CJ Affiliate Expert

  • October 5th, 2017

We’re happy to announce that our own Patrick Lavin was named a CJ Affiliate Ambassador for his expert knowledge of the network and how to manage affiliate programs. Patrick has almost a decade of experience working with CJ and knows a lot of the intricacies of the platform from both the merchant and publisher side.

“CJ is really a great network to work with. They’ve been one of the big affiliate networks for a long time and have done a great job helping us introduce the affiliate channel to a lot of new pubs”, said Patrick, “I’ve had a lot of fun working with CJ and they are a great partner, so I’m happy to share my knowledge on how to make programs successful.”

 

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HumanCharger Affiliate Program

  • September 19th, 2017

The HumanCharger Affiliate Program is a multi-network program that gives publishers the option to choose the network of their choice for tracking. There are some different benefits available to both merchants and publishers in each of the networks that I’ll outline below, but first a quick recap on what HumanCharger is and what it does.

HumanCharger is a bright light therapy device that was scientifically developed in 2007 by Finnish researchers looking for ways to combat the winter blues. When it is dark constantly during the winter, many people can develop a seasonal depression. Exposure to natural sunlight and special lamps can leave people feeling better and more energetic.

The Valkee company in Finland worked with researchers to develop a portable device that mimics sunshine and delivers uv-free calibrated white light in a micro-dose through the ear canals. Through my ears? Yes, strange, right? By delivering light through the ear canals for 12 minutes, you can stimulates the photosensitive proteins on the surface of your brain, triggering Serotonin and Dopamine to be released.

It turns out that it isn’t just Fins living near the arctic circle that can benefit from increased light exposure. Modern day life leaves most of us sitting inside at an office most days a week. We don’t get enough sunlight in our daily lives and this can lead effect both our energy levels and our mood.

After wide adoption in nordic countries, HumanCharger became popular with people trying to hack their energy levels and with elite athletes looking for a natural edge. The device is now available through major retailers and direct from their website online.

Versa team developed a multi-network affiliate program anchored on LinkConnector’s tracking platform and also available in CJ and ShareASale. First, LinkConnector provided a robust tracking setup for attribution across multiple affiliate networks so that duplicate commissions wouldn’t be an issue. The second benefit of LinkConnector, which ShareASale also provides, is coupon code tracking for affiliate tracking without a click. Because we work with many podcasters and influencers that are talking about HumanCharger, independent of a website, email or blog, we were generating traffic without the traditional click tracking model in place. It was important to attribute sales using a unique tracking code that influencers could share.

We also new that there was a larger traditional set of content publishers in CJ that had a similar health and wellness audience, so layering in CJ made sense. CJ and LinkConnector both developed technology to track customers across multiple devices. We are sometimes seeing 20% of customers research from their mobile phone or tablet, but then move to their desktop to complete their purchase.

While most affiliate network copmanies (CJ, LinkConnector, ShareASale) have larger overlap of affiliate publishers, it’s nice to give affiliates that option to cater to their network of choice when that’s possible.

You can join the HumanCharger affiliate program in any of the mentioned networks to gain access to special affiliate commissions and consumer promotions.

And meet the team and try a 12 minute session at the Bulletproof Biohacking Conference this October in Pasadena.

 

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How to Develop Affiliate Influencers

  • August 30th, 2017

Stop! It’s Nurture Time!

A How-To Guide For Growing Your Affiliate and Influencer Relationships

In this ever-changing world with brands using digital marketing to improve conversion, production and efficiency rates–constant goals are on every brand’s mind. And performance-based marketing is the ideal tool to reach those marks. Performance based marketing works with the strongest aspects of both affiliate and influencer marketing and rewards a brand’s marketing partners for tangible action instead of paying for posts.

