Category : Blog

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.

 

Personalization Goes Hyper-Relevant

personalization hyper relevancePersonalization is considered the Holy Grail of online marketing. However, according to data from a new study, online marketers still haven’t found a way to balance consumers’ worries about data privacy with their desire to be catered to on a one-to-one basis.

While 44 percent are frustrated when companies fail to deliver relevant, personalized shopping experiences, nearly half (49 percent) are concerned about personal data privacy as they subscribe to intelligent services designed to understand and anticipate their needs. according to the 13th annual Accenture Strategy Global Consumer Pulse Research.

Specifically, 41% of US consumers said they ditched a company because of “poor personalization and lack of trust,” the study says. In financial terms, that’s a staggering $756 billion in lost retail and brand sales in the US this year. And, globally, it’s $2.5 trillion in lost sales, according to Accenture.

It doesn’t help that consumers are practically begging to be treated as unique individuals. They want to reap the rewards – discounts, convenience, better customer experience. But are simultaneously reluctant to give up personalized information over privacy concerns.

It’s a conundrum for online marketers. They have the seemingly herculean task of offering consumers a personalized experience. They are expected to anticipate consumer needs without seeming overly intrusive or creepy.

Intelligent Services

Meanwhile, technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and digital assistants becoming more sophisticated and mainstream. That has companies are creating new touchpoints, offerings and services that intelligently anticipate and flex to their customer’s precise needs. This offers a level of hyper-relevance not experienced before.

However, there is a telling example in the study. Forty-four percent of US consumers said they are frustrated when companies fail to provide relevant personalized experiences. Meanwhile, 49%  said they are concerned about personal data privacy. This is especially pertains to  “intelligent services” such as Amazon’s Echo or Google Home.

Nearly 36% of consumers said they use digital assistants. And almost 90% of those said they are satisfied with the experience. Yet,  40% said it can feel “slightly creepy” when technology starts to correctly read and anticipate their needs, according to the study.

Hyper-Relevance

For affiliate marketers the key is to create personalized website content to resonate with visitors. According to Liad Agmon of Dynamic Yield, this method is delivering more sales, revenue, and profit for the entire affiliate ecosystem. He notes that Dynamic Yield has seen automated personalization deliver a 100% increase in profit (not just sales!).

But to move further towards  ultimate personalization, Accenture is touting something called the hyper-relevance customer experiences as the next wave for  online businesses. However, hyper-relevance requires two things: more personalized data about the customers and the trust of customers.

The Accenture study says that to pivot to hyper-relevance, companies should consider:

  • Giving customers full control over their data – Organizations must become more transparent. Customers need full access to, and control over, their data which will demonstrate responsible stewardship and ethics. Furthermore, they must ensure the appropriate safeguards are in place to protect it.
  • Creating new customer value – Look beyond the traditional customer journey. Businesses must prioritize areas where they can dynamically deliver something that customers value, at the right moment every time.
  • Investing in precise insights – Invest in predictive analytics, Businesses need to collaborate with an ecosystem of partners to capture real-time customer insight, and mine data in new ways to understand their specific needs.

With new technologies and approaches, online marketers who thoughtfully consider the customer experience, will eventually solve the personalization problem and reap the rewards.

Holiday Shopping Online was Huge

online holiday shopping

If you’re a data junkie, you can rejoice at the glut of numbers that have come out over the last week. Market researchers have been tracking all things related to consumers online holiday shopping. Here’s everything you need to know about the results from online shopping for Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. Spoiler Alert: Mobile was a big deal!

Thanksgiving and Black Friday

  • Affiliate network sales from Black Friday were up 38% compared to the same day last year. (CJ Affiliate Network)
  • Across the board, consumers demonstrated a higher propensity to spend. The average order value for Thanksgiving came in at $180 — up $24 more than the average day for the month. (Criteo)
  • On Black Friday the number of online shoppers rose 3.5% compared with last year, and the number of purchases rose 12.5%.(Criteo)
  • About 115 million people visited online retail sites on Thanksgiving. (comScore)
  • Nearly 129 million people visited online retail sites on Black Friday, up 14% compared with last year. (comScore)
  • The average order value on Thanksgiving and Black Friday roseto $122, up from $120 in 2016. (Salesforce)
  • Email and ad engagement rates leaped in the week before Black Friday There was a 23% hike in sales on Thursday and Friday, compared with the prior year. (Rakuten Marketing)
  • Sales grew by 21% during the three-day period from Wednesday to Black Friday. (Rakuten Marketing)
  • There was an11% growth in purchases from Wednesday to Black Friday. (Rakuten Marketing)
  • Click-through rates rose by 154% and ad engagement rates by 111 % during the three-day period. (Rakuten Marketing)
  • Black Friday’s average order value jumped by 9%. The peak purchase time occurred at 2 p.m. on Black Friday. (Rakuten Marketing)
  • Thanksgiving Day purchases grew by 35%, and revenue grew by 28%. (Rakuten Marketing)

