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Anyone who is serious about affiliate marketing has undoubtedly been following the 2015 news on eBay Enterprise closely.

I, in turn, am super excited to have them express interest and return to sponsor our San Francisco conference in 2016.

The relationship between AM Days and eBay Enterprise started in 2014 when they gave our show a try on the Bronze Level and the company’s co-founder and CEO, Michael Jones, participated on the conference’s keynote panel on The Future Affiliate Network. In 2015 they returned to sponsor Affiliate Management Days again, but this time two levels higher — on the Gold Level, sponsoring also one of the two tracks of breakout sessions.

In 2016 they will be back again, and once more on the Gold Level!

Here is a bit more information about what they are and what they do:

eBay Enterprise Affiliate Network (formerly PepperJam Exchange) is known throughout the affiliate marketing industry for their high-touch services combined with unmatched results. Leveraging exclusive distribution, innovative solutions and strategic thought leadership in performance marketing, we build solutions for advertisers that bridge affiliate marketing with online, offline, mobile and social attribution.

With the ability to support both US and international currency, eBay Enterprise Affiliate Network empowers advertisers to expand their global footprint for international success. [source]

Thank you for your continuous support, eBay Enterprise! We are also looking forward to hearing Michael Jones’s insights on the “2016 Affiliate State of the Union” keynote panel on Day 2 of AM Days 2016.

If you are reading this, and would like to find out more about how to get brand exposure (and new business!) through AM Days, check out our 2016 sponsorship opportunities here.

And if you’re planning to attend the show, remember that the Super Early Bird pricing expires in just about a week. Save up to $300.00 by registering by the EOD Friday, December 18, 2015.

It is hard (for me) to believe, but in less than four months we will already hold our eighth show [see the previous ones here].

The agenda for our San Francisco 2016 conference — packed with 3 keynotes, 2 power panels, 18 breakout sessions, lunches with super affiliates on both days of the show, and much more — is live and may be reviewed here or by clicking the snapshot of Day 1 below.

AM Days 2016 Agenda

We are now in our Super Early Bird registration period, but it ends in just 11 days. So, for maximum possible savings you want to register soon.

I hope to see you in San Francisco in early April of 2016!

After our extremely successful 2015 show, we are already busy planning our return to San Francisco in 2016. The conference is going to take place on April 4-5 (the registration is already open), preceded by the already-traditional pre-conference workshop on April 3.

Today I’d like to announce the opening of our 2016 Call for Speakers.

If you have a good topic for advertisers, CMOs, and/or affiliate managers, apply to speak here.

Speaker proposal deadline: September 18, 2015.

Call for Speakers Now Open

Case study-based proposals are strongly encouraged, as are presentations focused on the practice of successful leveraging of affiliate marketers for the promotion of your business. For examples of previously-accepted proposals, feel free to check out the agendas of our previous seven shows.

Looking forward to reviewing your proposals.

Editor’s Note: We bring you more live coverage from the Affiliate Management Days conference. This series of articles is on topics of interest to businesses that offer affiliate programs.

Stephanie Robbins is the owner of Robbins Interactive

Stephanie started out her session by distinguishing the difference between content niche affiliates and blogger affiliates.

Content niche affiliates develop sites and use SEO to drive traffic and monetize, whereas, blogger affiliates feel it is extremely personal to them and use public relations in their marketing efforts.

Bloggers know about public relations and their goal is to be an ambassador for a brand and get paid for posts. They are generally not affiliate marketing minds, so reaching them is different than other types of affiliates.

When reaching out to bloggers speak public relations and then get to the affiliate part. Educate the bloggers about affiliate marketing benefits and how it can work in conjunction with their current efforts (paid posts, banner placements, etc.).

Stephanie mentioned that 16% of bloggers make money with affiliate marketing, so there is definite room for growth. Explaining to them that adding incremental revenue will be beneficial for the long term is critical to recruiting top notch bloggers.

