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Affiliate Experience: Fast Food or Fine Dining?


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This presentation is from Affiliate Summit East 2017 (July 30 - August 1, 2017 in New York).

Session description: So many cooks in the affiliate kitchen and “restaurants” to choose from! Gain 17 tips to enrich your “menu” and rating as a master chef. Take your savory experience from “greasy spoon” to five-stars.

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Affiliate Experience: Fast Food or Fine Dining?

  1. 1. Affiliate Experience: Fast Food or Fine Dining?
  2. 2. Mike Allen @mta1 Jeannine Crooks @Jeannine_Crooks John LoBrutto @JPL65
  3. 3. “I go to a fast food chain if I want a quick meal, but I go to a restaurant if I want fine dining.” Leo D. Geoffrion
  4. 4. The Dining Experience • Fast Food Chain • Uniformity of menu with predictable taste • Efficiencies of scale = inexpensive (food and atmosphere) • Minimal, low skilled labor • Fine Dining Restaurant • Complex menu with exotic taste • Unique, difficult to mass-produce = more expensive (food and atmosphere) • Centered around a creative chef with experienced staff • Host/hostess • Servers • Sommelier
  5. 5. The Affiliate Experience • “Fast Food” Affiliate • Limited value-add (links, presentation, content, etc.) • Efficiencies of scale = maximize automation (site and user-experience) • Minimal effort exerted (outreach, branding, voice) • “Fine Dining” Affiliate • Extensive customization and value-add integrations • Unique user experience = high value proposition (site and user-benefits) • Centered around a creative niche and focus • Person (blogger, celebrity, expert) • Idea (loyalty, cause, entity) • Need (“scratches an itch”)
  6. 6. But… (with all the noise/competition) There is space for both “fast food” and “fine dining” within affiliate marketing. Good News! It’s time to “up your game” and “upgrade your style!” Create a memorable experience that people want to repeat.
  7. 7. 17 tips to enrich your “menu” and rating as a master chef. Take your savory experience from “greasy spoon” to five-stars. But first, a few comparisons…
  8. 8. Food = Content • Am I serving good food? • Why should affiliates listen to me? • Can shoppers trust me? • Is what I say worth people’s time? • Am I offering more than just noise?
  9. 9. Staff = User Experience • Am I meeting the needs of my customers? • Host/hostess — marketing • Servers — sales & support • Sommelier — community/social media • Chef — design • Cooks — product • Dishwashers — maintenance
  10. 10. Atmosphere = Site/App Design • Why do people go to my “restaurant”? • Need (away from home, very busy, etc.) • Don’t want to or know how to cook • Celebrate something • Enjoy the experience (ambiance) • Social (see and be seen)
  11. 11. Attitude = Call to Action Would you want to go to a restaurant with a sign that said…? “We’re not as bad as the restaurant down the road” OR “We have the best food in town”
  12. 12. 17 Tips! Enrich your “menu” and rating as a master chef. Take your affiliate experience from “greasy spoon” to five-stars.
  13. 13. Tip #1. Your Publisher Profile Keep it updated and interesting. Include a call to action! • Concise, current network profile • Why do I want to join your program? • How can I help you, the advertiser? • What is my value-add (to you)?
  14. 14. Tip #2. Affiliate Links • Optimize banners and images as “web-friendly” • Compare .jpg and .png quality and size • Imagify ( can do this for you! • Why optimize? • Fast sites = higher conversion rates (check @ • Many users are on mobile devices • Don’t overdo banner ads and links • Ask affiliate manager for more! • Custom banners • Deep links
  15. 15. Tip #3. Commission • Reward Generously • Default commissions need to be efficient, competitive, easy to understand, yet tantalizing. • Sell the sizzle to get the attention of publishers. • Keep it simple – no one likes a confusing menu. • Dynamic Commissioning • Larger or niche publishers and advertisers require a more detailed and complex commission. • Different verticals need different commission structures. • Some larger publishers will be paid a much higher commission rate. Advertisers and Publishers need to cater to the needs of each other. • Attribution Settings • Attribution separates who gets what and why. Know how you get paid and what works best!
  16. 16. Tip #4. Incentives • Boost Campaigns & Bonuses • Menu Specials • In Fast Food, across the board commission boosts encourage recruitment, activation or re-engage a dormant publisher. • Fine Dining publishers may be encouraged to promote a specific product with a boost or are offered more per sale in a bonus based on volume tiers. • Contests • Set up a program to encourage sales activity, make the rules simple and measurable, then let everyone know how it works. • Used to promote new products or encourage more sales activity. • Top Partner Events • The Ultimate Fine Dining Event. Sometime Fine Dining is actually part of the event. • Solicitation of high volume players or Top Revenue producers. • 1x1 opportunity for relationship building.