Affiliate marketing is arguably the most efficient and cost-effective method available to brands anywhere. And now more than ever, affiliate marketing and influencer marketing are best friends when you run these marketing strategies together since the strategies overlap and feed off of each other. All this success makes it easy to forget that your marketing relationships are the ones who pump out creative content and knock out sales. It’s easy to forget that these people are real live humans who thrives on feedback, praise and genuine connections.

Yeah, they’re getting paid well if they’re great at what they do. However, if you want your relationship with your brand’s content creators are to grow and last, you need to nurture them just like any effective client relationship. So, we’ve compiled a list of ways to keep your hard-working team happy, loyal and motivated.

Agency or In-House Approach?

Understanding the important aspects of affiliate and influencer relationships helps brands decide if they should run their programs in house or if they should partner with an agency. When the budget allows it, brands often prefer working with an established company on this type of marketing because they have the relationships, technology and strategies in place to scale affiliate and influencer marketing. Regardless of your approach, the following components when it comes to nurturing marketing relationships are important to know so that you can oversee the right strategy with your brand and/or choose an agency who emphasizes nurturing strategies for their clients.

The Courtship

First, let’s assume you are just getting started with finding affiliates to work with or maybe just need a few more quality people to join your team. Their social network is their virtual office so start by following interesting prospects on Twitter, Facebook, or any other network. Like their posts, share their content, and work in a few complimentary comments in their feeds.

Familiarizing yourself with the content of your potential marketing partners is crucial for two reasons. First you need to know if their topics and voice is a fit with your brand while second it’s good to reference their content later when you reach out to partner. Learn what they like, read and respect. Don’t jump in with any official introductions or offers quite yet…it’s best to just listen and learn at first. You’ll establish a much more genuine connection by showing interest and doing research on your end, and this sets the table for an interactive relationship from the outset.

 

Popping the Question

Once you’ve started the nurturing process and have gotten yourself on the radar, it’s time to engage. As you can likely imagine, popular content creators get dozens, if not hundreds, of emails a day, so personalizing and being concise is key. When reaching out to a new influencer with email, take the time to customize with some basics –  name and specific details and assets in a brief yet informative manner.

First impressions, as we all know, are crucial. Mentioning a prior relevant blog post from the affiliate is a great touch; this shows you’ve done your homework, and a bit of flattery is always solid strategy. Be sure to bring up their readers, and how they will benefit from your brand. And be certain to wind up the email with a question, like asking their opinion on the campaign or what specific assets might help them. You’re a lot more likely to get a positive response this way. Granted, this initial process can be time-consuming, but it’s sure to pay dividends down the line.

Keeping It Going

Now that your affiliate or influencer partner is on board, you can let up on the nurturing, right? Quite the contrary, because now’s the time to really let them know how much you value them. Make sure their onboarding and technical logistics are running smoothly, and offer support throughout. Present them with high quality images and brand-specific messaging, and suggest some links that may be relevant. However, it is important to not go too far with the suggestions; writers are creative beings, after all, and giving them the freedom to craft the story is crucial. In fact, referencing what you like about their earlier work is a great way to encourage and empower them to create.

If your brand’s website has a blog in place, that could be a perfect spot to link a  marketing partner’s prior work back to them and don’t forget that social shares are always a positive thing. Random check-ins or even a scheduled phone call helps to personify your brand, and even making sure you have a photo or avatar near your signature can strengthen that connection. Lastly, introducing incentives at various stages throughout the campaign can do wonders. Offer them a sneak peek at the product or website, or exclusive discounts for friends and family before anyone else in the general public can. A gift card near the end of the campaign might give them a boost, also. Regardless of the specifics, staying engaged and actively communicating your feedback and encouragement is always welcome.