Education

  • Educate bloggers –  it provides passive income but be realistic with them. Let them know that SEO for affiliate marketing (action terms) will be needed and optimizing existing posts can increase conversions and sales. Educate them on tools through videos, blog posts, etc. and how to make it efficient.
  • Managing their expectations – lower sales at the beginning leads to incremental income over time. For example a blogger is given a dress to review and higher commission rate, as a result they generate 11 sales (not 50 like a coupon affiliates). Sales may  1 -2 at a time, but those sales will continue over months and possibly years.
  • Brand equity – powerful tool…long term relationship and will provide incremental value down the road.
  • Long term relationship – continuously educate and keep them in the loop. Show them how they are going to differentiate from the rest of the bloggers and affiliates. They get 1000’s of emails from suitors to be represented on their sites, but the outreach must be personal.

Recruitment

The goal is to sift through the negativity and public relations of affiliate marketing and focus on them and how they can make affiliate marketing work for their business.

Before reaching out to bloggers a plan should be in place on how to get bloggers to promote the desired product or service for the brand. Thoughts should include:

  • How should they promote it? Social Media,? Blog posts?
  • Do they have existing posts on the topic? Look through their site to see.
  • Giveaways? Alternatives to giveaways include giving them 50% discount code to use for personal use. This is make them excited to work together.
  • Free Product reviews – not ideal because not optimized for affiliate marketing

In order for bloggers to be successful they need the right tools for the job.

Tools to use include:

  • Buzzstream – pulls  prospecting  list based on specific keywords.  When using the lists make sure they qualify, then contact them, and follow up, but make sure you remember the initial conversation.
  • LinkDex – Can pull competitors affiliate lists based on networks.
  • 5IQ – finds competitors affiliates and provides contact information to use for immediate contact.

Blogger outreach is a marketing effort and should include:

  • Multiple touches in order to get response.
  • Emails – they get the conversation started.
  • Social media – twitter (retweeting their posts, blog commenting on their posts, Facebook groups, chats, etc.).
  • Conferences (SaS ThinkTank, Meetups, Affiliate Summit).
  • Prepare presentations for bloggers to show them the value of affiliate marketing and how it can be a benefit to their current efforts.

First impressions matter!

  • Subject line in an email is super important. Make it count!
  • Keep it personal
    • Short and concise
    • Why should the blogger respond?
    • Program details are part of the 2nd conversation after they responded to your initial outreach
  • Example email subject line: Natural Beauty Product Opportunity
  • Connecting authentically in order to gain trust

Money Talks

  • Go live bonus – which is the most popular. They should be paid for writing the post. It leads to passive income conversation in the future. Bonuses can be from $50 -$200.
  • First sale bonus can be similar to the go live bonus.
  • Increased commissions – significantly increase base commission level because of time it takes to optimize. General rule is a 30 day window.

Retention

  • Education is crucial. Walk them through the process of optimization. They depend on affiliate managers for advice and tips.
  • Stay in touch the same ways you got in touch
    • Skype, email, cell phone
  • Make recommendations
    • Tell them what works. They will appreciate any and all help in their success.

In conclusion, treat bloggers differently than content niche affiliates. They require a more hands on approach and may require more nurturing in the beginning. However, they can become a powerful partner for many years.

 

 

Editor’s Note: We bring you more live coverage from the Affiliate Management Days conference. This series of articles is on topics of interest to businesses that offer affiliate programs.  

This session was conducted by Michael Ni, CMO/SVP of Avangate.

Michael started out by providing some interesting stats about affiliate programs on the Avangate network:

  • When programs are NOT managed on network they grow 15%
  • 28% growth for in-house managed
  • 79% growth for OPM managed

However, numbers only tell part of the story.

Many merchants are thinking this, but the million dollar questions is – when to outsource?

Michael placed the decision making process into 3 buckets and elaborated on the strengths and weaknesses of hiring and OPM vs. an in-house manager.

Bucket # 1 – Stage of the Program

Some questions to ask here include:

  • How mature is the program?
  • Is it just getting started?
  • Is it 15%-20% of all online sales?

This will give you (the merchant) a better idea of to outsource or keep your program in house.

Launching a brand new affiliate program or re-launching an existing neglected affiliate program requires more time than most mature programs. So, entrusting in an OPM during these phases can be more beneficial than having an in-house manager for a variety of reasons and they include:

  • OPM’s manage the platform well and are experts at program set-up and defining policies.
  • OPM’s are good at recruiting affiliates. They have relationships built with top affiliates already and they can go to them and get them activated in a timely manner.

