Tag : affiliate marketing

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.

Branding is Key for Affiliates

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

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

Size Doesn’t Matter

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

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

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

affiliate branding is keyBuilding a Brand

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

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

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

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

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

Establish Trust/Credibility

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

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

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

Put the Customer First

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

Be Authentic

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

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

Crisis Response for Small Business Leaders

By Lisa Riolo

crisis management

It’s Monday morning, October 2, 2017. How do I respond to everyone today? How do I lead on a day like this? Because today will be different than most.

Our agency is headquartered in Las Vegas. Several of our clients are also in Las Vegas. The community is suffering. We’re all upset. We keep reassuring family and friends that we’re “safe.” But are we ok? We again check our social media feeds hoping to understand what happened last night. We’re exhausted.

This past Monday involved tragedy, heartbreak and fear. Again. It wasn’t the first time our screens were filled with stories that overwhelm. Just weeks ago it was not one, not two, but three epic hurricanes halting business as usual. And there will inevitably be future days that challenge our ability to perform.

Leadership in business is hard during times of intense distress. The people around us react in unpredictable ways; they’re fragile and sensitive. A well-intended comment may ignite unexpected anger and accusation: You did what?! An ordinary request is suddenly totally unreasonable. Plus, those same inconsistencies happening around us, are also happening within us–making us off kilter, too.

So, how do we proceed with our professional obligations? When do we get back to normal? What is (and what’s not) appropriate?

There isn’t a right-right answer. Nor is this post intended to spell out step-by-step what to do in a crisis. Partly because a response to hardship may call for the exact opposite of telling others how to act or what to think. A morning like this past Monday’s is less about expressing opinion or giving advice and more about acknowledging what the people around us are experiencing.

Acknowledgment is Key

By listening and responding to our customers, our partners, our vendors, we’re letting them know they’re not invisible. Acknowledging their responses to a tragedy–without trying to ‘fix’’ things–is a great way to react. On days when we are dealing with so much human tragedy, we might want to eliminate big proclamations and directives. Or avoid comments that begin with “You should” or “Here’s what I think…”

Chateau 20’s Chris Park put together a thoughtful message on behalf of one of our Vegas-based clients that was sent to affiliates and partners. It involved a request to pause any paid ads or promotions for one day. Chris’ words struck the right tone. He emphasized people first and then shared our client’s request. When I read what he wrote, I  immediately felt like I’d just gotten an understanding pat on the back.

Another recipient came back with a very different reaction to that same email. Instead of a comforting gesture, their response felt like a slap. Maybe I misunderstood their reply? My first thought was to confront that affiliate. Fortunately, our founder and CEO, Karen White cautioned everyone to let the apparent insult go.

I still considered logging in to expire that affiliate’s insertion order. But even without Karen’s good advice, I probably wouldn’t have acted on those thoughts. It’s better to pause in times of stress. I inhale a little deeper and exhale slowly. I listen more carefully. I consider other perspectives and plausible alternatives to what just happened.

But I am not perfect.

Even when making a concerted effort to be on time, I’m rarely punctual. So me saying I was late for everything on Monday means I was super late. I was also impatient. And tired. And frustrated with everyone and nobody in particular. I kept forgetting to ask “How are you today?” which was all that mattered. All day I felt not myself.

Then I remembered THIS leader recognizes when she too is experiencing the same heartbreak as her clients, and team members and neighbors. We behave differently on days like Monday. And that is okay. We just do the best we can.

There are no best practices for leading your business during a crisis or national tragedy–except to simply acknowledge our shared pain with kindness and grace, and patience.  

Selling Travel as The Ultimate Holiday Gift

Selling Travel as a Holiday GiftAffiliates focused on promoting travel as a holiday gift face some unique challenges. But they also have a good opportunity to cash in as they ramp up for the holiday season. By focusing on the experience, minimizing buyers perceived hurdles, and offering flexible options, travel affiliates can make the holiday very merry.

The Challenges

Selling travel to an individual using it for themselves is much easier than selling it to someone who is buying it for another person. When buying travel as a gift, potential buyers may have some concerns. It’s likely that most hurdles involve the complex logistics that surround travel due to strict booking requirements and current security regulations.

As a travel affiliate you’ll need to address those challenges head on (locking in specific dates, the cost, choosing the right destination, etc.). This will help assure buyers that the gift of travel will be the ultimate present and not an expensive mistake.

