Versa Marketing Inc. is recognized as an industry leader in performance marketing.
Our team of dedicated online marketers have years of experience positioning brands for optimal success and profitability. We are focused on developing customer acquisition programs with sustainable long term growth. Versa is a partner in your brands success.
Our affiliate marketing programs and influencer campaigns are proven to drive ROI. We take the time to learn what is important to your brand, bring our knowledge and create a strategy for profitable growth.
Versa has a diverse team of employees who pride themselves on providing the highest level of affiliate management to our clients.
Co-Founder & Chief Strategist
Previously, as CEO of a large online marketing agency, Joel oversaw double-digit growth in revenue and the rapid expansion for the company into a wide range of vertical markets. Now, as Co-Founder & Chief Strategist of Versa Marketing Inc., Joel offers his tremendous track record and experience to enable companies to establish, increase and maintain an indispensable revenue source through internet marketing. Outside of Versa, Joel enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and three boys.
Co-Founder & Managing Director
Patrick Lavin is a recognized industry advocate for developing merchant, publisher, and technology partnerships across online marketing channels. Frequently consulted by national online retailers, he has a track record of helping brands achieve rapid sales growth under margin. Patrick believes strongly in transparency and education as paramount to building successful companies in an ever-evolving consumer market. Patrick manages the affiliate program and influencer campaign team. From his home in Boulder, Patrick is a frequent runner, biker, skier and traveler.
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How to Keep It Real: Being Genuine in Affiliate Marketing
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 ProofNothing 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 ContentThere’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 ItUnfortunately, 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.
Making Your Brand Approachable with Influencer Marketing
Ever had a friend that got rich and famous? You used to hang out all the time, lots of text conversations and funny email chains. Sure, people get busy and life happens, but now your texts and invitations to go out seem to get fewer and fewer responses. True, you’re happy for their success, but you miss the good old days when they were always around. Like friendships, relationships with brands can become distant and somewhat sterile. Typically, the bigger they get, the less likely you are to connect, and you can start wondering if believing in this brand is worth it. Large corporations and international brands tend to be viewed as impersonal and unapproachable, and that’s just bad for business. How do stay away from this situation? There’s a few ways, and influencer marketing is a great option to help personalize your brand.
Friend of a FriendInfluencer marketing, at least on smaller scales, is all about authenticity. These professional content creators have worked long and hard to establish trusted relationships and have thousands of loyal followers, and they have done that with consistent messaging, great content, and engagement with their audience. Point is, they can do that for you, also. Once you’ve vetted and identified influencers who fit your niche and tone, give them all the assets they’ll need to showcase the best part of your brand. This includes high-quality images, positive messaging, and enough stories about your business to make the content they create feel personal—especially if they are geographically distant. Make them feel like a part of the company, and they’ll write and post like they are.
Walk a Mile in Their ShoesWorking off what we said above, your influencers need authentic connections to your brand. If there’s product, software, or any other aspect of your brand that one would need to be able to give a detailed endorsement or review, make certain that they have all the time and instruction they need. If any of the influencers you are working with happen to be local, invite them out to your store, office or factory and give them the inside scoop on how your operation works. Let them make appetizers with the chef, stitch up some vests, or debug some code with one of your developers. Not only will they get a good idea of your quality and attention to detail, they can also get great content through interviews and pictures that no one else can get. Giving readers a glimpse of how things really work and the people who make it happen is a great way to remind readers that your employees (like the readers) are the heart of your company.
Turn Over the ReinsYou probably have some sort of social media presence…maybe you post daily, or perhaps you only get to it once in a while. Great influencers are professionals at making their social media posts engaging, interesting, and entertaining; it’s their stock in trade, and they work hard to keep them active. While most influencers will link back to their blog post about your brand to get higher reach, you might be able to additionally use individuals or crowdsourcing to give these experts a day representing your brand on a social channel. With some guidance, extra access, and a few suggestions on what to focus on, a talented influencer can give your brand a whole new look, all while humanizing and telling the stories you’d want everyone to hear. This is a wonderful opportunity to show off your workplace, highlight your ideals, and, most importantly, give some inside looks on how your customers use your product or service. American Express let a few of their cardholders take over, and brilliant content ensued: It’s slick, entertaining, and, most of all, real. Think creatively and talk to a few influencers about how they’d do it. It exposes your social media audience to theirs, and vice versa, so both parties can benefit if done well. You can also crowdsource content…not only with influencers, but any numbers of active social media personalities. Surveys, challenges, or trivia questions are all fun ways to gamify your social posts, all resulting in valuable information about your consumers and getting that brand awareness out there as well.