 

Ending On A High Note

Showing your appreciation for a job well done is always welcome. Thank you notes and reports with numbers and feedback helps your affiliate understand how much their efforts mean to you, both personally and professionally. If you plan to use them again, make sure you tell them that. Or, even better, consider keeping them on throughout; content-driven marketing can continue to extend sales and improve customer experience even after the final click.  Whip up at least one more social blast highlighting the great work your affiliate did…it will be shared and retweeted over and over, extending your brand recognition on its own. Whatever you do, keep it personal. Your extra efforts are sure to be recognized and reciprocated, and likely will lead to many more successful partnerships.

A little reminder for you, however: all of this takes a lot of time, planning and expertise. Many CMO’s might end up hiring the best “man” for the job, and turn to an expert affiliate program manager to handle the entire process. Either way, making sure you’ve nurtured your affiliate throughout the process is your best path to a meaningful (and profitable) relationship.

Do you prefer to run affiliate and influencer marketing campaigns in house or work with an agency? Please let us know and tell us why in the comments!

 

 

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The Truth Shall Set You Free: The Power of Honest Influence

  • August 18th, 2017

Let’s face it. In this age of marketing where bot followers and likes for sale are readily available, the truth about anyone’s digital footprint can be a bit elusive. Which is ironic, really, because influencer marketing is based on authenticity and interpersonal connections. If someone pays for “likes” and follows it’s comparable to the lonely kid in 90’s movies that throws a huge party to gain popularity and win his dream girl’s affection, only to wake up with a trashed house and no cool kids in sight.

Like the inevitable ending to those 90’s movies our true influencer partners are the ones that are still there cleaning up in the morning; they believe in you, stick with you, and ultimately bring you to the happy ending where the nerdy friend-zone girl takes off her glasses, swings her hair around in slow motion, and declares her love. Maybe not that romantic, but you get the gist—just swap hot girl out with direct sales from influencer content.

Let’s take a look at the positive power of influencer marketing and how to navigate around fake influencers with fake friends.

The Problem With Numerical Qualifiers

First, let’s examine why an influencer would pump up their numbers like that. Like many things in business, it all comes down to numbers. The first metric many marketers look to when vetting a list is social reach (number of followers or subscribers). So many brands make the mistake at only looking to this numerical qualifier because they are readily available and easily sorted–which is why influencers still can get away with fake images.

It makes sense because logically, those with a larger audience will undoubtedly produce larger results. As a result, many brands will only require a certain reach (say, 50,000 followers) to even contact an influencer to work with. This leaves an honest blogger with 4,000 devoted readers with no ability to grow, monetize or otherwise benefit from all their hard work.

Are the brands driving this dishonesty? Depends on how you look at it, but solely using reach to choose influencers is probably costing brands in more ways than one. So let’s examine other characteristics to examine past numeric statistics.

 

Small but Mighty

There’s no disputing the power of celebrity influence. Getting an A-lister to feature a brand potentially exposes them to millions of eyeballs and impressions. But do all those readers actually believe that: a) that celebrity actually uses and believes in that product and b) it’s a product that would be useful and valuable to an everyday reader? Chances are, they don’t.

However, a relatable blogger with a relevant niche and loyal following can gain targeted impressions and put the right eyeballs on the brand, which naturally creates focused buzz among those who would actually buy the product…at a fraction of the cost to the marketing budget.

Studies show that the sum of social engagement events with any one influencer is divided it by the total reach. Meaning there are impressive results for the little guys. The rate of engagement for Instagram influencers with less than 35,000 followers more than doubles.  That’s huge!

There is a steady decrease as followers go up. Now, for some brands, quantity is everything. But, the ripple effect created when an influencer engages with their readers has an exponential result as the shares, likes and follows pile on. Thus leaving us to conclude that meaningful engagement from both influencers and readers creates honest and trusted connections that can extend far beyond a one-off campaign.

The Power of Engagement

Let’s examine one statistic that has always stuck out. In this consumer report, we see that millennial moms (with a lot of buying power) are typically devoted blog readers and rely heavily on social media to inform their choices. And, of those surveyed, a whopping 80% tend to disregard traditional brand-produced advertising, choosing recommendations from their friends and contemporaries instead. A blogger who answers their questions, is available for social commenting and is viewed as a peer instead of a celebrity fits the outline of the “peer influencer” that 80% of consumers trust. Wow.