Sell Experiences

The idea of giving a trip, vacation or even a staycation at a local hotel,  as a gift is a good one. Increasingly, people value experiences over material things. Travel is often recalled as an “extraordinary experience” just below life’s major milestones, according to a study on happiness done by researchers at Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania in 2013. More importantly, experiences like trips are far better remembered over time than material gifts and get a rose-colored patina with the retelling of memories, found Cornell University researchers in a 2014 paper aptly titled “We’ll Always Have Paris.”

Using language that assures the buyer they will be providing a memorable experience for the recipient is key. You want the buyer to know they are giving a unique experience. It’s one that may be a dream gift or even one that lets the recipient cross an item off their bucket list. That’s priceless.

Put Flexibility First

The biggest issue with buying travel for someone else is often being locked into specific dates, destinations and other things that once determined cannot be changed or carry a hefty price for the recipient to modify. Travel affiliates can avoid this by offering open ended options. These can include gift cards and vouchers. Most hotels, airlines, cruise lines offer gift cards that will allow recipients to book at their convenience.

Think About Themes

It’s the time of year when gift givers are searching online. Having Holiday Travel Gift Guides can help you get noticed as well as offer great suggestions for potential buyers. Be creative in curating these gift guides. Think Girls Getaways, Dream Vacations. Family Fun, For the Wine Lover, Best Travel for Empty Nesters, Bucket List Trips, Adventure of a Lifetime. You probably already have some of these lists, but putting a gift giving spin on them with seasonal graphics could prove to be a powerful motivator for buyers.

Selling Travel as a Holiday GiftSell Around Travel

Travel affiliates should also consider promoting gifts that go with travel such as guide books, luggage, travel accessories, etc. Because giving someone a trip or a vacation as a gift most likely involves a gift card and there’s not much for the recipient to unwrap. Having a physical present such a travel guide to the destination or a new carry on bag, can be a great way to have a themed present.

Offer a Variety of Price Points

Travel is an expensive gift, but as an affiliate you can promote a range of items and experiences at different price points. Even if someone can’t afford to send their parents to Barcelona, they could send them to a luxury spa at a swanky local hotel. Or those shoppers who know that someone is going on a trip could contribute to the experience by getting them a gift certificate for a local attraction or day tour. Additionally, if you know someone will be vacationing or travels frequently, you could purchase a membership to a travel service such as Medjet that offers comprehensive medical coverage and transport to a hospital in the event of emergency.

Be a Resource

As an affiliate you naturally want to promote offers that make you money on commissions. However, it’s also important to be viewed as helpful and knowledgeable. You don’t need to monetize everything on your site. Including links to things such as online passport services, Honeyfund (where people can contribute to a couple’s honeymoon fund), or services like Clear (for no-hassle TSA airport security check-ins).

Using Social to Sell Visuals

Using social media platforms that rely heavily on visuals is also a perfect way to promote travel as a gift. Be sure to put all your holiday gift guides on your Pinterest Boards and on your Instagram feed. Images are powerful and a great motivator – especially for purchasing travel.

Naturally, you’ll also want to do all the basic things associated with having your affiliate site in tip-top shape – optimizing landing pages, being mobile ready, readying holiday homepage promotions. Those efforts along with also taking some of the extra steps to aggressively promote travel as gift should make for a successful and lucrative holiday season.

Meet the Team: Tips for Effective Communication and Maximum Productivity

Affiliates often operate as solopreneurs. Or perhaps, they have some help in the form of virtual employees or contractors that work remotely. It can be isolating to work alone – even if you have co-workers in other locations. Some of the biggest challenges of working at home include finding effective methods for communicating and being productive.

We understand. Chateau 20’s team of experts are spread across the U.S. Everyone approaches working at home differently. What works for one person, may not work for everybody. But here are some tips that help our team stay engaged and maximize productivity.

tips for communication and productivity

COMMUNICATION

It can be hard to interact with others when you work alone. Luckily, there are so many tools and technology that can help facilitate communications. There are also plenty of proven tactics that can make communicating with remote co-workers, partners, and peers more satisfying and more effective.

Karen White, Founder and CEO: I think the biggest failure in communication with others, is that our first go to for most folks is email.  Two rules I follow: If the discussion requires more than three sentences to discuss, I move to hop on the phone.  If the communication requires less than three sentences, I use email or text.

