Tag : drive revenue

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.


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.

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.

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.

Drive Traffic Using Forums and Groups

Drive Traffic Using Forums and GroupsForums have been around since the dawn of the Internet, and you can leverage them and their active and loyal followers to drive more traffic to your website and blog. Forums are ripe for driving targeted traffic, but you’ll need keep a few simple things in mind when using forums as part of your traffic-driving strategy:

Pick the Right Forum

Look for popular forums that cater to your niche or vertical. Consider forums where there is a large and active group of members Be sure you like the tone of the forum and the nature of the discussions. You don’t want to get into flame wars and negative conversations. Look for a positive vibe and people willing to share information. Focus on a just a few forums (maybe 1 or 2) where you can be an active member for an ongoing basis. Be sure the forums allow you to include a signature, so that you can add your URL. Otherwise, you’ll have trouble driving traffic to your website or blog.

Select the Right Username

Your username will be how other members identify you (and your brand).  Think about the message you want your username to send. Using your name as a username gives your interactions a more personal feel than if you just used the name of your blog or business. But you can try for combination of both. For example JoeSmithHotelGuy. It’s important that your username fits in with your niche and the feel of the forum – whether it’s casual or very professional.

Add a Link in Your Signature

Your signature will appear below each one of your forum posts. Putting a link to your blog or website is the backbone of any solid forum-based traffic strategy. Depending on the forum’s signature limits, you may be able to also include a tagline or description of your website or a link to a newsletter sign-up page in your signature.

Carefully Craft Your Profile

Be sure to include an avatar (or photo of yourself), a short but descriptive bio, and another link to your website or blog. Remember, you want other members to know they are interacting with a real person and not just a business. Don’t be afraid to include some personal info (you love bull dogs, or are an avid hiker or write science fiction on the side). This information makes you seems less one-dimensional and gives others more reasons to interact with you. If there’s space, include links to your social media – like your Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram and LinkedIn – and invite members to connect with you there as well.

Skip the Spammy Behavior

Use the same social etiquette and manners as you would when interacting in person. You probably don’t meet someone at a party and shove a business card in their hand or drone on about your company the minute you meet people. Get to know people. Be helpful first. Then once you’ve established yourself in the group, you can start including some information about your business into your discussions.

Be a Helpful Resource

Provide clear, well-thought-out, informative, helpful replies. Link to other resources both inside the forum and elsewhere online. The idea is to add value. If you’ve written a post on your blog that might be helpful, you can summarize it, then add something like, “if you want to know more, I have a blog post on this topic”, And then include a link to drive members to your blog or website.

Start a Thread/Be First

If someone opens up a thread, they are obviously going to read the first post in the thread. The first post in a thread gets read more than any other, so being in that position is a great way to leverage your forum posting. You can ask a question or solicit others opinions on a subject. It’s a great way to get noticed and create interaction.

Be Active

Remember this isn’t a sprint. You can’t just post for a month, stop, and expect traffic. Your posts will eventually be pushed down and replaced by new threads and additional comments. You have to devote the time and effort and maintain a presence for the long haul.

If you follow these few simple steps, you will likely notice (over time) some additional web traffic. You will also likely make some new contacts, establish yourself as a helpful expert, and probably learn from other members along the way. Its a win-win!