If you’re a brand, how do you ensure that your marketing partners are engaged and fit this “mid-level” criteria that is so powerful? There are just a few qualifiers to mention. A highly recommended way is to look at one of the most dependable metrics that shows actual engagement—the comments in a blog post or replies to social posts. This is where conversations take place and brand advocates are uncovered. Another way is to work with influencers who have a total following under 50,000. Furthermore, it never hurts to scroll through the posts to make sure they don’t have an overwhelming amount of sponsored content.

What Does It All Mean?

This is powerful stuff. Honest bloggers with integrity and authenticity can make deliver actionable results that brands desperately desire. Number of followers is not a reliable statistic to use as a marketers only filter. Automated followers and bot commentators cannot keep up with the authentic influencer and the marketer who properly vets their social partners.

At Versa we have multiple years of experience and filters that we use to ensure that our influencers are real and quality people. Which brings us to an important question: what filters do you use to identify the right influencer for your brand? Share in the comments below!

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Geckos Affiliate Program in CJ

  • August 14th, 2017

It’s important to get out and see the world, embrace different cultures, and learn new things along the way, all while making new friends. Geckos Adventures has created amazing trips for young adults, ages 18-29, that are affordable and inspiring.  Travelers can book a trip to over 80 world destinations. Travel affiliates can participate in the Geckos Affiliate Program found in the CJ network.

For every booking, Geckos donates a portion to their social enterprise partner, Friends International.  This leading social enterprise saves lives and builds futures for marginalized kids and young people across the world by empowering them with skills that will set them up for employment.  Giving back to the regions they visit is an integral part of Geckos Adventures’ mission.  They instill the importance of reducing their carbon footprint while designing an unforgettable grassroots adventure.

Experience local life, use local transportation & accommodations, with an occasional homestay, treehouse, or houseboat. Making life-long connections with a small group of like-minded and same aged travelers is encouraged and learning about the destination from a local group leader who lives in that region gets the visitor immersed in the cultre.  Leaders speak the language, are full of connections, and can share all the secret wonders of a destination.

Geckos Adventures has made it easy and safe for young people to get out and explore, make new friends, and bring home a new look on life.   Being educated about different walks of life around the world on one of these uniquely designed trips is second to none.

Geckos Adventures also has a great affiliate program in Commission Junction.   Professional travel publishers or recent travelers can share their experiences with friends and followers online after joining the program and start earning commissions. Commission Junction makes it easy to sign up as an affiliate and start advertising travel.  4% of total trip cost is paid out in commission to the affiliate marketing companies or travel bloggers promoting Geckos. The Versa affiliate management team is available to assist in any way possible!  If you are reading this and have passed the age cut-off there is still an opportunity to check out trips with Geckos Adventures sister company, Intrepid Travel.  Cheers and happy trails!

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Affiluencer: How A Marketing Hybrid Can Transform Your Bottom Line

  • July 29th, 2017

Every industry needs diversity. Diversity can be interpreted in several different ways: an age/race/gender-diversified workforce can certainly encourage innovation and several different viewpoints on the same challenges, for example. And just as importantly, expanding your brand’s menu of services or products offered can increase revenue, reach and brand awareness all at once.

Diversity in digital marketing is especially crucial as the ever-changing landscape of multiple channels, methods and verticals can quickly leave old fashioned marketing styles in the dust. The rise of two powerful digital methods: affiliate marketing companies and influencer marketing highlight this point perfectly.

So in this post let’s dive into some important differences between the two and more importantly, how they can work together towards the same goals!

First, The Affiliates…

Affiliate marketing has come a long way in the last decade. Once considered a “black hat” style, it has become one of the most dominant and successful ways to sell. According to this eMarketer, affiliate spending will top $5.3 billion by the end of 2017. Seems it’s become quite trustworthy…but why?