Mobile Led Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday

  • 56% of total online Black Friday traffic came from mobile devices, up from 43.4% last year. (Qubit)
  • 40% of transactions were completed on mobile devices on Thanksgiving Day. (Criteo)
  • Mobile revenue grew by 45%, purchases by 34% and average order value by 7% during Sunday to Friday of Thanksgiving week. (Rakuten Marketing).
  • Forty-six percent of all page views occurred on a mobile device during the week. (Rakuten)
  • 66% of orders made with a phone or tablet — up from 58% in 2016 (Shopify)
  • Mobile set a new record during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, representing 53.3% of visits — about 44.6% attributable to smartphones and 8.7% to tablets. (Adobe)
  • Mobile drove 39.7% of revenue — 29.8% from smartphones and 9.9% from tablets. Smartphone traffic specifically grew 21% year-on-year (YoY), while revenue coming from smartphones saw 41% growth YoY — a new record. (Adobe)
  • Purchases from mobile devices on Thanksgiving Day, and spending peaked online at 9pm EST, with 46% of all purchases occurring on mobile phones. (Criteo)

Cyber Monday

  • Shoppers spent $6.59 billion online on Cyber Monday compared with $5.65 billion last year, a 16.8% increase, making Cyber Monday the biggest U.S. online sales day. (Adobe)
  • Shoppers spent an average of $114.10 on Cyber Monday, up 7.4% from $106.24 last year. (BigCommerce)
  • Cyber Monday had 2.3 times (127.1%) more online shoppers than the average day in 2017, with 7.5 times (655.3%) more orders placed. (Qubit)

Mobile (Cyber) Monday

  • Revenue generated by smartphones accounted for 21.2%, or $1.40 billion, of online sales on Cyber Monday—also a record. (Adobe)
  • Mobile sales, which includes smartphones and tablets, generated $2.0 billion in sales, or 30.3% of overall revenue, and 47.4% of total traffic. (Adobe)

Online Travel by Numbers

online travelChateau 20 is thankful to work with so many amazing clients and affiliates in the travel and hotel space.

So, after you ponder whether or not to have that second slice of pumpkin pie and unbutton the top button of your pants, here are some articles about the online travel space that you can easily digest.

6 Articles You Need to Read

  1. Why Amazon, Google and Facebook are the Travel Space’s Biggest Threats
  2. Sojern Buys Ad-Tech Firm Adphorus to Better Compete on Facebook
  3. Airbnb Acquires Ad-Tech Startup AdBasis
  4. Distribution of Adults in the United States by Their Preference of Hotel Booking Online or Offline in 2017
  5. Internet Travel & Hotel Booking Statistics
  6. 65 Travel Statistics to Know about in 2017 & 2018

Affiliates Need to Consider the Brands’ Customer Service Rep

affiliate customer satisfaction

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

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

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

Satisfaction is Job 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Affiliate Business Planning for 2018

affiliate business plans for 2018

As an affiliate this may be your busiest time of the year. You’re finalizing holiday promotional efforts, executing on Q4 plans, and let’s face it – sometimes pushing just to keep on top of all the holiday marketing madness. But during all this holiday craziness, you also need to be thinking about planning for next year. Yes, 2018 will be here in just 2 short months.

Of course, you can simply head into the new year just doing what you’ve been doing. But the start of the year is a chance to evaluate what worked over the last 12 months, what didn’t, set new goals, and develop a plan for moving your business to the next level.

Having a yearly plan (or even a five-year plan) sets a clear path for success that can be adjusted as you go along. It also helps you prioritize. That means you can spend time more efficiently and rather than spinning your wheels.

Intensive Review Process

Data

Hopefully, you’ve been looking at all your data throughout the year and making adjustments as needed. If you haven’t been reviewing all of your data and looking at it year-over-year, month-over- month, you need to evaluate those numbers. This will give you a glimpse into the trajectory you’re on, and possible where you need to make changes. It will also provide some insight into setting percentage growth goals for the future.

It’s time to go deep and review all areas of your business – social media, conversions, earnings with each merchant, sponsorships, paid advertising, search, etc. For each of those areas, you’ll want to look at your ROI, and be sure you’re measuring the right things.

Processes

Streamlining how you do things is also worth reviewing. Look for ways to improve efficiencies – whether in terms of time or resources needed to perform specific tasks. What can be automated to save time? Are there tasks that can be outsourced? Additionally, think about how adding new functionality or setting goals will impact existing processes.