  17. 17. Tip #5. Coupons • Coupon Tracking, Suppression & Attribution • Ensures proper attribution for the Publisher. • Advertisers prefer automation to determine attribution. • Process needs to be standard, efficient and built for scalability. • Promo Codes / Custom Codes • Most Promo Codes designed for the masses like $1.00 off on Hamburgers. • Advertisers can use Vanity Codes or Custom Promo Codes for top-tier Publishers. • Publishers can use this tool as a co-branding tool or exclusive offer. • Coupon commissioning • Advertisers need to refrain from making discounts so deep that they impact commission amounts. • Publishers need to understand the commission terms and if coupon affects commission. • Data Feeds • Great tool for Publishers to receive current coupons from multiple advertisers. • Advertisers use data feeds to distribute their offers to many publishers.
  18. 18. Tip #6. Communications • Emails • Email exchanges are 1x1 (Fine Dining) experiences. • Consistent communication between top Advertisers and Publishers are essential for optimization. • Newsletters • Newsletters are mass communication to a large audience. • Newsletter communications are vital to developing relationships with a large number of affiliates. • Press Releases • Great way to communicate a message or announcement to a large population. • Like Fine Dining, message is well crafted and the process more formal.
  19. 19. Tip #7. Be Mobile-Friendly • Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test: • Many users are not on computers • Nearly 3 Billion smartphones in use now worldwide but only 2 Billion personal computers! • MediaPost: 53% of smartphone users purchase with them • Ad blockers more common on desktops • Don’t forget about tablet users also. • Cross-device tracking
  20. 20. Tip #8. Cross-Device Tracking • 50% of all transactions begin on mobile • Tracks a transaction across multiple devices, such as first click on mobile device, final purchase from desktop • Average sales increase 3-24% • Greatest percentage gain from CDT – Content Publishers • Nothing required from affiliate – implementation occurs on advertiser’s site
  21. 21. Tip #9. Affiliate Tools • Product Feeds • Enables advertisers to send detailed product information to a large group of publishers. • Gives publishers all the info they need to promote specific products and deep link into carts. • Reduces clicks and increases conversions. • Widgets • Allows publishers to put a little piece of the advertiser’s site on their landing page. • Product choices made with a widget are then deep linked into an advertiser’s cart. • Allows for a seamless sale in a franchise-like experience. • Custom Landing Pages • Custom / co-branded landing page – ultimate fine dining experience • Pages are optimized to maximize conversions with custom promotions or offers. • The special meal not on the menu!
  22. 22. Tip #10. WordPress • It’s free and used by ~27% of all websites! • Huge selection of templates • Massive plugin options that add features (over 40K) • Other WordPress advantages • Translated into more than 50 languages • Highly consistent and flexible design elements • Frequent upgrades and security enhancements • Highly customizable (blog, how-to, journal, forum, membership site, etc.) • Mobile-ready (responsive) “out of the box” • Social media friendly • Search engine optimized • Scalable (grows with you) • Easy to use!
  23. 23. Tip #11. Technical Integration • Most networks offer advanced APIs • Affiliate service provider APIs • FMTC • Datafeedr • WordPress affiliate plugins • Networks • Service providers • Shopping cart extensions • WooCommerce integration with product catalogs • Use “sub-networks” • Skimlinks & VigLink • Others
  24. 24. Tip #12. Attribution • Dividing commission based on role in sales process • Last click doesn’t take it all • Advertiser’s choice • Methodologies vary by network • Fixed portions based on location in sales process • Bonus based on involvement • Soft click – won’t overwrite existing cookies
  25. 25. Tip #13. Site Monetization • Paid Placements • Reviews • How-to articles (with product suggestions) • Blog posts • Paid content • Sponsorships • SEO • SEM/PPC • Social media
  26. 26. Tip #14. Expand the Affiliate Channel • Look at affiliate marketing through a bigger lens • Search Promotion • Social Media Tracking • Facebook • Twitter • Pinterest • Instagram – • App tracking (Oplytic)
  27. 27. Tip #15. Reporting • Many reports available through network interface. Learn all of them. • Fast food – Conversion statistics, timing • Fine Dining – EPC, AOV • Best sellers • Custom Parameters – best performing pages • Commission status • I wonder if… • Google Analytics – not designed for affiliate marketing
  28. 28. Tip #16. Partnerships • Strategic Alliances • Well thought-out partnerships between advertisers and publishers. • Agreements can be from multiple groups of both. • Fine Dining experience for the Advertiser, Publisher and Shopper, taking advantage of synergies and maximizing traffic revenue for both parties. • Can be exclusive or semi-exclusive • Both parties rely on each other's brand to maximize sales. • Reciprocal Agreements • Great way to promote synergies between partners • Each advertiser can become a publisher for the other, provide links to purchase on their site / cart. • Burger company teaming up with a bun company and selling their products in a way that offers both.
  29. 29. Tip #17. Account Management • Service levels • Varies by management agreement • Could be managed by in-house Affiliate Manager, OPM or network team • Get to know the management team • Best sellers • Seasonal specials • New Products • Special site promotional opportunities • Read the Newsletters!
  30. 30. Q&A Affiliate Experience: Fast Food or Fine Dining?
  31. 31. Mike Allen @mta1 Jeannine Crooks @Jeannine_Crooks John LoBrutto @JPL65