In one word, it’s measurable. Using performance-based marketing enables brands to assign a precise amount per click.  Whether the end result is increased website traffic, a newsletter sign up, a sale, a conversion,etc. This gives peace of mind to both the CMO who approves the budget and the publisher who puts in the work to earn that click.

Confidence in the process and proven ROI should lead to growth and innovation and everyone who is embracing this process is thriving. Perfect, right? Well, not always… Some brands have issues with the quality of the affiliate sites, or the tone that the publisher uses. A socially conscious brand that bases its identity on beneficial human interaction, for example, might find some affiliates lacking warmth or empathy, despite their brisk conversion rate or impressive reach.

This is where third party affiliate program management could possibly assist, as vetting and quality control processes can be overwhelming for a brand to do on its own. A qualified program manager has the connections and filters to ensure quality in affiliate marketing.

Next, The Influencers…

Influencer marketing has had a similar rise, but for a few different reasons. One estimate had Instagram influencer revenues at over half a billion dollars last year…and that’s not including other giants like YouTube, Facebook and the thousands of influencer blogs on every topic imaginable. And, according to this Linqia’s survey, 71% of marketers plan to keep or increase their 2017 influencer budget.

Why is it growing so fast? As above, in one word, it’s authentic. Building trust and loyalty is an influencer’s stock in trade, and having several thousand viewers following your every word is powerful indeed. Many studies have shown that faith in traditional brand-produced advertising is declining, and in this age of ad blockers, trusted content and reviews have reduced the reliance on banner ada. Honest and organic endorsements (even when payment for the review has been disclosed) are incredibly valuable for brand awareness. Increased traffic and eventual conversions, and retaining influencers throughout the sales and customer experience cycle has been shown to have massive potential.

All good news…but what’s the downside? It can be notoriously tricky to measure ROI with influencers, at least in traditional marketing terms, and this can possibly make justifying budgets for influencer campaigns far more difficult. Fortunately, there are rapidly developing methods, like pixel trackers and coupon codes, that can deliver various measurables to the marketing department. Also, it would be remiss to not mention the other benefits of an influencer campaign, such as evergreen content, social amplification and heightened brand recognition are valuable assets that may not be visible on a spread sheet, but are nevertheless beneficial to the brand.

And Introducing The Hybrid…

If you haven’t noticed, both of the perceived downsides to these marketing strategies match up nicely to the other’s strength. Affiliates are measurable and performance-based but brands worry about authenticity in their posts while influencers base their work on being authentic and trustworthy but often need advanced metrics to justify the investment to the brand. It seems natural to want to combine the two somehow, so let’s explore how that might work.

The first logical step would be to employ both: influencers create awareness, trust and buzz for the brand, and the affiliates operate by convincing and reassuring the buyer while making the sale easy. This sounds ideal, but care must be taken to assure consistent messaging and tone with both. Maybe, then, the better solution would involve training and enabling one affiliate/influencer to do both incrementally.

A talented blogger or social media star should, with tact and talent, be able to navigate through both phases by creating quality content while organically including links to buy or shop for the product. Many Instagram and YouTube stars already have hybridized their roles with “shop now” links popping up throughout their posts. Keeping authenticity and commerce that close can certainly be a challenge, but considering the value of a performer like that, there’s a potential for an efficient and powerful role that most marketing teams would love to have in their pocket.

Many influencers are so transparent and loved by their audiences that they even explain that yes they are including an affiliate link and go on to explain that their affiliate partnerships allow them to keep their blog afloat. Audiences seem to understand and respect this sort of authenticity and when kept in the loop, are happy to make sure the influencers they love are compensated for their amazing work.

To introduce this hybrid relationship into your marketing plan, again, a trusted agency like us has the relationships, vetting processes and managers to power your brand to the top of your industry.

