated, customer profile data (such as new customers), and participation in the consumer’s journey. There may be more granular data related to what the consumers are purchasing (full-retail vs. sale prices). Sometimes an affiliate is making a positive contribution — but an affiliate program metric (like EPC) doesn’t reflect the value or benefits being provided.

The flip side is overestimating value. As some merchants found out this holiday season when attempted to negotiate paid placements, affiliates are charging high rates for placements with minimal improved contribution to sales. High placement fees for increased visibility is a sure-fire way for an affiliate to price themselves out of a deal.

Communicate Worth

Be proactive about letting a merchant know what you can do for them. Be willing to test. Most programs have hundreds, if not thousands of affiliates. And a merchant can’t know what each of them is up to. So, if an affiliate is planning to revamp their site, step up their content creation efforts, or invest in new technology to potentially help boost conversions, they need to communicate those plans to a merchant. Those types of efforts can positively increase the affiliate’s ability to drive more sales to the merchant. And the promise of more sales may just tip the scales in the affiliate’s favor.

Provide Proof

Affiliates should be willing to share some of their internal data. This might include some historical (year-over-year) growth data about their business or even how they performed in other similar programs. It’s not enough for an affiliate to say they add value to a program, they should have specific data to back up those claims.

Will Affiliates Turn a New Leaf for Cannabis?

affiliates cannabis legalizationThere’s a popular saying “as California goes, so goes the nation.” The implication being that tech innovation, social and political movements, pop culture trends and more often start in California and then become widely adopted across the country.

This week it became legal to sell pot in California for recreational use. So, as affiliates enter the new year looking for new niches and new opportunities to make money, will the legalization of marijuana in California convince mainstream affiliates to embrace weed as viable online marketing opportunity?

There are 28 other states where cannabis is legal in some capacity. But legalization in California – especially since the Golden State is the largest and most populated state in the US (with 39.5 million residents)  – might just represent the tipping point for more online marketers to promote cannabis. which is predicted to do over $7.1 billion in sales in 2017.

According to a Yahoo News/Marist Survey from April 2017, nearly 55 million Americans (22 percent) have used marijuna.at least once or twice in the past year. Close to 35 million are what the survey calls “regular users,” or people who use marijuana at least once or twice a month.

California’s pot legalization is already having an impact. Nearly $2 billion has been invested in the stock market since California’s January 1 statewide marijuana legalization, and shares of companies producing, distributing or selling marijuana soared on Tuesday, Fortune reported.

Cannabis and Affiliates

The cannabis vertical is already growing within the affiliate space. Last year Weed Reader published the top 10 marijuana affiliate programs. These programs (and hundreds more) focus on everything from growing seeds and cannabis growth training to selling edibles and actual marijuana (to medical patients where legal).

Obviously, some affiliates will question the moral and ethical issues of legalization. Those online marketers will likely avoid the space – just as they do other areas considered controversial like adult content websites, online gambling, and some nutriceuticals.

However, some affiliates may opt to promote products that tout that the medical and health benefits of cannabis. Some may choose to pursue the more recreational use aspect as they do with liquor and wine products.

Additionally, there could even be travel affiliates that more aggressively promote California and other states where cannabis is legal as a premiere destination. Think Amsterdam’s tourist messaging in the 1980’s and 1990’s that made it a must-visit location for travelers that wanted to indulge legally.

Additionally, millennials may be a huge factor in deciding whether or not to promote cannabis products. Millennials make up one quarter of the US population with a total of 77 million. (Nielsen). Their generation is larger than the Baby Boomers and 3 times the size of Gen. X. (Aimia). This demographic doesn’t have a social stigma associated with marijuana (52 percent of the estimated 55 million users are millennials). Also, millennials wield about $1.3 trillion in annual buying power. (Boston Consulting Group). They will have the most spending power of any generation by 2018. (Bazaar). And specifically, their spending power is projected to reach $3.39 trillion by 2018. (Oracle).

The Challenges

Although state governments are rolling out more progressive cannabis legislation, marketing marijuana is currently fraught with roadblocks. Mostly because while marijuana is legal in more than half of  the US, it’s still illegal on a federal level. This makes advertising and marketing extremely complex. Online marketers fear being liable for aiding and abetting the sale of drugs – a felony crime.