Michael provided case studies for each bucket. Please note that all merchants mentioned are on the Avangate affiliate network.

Case Studies #1

VSO Software saw a 32% increase in affiliate sales after adding a dedicated affiliate manager (in-house). The results came from an aggressive activation campaign. They asked affiliates for pieces of contact information in exchange for a bump in commission. This worked really well for them and their affiliates become motivated.

Case Study # 2

Abbyy USA saw a 197% sales growth after adding an Avangate OPM Partner Agency. They required top affiliates and affiliate sales increased from 6% to 11%.

Choosing an OPM or keeping a program in-house depends on the stage of the affiliate program and what the merchants ultimate goals are.

Bucket # 2 – What is the complexity of the market?

Questions to think about include:

  • How competitive is the market?
  • How specialized is the market?

An OPM gets more power when the market becomes saturated because they can cut through the “noise” and reach the affiliates on a personal level. Personal affiliate interaction is critical for long term success. As mentioned earlier OPM’s have already built relationships that they can leverage to increase the overall performance of an affiliate program. An in-house manager may not have the amount of affiliate connections and the growth may be smaller.

Case Study # 3 

Telstream hired an OPM, then shifted to in-house manager. They used OPM to relaunch/grow affiliate program and affiliate sales increased 36% from previous quarter.

Hiring and educating an in-house affiliate manager to leverage specialized knowledge to deepen affiliate relationships was more beneficial than maintaining a relationship with an OPM.

Overall, they saw a 10% increase in affiliate revenue after in-house shift.

Case Study # 4

Kaspersky Turkey hired an OPM for geographic expansion.  As a result, a 400% uplift in sales was seen by using an OPM to tap local affiliates.

OPM’s can dominate this phase. This is something that in-house managers can not do because (not all) of their limited relationships with affiliates and knowledge of the market.

OPM’s are strong in channel control. This matters with mature affiliate programs and their “local” knowledge.

 Bucket # 3 – What are Objectives

What are the programs long term objectives?

Michael broke down the benefits of an OPM v. In-House manager into 4 categories:

  • Cost structures
  • Scale-ability
  • Branding Control
  • Time to Market

In-house managers have to think about salary and investing in tools and OPM’s cost varies. Their are 3 types of OPM payment terms:

  • Retainer + %, Flat Fee and Rev Share
  • Flat Fee – favor OPM
  • Revenue Share (OPM puts skin in the game)

Case Study # 5

AVS4YOU had an established affiliate program + network help. They achieved 52% YoY affiliate revenues from starting program. In total they grew affiliate sales from 4% -11% of online sales and net ROI for 2014 is 34%

Case Study # 6

myFICO had an established affiliate program that was OPM driven. Ultimately, shifted from CPA to CPS model and as a result an +80% increase in QoQ affiliate orders and net ROI in 2014 was 166%.

Outsourcing your affiliate program management depends on a number of factors, but programs just starting up or relaunching reap the benefits of an OPM and a mature program may be in better hands if an in-house manager in control.

 

With multiple tracking platforms and a site with 26 languages, the Light in Box global expansion provides an incredible case study for global success with an affiliate program.

Brooke Schaaf, co-founder of Schaaf Partner Centric) and Max Ciccotosto, head of global growth at TheLightintheBox.com)  worked closely together for a global affiliate campaign that spanned 25 countries and included 70+ programs in just 12 months. Brooke and Max detail their key learning points, success and takeaways from this aggressive and successful pursuit.

Below are 10 key points from this Affiliate Management Days session.

#1 Use Local Networks

Each country has their own industry events, cultural differences and many times language. It is essential to partner with a network that not only understands the strengths and weaknesses of the locale but can maximize the potential of each regional.

 

For instance, certain rules and regulations provide an advantage if the local office has a local bank. In these cases, publishers are rewarded tax benefits  for participating with a local business. Publishers can save up to 25% more due to taxes. A publisher weighs this advantage, or disadvantage if there is no local office, when entering into an affiliate agreement.

“Always pick the guys with the local office and in business with the local office of the country for at least a year.” Explains Max Ciccotosto, Light In The Box.

 

#2 One Set of policies

It is essential to maintain and enforce the same affiliate policy across all creative. All commissions, terms and conditions, creatives and other rules should be consistent for proper compliance management.

