Create Affiliate Banners That Convert

Posted by on Feb 20, 2018 in Affiliate Manager, Affiliate Posts, Blog | 0 comments

Before I begin my recommendations on creating effective affiliate banners, let me address the elephant in the room: no, affiliate banners are not dead. I hear this frequently and it surprises me each time. Do affiliate banners on non-related sites convert to sales? Absolutely not, and if you still have banner farms (sites with only banners and no content) please take them down immediately. However, a well-done affiliate banner on a niche site does convert and provides a great baseline of passive affiliate revenue into your program. I am not trying to say your banner conversions will surpass, or even come close to, your text link conversions. Text links within relevant content reigns for conversions. However, to omit banners entirely would reduce supporting branding opportunities and passive revenue income for your program and the affiliate. Ok, now that we have that cleared up, let’s move forward with my recommendations for affiliate banners that convert for your program. Know Yourself When creating specs for affiliate banners, the first item on my list is to ensure whoever looks at your banner knows exactly who you are. Remember, your banner will be along side other brands that, hopefully, aren’t in your category. As such, include product images that clearly illustrate what you are trying to sell. Affiliate banners are not the time to go out of the box with abstract images. If you sell cosmetics, include a picture of lipstick, eyeshadow and mascara. If you can include multiple product lines (think eyes, lips and face), that’s even better. Skip the lipstick swatch image. That’s for your affiliate to use in their post body. If you sell food, include an image of your package and a clear CTA. Why should someone by it? Is it gluten-free? Vegan? Paleo? You get the point. Make it obvious because you are looking to convert a quick glance into a click. I know you spent a lot of time creating a logo that represents your brand. I absolutely want you to include your logo on your banner. However, understand that, unless you are a well-known brand like Target or Crate and Barrel, your product image is more important. Below is an example from Au Naturale on a theme-focused banner. This New Year’s banner focuses on consumers looking to reduce their chemical intake. Stand Out From The Crowd Your banner should be clean, flexible AND stand out from the crowd. I know this is a tall order for a space as small as 300×250 pixels, but it makes all the difference. Use eye-catching images, but avoid the temptation to animate it. A quality site won’t accept animated banners because content is king, and animation is distracting. Create a...

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Niche Influencers Outreach Advice For Your Affiliate Program

Posted by on Feb 7, 2018 in Affiliate Management, Affiliate Manager, Affiliate Posts, Blog | 0 comments

The following blog post was originally posted on AM Days. I am speaking at AM Days, an affiliate management conference, in May. My session covers who to get those recruited influencers into performing affiliates. Click here for more details. And of course, this is an affiliate link because you know…it’s what I do and all.  I can also offer you 15% off any 2-day session by using the code SPKROBBINS. If you click on this link, I will receive a commission to offset travel costs.   Looking to recruit an influencer who is also a top performing affiliate? The key to influencer recruitment success begins with your list. As an affiliate manager, the evolution of influencers in the performance marketing space is a trend I have kept a close eye on. Early on, I saw the value of content affiliates but remained a minority among my peers. Now, the tide has changed. Influencer marketing has infiltrated the affiliate marketing world. Merchants see the value of influencers’ reviews for conversions and requests for affiliate managers to recruit influencers have grown exponentially. Affiliate managers now spend much of their time diligently crafting custom emails with the hopes of recruiting the next top performing influencer. However, many of these hours are wasted because of one common mistake. Many managers overlook the first essential step in the recruitment process: creating the prospect list.  An unqualified list results in failure, no matter how brilliant your recruitment outreach. Your prospect search should go beyond standard stats such as the number of followers, page ranking, and MOZ score. This post illustrates how to avoid common illusions and key components managers should look for to find influencers who will know how to connect, and as a result, sell to your target audience. Below are six key steps to creating an influencer list that will recruit top performing affiliates. #1 Pick A Niche Finding the sweet spot with influencers isn’t just about follower counts, it is also about the niche. Niche influencers have authority, knowledge and trust with their audience. Those three components translate to affiliate revenue. We buy from people we trust. We trust people who are experts. Prior to any list creation, I identify my top niches to recruit from. As an example, I manage an all-natural cosmetic brand. I look beyond the general niche of beauty bloggers and focus recruitment one level deeper. The more specific the niche I find, the higher conversion rates I see.  One recruitment segment I’ve identified is vegan influencers. These micro-influencers may have smaller numbers in followers, but they have knowledge, passion and a sincere connection with their audience that results in an authentic representation of my merchant. Below is an...

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Influencer or Affiliate Marketing: Should a Business Have to Choose?