Brandie Feuer,  Director of Strategy: I’ve recently become a fan of Slack. It took a minute, but when you start using it, it’s awesome to chat daily with people on your teams or that you’re working with. I’m also a big believer in face time and try to video conference in whenever possible. I also love people who can make email conversations fun and have a knack for always inserting the perfect LOL gif.

Chris Park, Partner Relationship Manager: Telephone. Email. Text. Skype. Instant messaging. There are SO many ways to keep in contact these days, I try to keep tabs on how each contact prefers to hear from me. By doing so, I can expect quicker and better interactions. I’ve learned that with some contacts, a text or IM is answered relatively immediately, while emails take days or weeks for a response, if at all. It’s also beneficial to keep track of where contacts are located so you don’t call them early in the morning, or late at night. You used to be able to simply check the area code, but with people taking their cell phone numbers with them, now, that is no longer reliable.

Lisa Riolo Vice President of Operations and Special Projects: My best communication tip involves a set of questions–mostly related to the phone – that I use to facilitate effective conversations. I learned from a realtor friend to always ask: is now (still) a good time to talk? Give people the option to express if they can’t give you their full attention. I prefer not having the conversation if the other person feels as if they’re stuck, if it wasn’t scheduled, or ambushed. I’d rather set the moment as well-timed and we are both ready.  

Years ago I replaced “do you have any questions” with “what questions do you have?” It gives people permission to ask. I do this during conference calls, training sessions, etc.

The third question is “how do I help?” This tends to focus a conversation and moves thinking toward a solution or path forward. Sometimes I phrase this question differently: what do you need from me? Is there an opportunity here we aren’t seeing?

I think there is value in collaboration and discussion. Open ended questions facilitate a dialogue. So the second and third questions on this list are designed to help information flow.

Tiffany Ponds-Kimbro, Publisher Development Manager: I like to look for points of similarity, whether it’s personal or professional. It really helps to break the ice and get others to open up. People tend to trust those who are more like them. And trust can foster honest, candid communication.

tips for communication and productivity

PRODUCTIVITY

With no one looking over your shoulder, it can be hard to remain self-motivated and productive. If you’re working at home, there can be so many distractions. It’s crucial to find out what works for you and then create a routine that boosts your productivity.

 

Karen White: My Smartphone (iPhone 6 Plus) is my #1 communication tool. It would be the kiss of death for me to not be able to use it.  I keep a running log of “To Do” tasks in my notes.  I set priority/rank to tasks, as I jot them down.  Each morning I identify my top three priority items of the day, and I determine how much time is needed to complete them.  Once completed, I identify the next three priority items.  Each morning, my priority might change from the day before, but I never concern myself with the idea of trying to complete my entire “to do list” or all the items on the list. 

Brandie Feuer: I’ve really spent the last few years figuring out when I am my best self for certain things and work to structure my day around that as best as possible. For example, my creative brain turns on around 7pm. I kick ass at analytics between 9:30-11am. And I am a waste of space around 3pm. If I can do things in these buckets then I’m 10x more productive and efficient. For example, if I tried to brainstorm in the morning, it would be unfun, painful and take me a good 60 plus minutes to come up with an idea. But, if I brainstorm after 7pm, I’m jazzed and can knock out a great idea in 15 minutes.

The other thing I’m a big believer in – the Post It Note To Do List System. I make myself a Post-It Note of To Dos every day. Usually only 3 things fit on a Post It Note and they are BIG things. I believe that once you knock those things out, you’re good for the day. If you’re working from home, it’s an incentive to get things done or figure out ways to be productive. I can’t shut down until those 3 things are done, whether it takes me 3 hours or 10 hours. It’s also a way to prioritize your workload. If your tasks can’t fit on a Post It Note or they’re not in your top 3, then really ask yourself, ‘Why?’. If the task isn’t important enough to make it to your list, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. And, if you do think it should be on your list, then what do you need to remove from your priorities to make it happen?

I’m not always 100% at this, but another productivity tip that I work towards is “Be Here Now.” Whether you’re working on a task, in a meeting or on a call, really be present in the moment. When your mind is divided, it’s unfair to the other people in the meeting and it’s unfair to yourself and your work. Multitasking is not always the best. One app that helps you practice this is Headspace (another thing I’m a big fan of!)

Chris Park: I have a dedicated office space with a real door that keeps my officemates out (a yellow lab and miniature schnauzer) when I need it to be quiet. I also get up at the same time each morning, get ready to “go to work”, and then drive into town to get a cup of coffee. I did that every morning when I didn’t work from home, so it keeps me in the same pattern of going to work in the morning.

