The Best of 2012: A Year In Review

Affiliate marketing best of 2012With 2013 only a day away I spent some time thinking about the last year and all the incredible things we’ve seen and done. I am extremely grateful for what we’ve been able to experience this year and it was an absolute pleasure to be part of the affiliate marketing industry throughout 2012.  Here are some of my personal highlights & “20 best” personal experiences of the year. In no particular order:

  1. Being listed in Affiliate Summit’s Top 25 Affiliate Marketing Blogs of 2012
  2. Having achieved over 10,000 unique readers during my first year of blogging.
  3. Actively contributing to the Industry Advancement Council and efforts of the PMA
  4. Organizing and launching the first annual Vancouver Affiliate Marketers Give Back event which helped men, women and children in need in Vancouver.
  5. Meeting and conversing with the great Gary Vaynerchuk
  6. Having someone I deeply admire and respect, Carolyn Kmet, join our team!
  7. Having the opportunity to mentor two young female entrepreneurs who are passionate about our industry
  8. Consulting for billionaires
  9. Enjoying time in the Bahamas while working with Sandals Resorts and meeting with their incredible team
  10. Working with respected brands such as Sea World, Sandals, Best Buy, Blurb, Abe’s Market, Kiyonna, Leading Lady, Dearfoams, Baggallini, LifeLock, Wondershare and more
  11. Expanding our global reach to work with clients in Canada, the US, Brazil, China, Hong Kong, Ireland, Australia, Finland, Sweden and the Middle East.
  12. Contributing to several fundraising projects with fellow affiliate marketers to help raise money for Breast Cancer Research, Big Brothers and support those affected by Hurricane Sandy.
  13. Speaking at the first ever Affiliate Management Days Conference and leading a workshop at the Online Marketing Summit
  14. Being interviewed on several podcasts (The Buzz, GeekCast, QAQN, PMA) and being featured on Performance Marketer Insider TV
  15. Contributing the “Affiliate Marketing for Merchants” course at The School of Internet Marketing
  16. Successfully launching AffiliateManagementTrainers.com and creating Affiligate.org (launching 2013) to help Affiliate Managers learn how to better serve their affiliates, optimize their programs, become more profitable and enjoy sustainable growth
  17. Being chosen as the head instructor of Affiliate Marketing at the Online Marketing Institute
  18. Being asked to submit a speaking proposal for a TEDx event in Vancouver
  19. Becoming a contributor of Small Business Trends
  20. MOST IMPORTANTLY – Enjoying my baby girl’s first year of life (while still having the opportunity to experience the list above)!
I’m so grateful to everyone who allowed 2012 to be so successful for us (and me personally)! Thank you for the amazing opportunities, the referrals, and the friendships. I feel so honoured and grateful for everything good that has come our way.
I look forward to continuing to serve the industry, to help move it forward and to continue to give back to those around me. Further (and most importantly), I look forward to spending more time with my children, my family and friends. 2012 was a year to be remembered, and I look forward to what the future brings!
To each of you, have a safe and wonderful New Year tonight! I look forward to seeing you all in 2013!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

I just wanted to drop a note to say Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays for those of you celebrating Christmas next week. I will be away with my family enjoying time with my kids, singing Christmas Carols, having hot apple cider, turkey and lamb roasts and enjoying the smells of Christmas around our homes.

For us it’s a time for family and friends and although I will be offline and enjoying a break until the new year, I will be thinking of you warmly and hoping you’re enjoying your time together too.

Have a wonderful next few days and I look forward to seeing you again in 2013!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Respectfully,

Sarah Bundy

How To Set Up an Affiliate Program Dream Team

Affiliate Program Management TeamOne of my frequent readers asked a question of me I thought was a fabulous topic, and a much overlooked question by many. The question was “How do you set up an effective affiliate / or performance marketing team? What positions do you feel are vital?” Great, question! Thanks for asking it.

The best affiliate managers I know have a variety of skills, and the best affiliate programs generally have an entire team of skilled people working on different aspects of the program. Here are the roles and skill sets I would recommend in order to build your powerhouse affiliate marketing team.