Let us know if you have questions or comments below. We are a friendly group and love to have a good conversation about affiliate and influencer marketing!

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Affiliate Management for Travel Companies

  • July 25th, 2017

It’s been such a pleasure to be a part of the affiliate management of Peregrine travel’s affiliate program in CJ. They have been exploring the world and taking you along ever since the 1970’s. Their adventures are built for an older generation – keeping in mind the importance of taking your time to enjoy your journey and fully experience each destination. Peregrine Adventure’s makes it a priority to immerse the traveler into the culture and soak up the atmosphere. Tour guides really want you to have a personal experience and pax are paired with a small group of like-minded travelers and local specialists that are expertly trained with a deep expanse of knowledge you won’t find anywhere else. There is no better way to see a destination then through the eyes of the people who live there.

Travel with Peregrine is comfortable and easy – using private vehicles that reduce travel time and reach places that big buses just can’t. It’s a convenient way to avoid the crowds. All of Peregrine tours include sightseeing and entrance costs, transportation, quality accommodation, an expert tour guide, all gratuities necessary for services, airport arrival travel, 24-hour emergency support, and even some meals.

Peregrine really does create spectacular journeys that combine exploration, culture, and adventure without forgetting about relaxation. They always make time for you to unwind and reflect upon your days activities.

Versa has been the affiliate marketing company in North America for over a year and the program continues to grow. We work diligently as a liaison to the biggest travel influencers in the industry to recruit content affiliate publishers. Commission Junction affiliates enjoy a 4% commission on all sales.

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Inbound Marketing in 2017 and How it Applies to Every Strategy

  • July 10th, 2017

Today’s marketers in the digital age need to be clever, agile and one step ahead. Inbound marketing does just that; it goes out and finds the buyer that doesn’t even know she’s ready to buy, makes the product easy to find at the top of all the search engines through many strategies, educates her with brilliant content and blog pieces, assures her by promoting written and video reviews, and makes buying the product a one-click process.

It’s remarkably effective…and, naturally, very difficult to  execute properly. How so? Well, Hubspot put out their annual study on all things inbound marketing, with a special focus on how different members of the marketing and sales teams view their interactions. Over 6,000 professionals gave their thoughts and insights  from all over the globe…so let’s dive in and see how it applies to where you may be at with your marketing strategies and how affiliate marketing fits into a highly functional inbound strategy.

Inbound Marketing Promises to Grow Exponentially

First, a little proof on the sweeping statements above. Globally, 71% of those surveyed affirmed that inbound marketing is their primary focus. That’s a huge number, and one that is expected to continue to grow exponentially. The respondents from North America also were specific about their inbound marketing priorities: SEO growth, blog content creation, and distribution and amplification of that content topped the list. This should make those in affiliate and content marketing very optimistic about their futures in this new age as these tactics all play apart in a superb affiliate strategy.

The Beast We Call ROI

Obviously since generating leads and traffic is a marketers primary goal, the fact that this was the biggest challenge was no surprise. What is mildly surprising is the fact that marketers STILL aren’t figuring out how to measure ROI.

The marketers that responded listed proving return on investment (ROI) and securing enough budget to carry out inbound marketing as two of the top three challenges they face today (the first was, predictably, generating traffic and leads…something marketers have always struggled with). That’s exactly why marketers love performance based marketing strategies because ROI is easy to calculate and money is only spent on performance.

In fact, while a large majority (46%) claimed that inbound marketing gives the highest ROI, a shocking 41% either didn’t or couldn’t calculate ROI, or just did not bother to answer the question at all.  So, while the companies generally agree on the direction global marketing is headed, they still have a hard time justifying it to the bosses upstairs and clients in part because a large percentage aren’t even willing or able to calculate ROI. Challenging, indeed, and potentially a large obstacle to lower level marketing teams who are on the right track, but may struggle for support.