Posted by on Sep 1, 2017 in Affiliate Management, Affiliate Manager, Affiliate Posts, Blog | 0 comments

Spoiler Alert:  They don’t HAVE to choose.  A recent online article, published by Entrepreneur, made my blood pressure rise. The author makes a comparison between affiliate and influencer marketing and asks the question, “Which should your company use?” At first glance, I thought the article was click bait. But as it turns out, many companies do feel they need to make a choice between the two. An online marketer recently shared with me that a company shut down their affiliate program to focus on influencer marketing instead. Huh? Why would a company think these two initiatives are so different that they can only use one? The Entrepreneur article, plus that recent experience, led me to write this post. In this article, I address the ‘either or’ mentality. I further explain why affiliate and influencer marketing are compatible and work best when combined. Definitions for Influencer and Affiliate Marketing Let’s begin with basic definitions of each tactic. Per Wikipedia, Influencer Marketing is a form of advertising in which focus is placed on influential people rather than the target market as a whole. It identifies the individuals who have influence over potential buyers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers. I like to think of influencer marketing as partnering with individuals who have credibility and knowledge that supports your marketing initiatives. Brian Littleton of Shareasale provides my favorite definition of Affiliate Marketing by stating, “affiliate marketing is simply advertising, tied to a performance metric.” In translation, affiliate marketing is a way to compensate influencers for their efforts. As such, it can be influencer marketing tied to a performance metric. The Lines Are Blurred By looking at these definitions, it is clear how the two channels can work together. In fact, the lines between affiliate and influencer marketing are continually blurred. Many influencers approach PR departments requesting to become an affiliate, especially if a flat sponsored rate is not available. Since this winning combination is the core of my business, I am confident it works. Why? Because affiliate marketing is a great way to compensate Influencer Marketing. Yes, I used the C word: compensate. Below are two reasons why a hybrid influencer marketing model of affiliate and influencer marketing benefits both the influencer and the brand. 1. Influencers Should Be Compensated Influencer marketing may be in its infancy but it has evolved beyond the days of running campaigns with free product as the ‘pay’. Yes, you may get a post or a social media shout-out in exchange for a free product, but it is rare to create a profitable campaign without offering compensation. Influencers know their value and the amount of effort it takes to make a campaign successful for a brand. A successful...

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Micro and Mega Influencers: A Question of Value

Posted by on Jan 27, 2017 in Affiliate Manager, Affiliate Posts, Blog | 0 comments

This post was originally published on the Influencer Marketing Days Blog. In the past year, one of the most popular buzzwords used in marketing meetings everywhere has been ‘influencer.’ Companies large and small are hoping to harness the power of individuals to impact consumers’ buying decisions. Brands recognize the importance of working with influencers with a range of audience sizes. There are mega influencers, like Kim Kardashian, who have larger than life personalities and the follower count to match; to micro influencers, like the hyper local lifestyle blogger, who can engage and garner high levels of trust because their message reads like one of a close friend. And while debates continue over which level of influencer provides the greatest value to a brand, I will continue creating campaigns that integrate the potential of both levels. This post is a case study illustrating the leverage and difference between two influencers. First, we need to define mega and micro influencer. I work with small to medium size companies so my numbers may differ from the larger Fortune 500 brands. However, it is best to establish some metrics so we are on the same page. Mega Influencer Followers over 100,000 on and/or offline Aspirational to followers Can be niche or lifestyle focused Unable to respond individually to all followers due to larger numbers Produces significant social media engagement such as Likes, Views, Shares and Comments Micro Influencer Sweet spot of between 1,000-10,000 followers Create related micro-moments that their followers find inspirational but also attainable More responsive to followers due to smaller numbers Smaller numbers of Likes, Shares and Comments in quantity but higher in ratio Case Study: A Tale of Two Influencers I recently ran a campaign for a company that sells all-natural and vegan cosmetics and skincare lines. The campaign focused on the launch of a new cosmetic product. Campaign Objectives Increase revenue for online store Increase awareness about the new product and its benefits General brand awareness Campaign Details Influencers received product in advance to review and photograph Facebook boost budget provided by brand Required a blog post, Facebook and Instagram post (for this campaign no video, Live or otherwise was used) Hybrid compensation based on shared revenue and fixed fees Tracking provided by social media metrics (Likes, Shares and Comments) as well as coupon codes, affiliate tracking links and custom and unique landing pages   Introducing The Influencers Mega Influencer Vegan and all natural niche Solid knowledge in cosmetics and skincare Over 600,000 followers on Instagram Over 24,00 followers on Facebook 300+engagement on all posts Provides high quality images and content, professional influencer Well respected by brands and niche community Experienced in both sponsored and performance based campaigns Micro...