Lisa Riolo: My Not To Do List is as important as my To Do List. This approach helps me manage competing priorities, and make deliberate decisions about what actions are most or least valuable. I also recognize when items on the To Do list aren’t getting checked off. They might have to go on the Not To Do. I am forced to acknowledge when something is just not happening.

I also walk when I talk. Rather than sitting through every call, I realize a lot of conversations don’t require me being on the laptop. So I get up and start walking around the block. The fresh air and activity helps me maintain a higher level of energy, which keeps me productive longer.

Additionally, I Unsubscribe. It’s too easy to get bogged down by info overload. So quit pulling the info in. Just go get what you want when you want it. Stop opening the emails – just Unsubscribe.

Tiffany Ponds-Kimbro: I used to do it everyday when I worked in a corporate setting and stopped once I started working from home – a brain dump first thing in the morning. Some things I write down and some I add to the Notes section of my phone. It also helps to distance me from whatever may be going on in the house (the people). My other productivity key is music. It’s usually contemporary jazz instrumental.  It helps me stay on an even keel even when I’m about to lose it, COMPLETELY. Instrumental is best because then I can’t sing the words that may distract me from actual linear thought.

‘Tis the Season for Affiliates to Start Holiday Marketing

Affiliates Holiday PrepAffiliates should be in the process of finalizing their holiday marketing plans. Ideally, you started planning early and are now ready to execute on those plans.

Here are some things affiliates should be doing now.

Get an Early Start

The most important step toward taking advantage the holiday season is getting an early start. Retailers often start their planning as early as June or July. For affiliates, this means that keeping on top of retailers you work with to ensure you know what they have coming. Affiliates should have their holiday campaigns up and running by October. The National Retail Federation reports that over 40 percent of people plan to begin their shopping by October, with over 12 percent planning to begin before September. Getting an early start increases the chances of capturing early birds.

Leverage Paid Placements

During the holidays retailers are looking for opportunities to reach new audiences or target specific demographics. This is good news for affiliates. Even if you don’t have huge traffic numbers. Having an engaged, loyal following in a specific niche can mean retailers looking for paid placements may contact you. But you don’t have to wait for them. Develop a hit list and reach out to those you think would be a good fit for your audience. Have a rate card ready that includes pricing, positions that are available and size of ads. Also have a terms sheet to formalize the agreement.

Maximize Major Dates

The holidays are comprised of much more than Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the week leading up to Christmas. Of course, those are huge, but the season has developed some other major days and periods that can also be lucrative.  

  • Singles Day (November 11th)
  • Thanksgiving (November 23rd)
  • Black Friday (November 24th)
  • Small Business Saturday (November 25th)
  • Cyber Monday (November 27th)
  • Giving Tuesday (November 28th)
  • Green Monday December 11th)
  • Free Shipping Day (December 15th)
  • Super Saturday (December 23rd)
  • Boxing Day (Canada) (December 26th)

Be Mobile Savvy

Expanding digital channels, such as mobile and social media, have added to the immense opportunities the holidays provide. In 2016 mobile accounted for 50.3 percent of all ecommerce traffic, surpassing desktop traffic for the first time ever. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise 38 percent of shoppers  say they will not return to a website if it’s not mobile optimized. If your affiliate site isn’t ready for mobile shoppers, you will lose out. According to CJ’s Affiliate’s 2017 Holiday Intelligence Report, mobile sales in CJ’s global affiliate network jumped 21 percent last holiday season, giving mobile commerce a 30 percent share of total holiday sales.

Get Optimized

The good news is that with just a few simple adjustments you can improve your holiday conversions. On landing pages, be sure the value proposition of any product you’re promoting is front and center. Highlight all the features and specifications, as well as the problem the product addresses (if applicable). And don’t forget to include multiple images. Including images on landing can improve conversions by 161%, according to Hubspot. You can also consider providing user reviews, which increases trust about the brand.

Promote Free Shipping

The cost of shipping can make or break your sale. According to a recent UPS Pulse survey, free shipping was deemed the second most important factor for shoppers when purchasing online. And a whopping 93 percent of shoppers take action for free shipping. So, if you’re promoting a product and the retailer is offering free shipping, let people know up front.