Inbound Marketing Challenges

There are plenty of challenges, both present and future, and this report nails down quite a few. Disruptors in marketing was a main theme, and there is plenty of data and quotes to show both the positive and negative sides to these new concepts. Managing and targeting customers through a variety of ever-changing social channels seems to be a common issue; while some thrive and welcome the challenge, others feel lost and overwhelmed.

Allocation of resources towards these evolving mediums is necessary, and many may choose to bring in some outside help to professionally consult and manage affiliates and other inbound branches. Video, in particular, is a focus: expansion into YouTube and Facebook Video are the top two channels companies are prioritizing. Many welcome this, but some content writers and editors feel it might decrease their roles, or even make them obsolete. As with all of these disruptors, adaptation is key. For example, the writer who trains himself to integrate video in his content and is able to easily merge with multiple social channels should be ahead of the game.

Download the Report Because It’s That Good

This survey is full of information and insight for today’s marketing team, much of which we didn’t even touch on in this piece. As always, adaptation, innovation and forward thinking professionals will lead the pack, and the best know how to put the right people in the right place to get it all done. If you have questions about this post or the report and how affiliate marketing can embrace these trends and power your brand, contact us anytime! We’re a friendly bunch…

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Publisher or Merchant: Who Gets The Most Out Of Affiliate Marketing?

  • July 7th, 2017

If you’re reading this, you probably have at least a working idea of how affiliate marketing works. You, the merchant, have this groundbreaking new tech widget that is ready to hit the market. And I, the publisher, have an established and well-trafficked tech blog where I test and review all the latest gadgets out there. Seems like we should get together, no?

And so we do. We get connected through an experienced affiliate program manager, I get that widget to test and review (with all of your facts and messaging), and I naturally feature a link to your website so readers can buy it. Our manager does all the legwork, and I publish the post. Your sales and web traffic climb, and I get paid every time that link gets a click. Seems like a win/win situation, and, typically, it is. Question is, who is happier with this arrangement: you, the merchant, or me, the publisher? Let’s take a look at some numbers and find out.

A survey recently published by VigLink asked 500 publishers and 100 merchants about their feelings on these relationships and their personal goals, which gives us the chance to get some answers. Let’s start with revenue. For the publishers, affiliate marketing has finally replaced display ads as revenue generators. This is big news, especially considering the higher conversion rates affiliate marketing brings. Additionally, over three-quarters of publishers, big and small, say that revenue from affiliate marketing stayed the same or increased from 2015 to 2016. These are good signs that well-established larger publishers will continue the good work, and smaller or newer bloggers will stick with the process with confidence. Publishers are feeling good about what they’re doing.

On the flip side, merchants are quite pleased with their affiliate marketing results from that same time period. An amazing 73% reported that the revenue generated from their affiliate marketing met or exceeded their expectations. Not their bottom line…their expectations, which can be quite lofty. Over three-quarters of merchants also showed confidence that their current affiliate marketing programs are increasing sales and web traffic simultaneously. Apparently, merchants are feeling quite happy with their results, as well.

So far, it seems like a pretty even race. Keep in mind, this is a good thing. Mutually beneficial situations like this makes affiliate marketing an especially appealing option. Knowing that, we should examine the future;  plans to continue to invest time and money in these type of campaigns for both publishers and merchants will determine how this industry grows. So what does everyone see in the cards for the future?

Again, the prospects seem very bright. 86% of publishers expect their revenue to stay the same or increase in the next year. That would imply that these publishers will not only continue to use affiliate marketing to monetize their sites, but will reinvest some of that capital into   technical and logistical improvements to make their sites more affiliate-friendly for merchants and readers alike. Investment in this infrastructure tends to spur growth and opportunity, especially in what is, in reality, still a fairly new industry. Consider this: only half of publishers with more than 100,000 unique monthly visitors have been taking advantage of affiliate marketing for five years or more, while 65% of smaller-scale publishers (less than 5,000 unique monthly visitors) have only been using it for two years or less.  As with any industry, time and experience breed innovation and efficiency, especially with the help of a savvy affiliate marketing manager in your corner. With money staying steady and lots of room to grow, the publisher’s future looks bright indeed.