There are, however, some federal law exceptions. They can be granted for “any person authorized by local, State, or Federal law to manufacture, possess, or distribute such items”.  Still, social media sites like Facebook and Instagram have strict advertising policies. These policies deny paid posts that “constitute, facilitate, or promote illegal products, services or activities” – including marijuana.

Because of advertising restrictions and  inconsistencies in enforcement regarding “educational content,” cannabis-centric social networks have emerged. Cannabis-centric social networks include MassRoots (valued at $44 million with 725,000 users). There is also  the social app Duby, which functions like an Instagram for the cannabis savvy. And a glut of digital marketing agencies and consulting practices dedicated to serving the cannabis industry have sprung up.

For now, most cannabis affiliates choose to focus on content and educating the public. That means using traditional digital marketing tactics. Affiliates are blogging, optimizing SEO, linking to influencers in the space, sending out newsletters and email, and establishing partnerships with researchers and doctors for more legitimization.

But that also means those marketers are likely preaching to converted. Reaching new users and increasing brand awareness online is difficult because advertising is restricted.

Cannabis might not be a market for all affiliates. But there’s no doubt it is growing vertical that will evolve over time as pot becomes legalized and more socially acceptable. Affiliates are likely to play a big role in pushing forward this space.

Chateau20’s ASW18 Session Recommendations for Affiliates

ASW18 affiliate summit

It’s that time of year when the performance marketing industry gathers in Las Vegas for Affiliate Summit West.

It’s always great to attend the largest conference for our industry. But it’s even better when our beloved city hosts and has a chance to shine. Of course there’s world-class dining and entertainment in Vegas. But there’s also more than 100 speakers, over 70 educational sessions, and 300 exhibitors at ASW18.

That’s a lot of educational information, networking, and business opportunities packed into three days. For affiliates there are a lot of sessions to help you earn more, spot trends, and elevate your business. Some sessions overlap. We know you can’t be everywhere at once, but here are some great choices.

Sunday, January 7th

Million Dollar Blog Empires: Ask the Experts @1:00pm Discover what it takes to create a successful and profitable brand and blog in 2018. Ask industry experts and veterans how they built their multi-million dollar empires in this open Q&A session. Jeremy Shoemaker, John Chow, Syed Balkhi

Using Analytics to Improve Your Affiliate Marketing @1:00pm Affiliates and Merchants will discover how to gain valuable actionable insights in analytics. We will cover best practices, most important metrics to use, and how to use this information for success. Carolyn Kmet, Karen Garcia, Lessie Purpera

Live SEO & Monetization Site Reviews with Experts @2:30pm Want to know why your site doesn’t rank or how to get more traffic? Maybe you’re looking to monetize it. This session will review your site live and help you grow your business. Adam Reimer, Brian LaFrance, Carolyn Shelby, Scott Polk

CRO For Paid & Organic Traffic: Live Site Review @2:30pm How’s your conversion rate? Have your site and landing pages audited live to see what conversion rate optimizations you might be leaving on the table for your paid and/or organic traffic. Kenny Hyder, Tony Wright

Monday, January 8th

Quit Losing Money on Your Blog @10am 5 things you can change TODAY. Maximize your revenue without creating any new content or even generating more traffic. Get smart about making more money with what you already have. Tricia Meyer

Affiliate SEO in 2018: What’s Important and What’s Not @10:45am As an affiliate, you don’t have to chase every latest SEO trend. There’s bare SEO minimum – relevant for 2018 – to keep your website in good shape and get ahead of your competitors in SERPs. Aleh Barysevich

Mobile & Affiliate Marketing: What You Need to Know @2pm As mobile technology continues to advance the lines between mobile and affiliate marketing are becoming even more blurred. Learn what you need to know to stay ahead of the curve. Victoria Collins

Automating Adwords: Beating the Competition in Your Sleep @4:15pm How affiliates can build systems using up-to-date SEM automation tech. This will include a demo of affiliate-to-Adwords conversion tracking to create automated ROI-based keyword bidding SEM campaigns. Chet Hall

7 Ways to Help Amplify Your Organix Content Reach @4:15pm Do more than just boost your vanity numbers. Get tools and strategies to amplify your reach to get your content in front of more people. Michelle Held

