How to Keep It Real: Being Genuine in Affiliate Marketing

  • July 31st, 2018

One of the challenges of any sort of marketing is keeping your image trustworthy and authentic in a world of banner ads and self-testimonials. Consumers are savvier than ever with brand-produced marketing, and affiliate marketing is no different. After all, it’s likely clear that the affiliate will be getting a commission, so why should the reader trust them? Turns out there a few ways you can make the consumer feel a little more comfortable clicking that link, let’s check out a few strategies:

Social Proof

Nothing gets people feeling good about your product than seeing what others think, and there’s a lot of ways to do that. Testimonials and links to reviews are ideal ways to give readers a good sense of who has had experience with this brand and what their experience has been like. Even if it’s a different product than they’re considering buying, if you can highlight the brand, it’s a good thing. Having engagement with reviewers is also a plus; responses to comments, either positive or negative, demonstrates quality control and customer experience is at the top of your list. Even a small counter showing how many people have bought this product can be beneficial, and, can be easy to install.

Long Form Content

There’s a ton of ways long form content can help your affiliate program. SEO is a great example; nothing pushes you up the algorithm better than extensive blog posts full of rich keywords. Do your research, and there’s a lot of free tools out there to use to make your content SEO friendly. Next, big blog posts show dedication and utility…you can pack a lot of information in there, including past successes and examples of different consumers that have happily used the products in the past. If the affiliate isn’t able or willing to write their own post, send them a link to an existing post, or write one yourself for them to feature. You don’t want one highlighted link sitting lonely on a crowded page…give it some context and content, and watch it go!

Actually Use It

Unfortunately, in the realm of monetization, there are lots of times where the person advocating for the product never actually tries it. Now, certainly there are instances when this can pass unnoticed, but the chances aren’t good. As a brand, you need to make certain that the affiliate has full access to assets; not just the website copy and generic descriptions, but actual hands-on usage. This will not only prevent inaccurate descriptions, mistakes and embarrassing claims that are just plain wrong, but it can further legitimize the affiliate as a true believer in your brand. Images of the affiliate with product in hand go a long way, too. Also, do your due diligence and quality check all of your links and landing pages. Nothing turns off an excited customer like a faulty link.

What do you look for when you’re looking for a trustworthy affiliate relationship? Let us know in the comments below.

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Meet the Swiss Army Knife of Marketing: The Travel Influencer

  • June 4th, 2018

Picture this: You’ve got an influencer representing your brand. Descriptive writer, incredible photographer, even makes gorgeous videos. They shoot from breathtaking locales around the world, engage with thousands of followers, and more seem to join every week. And the best part? Versatility. Activewear? Sure. New tech gadget? Love to. Vitamin supplement? Gotta keep the immune system up. Laptop case? Use one every day, no problem. Meet the travel influencer…or become reacquainted quickly, because they’re arguably the most valuable voices in the influencer marketing world.

Everyday People in Extraordinary Places

There’s a broad appeal to travel writing, and it’s been around for decades. Exotic places, foreign food and cultures…it’s all very exciting and informative. And watching actresses and professional athletes posing on a yacht in the south of France can be enjoyable. But, for most of us, it’s the relatable nature of watching someone a lot like you navigate language barriers, airport crises, and unrecognizable meals, and this is where the marketing magic begins. In truth, you may or may not drink the bubbly water that said celebrity is toasting with at sunset; but, if your travel influencer gets a rash in the jungle, photographs it, and then tells you how a product helped get rid of it, that’s a personality you can relate to. Trust is the gold of the marketing world, and being honest, self-deprecating and conversational about your experiences is the best way to get that. If you can see yourself in another’s shoes, you can see yourself using what they use. Mission accomplished.

What Don’t They Use?

As we talked about above, these travel influencers can represent a wide variety of brands. Obviously, hotels, cruise ships, and other travel and hospitality brands would be a natural fit, and they have seen great success using influencer marketing. Other things like translation and mapping apps, various luggage options, and comfortable socks might fall under the same umbrella. Consider, though, all the everyday items you use at home and in your daily life. Chances are, they’d be useful while travelling. Tweezers, shampoo, air fresheners, restaurant review sites…these are all applicable for showcasing on a traveler blog. Even home-based items like lawn fertilizer or artificial plants might seem strange, but several savvy travel influencers even talk about the things they are happy to come home to, and a healthy lawn might fall on that list.