Step Up and Own ItNow, there’s opportunity around every corner, and missteps and mistakes are no exception. If you send out a defective product or goof up on an order, come out and own it. Send the influencer double the goods, for example…but make it self-deprecating, self-aware, and even humorous if you can. Obviously, people appreciate a brand that admits mistakes, so be sure to make it public so everyone sees how you handle adversity. On a bigger scale, brands who face accusations of poor behavior or practices should get in front of it before hazy reports go viral. Recently, Airbnb was facing reports of discriminatory practices from its members. And while this wasn’t directly Airbnb’s practices that were in question, they took the opportunity to launch a new campaign and hashtag: #weaccept . This affirmed their commitment to equality among its members, struck on a hot-button topic, and earned themselves well-deserved praise for doing the right thing. There are lots of ways to make your brand approachable and friendly…did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below!
Affiliate KPI’s You Need to Know To Power Your Strategy
So, you’ve set up your affiliate marketing program for success. You’ve vetted your partners, checked all the links, and have a great network in place. Now you just sit back and relax, right? Nope, not even close. If you want all this to work (and keep working) smoothly, you have to crunch some numbers. Key Performance Indicators (or KPI’s) are the certain sets of data that keep you in the know about how your program is succeeding…or coming up short. Here’s a few affiliate-specific indicators to measure how your campaign is doing.
What’s Going Out?Before you start drooling over your tasty sales numbers, you should take a hard look at what you’re paying out. Typical numbers on any marketing campaign include return on ad spend (ROAS) and the old favorite, return on investment (ROI). These numbers can be a bit nebulous when you have a wide variety of strategies in place, so try to keep the data specific to each campaign. The best KPI to keep straight are the commissions you’re paying out. Smaller commissions might be dragging down the affiliate’s motivation and cramping sales, and giant commissions are likely taking a bite out of your profit margin. Try to find a mean average, and stick to it. Then, take a peek at your cost per acquisition (CPA) and, depending on your end goal (either sales, clicks, or opt-in/sign up form), you should be able to pin down your best (and worst) affiliate performers. Simply divide the total cost spent on this specific campaign by any particular affiliate’s conversion rate, and you’ve got it. Note your best and worst performers.
Who’s On First?Now, you’ve got some numbers to look over and some decisions to make, because now we’ll check how our individual affiliate partners are doing. Using the above metrics, you can establish a top ten list. Where this really becomes useful is when you track them month-to-month or year-to-year. Have you rewarded your consistently great performers with bigger percentages and praise? Have you tried to coach up your lower half with advice and incentives? And lastly, you may need to make a decisive move if you have a few bottom draggers…give them some time to improve, but don’t let them drag down your bottom line.
Making AdjustmentsOnce you’ve optimized your team, try to take a bigger picture look at your strategy. Should you trim down to the absolute best team and run lean? Or is it time to expand and multiply that affiliate power? More links could mean more sales…and could also mean more supervision, and a greater chance that someone new could make some errors in judgement. Steady conversion rates and increased click traffic are good indicators that your program is maturing nicely, and watch the timing for each affiliate. Some put a lot of effort in at first, and then tail off; constant gentle pressure, as Danny Meyer says, is the best way to guide and lead. Don’t let up, but don’t be harsh. When you see steady growth across the board, it may be time to recruit a few more partners.
Now, The Good StuffHere we get into the best part: conversions and sales. Now, these numbers are what everyone’s looking for, but don’t neglect some other crucial indicators that should factor into your measurement of success. If your affiliate partners are talented and advocating for your brand, you should be seeing increased clicks, web traffic, and brand awareness…all positives for the campaign. Harder to quantify, but don’t ignore them; even if a consumer clicks on a link, becomes familiar with who you are and what you offer without buying, that’s a good thing. Data in all these forms may be beyond your reach to get hard numbers for, so you may want to enlist the help of an expert affiliate marketing company to help you mine this valuable information. Once you’re on to the conversion rates, there’s lots to check out. Are there lots of new customers, or are people coming back for more? Is the average order value (AOV) low? If it is, you might want to consider adding incentives or deals for customers to put more in their cart. And then, of course, the straight up conversion rate. Look carefully at various landing sites and promotions to see if there’s a way you could tweak it to give the customer a little boost to click the “buy” button. Social proof is always good; by listing how many other people have bought the product or some good reviews; it might give the buyer that added confidence to make the purchase. What KPI are you looking at? Any important ones we missed? Let us know what you think, and let’s start a conversation!
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