The Rising Liability of Affiliates in the Online Industries @4:15pm Affiliates have been caught in the storm recently. Regulators start paying attention to them. The days of benefits without risks are gone. This session explains why this happened and how to tackle it.  Maayan M. Dana-Nir, Tal Itzhak Ron

Tuesday, January 9th

How Amazon Affects Affiliate and Online Sales @10am A  look at ways to work with Amazon which enhance brand awareness, increase online sales and help affiliates be more effective. Paul Schroader

7 Tips for Getting Advertisers to Throw Money at You @10:45am How do you become your advertiser’s one true love? How can you become so vital to their marketing mix that they will pay you whatever you want? This session will cover give you everything you need. Chris Whitling

Affiliate Must-Knows: Secrets to Tracking @2pm It’s getting more and more essential to have the right tools in order to maximize your revenue. This session focuses on how you can track multiple types of campaigns, and how new tools can help you! John Cody

Morning Routines, Mindfulness and Making Money @2pm I’ll show how a morning routine creates a platform for a productive day, how mindfulness can help you make better decisions, how motivation is BS and what really works, and resources to help. Mike Buechele

How to Generate Leads and Build Your Brand with Instagram @2pm In this session I will analyze my own personal Instagram account as a case study and how my team and I grew it organically and the opportunities and business that have resulted from it. Carolina Millan

The full agenda can be found here.

Connect with Chateau 20

Additionally, since Chateau 20 is based in Las Vegas, our team will be at ASW18. If you’d like to meet with any team members, contact them directly and schedule a time to connect.

  • Karen White, Founder and CEO (kwhite at chateau20.com)
  • Brandie Feuer, Director of Strategy (bfeuer at chateau20.com)
  • Lisa Riolo, VP of Operations and Special Projects (lriolo at chateau20.com)
  • Chris Park, Partner Relationship Manager (cpark at chateau20.com)
  • Tiffany Ponds-Kimbro, Publisher Development Manager  (tpondskimbro at chateau20.com)
  • Aaron Yeh, Digital Media Manager  (ayeh at chateau20.com)
  • Ashley Holyoak, Publisher Development Manager  (aholyoak at chateau20.com)

Important Affiliate Issues for 2018

 

It’s never  pleasant to think about legal issues and regulations that might adversely impact your affiliate business. But it’s absolutely necessary to keep on top of such laws and proposed legislation.

There are two big legal issues that have been ongoing over the several months (and more) and affiliates need to understand how they might be affected going into 2018.

Net Neutrality

On December 14, 2018, The Federal Communications Commission voted to dismantle rules regulating the businesses that connect consumers to the internet.The agency scrapped the so-called net neutrality regulations. Those rules prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or certain content. The federal government will no longer regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a utility, like phone service.

What This Means for Affiliates

The action reversed the FCC’s 2015 decision to have stronger oversight over broadband providers. And it grants broadband companies the power to potentially reshape Americans’ online experiences. Net Neutrality is the basic principle that prohibits internet service providers from speeding up, slowing down or blocking any content, applications or websites.

Under the new law, ISPs can now potentially slow down their competitors’ content or block political opinions that can’t afford to pay for preferential treatment. ISPs could also charge extra fees to content companies.

Critics of the law fear that Net Neutrality will not be good for small business owners, startups and entrepreneurs. These small business rely on the open internet to launch their businesses, create markets, advertise products and services, and reach customers. Net Neutrality proponents feel the need for an open internet to foster job growth, competition and innovation.

Telecom experts claim the companies could feel freer to come up with new offerings, such as faster tiers of service for online businesses willing and able to pay for it. Some of those costs could be passed onto consumers.

When it Takes Effect

It will take weeks for the repeal to go into effect, so consumers will not see any of the potential changes right away.

What You Can Do

The Performance Marketing Association crafted a letter to opposed the law and vows to fight it on behalf of online marketers that are represented by the trade group. 

Online Sales Tax

For more than a decade there has been a battle over the collection of online sales tax. The crux of the issue is that states want to force online retailers to charge sales tax to consumers. The tax would apply to purchases even if the retailer is not located in that state the buyer resides.

The argument against enacting such laws are that state legislators have no standing to impose taxes on a business where there is no nexus. Currently, consumers are required to track and remit that sales tax on their own taxes. However, few do. States argue they are losing much needed revenue generated from this sale tax.