 

#3 Dedupe and Attribution

When working with multiple channels, dedupe technology and procedures are essential for cost containment. An international affiliate program needs a strong technology platform to ensure de-duplication l is accurate. In Europe there was more cross affiliate promotions. So you need to be aware of this when you are launching in Europe. In the case of Light In The Box, Impact Radius provided this service for attribution and deduping.

Attribution also plays a key role. Attribution allows you to see multiple touch points between different affiliates and channels. Brook explain the importance  of not only collecting this data but having the expertise to modify and grow the program according to key metrics.

 

# 4 Publisher Taxonomies

As the program expands across international borders, the variety of affiliates expands. Each country has its own strengths. For instance in France, email affiliates are dominate. Other countries like Italy and Brazil excel with ‘site unders.’ In Europe, shop comparison engines reign among the affiliates. The program needs to maximize each country’s strength. To maximize Light In The Box and Schaaf-Partners Centric, approached with an open mind and a “how can we make this work” approach versus shutting down based on previous perceptions.

 

#5 Not All Deals Are CPA

Light in the Box and and Schaaf-Partners Centric wants not to be constrained by the  CPA (cost for per acquisitions) model. This open approach allows for more creativity to take full advantage of the affiliates

 

#6 Sneaky Fraud

If you have a large affiliate program, the rouge affiliates will target your program. There are also more opportunities for fraud just due to the larger scale. With a global program, tools such as Brandverity are crucial to provide the checks and balance required to prevent fraud.

#7 Local Markets

As your program expands local market management becomes unwieldy. This is not just for the affiliate channel but across all channels. For instance, uploading creatives and links to 20 networks consumes large amounts of time.

In addition, there are 25 different calendars. How does the managerhandle all the holidays and timeframes across the country?

Light in the Box implemented a solid teiring system to manage all promotions across all channels and countries

Tier 1 promotions are top performing holidays. Typically the largest promotions are holiday agnostic so they can scale it global.  These are the biggest sales and have the largest budget.

Tier 2 promotions may not launch at the same time but can scale to multiple cultures. For instance, there are multiple Father’s Days around the world but the concept and promotion can remain the same with different launch dates.

Smaller holidays fall into Tier 3 and usually cannot be launched due to lack of scalability. Top affiliates work with several hundred merchants. Affiliates can’t keep up with all the small promotions. Accordingly, these smaller promotions will not give you the return on investment for the time required to scale.

 

#8 Must Have: Intelligence and Productivity Tools

Light in the Box uses a tool called MediaRails that allows the company to track all networks in one place. This software allows Light In the Box to pull publishers from all networks versus trying to manage the affiliates in individual networks.

# 9 Someone In Your Corner

The marketplace experiences rapid change. Ultimately, an international program needs the human touch as well as powerful software. Agency contacts and company employee’s provide accountability, perspective and strategy.

 

#10 Get Creative

Approach each opportunity presented with an open mind. Don’t limit your deals based on existing obstacles. Instead, look for ways to get around or destroy the barriers.

Affiliate Management Days 2015, this year’s only AM Days show, is just around the corner and will be held in San Francisco on March 31 – April 1, 2015.

As is already customary, we expect plenty of rolling Twitter coverage, which you may follow by the conference’s hashtag #AMDays, but today I’d like to also draw your attention to our liveblogging stars.

There will be three people covering hand-picked sessions (including one of the keynotes on Day 1 and the keynote panel on Day 2) in liveblogging manner both here on AM Days blog and on the website of one of our Media Partners, SmallBizTrends.

Here are their bios (highlighting the blogging/writing parts of their lives):

Stephanie Robbins, Founder of Robbins Interactive, is an affiliate program manager who writes about her 20+ years of digital marketing experience with a focus on the affiliate marketing industry. She also represents a select few brands that she can authentically promote to the affiliate  community.

Sarah Bundy is an award winning performance marketing blogger and digital marketing strategist. As Founder and CEO of All Inclusive Marketing, Sarah has contributed high level strategic content to several industry leading periodicals such as Feedfront Magazine, ReveNews, Online Marketing Institute, TUNE, and Small Business Trends.

