Category : Blog

Promoting Spring Break is Big for Affiliates

travel affiliates spring breakIf you’re a travel affiliate you know that seasonality can definitely impact your business. But affiliates promoting travel-related offers now have a new season to look forward to  – Spring Break.

Over the last few years, Spring break has officially become its own seasonal occurrence and promoting it can be big business. IBISWorld estimates that Spring Breakers spent $1.8 billion in 2017, boosting revenue for travel and hospitality industries in the United States.

Of late, consumers are more focused on taking a break and getting away than searching for a specific destination. In the past Spring Break has primarily been associated with rowdy college kids partying in warm climate locations such as Daytona Beach, Florida and Cancun, Mexico.

Spring Break began in the 1930’s as a vacation period in early spring at universities and schools, However, it now includes time off for all educational levels from kindergarten to college. It’s also often known as Easter vacation, Easter holiday, April break, Spring vacation, mid-term break, study week, reading week, reading period, or Easter week. And while Spring Break is mostly about shaking off the winter chills in a warm climate, it’s more about just taking a needed and scheduled break.

So here are some ways that travel affiliates can make hay during Spring Break:

Go Big for Spring Break

Just as you would other seasonal travel times like Christmas and Thanksgiving travel, be sure to group offers together. Having all offers in one place under a single creative on your home page can help drive sales. It also streamlines the search process for consumers who aren’t sure what they want to do over the break. 

Highlight Top Destinations

The leading booking engines will send out lists of top destinations. Be sure to highlight offers for those popular destinations. Think about having your own list of top 10 or 25 Spring Break destinations to draw in consumers.

According to Booking.com these are the top destinations for 2018 spring break

  • Atlanta
  • Atlantic City
  • Cancún
  • Clearwater Beach
  • Corpus Christi
  • Daytona Beach
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Key West
  • Las Vegas
  • Miami
  • Miami Beach
  • Monterey
  • Myrtle Beach
  • Nashville
  • New Orleans
  • Ocean City
  • Orlando
  • Palm Springs
  • Panama City Beach
  • Playa del Carmen

Think Beyond Fly and Flop

With Spring Break becoming more popular beyond just college partiers, you need to think about other travelers. There are families, baby boomers, and millennials. Many of those groups aren’t looking to fly to a warm beach destination and just soak in the sun. Beach destinations remain popular, but travelers are also using spring break to explore Europe, Asia and other parts of the world.

Additionally, many travelers want to balance relaxation with experiences. That can mean promoting cultural immersion tours, backpacking adventures, yoga retreats and spas, as well as wine tasting tours and more.

Think Inside the (Batter’s) Box

Often there are other annual seasonal events that correspond with Spring Break – like Spring Training. There are millions of baseball fans that are devoted to their teams. And promoting offers for destinations in Florida and Arizona where all the Major League Baseball team have training facilities, is a good way to draw in more travelers. Having a special Spring Training page and listing hotels and accomodations near each team’s Spring Training field is a good idea.

Remember Not Everyone Wants Sun

While beach and sunny destinations are hugely popular, there are a lot of travelers that relish the chance to hit the slopes in the spring. There’s still plenty of great skiing out West in Colorado, Nevada and California. In addition, many East Coast ski resorts are still experiencing perfect skiing conditions. 

Pound the Pavement

Not everyone taking a Spring Break will be flying. Some folks use the break to travel by car. Catering to these road warriors is well worth your time. Be sure to promote these offers under your Spring Break umbrella but have a separate page for road trips. You can offer links to driving maps, local attractions and promote festivals or events as well.

With Spring Break firmly establishing itself as a seasonal event, it’s important for travel affiliates to make the most of the time period. So, start establishing some solid promotional plans that can act as a foundation for you to repeat every year.

Get Unstuck from Your Routine

shake u your routine and get unstuckIt’s good to shake things up every once in while. And that includes your work routine.

Maybe you feel like you’re stuck in a rut. Or not as productive as you’d like. Or perhaps you just need something new to get you inspired and motivated.

Having a routine is often the key to being productive – especially if you’re affiliate and working at home. But sometimes a routine can feel like a rut. You’re tackling that to-do list like a boss, but every now and again it feels like simply going through the motions. You’ve developed processes and put systems in place that make you efficient. But after awhile it’s like the movie Groundhog Day. If you know that feeling, it might be time to change up how you approach work on daily basis.

And while having a routine might make you more efficient, often it can lead to being stuck working in your business rather than on your business.

Here are some ways to shake up your routine:

Create a New Schedule

If you wake up at the same time each day and do the same tasks in a same order, try switching it up. Instead of heading straight for the home office when you wake up, hit the gym or go for a walk. Maybe you normally work at your desk for lunch. Instead try scheduling a lunch meeting with a friend or business contact.

Additionally, think about how your get through your daily to-list and how you can build in time for working on bigger picture issues. That might mean designating one day or half a day each week to just thinking about expansion, implementing new strategies, or developing a plan for future growth.

Change Locations

If you always work in a same location, try picking one day a week to work elsewhere. Maybe it’s a cafe, or a co-working space, or even another room of the house. Being physically located in a different environment takes your brain off auto-pilot. You never know what ideas your brief work hours in a new space might inspire.

Build in Flexibility

Being over-scheduled or having a monster to-do list, puts you in a state of constantly moving quickly to complete tasks in specific order and on time. It also means you have no time to just let your mind wander or to think about other issues. You’re simply in get-stuff-done mode.

Try pairing down on the number of must-do items. Having some breathing room and focusing only on your top priorities for the day or week will give you some flexibility in your schedule. It also means that if something important comes up, or there is an unscheduled interruption, you’re entire day won’t be thrown off course.

Get Creative – Literally

Take time out to be creative. Either do an art project or build something with no reason or obligation to do the project except to be creative. When you’re focused on something that uses another part of your brain, you often come up with solutions to other problems. It’s also good for your mind to relax and recharge and creative activities allow for that.

Learn a New Skill

Make a point of learning a new skill unrelated to your business or work. It can be anything – meditation, a craft, CPR  – whatever is of interest. Incorporating “practice” time will unstick the stuck.

Network

It an be invorgating to spend time with colleagues or peers. This is especially true if you’re isolated by working from home. So, whether it’s planning a once a week lunch with a different person each week or attending a local business meet-up, it’s good to interact with others. If making it out of the home office is overwhelming or not practical, you can try starting a mastermind group via phone or over the internet. Or think about trying to set up a call with one new person each week to talk about business opportunities.

Additionally, not every networking opportunity needs to be focused specifically on your business or industry. Often talking with people in other areas of business will spark on idea. You’ll also likely find that others face many similar challenges of running a business. They might have some good strategies for you. Or, at least, you can commiserate.

Find Help

If you’re in a financial position to hire someone, that will certainly help shake up your routine. Delegating daily tasks to others frees you up to think about growing your business. Instead of being mired in the day-to-day, your valuable time can be spent on bigger issues that could earn you more money. However, when hiring anyone, make sure to have clear systems in place and provide employees with the tools, resources, and instructions to independently complete their tasks. You don’t want overseeing every move of a new employee to be added to your daily to-do list.

Altering your current routine can spark innovation and efficiency. It will probably take a while to get accustomed to the new normal, but once you do, you’ll be firing on all cylinders. However, remember that your new routine may also eventually turn into a rut. So, you might want to think about shaking things up once a year or every 18 months.

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)