      As in all marketing, the merchant takes its cues from the market. Accordingly, the merchants surveyed report similar optimism. Staying in step with the publishers, an amazing 91% of merchants plan to keep or increase their affiliate marketing budget in the future. This is big news, providing confidence and security for current publishers and hope and incentive for up-and-coming ones. Over half of the merchants also report 5%-20% of their total sales coming from content-driven affiliate sales; a number that, in this age of ad blockers and general indifference to banner ads, is significant and expected to increase. Keeping in mind that many of these merchants are as new at this as the publishers above, it stands to reason that marketing departments will continue to invest in and nurture publishers as performances and revenues increase.   It’s just good business.

Are there problems and uncertainties that both publishers and merchants face in this rapidly growing field? Of course, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t discuss  them. Some publishers report that there aren’t enough interesting or relevant products available to engage their readers, and this can be problematic for bloggers who rely on authenticity for their audience. However, as mentioned above, this exponentially growing field should naturally expand to include all sorts of diverse and niche-relevant products…so, if there’s nothing to write about right now, it’s a safe bet that there will be soon. The merchant’s main concern was the relative quality of the networks representing them. Bad writers, unreliable technical hiccups, or pushy sales techniques can all unfairly represent a brand. Thankfully, as the field evolves, there are many solutions appearing to aid the merchant in vetting networks, analyzing data and conversion rates, and quickly shutting down shady or unreliable sites.

So, after all these facts, who is more likely to be pleased with their affiliate marketing situation? Well, a case could be made for both, especially considering who’s reading this. We’ll give the slight edge to the merchant, who has increased sales, web traffic, and an almost guaranteed ROI on their investment. There will undoubtedly be more to discuss in the future  as the industry grows and evolves. What are your thoughts on this survey and our conclusions? Team Merchant or Team Publisher? Let us know!

 

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Kusmi Tea Affiliate Program

  • June 8th, 2017

One of my favorite past times is sitting on the front porch of my childhood home enjoying a cup of Earl Grey alongside my mother. We would share stories and reminisce the old days. It was the tea that brought us together to share those moments. Every time I sip a hot cup of tea to this day I recall those times and it brings a smile to my face.

There is something about Earl Grey that feels comforting and really tea in general. One of my personal favorites is Kusmi Tea. Kusmi Tea is luxury tea now based out of Paris. They have an exceptional range of teas that they have developed throughout their rich history of over 150 years. The family owned company was deeply rooted in Russia and so many of the flavors are inspired by old traditions. Kusmi Tea blends continue to stay true to these old traditions but are complimented with contemporary essence. Their Earl Grey Polish blend no. 18 is one of Kusmi’s very first teas. It is considered a tangier version of Earl Grey with lemon and lime added to the traditional bergamot flavor. The Kusmi Tea collection offers exclusive blends of the highest quality. They have a wide range of teas including Green Tea blends like Green Bouquet, green tea with Nana mint or Detox, black tea like Prince Vladimir, and they are known for their red teas or Roobios, as well as, their delicate herbal teas. They offer 70 varieties of whole-leaf teas. These teas arrive in style in beautifully decorated and reusable tins.

Kusmi Tea has taken many measures to expand their market and have created an affiliate channel in the US. They have an active program in the Rakuten LinkShare network and offer a competitive 10% commission on all sales. They provide exceptionally designed banners and regular promotions for affiliates to benefit. All the tools to create a successful campaign are located in the LinkShare program. To join this great LinkShare program and start promoting these fine teas today please sign up at, https://signup.linkshare.com/publishers/registration/landing?mid=41984.

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