 

1. Program Manager (aka: Affiliate Manager, Account Manager, Affiliate Marketing Specialist)

This is your main contact person who executes the day to day tasks of your affiliate program. They should in extremely friendly, love helping people, be professional and responsive and have a quick turnaround on urgent tasks. They should be knowledgeable about the affiliate marketing space, know what issues to look out for, how to motivate affiliates, how to drive sales and understand numbers and at the very least, understand some basic HTML in order to understand basic tracking issues and help affiliates with code implementation on creatives like banners and text links as needed.Generally it’s this person’s job to take care of all affiliates, recruit new affiliates, get them set up and motive them to perform.

These people (when first coming into the industry) usually come in from either a sales, communications or customer service background.

 

2. Technical / Back-end Support

This person’s job is to help with creative uploads, tracking issues and questions, fraud monitoring, reporting and at times research. They should have a technical / analytical mind and be able to handle a lot of things thrown at them at once. They should also be able to have a fast turnaround on questions / inquiries as they come in.

 

3. Graphic Designer

In order to turn over high quality banners, landing pages and other creative work, it’s a good idea to have a solid graphic designer as part of your affiliate team. This person’s job is to create new banners with each season, create exclusive banners when asked by the affiliate manager and keep the program and the company brand looking aesthetically exceptional. They should be familiar with banner best practices, common size requests and have several design capabilities for static, animation and flash work as needed.

 

4. Team Leader / Program Strategist

This person is responsible for managing the entire affiliate marketing team and leading them to continued success. The team leader ensures items are being completed in a timely manner, that goals are being met, that team members are performing according to internal requirements (or better), working with the executive team on placement, positioning, budgets and main messaging, then communicating that to the rest of the team for consistency and proper execution. In the case of an outsourced affiliate management agency such as our own (and even internally) that person would either be the CMO, VP of Marketing or VP of Affiliate Marketing.

For some smaller companies, one person has to fill all these rolls, however those with a more formal structure, larger budgets and a more vested interest in their affiliate marketing program will consider at least these four positions to start. On a separate note – depending on the size of the business, there may be multiple affiliate marketing teams internally focused on different geographic regions, each of which would have at least one if not all of the listed four roles.

How To Group Your Affiliates for Success

Affiliate Marketign Groups & TypesThis week the question, “What are the different affiliates types or groups you use to be successful in your programs?” was asked of me. Great question.

Although there is no “standard” answer since many businesses have their own definition and breakdown of affiliates, here are my personal 17 key affiliate types and groups that help us remain successful in our affiliate program management.

 

1. Search Affiliates (PPC)

These are affiliates who use use pay per click efforts to drive the bulk of their sites. They may have their own landing pages which include affiliate links or perhaps direct link to the merchant site using their affiliate link as a redirect. Regardless, they pay for traffic to go where they need it to.

 

2. Content Affiliates (strictly SEO)

Content affiliates create original content on static sites, such as About.com or Top10Review type sites, then use their SEO experience to drive traffic through natural search results. These can be extremely useful for article type exposure, niche sites, review sites and second and third tier search engines, not to mention international search engine rankings.

 

3. Bloggers (community, personal opinions)

Affiliate program managers work extremely hard to find and build relationships with influential bloggers because of their ability to suede buying behavior with their large communities and loyal fan base. They have dynamic opinion pieces that fall into just about any vertical or niche, rank highly in search results, often have double opt in followers and are extremely social savvy. Bloggers will continue to thrive and grow as affiliate marketers for years to come.

 

4. Social Affiliates (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc)

I’ve separated social affiliates from bloggers because some affiliates don’t blog but do use Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest (as examples) to promote affiliate links and drive traffic to merchant sites. In these cases, as an affiliate manager, I may group someone as “social” and “blogger”, for example, if they do both.

 

5. Emailers

Email marketing affiliates are generally stronger in the CPA / Lead Gen arena, but not always. Coupon and loyalty sites, for example, often have opt in mailing lists of several hundred thousand subscribers who are waiting on that next big deal. Anyone who uses email marketing to drive targeted traffic to the merchant site using their affiliate link would go in this category.