Forward Thinking

New Technologies

As you look ahead, you’ll want to contemplate any new technologies that might impact your business. Are there technologies or innovations that would improve your internal processes and run your business? What about ad technologies or marketing tools that make it easier to interact with customers, do retargeting, maximize your social media, etc.? Also look for tech that will improve the customer experience and increase conversions.

The Changing Marketplace

Additionally, it’s a good time to evaluate the overall landscape of your specific market. If you’re focused on apparel, look at data about how the market may have shifted including any changes in consumer shopping behaviors, changing demographics, areas that are underserved, and more. Think about how other factors such as the economic climate, social issues, etc. might change the market or present new opportunities.

Competitors

How do you stack up? Don’t focus on your rivals. But it doesn’t hurt to see what similar businesses are doing. Look at websites like Similarweb.com to get information about where competitors’ overall traffic, where their traffic is coming from,  bounce rates, etc. You can also look at their social media and see who they are engaging and how they are doing it. Have they broken into segments you’re not reaching? This can give you an opportunity to put new plans in place for

Set Goals

Have a Timeline

Come up with a realistic timeline for implementing all the new things you have planned. And set specific times to review those plans once they are place. Have specific goals in mind for what you plan on achieving. Is it  to sign up and be productive with a dozen new merchants? Is it to increase conversions by 20%? Whatever you opt to do, measure, review and adjust as you go on a regular basis.

Be Flexible

You should think of your plan as a set of guidelines – not an unchangeable set of rules. Keep your marketing plan where you can easily access it throughout the year. Write different marketing timelines on your calendar so that you know when to look again at your plan. Make changes to your plan as unforeseen events occur, and keep going.

A strong yearly business plan doesn’t have to be flawless from the start. It simply needs to be detailed enough to get you smoothly through another 12 months by incorporating your goals and methods for achieving them.

The Recipe for Affiliate Success

Recipe for affiliate success

Ever try and duplicate your favorite dish? Your mom gives you step-by-step instructions on how to make her famous apple pie. You find the recipe for the ultimate roasted chicken from your beloved local bistro. But when the cooking is done your creation just doesn’t taste like the original.

Or maybe you’ve tried to replicate one of the many beautiful creations on Pinterest. We’ve all seen the Pinterest fails.

So what went wrong? You used the same ingredients or products, measured with precision, and followed the directions to the letter.

Affiliate marketing can often feel like one of those cooking or DIY creative efforts. You follow all the best practices information, take the advice of experts, and try to duplicate what has been successful for others in the past. Yet you’re not immediately achieving the level of results you expected.

Getting Tactical

That doesn’t mean that using proven tips, tricks and techniques won’t yield results. Instead it means that following any single step for one part of your affiliate business doesn’t guarantee overall success.

For example, you can do everything right when it comes to creating the most effective landing pages that result in higher conversions. However, if you’re not driving traffic to those pages through a variety of methods – retargeting, social media, emails, etc. – you’ve only dealt with one part of a complicated, intertwined process.

Like any business, there are some universal guidelines and foundations that need to be in place for affiliate marketing success. But You need to tailor the tactical execution to your specific business. And there are  myriad of factors that need to be considered including the size of your business, your target demographic, the types of offers you are promoting, the type of affiliate your are (reviews, content, coupons, etc), your revenue model, the current market conditions, and evolving consumer behavior, and more.

According to Leigh Watson Healy, Chief Analyst at market research firm Outsell, it’s all about tactical execution when it comes to driving business growth. Having focus, gaining market share, building trust, innovating organically, and execution against best practices and benchmark norms are necessary.

Adding Your Unique Spice

Best practices are best practices for a reason. They work. They are professional procedures that are accepted or prescribed as being correct or most effective. And while following them provides a proven way to achieve goal, don’t discount the effectiveness of adapting them to fit your unique business.

Like a chef, putting your unique twist on things, can create a compelling creation that reflects your individuality and differentiates you from the competition. Any restaurant can have a mac & cheese dish on their menu. And for the most part they all use the same ingredients and techniques. But the one that adds bacon and then deep fries it into bite sizes morsels, has immediately set themselves apart.

The bottom line is that achieving success in affiliate marketing requires a holistic tactical approach. In the end, it’s hard to follow an exact recipe for success. Instead, is about adapting, innovating, evolving while using best practices as the foundation to build a successful affiliate business.

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Chateau 20 News & Happenings: #VegasStrong

vegas strong

Chateau 20’s headquarters and heart are firmly rooted in Las Vegas. The tragedy that took the lives of 58 people, injured 489, and impacted thousands on October 1, 2017, was a heart wrenching event that many are still struggling to process.

Now is a time for love and healing, and the Chateau 20 team remains focused on helping those affected. The team embodies #VegasStrong and is dedicated to supporting those in need in the wake of this senseless event.