Content Is King

One of the truly powerful aspects of influencer marketing is the content they produce. It can be repurposed and featured in lots of different ways for years after the initial post. Influencers are content creators…professional writers and photographers who not only excel at their craft, but absorb and incorporate your specific messaging into their work. That means you get a big spark after the post goes live, and a slow but steady burn on your brand awareness. Additionally, hiring freelance content creators and photographers can cost a fortune. Do your research, and find these professionals who do all that plus have thousands of loyal followers who read them everyday. That’s a whole lot of value for one marketing campaign.

Here’s a few tips for identifying and engaging with travel influencers:

  • Messaging: Before you start searching, get a good idea of the basics of your campaign. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but general concepts like tone, mood, and the way you’d like to see your brand represented are good starts. Try to get a good feel for what you’re looking for before you start your search.
  • Research: Find a few sites where the images and writing fit your brand. Make sure to check out their blog and all the linked social channels while you’re at it, and check on other brands they’ve represented before.
  • Outreach: If you’re able to find a good contact, construct a short, concise email. Remember, these folks get lots of emails every day, so get right to the point. Remember to inquire about a fee, also; most influencers do this for a living, and you may not get much of a response rate if you don’t offer compensation. And always use their name, and maybe even reference a specific post that you really liked…it should be a personal relationship.
  • Be Realistic: Once you’ve found a great match, be sure to be clear about what you expect and when. Many travelers end up “off the grid” for weeks and have a fairly rigid editorial calendar, so last-minute changes or requests for extensions can’t always be possible.
  • Hire a Pro: Yes, this type of marketing can be done yourself, but be prepared to spend a lot of time on it. It can feel uncertain at times, and a lot of trial and error is normal. You might want to consider an agency; they have the experience, contacts and relationships in place to get you going in the right direction.

Have questions about how to find the best and brightest travel influencers who would fit perfectly with your brand? Ask us in the comments below, we’re a friendly bunch!

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3 Next Level Tips to Market to Generation Alpha

  • May 29th, 2018

Are you wondering where the next giant vertical lies? One that will have billions in spending power for years to come and can direct and influence others to do their bidding pretty much at will? Want to know where to find them? Your best bet is to catch them between the end of kindergarten and before their afternoon nap.

Yes, the newest and potentially strongest market to emerge on the scene is Generation Alpha…kids that are born from 2010 and after. Sounds crazy, but consider it. A digitally savvy, on-demand, diverse and socially conscious group that is already inured to traditional advertising. Three year old children that can swipe and touch their way through the iPhone that you had to watch a tutorial for. Second graders who can tell you the merits and pitfalls of a certain toy brand gleaned from several YouTube reviews. Gone are the days of picking out your Christmas list based on Saturday morning cartoon commercials and the Sears and Roebuck Wish List catalog. They still want toys and games, of course…but the landscape on how to find and choose them has changed dramatically.

Let’s look at some facts that can show how unique this situation is. First, the average family size is shrinking. Well-educated women are having fewer children at a later age than ever before, and that’s important. First, we’re talking about Gen X’ers and Millennials, who are well-known to be very attentive, or even slightly obsessive, about their children’s needs and wants, and check reviews and influencers’ opinions before making any purchases. We’re also talking about largely dual-income families with confident buying power, from everything from cars to strollers, and that’s likely going to focused on less children, probably one or two. And with thousands of this generation born daily, that adds up quick.