 

6. Coupon / Daily Deal Sites

Sites like BradsDeals.com and Savings.com are examples of coupon and daily deal site. They often have large followings, millions of visitors per month and turn over millions of products for merchants regularly. These are the sites that feature coupon codes for free shipping, $10 off and high discount products.

 

7. Loyalty Sites

Loyalty sites are similar to coupon sites yet they subscribe “members” who earn points, cash back or are able to select a charity to donate some of the affiliate commission to during their checkout. Although there are some good loyalty sites, affiliate managers must be very cautious in working with those with toolbars and other technologies that drive traffic away from the merchant site yet still earn commission on completed sales.

 

8. Offline (TV, print, radio, etc)

This is an often overlooked category of affiliates, yet extremely powerful when the right partners are found. TV, print, radio, and even word of mouth opportunities can be extremely lucrative for affiliate programs when exclusive landing page tracking, coupon codes and phone number are used to reward sales.

 

9. Podcasters

An area that’s been growing over the last year are affiliates who are using Podcasting to drive sales through their podcast series (offline approach) or through their show landing pages which feature affiliate links. I believe this is an area that will continue to grow, especially with the introduction of PodCasting tools like Spreaker.com.

 

10. Merchant / JV

Another overlooked affiliate group are the merchants and join venture partners themselves. This works when a merchant offers affiliate links on their confirmation page or in emails to their consumers, or when affiliate program managers offer to promote non-competing yet complimentary products within their network.

 

11. Video (YouTubers)

Yes, YouTube does allow affiliate links to be displayed in the descriptions of videos, though they look a little bulky when posted. Alternatively YouTubers will use redirects or landing pages with their affiliate links and create the video to drive traffic to those pages. It’s difficult these days to make money as a YouTuber strictly, but when combined with affiliate marketing opportunities can become extremely profitable.

 

12. Datafeed Affiliates

This group of affiliates uses product datafeeds to create content on their sites. Some affiliates will manipulate the core datafeed files themselves, and others will use tools such as Popshops or Datafeedr to help. The reason these are listed separately from Shopping Comparison Engines is because some affiliates will not use datafeeds for price comparisons but rather niche product listings while others have content sites or blogs they support purchasing behavior with using product feeds.

 

13. SCE (Shopping Comparison Engines)

TheFind.com is probably one of the most well known SCE affiliates out here, though Google is now dabbling with the idea as well. Some “invitation only” merchants have been able to stay listed on a performance model within Google’s Shopping Engine (also known as Froogle.com). These types of affiliates are exactly how they sound – shopping comparison engines with every product you could possibly imagine.

 

14. Sub Networks

Sub networks are affiliates that have other affiliates that work under them. The merchant doesn’t know who the sub network’s affiliates are or how they are driving sales because all credit goes to the sub network who pays out however way they please. Examples of sub networks are skimlinks and viglink.

 

15. Mobile

The mobile affiliate segment is continuing to grow (good news) though it’s still not as strong as other channels yet.  A company called JunoWallet for example was one of the first pioneering mobile affiliates in the space (who have now changed their payment model). However when they first started doing this, they created an app where people could sign up for “free gift cards” which they could download and redeem in store or online. The gift cards worked similarly to a coupon code, however instead of a code, it would actually say “$10 Gift Card” and JunoWallet would use their own tracking platform to report on downloads and redemption. This is just an example of how affiliates could use mobile apps, or PPC or storefronts to drive traffic and be rewarded on a performance base.

 

16. Technology

Some people will categories this as “other” and that’s OK too. But the idea is these affiliates use technologies and service offerings they create and rather than charging for it upfront, they bill based on completed actions. An example of this is a company called VEInteractive. These guys provide shopping cart abandonment solutions on a performance base. For example, if a customer is half way through the checkout and does not compete their sale, VEInteractive will re-target that “dropout” to drive them back to complete the order. Then once they do, VEInteractive would earn commission on the sale. “But, wouldn’t this get expensive after a while and be worth investing in your own shopping card abandonment options?”. Yes. But for some companies who lack the short term development budget, the expertise, the time or a flexible shopping cart platform, this might be a good solution.