If you, too, would like to help — here are some of the organizations that Chateau 20 hopes you will continue to support as Vegas seeks to emerge stronger, brighter, and more vibrant than ever before.

Donations

Las Vegas Victims Fund

Three Square

T-Shirts (100% of proceeds support victims)

Vegas Strong

Strong House Project

Make More Money: Build a Solid Foundation of Trust

Building trust

Online marketers who think the cries of “fake news” doesn’t apply to how they do business are very mistaken.

Establishing trust in the era of fake news (being called out on all political sides) is critical and getting more difficult – and not just for media outlets. Marketers and ecommerce players are experiencing a trickle down effect as fake news bleeds into so many facets of life, including online shopping.

Trust is Everything

However, with so much information available to people, it’s not just news stories. Everything from websites, blogs and more are  being viewed with growing skepticism. Consumers aren’t sure who to trust about anything online.

A big part of convincing people on the path to purchase is creating a sense of trust with potential buyers. This is especially important for new and upstart companies. But consumers are struggling to discern if websites have an agenda, if they are legitimate, if reviews are real, whether product recommendations really come from objective sources and actual testing, and other questions. Consumer skepticism is rampant.

Baymard’s Checkout Usability study reveals that 18% of users have abandoned a checkout flow during the last 3 months because they didn’t trust the site.

This is a big problem for internet marketers that are constantly competing for attention and dollars in an increasingly crowded online marketplace. Without consumer trust a brand can wither.

Traditional Methods are Eroding

In the past there were a variety of proven ways for marketers to foster trust. But those traditional methods are eroding and no longer as effective.

Paid Recommendations – Buyers now understand that influencer marketing (including so-called mommy bloggers, celebrities, and content bloggers with big audience reach) can be bought and paid for by brands with sponsored posts and run of site advertising.These bloggers are required by the FTC to disclose if they are paid by a brand and if they make money for promoting or recommending products. And while most bloggers are adamant they wouldn’t recommend a product/service they don’t believe in, the financial compensation from the brand can taint that endorsement for some consumers.

Media Mentions – In the past, highlighting all the places your product or service received a mention in the press, was a good way to foster trust. Many brands would have (and still do) a section on their website – maybe even showcased on the homepage – where they would gather all their accolades and present them to visitors as a way of touting legitimacy. Having a third-party saying positive things about your company was a well-proven way to build trust with consumers.

However, the effectiveness of that tactic is lessening. Using media mentions on your website or in marketing efforts (such “Appeared in the NY Times”  or “As Seen on CNN” or “Reviewed by whateverwebsite.com”) no longer carries the same weight as many people question the basic legitimacy of many media outlets – both in print and online. In fact, there can be negative connotations of associating with some media, depending on the target demographics of your product or service.

Reviews – There’s also an air of distrust around reviews based on evidence of fake reviews on Amazon and Yelp. Until last October, Amazon permitted so-called “incentivized reviews,” whereby reviewers were given free or discounted products in return for reviews, so long as the reviewer made the arrangement clear. However, after incentivized reviews started flooding the site, many clearly fraudulent, Amazon banned them for the vast majority of products.

Tactics That Still Work

There’s still credibility in some traditional trust methods such as trust logos (Google Trusted Store, BBB Accredited, TRUSTe) that convey trust through business authenticity. As well as Secure Socket Layer (SSL) seals  including Norton, Thawte, Trustwave, Geotrust, Comodo, etc., that denote trust through technical security.

Additionally, highlighting partnerships with businesses you work with engenders trust by association with recognized, established  brands. This old chestnut continues to foster trust because people will make the mental leap that if you are partnered with Apple or Microsoft or Cuisinart and those are respected brands, your business must also be trustworthy.

What’s Next?

So, with some traditional trust methods declining, the future is still in flux as to what will be the most effective tactics for creating trust.

  • Social recommendations – Social circles (from only friends, family and direct social connections) continue to be given more weight in purchasing decisions and establishing trust. People are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend, according to a report by Nielsen
  • New tools – A handful of new tools and plug-ins are coming out to allow brands to show peer reviews and mentions in real-time on Facebook and other social platforms. Because shoppers can see real-time reviews and actually verify the reviews are coming from a real person, it could equate to more trust for brands.
  • Artificial intelligence – AI will be used by many brands to help customers with everything from finding products to providing customer service. If these bots can effectively solve customer problems (and that’s still being determined), customers may find more effective customer service fosters increased trust.
  • Increased personalization – Like relationships in real life, trust is built over time. Better tools for creating a more personalized experience should help brands develop trust with customers.

Regardless of what form it takes – tools, better service, more verified reviews – creating trust with customers is a foundation of marketing that can’t be ignored and must be in place for success.