Next, consider the kids. They have been fluent in all things digital since birth. They’ve never been without the Internet or cell phones. Even before they can read, they can visually command a tablet by touch, and can use their voice to change the music or the TV channel. They are used to the same ad blockers that we are, and have little patience for traditional advertising. So, there’s a few things to consider when trying to connect with them:

  1. Most kids in this younger generation use YouTube regularly, in numbers up to 87%, and increasingly prefer it to regular television as they get older. They also own tablets and phones younger and younger. Bottom line? If you want to connect to this generation, get your video production up to speed.
  2. There are lots of influencers who speak to this age group, but they typically have a common theme that makes them popular and successful: tell a story, make it entertaining, keep it consistent. Ryan from RyanToysReview unboxes, plays with, and reviews toys to millions of subscribers…his latest post has had 5 million views and counting. He (and his parents) have been doing it the same way for a few years, and toy companies are lined up to have him review their next product.
  3. Google as a verb is something these kids have always known. So, countless sources can answer questions instantly, give directions and even give advice. They are also smart enough to know when a banner ad or in-app purchase is bothering them. Many kids use this wealth of content to teach themselves how to play music or code a video game, and if your brand is involved in this process, they’ll know it. Just keep it subtle!

The takeaway here is that there’s plenty of ways to connect to these kids (and their parents), and brand-produced content that barrels head-on through traditional advertising is not one of them. Entertaining content presented through trusted influencers to an increasingly mobile and discerning audience seems to be one of the best ways to do this…have you evaluated your influencer program yet?

 

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That Valuable Space Where Content and Influencer Marketing Meet

  • May 14th, 2018

Let’s face it, traditional outbound marketing is losing ground at a rapid pace. Older and well-established brands who have a firm foothold in the market can expect better returns for banner ads, print ads, and email campaigns. But, a new brand trying to find its way into the market should be looking into more effective ways to market. We talk a lot about influencer marketing here, and that will be integrated in this post as well, but now we’ll discuss the importance of content and content marketing.

What is Content?

Really, anything that is produced or published counts as content. For the sake of what we’re talking about, though, we’ll set funny memes and selfies aside for now. The content we’ll focus on is the type that’ll really help drive brand awareness and bring traffic your way. Blog posts, white papers, infographics, e-books, informative videos…these are the formats where you can really get your message out. Most brands have someone on their team that can and should produce content on a regular, consistent basis, and that’s big. Making sure the subject is relevant and timely is an important part of this, so stay abreast of current topics and news, and check your facts twice (we all know how the “news” can be these days).

Make It Work for You

As digital marketing whiz Lee Odden said,” Content is the reason search engines exist and it’s the cornerstone of what people share on the social web. A quantity of quality content that answers readers’ questions in a useful and entertaining way serves everything from demand generation to lead generation.”

Now, Mr. Odden has been around a long time, and had a lot of success. So, it’s instructive to pull this statement apart to examine the value of its parts. It’s true, what else would search engines search for? And you want to be at the top of those searches, so do your research regarding SEO and the terms that  might be searched for when someone is trying to find your type of product or service. Don’t be afraid to be super specific either; long-tail searches (i.e. “running shoes” vs. “trail running shoes with arch support”) are quite valuable, so make sure to consider niche words and phrases as part of your content.

Next, yes, people share. In astounding volume. Often, it’s a bit of a reflex, like the aforementioned funny memes. Your friends share your sense of humor, goofy or dark as it is, and so you figure they’ll appreciate what you send. Now, take that theory and apply it to entertaining and knowledgeable content. Read a clever blog post about property values skyrocketing around highly rated schools? You’ll likely pop on Facebook and LinkedIn and share it with realtors, parents, builders, and everyone else in your network that might also find it interesting. It’s easy, free and lots of those folks will appreciate the gesture. That’s the personal and professional value of relevant content…it does a lot of the work for you.

Bring in the Influencers

Don’t forget, good content also informs and educates. You certainly want some of it to extoll the value of your brand, but don’t be afraid to venture into other relevant topics. Well-written posts that make people laugh, think, or get all the feels is valuable…it brings traffic and is shared just as often, if not more. Here’s a good place to bring in some of those influencers, also. They can share your juicy content and get it in front of many new potential consumers or brand fans. Aside from having influencers share your brand’s content, many influencers are experts and having these industry experts write a white paper or e-book for you does it all: informs, entertains, praises your brand, and is seen by all of the influencer’s loyal audience. That’s a big win for your brand.

In short, get your content out there, whether you write it yourself or hire a professional to do it. Influencers and freelancers who write long-form content should be a constant part of your team. Who is doing it for you?

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