What This Means for Affiliates

For affiliates, the impact would be that retailers would rather simply shutter their affiliate programs than deal with implementing the complex tax fees and necessary tracking. That means thousands of affiliates could be cut from a program if a states passes such a law. Affiliates would then lose their own revenue or maybe even be forced to shut down their affiliate businesses. If this happened, the states would actually lose money. That’s because affiliate business would no longer be contributing to the local economy and paying their own individual business taxes.

Recently, several online retailers (Wayfair, Overstock, and Newegg) filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court encouraging the Court not to review an earlier ruling from the South Dakota Supreme Court. That ruling prevents the state from enforcing a law that would give states more power to tax online retailers who don’t have a physical presence in those states. In October, the state of South Dakota petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision.

The South Dakota law would require out-of-state retailers that don’t have a physical presence in the state to collect sales tax from South Dakota customers and then remit those taxes to the state.

South Dakota’s case challenges the landmark 1992 Quill Corp. vs. North Dakota ruling. In that case, Quill, an office supplies catalog retailer, was not required to collect or remit sales tax in North Dakota because it didn’t have a physical presence there.

There is also proposed legislation that would make online sales tax a federal law. That solution is more palatable to affiliates because it would be a level playing field. A federal online sales tax would not likely have online retailers  closing their affiliate programs.

What You Can Do

  • Get educated on what is happening with legislation in your state. Several states already have passed such online sales tax laws.
  • Join the PMA to help fight state laws and stay abreast of ongoing developments.
  • Meet with your state and local government representatives and congressmen. Educated them on the negative effects such laws would have on your business.

 

What Chateau 20 Loves About the Holidays

The holiday spirit is infectious! And the best part of being part of a diverse team is sharing that joy and finding out about everyone’s holiday traditions. It doesn’t matter if you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day,  St. Lucia Day or Festivus, the Chateau 20 team wishes you peace, joy, love, and prosperity. 

Happy Holidays from the Chateau 20 team:

  • Karen White, Founder and CEO
  • Nina Merikan, CFO
  • Brandie Feuer, Director of Strategy
  • Lisa Riolo, VP of Operations and Special Projects
  • Chris Park, Partner Relationship Manager
  • Tiffany Ponds-Kimbro, Publisher Development Manager
  • Aaron Yeh, Digital Media Manager
  • Ashley Holyoak, Publisher Development Manager

We won’t tell you who on the Chateau 20 team has been naughty or nice, but you can find out who loves fruitcake (and their recipe). And learn what we love about the holidays.

Best holiday gift you’ve received?

Karen – So, I am dating myself here, but the best gift ever was my Atari Pong Game, circa 1972.  I was one of the first kids on the block to have one, and I recall playing with it for hours. Back and forth, back and forth. Good times.

Brandie – I love unique gifts. One year my Grandpa made me a stained glass jewelry box that I will always treasure.

Lisa – My love of gadgets started at age 12 when I received Simon, the electronic memory game. I loved that gift so much and have embraced gadgets ever since. Honestly, though, I genuinely like giving more. I love finding something that is appreciated.

Chris – Recently, I’d have to say my Masterbuilt Electric Smoker.  I use it all the time!

Tiffany  – There were two. My great-grandparents bought me a globe one year and I spent hours with it, learning the countries and capitals – thinking and dreaming about where I’d go and the people I’d see there. It helped give me a bigger scope than Cleveland, Ohio. I wanted to see it all and I still do. I also remember getting a Barbie makeup set when I was around 8 (1982). The best part was taking it to a sleepover/birthday party where all of us did makeovers, in baby pink and sky blue eyeshadow. It was hilarious.

[caption id="attachment_1229" align="alignleft" width="252"] She said, Yes![/caption]

Aaron –  It was my wife agreeing to marry me. I asked her on a Christmas Day.

Ashley –  I’ve had so many great gifts that I can’t really say which has been the best. But if I had to pick, I would say that my favorite gifts are candles. I can’t get enough!

 

 

 

Worst holiday gift you’ve received?

Karen – My mother once wrapped up a box of rocks in the prettiest big box under the tree as a gag gift.

Brandie – Anything you receive in a White Elephant Exchange is usually the worst.