Finalize Gift Guides

Many holiday shoppers search terms such as Hottest Toys for Christmas, Gifts for Co-Workers, Most Popular Teen Gifts. Having gift guides in a variety of categories will put you front and center for those searching. It also allows you to promote a variety product together and gets potential buyers to stay on your site longer. Thus, increasing the chance of a purchase. So, no matter your niche, create as many gift guides as possible and promote them heavily on your homepage and through your social media channels. And be creative. You don’t have to just have the Best Gifts for Tween Girls. Think about offbeat and creative curated lists as well. For example, Gifts to Help Tweens Unplug or The Must-Have Cool Tween T-Shirts.

Don’t Forget the Procrastinators

There will always be last minute shoppers. Make sure to have some gift card options for those procrastinators. You could also include travel vouchers as well as memberships to food and wine clubs.  If you work with online retailers with a brick-and-mortar component, you can also tout in-store pickups as way to entice last minute shoppers.

Starting immediately and crafting your campaigns to run over a longer period of time enables affiliates to improve their chance of overall holiday success.

5 Ad Blocker Workarounds for Publishers

5 Ad Blocker Workarounds for Publishers

Consumers feel bombarded by intrusive ads when they go online. That’s because advertisers and publishers have become more savvy about attempting to effectively target, deliver and track their messages in order to get consumers to make a purchase. But fed up consumers are striking back by installing ad blocking software. As a result, more than a quarter of US internet users will block ads this year – up from 16 percent in 2014, according to eMarketer.  

And while there are no signs of ad blocking slowing down, there are some things that publishers can do to combat this growing trend.

For more than a two decades, ads on websites have enabled publishers to offset costs while allowing users to view free content. With the proliferation of ad blocking software, which allows users to bypass viewing ads, this unspoken deal is at risk.

So how can affiliates, who make money by promoting offers from advertisers, get around this dilemma?

Native Advertising

One solution to the ad blocking problem is native advertising.

Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.

When done well, native advertising is non-intrusive, but also clearly states when content is sponsored. This lets publishers remain honest and transparent with their readers. It also lets content affiliates (like bloggers and reviewers) establish authority and trust. Content affiliates can focus on personal experiences with products that resonate with their audience.

This approach not only conveys a lot more information than a banner ad, but customers are also more receptive to it, according to a study by Sharethrough.

  • Consumers looked at native ads 53 percent more frequently than display ads.
  • Native ads registered 18 percent higher lift in purchase intent and 9 percent lift for brand affinity responses than banner ads
  • 32 percent of respondents said the native ad “is an ad I would share with a friend or family member” versus just 19 percent for display ads.

Publishers are also using other strategies to fight ad blocking. They range from trying to convince users to stop doing it to focusing on improving the poor user experiences that led to it in the first place.

Here are some other workarounds:

Building Paywalls – Since ad blocking is easy to identify with JavaScript, publishers could easily deploy paywalls to those users. So, rather than seeing video or display ads, those using ad blocking software will have to pay to view content. This has worked for some big content publishers. However, PageFair, which provides anti-ad-blocking solutions, says that 74 percent of US ad blocking users polled in November 2016 leave websites when faced with an ad block wall.

That could be problem for affiliates. Since the intent of affiliates is to earn a commission by promoting retailer’s products, they want to drive more traffic – not turn off visitors. However, there is no published data or research that shows how paywalls  work for affiliates (or if any affiliates have even tried this option).

Ask and Educate – Some publishers have asked their users to whitelist their sites in the blocking software. These messages appeal to consumers’ sense of fairness and their understanding that ads are how publishers pay the bills. But users will only listen to these pleas if they feel the pain of having to pay for the content. Still, the content must be compelling enough that users are willing to take the action to whitelist the site.

Ad Blocker Payoffs – Some industry watchers (including the IAB) have called this a form of ransom. Nevertheless, big players such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon are currently paying hefty fees (some reports say the fees are equivalent to 30 percent of the additional revenues those sites would make from being unblocked) to whitelist their ads.

Permission/Incentive Advertising – Many publishers are setting up rewards program that allow users to earn points and rewards for voluntarily allowing third parties to deliver targeted ads based on user data. Through incentives, ads that were once considered annoying may be more relevant and tolerated.

Ad blockers are a challenge that publishers and advertisers will likely be facing for a long time to come. Still, affiliate marketers that are invested in producing meaningful content that engages customers and allows them to control their marketing experience, will continue to succeed.