Rick Magennis works as an account manager with AM Navigator where he develops, manages, and optimizes affiliate programs. He serves as a liaison between clients and affiliates. Rick has 4 years of digital marketing and affiliate marketing experience and is a regular contributor to Affiliate-Program-Management.com. Rick holds an MBA from Centenary College and resides is New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.

So, make sure that besides the Twitter hashtag you also follow Sarah’s, Stephanie’s, and Rick’s posts here and at SmallBizTrends.

We’ve been working on this for quite some time, and today I am excited to, finally, announce that we’ve rolled out the new mobile app for our upcoming Affiliate Management Days 2015 show!

You may now network with other AM Days 2015 attendees right from/on your smartphone.

How to Get AM Days Mobile App:

  1. Download the app on your smart device from topi.com/get, AppStore, or Google Play;
  2. Sign into the app via LinkedIn or Facebook;
  3. Join the event by entering code AMDAYS and start connecting with other attendees!

If you don’t find where to enter the code, do not worry! You should be prompted to do so upon launching the app and you may also enter the code at any time in at the bottom of the “Info” section (clearly visible on the image below).

AM Days on Topi Mobile App

How to Use the Mobile App:

  • Messages – This is where all of your messages are – with just one person or with multiple people (group messaging). It’s very similar to the Text Messages button on your smart device. Use the messaging system before, during and after the event – they’re always live!
  • Contacts – These are both Topi contacts based on a) your social networks contacts that are already on Topi and b) new connections you make at the event. Like messages, these contacts are always accessible anytime before, during and after the event.
  • Networking – These are the attendees who have joined Topi for this particular event. Use the search bar to narrow down the list or browse the entire list; to make your life easier, note that all the attendees are sorted by relevance to you, based on your own profile and interests. Click on any particular person to learn more about them or to request a connection with them.
  • Info Tab – This includes basic Event Info, the Event Wall (Group Chat room), Agenda, Speakers, Sponsors, Exhibitors (those actually at the conference). You are able to bookmark sessions, speakers, and exhibitors. You are also able to take notes on the app in this section.
  • Event Wall – This is under the Info Tab as listed above and this is the curated group chat room for this event. Any participant on the app can write a message or post a picture that everyone at the event would see.
  • Broadcast Messages – These are the live push notifications that are either pre-scheduled or send as real-time announcements for each particular event. As long as someone has entered the code in for that event, they’ll get the notification as a pop up on their phone.

Play around with the app as much as you can and you’ll get a very good feel on how you can leverage it to enhance your pre-conference networking as well as navigating around the show itself.

Exactly a week from now I will be standing on stage in San Francisco opening the 2015 Affiliate Management Days conference — for the seventh time since our launch in 2012.

The closer to the show we get, the more traffic rolls in…

Affiliate Management Days traffic

…and this is natural. It is also not too late to register for this year’s only AM Days (if you haven’t done so already). The prices are now lower than what they will be onsite.

Check out the conference’s agenda here, and download also the full Conference Guide by clicking the image below.

See you in a week!! Trust me, this is going to be one amazing show that you do not want to miss!

As our attendees are getting ready for this year’s only Affiliate Management Days conference, the question that I get asked most frequently is: “What is your event’s dress code?”

It’s a great question — especially taking into consideration that a good part of the affiliate marketing industry works in their pajamas. Literally! And that’s beautiful (as it underscores the underpinning idea of freedom)… provided a suitable context, of course.

It is also a great question, because when it comes to the dress etiquette many conferences are on the Business Casual side of things. AM Days is more laid back than that. Our dress code is Dressy Casual.

There are are various ways to define dressy casual. I personally like how Emily Post tackles it:

MEN

WOMEN

Dressy
Casual
  • Seasonal sport coat or blazer, and slacks
  • Dress shirt, casual button-down shirt, open-collar or polo shirt
  • Optional tie
  • Dress
  • Skirt & dressy top
  • Dressy pants outfit
  • Nice jeans and dressy top

If you need additional help deciding what to wear at the next AM Days show, take a look at the pictures of our previous years’ attendees. Here are also links to the the photo albums from our 2014 show:

Day 1:

Affiliate Management Days Dress Code

Day 2:

AM Days Dress Code

Looking forward to seeing you in San Francisco in just a week! Don’t miss this year’s only show!!