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Key Takeaways From Influencer Marketing Days Conference

Posted by on Nov 17, 2016 in Affiliate Management, Affiliate Manager | 0 comments

  This week. I had the privilege to attend and speak at the first conference focused on influencer marketing, Influencer Marketing Days  Having an early appreciation for this growing channel, I looked forward to honing my skills and sharing my knowledge. Throughout the conference, I had many “ah ha” moments and several affirmations that Robbins Interactive is heading in the right direction with its focus on influence marketing and affiliate marketing. Here are some of my key takeaways from this two-day conference. Micro-Influencers Rule Many people think of celebrities with regards to influencer marketing. However, the rise of the powerful small to medium size influencers is where the power and ROI resides. Every presentation mentioned the importance of working with the ‘power middle’ and micro influencers versus focusing efforts and budgets on mega-influencers. First here are the definitions of these new buzzwords. Mega Influencers – often traditional celebrities like actors and actresses but also Internet born celebrities. Maintains a 1 million plus followers. Power Middle  – the sweet spot for many brands, these influencers maintain 10,000+ followers. They typically work within larger niches such as parenting, health and fitness. Micro Influencers = these powerful, smaller influencers average followers between 1000-9000. They are highly engaged with their manageable audience and typically passionate about a specific/smaller niche and topic. Instead of health, think paleo or vegan. In my own campaigns, I noticed the trend of smaller, more niche influencers driving larger sales and engagement for my clients. It is both gratifying and comforting to have this observation confirmed again and again with real data and campaigns outside of my own. Here are the top reasons micro influencers should be your priority for 2017. As more brands ramp up their influencer marketing efforts, the smaller numbers of mega-influencers will be tapped out. Working with micro influencers will be both more affordable and available. Smaller influencers can manage and therefore engage with their followers more actively. These influencers tend to be more knowledge therefore gaining greater credibility from the consumer. Followers of these influencers are more likely to create their own conversations around the campaign, therefore building a closer relationship with the brand. Preparation Is Key Brands must prepare prior to initiating a campaign. Below are tasks that should be identified before any campaign or outreach begins. Influencer Score Card – Rate the 5 Rs of an influencer – reach, resonance, relevance, reputation, and ROI potential. Tracking Methods and Tools – Be prepared to have the correct tracking tools and instructions to insert those tools. Campaign Assets and Direction – The campaign should be led by the brand but not micro managed. The brand needs to optimize the campaign for one objective, provide detailed...

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Is Your Affiliate Program Healthy? It May Be Time for A Checkup

Posted by on Sep 9, 2015 in Affiliate Manager | 0 comments

As an affiliate manager, educating my clients and program participants is a large part of what I do. Over the years, these three questions seem to come up over and over: What percentage of overall E-commerce revenue should my affiliate program be? How will I know if my affiliate program is cannibalizing existing sales? I have a love/hate relationship with my affiliate program. Is this normal? My answer to the last questions is a resounding, “NO, this is not normal!” If you have been asking yourself any of these questions, and/or if you’re having mixed feelings about your affiliate program, it may be time for an Affiliate Program Checkup. Below are the four vitals I check when reviewing an affiliate program. Test Your Affiliate Program for Parasites What is a parasite affiliate? My personal definition: any affiliate who does not add value to your sales cycle or brand. The industry standard definition is an affiliate who creates passive clicks, meaning the customer does not engage with the affiliate to activate the cookie. An example would be a toolbar the consumer adds to their browser that automatically drops cookies as the consumer browses online stores. A parasite will drain any affiliate program. Not only do parasites cannibalize sales, they deter strong content affiliates from participating in your program because they know their commission will be hijacked. Solution? Remove all toolbar affiliates. New Customer Pulse Your affiliate program should be generating new customers rather than guiding returning ones. If you are not passing the new customer increase parameter be sure to work with your network and technical team to integrate. Knowledge is power. Take Your Measurements Do you have reporting in place to view last click, conversion rates and point of entry within the sales cycle? This data will give you insight into the influence and impact your affiliate has on the consumer. It also provides clues to determining if a parasite affiliate is in your program. Use these four metrics to help determine your programs’ vitality. Are sales coming through without a referring URL? While a blank referral URL is not always a problem, it can be warning sign of unethical traffic. A quick email to the affiliate will quickly lead you to your answer. If you don’t have access to the referring URL, you need to get it. This information is crucial for diagnosis. Networks such as Shareasale and Avantlink make this information readily available. Do some of your affiliates have significantly higher conversion rates than your main site? A moderate increase between the two can often be attributed to targeted traffic. However, if your conversion rate is 3% and your affiliates’ conversion rate is 65%, you need to...

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