Chateau 20: Meet the Team – Chris Park

We’re excited to announce Chris Park joined Chateau 20 as our new Partner Relationship Manager. Chris is not only a 17-year veteran of affiliate marketing, he’s a darn fun guy. We caught up with Chris and asked him to tell us what he’s passionate about.  

Chris Park

C20: Tell us 3 things you love to do when not working?

Chris:  I love to spend time with my wife visiting our children. Shelley and I are empty-nesters now, so we enjoy traveling to visit our children. We have a son in Vermont, a daughter in Ohio, a daughter in Florida, a son in Washington, and a son who’s still close to home. So, we have plenty of wonderful places to visit.

I also have a 2003 Harley Davidson Heritage Softail that my wife and I like to take out for day trips to nowhere. Typically we choose a direction to travel, and then look for roads we haven’t been on before and town we haven’t visited. This question was a good reminder. We need to get it out of the garage more often.

And I love cooking. Ask me for my Beer Bread and Onion Pie recipes. And if you’re ever in northwest PA, stop by and we’ll share a beer on the back deck while I teach you how to smoke a couple Boston butts for pulled pork.

C20: What music is in heavy rotation on your iPod or satellite radio?

Chris: Even I’m amazed at how much my musical tastes have changed over the years. I’ve seen KISS 13 times in concert. And up until college I had seen maybe 30 different show. If I had to pick the most mellow up until that point, I’d have to say it was Triumph (go ahead, Google them). These days, I listen to what’s ever playing on XM Radio. But I catch myself smiling whenever Van Morrison, Gordon Lightfoot or ELO pops up.  In addition to Classic Vinyl, Classic Rewind and Ozzy’s Boneyard, I now have The Bridge and Underground Garage as presets on my radio. And though Shelley and I finally attended a Jimmy Buffet concert at a huge amphitheater, we now prefer smaller venues. My most recent live concerts have included Kansas, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Grand Funk Railroad, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Clint Black, Pure Prairie League, Wynonna, Blackberry Smoke and Blue Oyster Cult. And if that list isn’t diverse enough for you, I even found myself at a Social Distortion show. But I attended that one with friends, because Shelley said, “Absolutely Not!”

C20: What do you love about the affiliate space?

Chris: Hands down, it’s the relationships and friendships that the industry fosters. I’ve been in affiliate marketing for 17 years, now, and if I left the industry, I would truly miss the friends I’ve made over the years. Actually, that’s one of the reasons why I made the move to Chateau 20. My previous employer had decided to realign how they managed their affiliate programs. They were going to transition me to working closely with our company brands and away from our publishers. No more publisher calls. No more negotiations. No more conferences! I decided to start looking around for a position that would continue to let me do what I love – working with publishers. And Chateau 20 and I found each other

C20: What are the most exciting things about working at Chateau?

Chris: Working at Chateau 20 requires me to bring my “A Game” every day, because I am literally working with legends in the industry!  When I interviewed for my position with Chateau 20 and learned about the company, I quickly began recognizing names.  It seemed like everyone I spoke with was not only a familiar name, but had been in the industry as long as I have!  They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but after working for an apparel cataloger for a very long time, I’ve enjoyed learning about all of Chateau 20’s clients and learning how to use new tools.  What’s REALLY exciting about working at Chateau 20 is that I have colleagues who are as excited about the industry as I am.  I went from being a one-man affiliate marketing department to being a part of a team that I learn something new from each and every day.

C20: What client-focused things have your motor running right now?

Chris: I’ve attended Affiliate Summits at Caesar’s Palace, but I had no idea how many hotels were included in the Caesar’s Entertainment portfolio until I started working with them at Chateau 20. Not only are there countless properties in Las Vegas, they have hotels in Atlantic City and many, many other cities across the country. And Caesar’s Entertainment has a Show’s affiliate program, too! In addition to the Legends in Concert show that my wife and I saw the last time we were in Las Vegas (it was great), there’s a show to interest just about everyone. While you probably won’t see me at the Chippendales or Donny and Marie the next time I’m in Vegas, I’m going to need to see the Righteous Brothers or Ralphie May.  Maybe both.

The coolest parts of the Caesar’s Shows affiliate program I wouldn’t even classify as shows. High Roller and the Eiffel Tower Experience are now included in the program, too.  I’m going to the top of both to see the neon lights of Las Vegas, and to take pictures of the Bellagio fountains.