 

17. International

I usually group these separately because it’s important to know who I can reach out to when targeting Canadian buyers, French buyers, UK buyers, Australian buyers and so on. When it comes to international affiliates (which I define by reaching targeted traffic outside of the main target geographic region) I generally tag them as “International” and whatever marketing method they use listed above.

Ultimately there are many different types of affiliates out there and more are being introduced each day, but by grouping your affiliates into appropriate types, groups or “tags” you will be able to communicate more accurate information and marketing tips relevant to their needs, which will produce higher affiliate satisfaction, more active affiliates and increased sales.

Affiliate Home Parties Create New Opportunities for Merchants

blurb affiliate program innovative ideasOver the weekend an affiliate friend of mine decided to try something new with some friends. One of my top performing affiliates over the past 8 years, Leanne, decided to combine the Arbone / Mary Kay “Home Party” model to one of our clients, Blurb.

She invited several of her friends who are veteran scrapbookers and photo-albumists to try out Blurb’s self book publishing platform. She prepared by becoming initimately familiar with their online book building tools and asked our affiliate manager for exclusive codes for each of her guests. Brilliant.

Although this was a trial run with friends to see the response rate and get feedback from attendees to tweak her approach and learn how people would respond to her strategy, the response by those who came was incredible. Everyone who attended brought their laptop and sat building their books on the spot, asking questions that Leanne could answer because of her familiarity with the platform, and at no cost to the attendees due to the exclusive coupons offered by Blurb.

As an affiliate, she can monetize this by charging future attendees for her “Book Building Workshops” while also earning affiliate commission through completed books. Further she gets to create original content for her related blog, which potentially triples her income.

This is an example of how innovative affiliates can bring great value to merchants while finding creative ways to increase revenues. I take my hat off to you, Leanne, as always, for trying something new that will absolutely pay itself off. Well done.

How Small Businesses Are Spending Time in Social Channels [INFOGRAPHIC]

People often wonder how their hours on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linked In and Google Plus compare to others. If you’re a small business owner you may find these free channels helping your business, or depending on what you use it for, wasting your time.

Hubspot recently posted this infographic to display how other small businesses are spending their time on social media.

small-businesses-on-social-media

 

What’s your time on social media like in comparison to these stats?
As a small business owner what do you use it for?

Affiliate Marketing Terms, Definitions and Abbreviations – Part 4: Functionality and Tools

Over the last two weeks I have been defining many of the commonly used terms in  performance marketing. It can be overwhelming and confusing at times, so understanding the key terms will help ease your experience and effectiveness in this industry.

In part one we looked at the key players in performance marketing, in part two we looked at common affiliate program models, in part three we looked at metrics and KPIs and this section will take a closer look at the terms used in overall functionality and “tools” used in affiliate marketing.

 

Functionality and Tools

Creatives

This is a term used to describe the tools that affiliates use to promote your products or brand. They usually come in the form of banners, widgets, datafeeds, landing pages, storefronts and videos.

 

Hyperlink

This is a term used to describe when a link of any sort can be clicked on and leads the “clicker” from one page to the next.

 

Tracking Link

A tracking link is a term used to describe any hyperlink that has a specific identifier attached to it, such as an affiliate ID. In affiliate marketing it’s the link that tracks which affiliate gets credit when a sale or lead takes place. These tracking links usual come from an affiliate network, in house affiliate program software, or e-commerce platform add on.

 

Landing Page

This is a term used to reference any page the customer lands on. A “landing page” could be your homepage, a particular product page, a sales page and so on.

 

Deep Link

A deep link is a hyperlink that goes to a particular page or image deeper into the website than the homepage or other usual landing page. For retailers this could be a specific product page as an example.

 

Datafeed

This is a file used to communicate important information about each of the products you sell. It usually comes in the form of an excel or csv file which outlines your products name, description, price, image URL, availability, etc.