[caption id="attachment_1225" align="alignright" width="300"] What could possibly go wrong?[/caption]

Lisa – I got back a gift I gave one year later from a friend. It kinda crushed me because I realized that a) I gave a gift that wasn’t a good fit and b) it was so bad my friend didn’t remember I was the original giver.

Chris – The worst gift was something I REALLY wanted. When I was young, I wanted these bouncing shoes. This must have been before toy safety was a consideration. Each shoe was giant metal springs sandwiched between 2 pieces of tin. You strapped them to your feet and were supposed to be able to bounce to incredible heights. I sprained an ankle after about 40 seconds and got several “told you so’s” from my parents.

Tiffany – I don’t really remember any holiday gifts as bad, honestly.

Aaron – A tub of squid jerky from my Chinese grandma. Gross!

Ashley – Last year, just before Christmas, my 7-year-old nephew passed away after suffering from a brain tumor since birth. It’s one of those things that is horrible no matter the time of year, but because it happened during the holiday made it a bit tougher for everyone.

Favorite holiday tradition?

Karen – Christmas Eve is all about food prep for my family. But after all the food prep is done, we all head out to Big Lots to pick up the half-off  Christmas ornaments for the next year. After that, we usually sit around laughing and talking and sipping Egg Nog. Nina and I still honor this tradition every year. We have been doing this for 30+ years.

Brandie – Home for the holidays.

[caption id="attachment_1223" align="alignleft" width="200"] Chris, Shelley, and a huge tree.[/caption]

Lisa – Holiday music runs a close second to (almost a tie with) the lights and decorations. But my favorite family tradition is that my immediate family gathers on Christmas Eve for Antipasti (all appetizers).

Chris – When my boys were little, I always got up before they did and made cinnamon buns. Once they got up, we waited for Grandma and Grandpa to arrive and then they tore into the presents.

Tiffany – My favorite holiday tradition is The Nutcracker. My mom and I went every year. I could dance the thing if I had to. It was an entire event. We dressed up and we would take the train downtown to Playhouse Square, which was beautiful. When I moved to Las Vegas I went to see it at the Smith Center, but it’s just not the same without her and a very heavy coat.  

Aaron – Matching pajamas for the whole family. We open them with the stockings on Christmas Eve so everyone matches for presents on Christmas Day. It’s adorably dorky!

Ashley – On Christmas Eve all of my relatives on my Mom’s side get together at one house (usually my Aunt’s home) for Christmas dinner. All of the kids play together, the adults laugh about old memories, then as it gets later we all sprawl out on the floor to watch movies until Santa comes.

How you give back during the holidays?

Karen – Giving back is one of the most important things to me and my family during the holidays. It used to be numerous turkey and ham giveaways that we would hand deliver for those in need of a helping hand. But the last three years, Nina and I usually find a family to adopt. We make sure that all the kids get the toys on their wish list, and we purchase gift cards at the grocery store to help out with their dinner. This year we are buying toys for kids in children’s services. There is a wish tree at my place, and each resident can pick a kids name off the tree that lists what they want for the holidays.

Brandie – I support Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth during the holidays. It’s easy to give back through their Amazon Wishlist.

Lisa – I donate throughout the year. And then around the holidays I do more spontaneous generosity -meaning bigger tips for service providers etc. Also I focus more on local organizations at this time of the year.

Chris – My wife Shelley and I donate to the Salvation Army food pantry.

[caption id="attachment_1228" align="alignright" width="266"] Giving back to the troops.[/caption]

Tiffany – I should do more, but I like to volunteer at my church.

Aaron – By preparing care packages for troops deployed overseas. My favorite memory of this was in 2013, my entire organization donated items and we ended up making and filling 49 stockings for an entire platoon. It was amazing.

Ashley – We normally donate gifts to Toys For Tots.

What’s on your holiday wish list?

Karen – Picture Frames. To please, please NOT let me overeat. And a cruise vacation.

[caption id="attachment_1227" align="alignleft" width="300"] On Brandie’s list.[/caption]

Brandie – Apple TV, Build Your Own Robot.

Lisa – I was not kidding when I told my family my only wish is for rain. Seriously. My area (Ventura, CA) did not get relief from drought conditions with the early 2017 rains. Now with the fires… well, I’m just asking for mudslides. So, maybe I need to rethink. On a personal front, I really don’t want anything. I’ll just be happy with spending time with family and friends.

