There are a few people in this industry that I love. Brian Littleton, Founder and President of Shareasale is one of them. Despite his incredibly hectic schedule, he allowed me time to ask him some questions to help us understand him more as a person and reflect on a few key issues faced by our industry today.
Q. Please tell us about the success of your last Think Tank. Was it as you expected? Better? Worse? What were your personal favorite parts?
Think Tank was a lot different than last year, for a number of reasons – the most of which was that last year we tried to “mix it up” and make it an open event for anyone to register. This year we went back to a little bit of the old formula in invitation only, and a little more stepped up on the amenities, etc.. We also shared a week with Affiliate Summit in Austin (their event, Affiliate Summit Central, took place a few days prior to ours) which brought a whole new element to our event and introduced a lot of people that would otherwise not have known about it. From a business perspective, it was a huge success as we had a number of wonderful presentations, great feedback, and I know a lot of Affiliates were introduced to some great Merchants while we were there. From a fun perspective it was one of my favourites especially with the Lake Travis day, boating, jet skis, etc… As you know, our event is about relaxed, casual networking which is how we feel so many of these bonds are formed between Merchants and Affiliates… I was extremely happy with how the event played out. A great new addition was the Affiliate Summit Party which was thrown on our “off night” by Shawn Collins and Missy Ward – it was a top notch event and really added a great element to our agenda… hopefully we can do that again!
Q. Attribution is a major topic these days and one that’s going to become more important over the years. What would you suggest to new and intermediate level merchants in order to understand this area more clearly?
From the Affiliate Marketing perspective, there are two important points to remember.
1. If you use Shareasale, attribution can be customized and is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Our tracking software allows you to segment groups of Affiliates, setup rules to commission them differently based on multiple click points (not just the last click), and allows you to commission differently if the traffic was touched or influenced by another marketing channel. I would highly recommend any ShareASale Merchant taking a long look at these capabilities to make sure that commissioning is happening just the way they want.
2. Affiliates are compensated on sales only, and those commissions can be taken away in the case of voids. This is unique to any other marketing channel being used… for example, you can’t call up a search company and ask for your PPC expenses back when an order is cancelled. This needs to be taken into consideration when dealing with the issue of attribution. I hear often that Merchants are concerned with Affiliates being commissioned on orders that actually came from somewhere else. This is certainly something to research and a legitimate concern, but there is also a lot of leakage as well as reversals that act as a balance.