 

API

API stands for Application Programming Interface which basically works as a dynamic and real time feed to something like a data feed, a price list, inventory system or even checkout from one device to another. It helps speed things up and automate information integration.

 

Widget

The word widget is a term used to describe self-contained code that displays select information, usually a smaller piece of a larger puzzle, like a sampling, to allow people to get an idea of what something is about. A widget can contain banners, text, videos, forms and more. In affiliate marketing widgets are generally used on product pages or content pages to give samples of more products that the buyer might be interested in.

 

Cookie

A cookie is a tracking mechanism used as “memory” to identify that a person has done something specific. For example, if a customer goes on an affiliate website and clicks on a link that includes their affiliate tracking code, a cookie is automatically placed on the customer’s computer to remember that the affiliate referred them there. In this case, if the customer then buys something from the merchant the affiliate referred, the cookie will “remember” and credit them accordingly.

 

Return Days / Cookie Duration

Return days and cookie duration basically refer to the same thing – how many days after an affiliate tracking link is set by cookies will the affiliate have the opportunity to earn before it expires. If you have a 60 day cookie, for example, it means the customer who clicks the affiliate link has 60 days to buy something for the affiliate to earn commission off it. If the customer comes back and buys something later than 60 days, the affiliate will not earn a commission on the sale.

 

Text Link

Text links are used by affiliates in the content of their work, such as in a blog post, a static website page, in a newsletter or in a review. It’s is simply text that is hyper-linked and can be clicked through from one page to another.

 

TM Bids

Some affiliates try to “bid” on a company’s trade mark terms because it produces easy sales and conversions. Generally if someone does a search in google for “Brandname Coupons” or “Brandname producename” they already know what they want to buy. This is a strategy used frequently by PPC and coupon affiliates and is a strategy that is not allowed in many affiliate marketing programs.

 

TOS

This simply stands for Terms of Service. It’s the legal notice to affiliates of what they are and are not allowed to do with an affiliate program they join.

 

Compliance

Compliance is a term used to discuss and enforce a program’s Terms of Service. How well are affiliates complying by your rules? What do you do when they break those rules? These are all questions and considerations when discussing “Compliance”.

There are many more terms used within the affiliate marketing space and online in general, though these are some of the most commonly used terms to help you get through.

What are some of the key industry terms, slang and abbreviations you see in your day to day operations in the performance marketing space?

Affiliate Marketing Terms, Definitions and Abbreviations – Part 3: Metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Affiliate Marketing Terms, Metrics and KPIsAffiliate Marketing is a complicated industry and the various terms used don’t make it easier. In part one of our Affiliate Marketing Terms, Definitions and Abbreviations we talked about key players in the performance marketing space. In part two, we define the various affiliate marketing models that exist. This next section takes a look at the terms used when discussing common key performance indicators and affiliate marketing metrics.

 

Metrics and Key Performance Indicators

AOV / AOS – Average Order Value / Average Order Size

There are two general references to AOV or AOS. These are the overall Average Order Value of all purchases made on a website. If you look at your Google Analytics, for example, and go to your Conversions > Ecommerce > Overview section, this is the one called “Average Value”.

The other is specific to the affiliate marketing channel and shows you the AOV that affiliates are brining in. You can then compare the Average Value from your overall site performance to your affiliate partners to determine how they are performing compared to other channels. If it’s much higher, they may be doing a better job of up selling, cross selling or featuring more high value products from your site. If it’s lower, you may need to help them understand your products, services and value propositions better so they can help drive higher sales.

 

ROAS – Return on Advertising Spend

This is a term commonly used with search affiliates or internal search departments (mainly your PPC channel). The reason it’s important is search affiliates will speak with you about how well their campaigns may be converting and discuss keywords with you which will produce a higher Return on Advertising Spend.

If you have your own PPC efforts running, you will need to be strategic about your allowances with search affiliates, however there are solid win-win situations that will result in mutually beneficial relationships and dual profits for both parties involved.

 

ROI – Return on Investment

This one may be a bit simple to define here, but possibly THE most important abbreviation on this entire blog. Return on Investment tells you whether you are producing a positive return, a negative return or breaking even on your spend. I won’t go into detail about this one since it’s the basis of all business efforts – a positive ROI.