Chris – I really don’t have much on my list. My birthday was on Black Friday, so I already got most of what I needed/wanted.

Tiffany – I’d love an espresso machine or a trip abroad (Prague or Vienna), but I don’t need any more “things”. Like, at all!   

Aaron – For my kids to stop growing up so dang fast. Holiday pajamas that I don’t feel dumb wearing year round (looking at you, 2016 Santa and candy canes). And a new coffee pot (coffee is life).

Ashley – A new laptop, my kids’ happiness, and for everyone to experience peace and love.

It’s just not the holidays without _____.

Karen – Coquito

[caption id="attachment_1232" align="alignright" width="300"] Gorgeous – until you have to shovel.[/caption]

Brandie – Grandpa’s Christmas cookies.

Lisa – Sparkling white lights in the town centers.

Chris – Family.

Tiffany – SNOW. Damn it!

Aaron – Pumpkin spice everything!

Ashley – Christmas lights!

Eggnog or fruitcake?

[caption id="attachment_1217" align="alignleft" width="300"]fruitcake recipe Karen’s Fruitcake recipe. Missing info: cook for 90 minutes.[/caption]

Karen – BOTH!! I am getting everyone fruitcake for the holidays. I found my recipe. 

Brandie – Never had either.

Lisa – If the eggnog is added to my latte, then eggnog. If the fruitcake is freshly baked and full of spice, fruitcake.

Chris – Neither.

Tiffany – Eggnog.

Aaron – Eggnog is a billion times better than fruitcake.

Ashley – Eggnog. Never tried fruitcake.

Are you a regifter?

Karen – Yes. Pretty sure I have done a few,  like a crystal clock and other houseware items which were not of my taste.

[caption id="attachment_1231" align="alignleft" width="290"] Recycling. Upcycling. Regifting.[/caption]

Brandie – I regift a lot of vendor chachkies as stocking stuffers for family. They love them!

Lisa – Nope.

Chris – Yep. Typically gift cards.

Tiffany – No.

Aaron – Nope. Not even once!

Ashley –  Yes, I have regifted! I received a bath set one year that, in my opinion, didn’t smell too good, so I gave it to my younger sister.

Favorite holiday movie?

Karen – Love Actually is my new favorite, with It’s a Wonderful Life coming in second.

Brandie – The Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas. It’s 60 days of cheesy Christmas movies.

[caption id="attachment_1244" align="alignleft" width="300"] Christmas Vacation. It’s a holiday classic.[/caption]

Lisa – By far my favorite full-length movie is It’s a Wonderful Life. I absolutely love the one scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Chevy Chase flips on the holiday lights and causes an power outage for the entire town. That made me laugh so hard I cried.

Chris – A Christmas Story. Christmas Vacation. It’s a Wonderful Life.

Tiffany – It’s a toss up between White Christmas and Home Alone. They’re so similar, right?

Aaron –  Die Hard. It’s A Wonderful Life is a very close second.

Ashley – Christmas Vacation. Every year my family gets together on Christmas Eve to watch movies and spend time together, and this movie is always a staple that everyone loves!

Rate your holiday spirit from 1 (a Grinch) to 10 (last name might be Claus)

[caption id="attachment_1222" align="alignright" width="300"] Karen not being a Grinch![/caption]

Karen – My middle name is Grinch during the holiday season. Having lost both parents, it takes me longer to get in the mood. Giving to others has certainly helped, but I am still a big fat 1 until about 12/23  with my sister pulling me along kicking and screaming.

Brandie – Does being excited about a full week of vacation count as a 10?!

Lisa – I pretend to be more Grinch like than I am. I am a solid 6 with moments of 8. I act like a 2.

Chris –  This year? Probably a 3, but hopefully it will improve as we get closer to the holiday.

Tiffany – Most years I’m about an 8. This year I’m holding at a 4 so far – sliding slowly into Grinch territory where I have NEVER before dwelt.

Aaron –  I am a natural 2 who has successfully learned how to be a 5. Kids change everything!

Ashley – I would say an 8. Mid-November is when the holidays begin. I love Christmas music, even though my husband refuses to listen to it until two weeks before Christmas.