 

EPC – Earnings Per Click

Earning Per Click is a way for affiliates to understand what their earning potential will be if they join your program. EPC represents the average earnings of all affiliates in your program based on the number of sales (conversions) and clicks they send. To an affiliate it means “If I send 100 clicks your way, how much am I going to earn back?” If you have a $20 EPC, it means they will earn $20 from those 100 clicks. If you have a $0 EPC it means none of your affiliates are selling anything, which is not an encouraging figure for an affiliate to look at when considering joining your program. They would be taking a very big risk.

Alternatively, if you see a program with a $1200 EPC, either that program has an incredibly high AOV or there is something fishy going on. I tend to find the most common EPC range for e-commerce programs is usually between $12 – $45 EPC. Generally affiliates look for the programs that have an EPC of $15-20 or higher.

 

Reversal Rate 

This is a term used when a sale or affiliate commission is reversed from previously affiliate credited transitions. For example, if you have a 10% reversal rate, this means that 10 of 100 orders previously credited to affiliates were “cancelled”. It’s normal for businesses to have some small reversal rate since there are sometimes cancellations or returns by consumers, however, very high reversal rates (say 30-50%) are a big red flag for affiliates and they will be very wary to join your program – if they ever do.

 

Conversion Rate

Aside from ROI, this is likely the other most important metric used online.  Conversion rate measures how successful you are capturing the sale or lead. If you have a 2% conversion rate, that means 2 out of every 100 people coming to your website are completing a sale or lead generation form. (Note – there are other actions one can take to “convert” however these are the most common two).

There are a ton of ways to break conversion rate up to help you understand your strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. For example, you could measure your entire site conversion rate, a landing page’s conversion rate, an affiliate’s conversion rate and so on.

Very high conversion rates from affiliates could mean they are either fabulous marketers or are doing something that could be hurting you. Very low conversion rates from affiliates could mean they are not sending you targeted traffic, there is something wrong with their landing pages, another affiliate is getting credit for their sales or they may need more training about your product or brand.

 

Click Through

This is a term used to describe when a user clicks on an ad or link (whether it be a banner, text link, product image, widget, etc) and leaves the page to land on another page. They are “clicking through” from one place to another using one of your ads or creatives.

 

Impression

This is simply a term used to explain how many times your links are showing. For example, if in your affiliate program you have 100,000 impressions, it means the combination of all your creatives (banners, text links, product images, etc) that have an affiliate tracking link attached to them have been “seen” that many times across all your affiliate’s touch points.

You can also track each individual banner, text link and such to see which ones are showing the most, which are being used the most and so on.

 

Attribution

Attribution is a term used to describe which chain of affiliates or marketing channels were used to complete a transaction. With attribution tracking you can better understand the values different touch points bring to your sales cycle. You can read more about attribution here.

There are various other terms used to describe key performance indicators in affiliate marketing, especially when cross referencing other marketing channels such as in search, social or mobile marketing, however this gives you a solid place to start.

My final section of affiliate marketing definitions and abbreviations will take a look at the terms used to describe tools and overall functionally of an affiliate marketing program.

Affiliate Marketing Terms, Definitions and Abbreviations – Part 2: Common Affiliate Program Models

As a continuation from Part 1 of Affiliate Marketing Terms, Definitions and Abbreviations today we look at what the most common affiliate program models are.

Affiliate marketing program model

Common Affiliate Program Models

CPA – Cost Per Acquisition

This is a term used to describe the action of acquiring a new customer. CPA can be used to describe a type of network (such as CPA network) or a $ or % payout to an affiliate for a particular action taking place.


CPC – Cost Per Click

This is a term used to either describe an affiliate marketing model where the affiliate earns on every click they send to a merchant or advertiser, exactly how Google AdSense works.

 

CPL – Cost Per Lead

This terms is used to describe an affiliate program model where an affiliate or publisher is rewarded once a “lead” is completed through a form or other means, such as a newsletter sign up. CPL programs can pay anywhere from $0.10 per lead to $150 per lead or more. These models are most common with programs in insurance, finance and education as examples.


PPS / CPS – Pay Per Sale or Cost Per Sale

This is a term used to describe an affiliate marketing model that pays out (generally) a percentage on a sale that took place for a tangible product. Depending on the product, an average PPS or CPS payout usually looks anywhere from 1-4% to 15-30%. The average CPS commission payout is usually between 8-10%.


CPM – Cost Per Thousand Impressions

The model of paying on impressions is most common in display networks, in international affiliate programs such as in China, and in ad buys. However it’s important to be mentioned here because it is in fact an option for an affiliate program and because the term is used within the industry.

 

MLM – Multi Level Marketing (Not Affiliate Marketing!)

Personally, not my favorite thing in the world, and not one that many people in this industry consider affiliate marketing, however, multi-level-marketing (also known as a “pyramid scheme” or “network marketing”) is very popular with some types of products and term is sometimes used in the industry so it’s important to mention it here.  It is NOT affiliate marketing. See this post here for more.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of our Affiliate Marketing Terms, Definitions and Abbreviations when we define commonly used terms related to reporting metrics and key performance indicators.

Affiliate Marketing Terms, Definitions and Abbreviations – Part 1: Key Players

Affiliate marketing can be incredibly complicated, especially when throwing around various industry terms, slang and abbreviations. Here are a few of the most commonly used / seen terms and expressions used in the affiliate marketing space.

 

Key Players

Before we get into defining commonly used terms, it’s important to point out who the key players are in the affiliate marketing / performance marketing space.

 

Merchant / Advertiser

This is the company or person selling and distributing the good or service to the end user. They are also known as internet retailers, e-commerce stores, service providers and a few other terms. However the two most commonly used are “merchant” or “advertiser”. It’s the affiliate’s job to promote the merchant in order to drive traffic that will ultimately generate a sale (or other desired action).

 

Affiliate / Publisher / Associate

These are the guys who promote the merchant in the hopes of earning a commission or “payout” on the sale. There are many terms for affiliates, such as “internet marketer”, “publisher”, “advertising partner”, “performance marketer” or “associate”. The two most commonly used terms to describe the person who works on a performance based model to drive traffic to the advertiser’s site are “affiliate” and “publisher”.

 

Super Affiliate

This is a term that’s very subjective and there are different definitions of what a “super affiliate” is depending on who you ask. Some people will define a super affiliate as the top performing affiliate in one specific program. Others will define super affiliates as those who earn more than $100,000 per year. Others, those who generate over $1,000,000 per year in affiliate commissions. I’m not sure there is a solid answer to this question other than, a super affiliate is always one who has potential to drive a significant amount of traffic and sales for your particular program.

 

Affiliate Network

An affiliate network is just a fancy term for “affiliate tracking platform”. The job of the affiliate network is to help track affiliate sales and performance, assist with technical issues as needed, connect affiliates to merchants through exposure and support, help with payouts and at times compliance. There are options to get your own internal tracking so you don’t have to work with a network, however if you’re serious about making your affiliate program work, you will need to decide on a network at some point. The four biggest affiliate networks in the retail space are Commission Junction, Linkshare, Google Affiliate Network and ShareASale.

 

OPM / AM – Outsourced Program Manager / Affiliate Manager

In order for your affiliate program to be successful it needs a proper affiliate manager. You can either hire an affiliate manager in house (I strongly recommend this person is experienced and knows what they are doing) or you can outsource your affiliate program management to what we call an “OPM”or outsourced program management company, such as All Inclusive Marketing.

Affiliate Managers and OPMs are responsible for the day to day operations, planning and execution of your affiliate marketing efforts such as recruitment, activation, training, optimization, reporting and compliance.

 

Buyer / Customer / Consumer

Probably THE key player in the affiliate marketing game is the end user, also known as the buyer, the consumer or your customer. Without the buyer, the merchants would have no need to work with affiliates, and affiliates would have no one to drive traffic to their merchant partner’s sites.

Stay tuned for part 2 when we talk about common affiliate program models.

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