How To Improve Your Affiliate Marketing by Attending Affiliate Summit

affiliate marketing podcastIf you want to improve your digital strategy as an affiliate marketer, exponentially grow your profits for you and your business, then this podcast is for you. Learn from the online marketing elite to reach your growth goals.

Welcome to the Digital Strategy Insights podcast with your host Sarah Bundy, founder and CEO of All Inclusive Marketing. The landscape of affiliate marketing has rapidly changed, which has been trying for some, but beneficial for those who have stuck to their guns.

Listen as this week’s guest Shawn Collins, co-founder of Affiliate Summit answers in depth questions on the ins and outs of his business. Collins has been in the business for nearly two decades and is also the founder of GeekCast.fm, co-editor in chief at FeedFront Magazine and a blogger and author in his own right. Affiliate Summit is at the top of their game when it comes to providing exceptional events for performance marketing.

Sit back and relax as Bundy and Collins take you through Affiliate Summit’s journey, how they’ve triumphed over the tough times, and how they envision the next five years.

Learn From the Best

Affiliate Summit is a name you need to know if you want to learn from the best. As a company they pride themselves on being able to provide a community of education and respect. This is why they are leading the industry in elite marketing conferences.

There is a simple formula to their success, according to Collins it is a case of trying things out, seeing what sticks and being open to collaboration. Before they founded Affiliate Summit, Collins and his co-founder felt something was missing from the events they were attending. There was too much focus on networking and not enough education. So they decided to satiate their thirst for knowledge by creating a place that could mix both.

An Affiliate Summit event is a conference open to all affiliate marketers with all budgets. Hosting the infamous ‘Meet Market’ as well as the traditional ‘Exhibition Hall’ means those who vend and those who attend are getting enough bang for their buck. Creating this alternative space gives Affiliate Summit their edge against other run of the mill trade shows and job fairs.

Increase Your Performance Marketing the Easy Way

Increasing your affiliate marketing performance could not be easier with the help of Affiliate Summit. Attending one of their shows is the easiest way to maximise your networking potential whilst educating yourself from the best. Having a focus on improving your digital strategy means their shows help you grow as an affiliate marketer. Listen the this episode to find out:

  • How have the Affiliate Summit events changed over the years?
  • Why are these shows so important in the industry?
  • What makes the ‘Meet Market’ unique?
  • How do I know if I should attend, or vend?
  • What do I need to do to become an MC?
  • What differentiates a West coast show from an East Coast show?
  • Where is Affiliate Summit going as a company?

Take 20 minutes out of your day as Collins answers all these questions, and more. This is a snippet of all the benefits you will find from attending an Affiliate Summit show and starting your journey to improving your social and digital strategies. An Affiliate Summit show is for you if you strive to give your customers the best quality marketing possible.

Want to get your hands on one of 50 scholarship VIP passes to the next Affiliate Summit event? To find out how, get in touch with Collins via email at shawn@affiliatesummit.com, on facebook.com/shawncollins, or Twitter @affiliatetip.

Want to go to the next show? It will be at the New York Marriott Marquis on August 2nd to 4th, 2015.

If you want a bite-size look into how you can improve your affiliate marketing performance and digital strategy, take a moment to listen to the Digital Strategy Insights podcast. Then feel free to reach out to us at All Inclusive Marketing (www.allinclusivemarketing.com) by visiting the website, via Facebook at Facebook.com/trusttheexperts or on Twitter @trusttheexperts.

Look for These People at Affiliate Summit West 2015

Meet Us at Affiliate Summit With Affiliate Summit* only three sleeps away, the All Inclusive Marketing team is getting really pumped to meet, network and engage with existing and new affiliates, partners and clients.

Also, with four new team members joining the AIM team over the last month, and with both Jon Levine and Carolyn Kmet making guest appearances at the show as Emcee and Panel Speaker, here are 10 people to keep you eye out for representing AIM this year. But first!

Top 5 Reasons To Meet With Us at Affiliate Summit West: 

  1. You are an affiliate looking to join great programs with solid content and products that will engage with your audience and help you drive your affiliate revenue and profitability.
  2. You are a merchant / advertiser looking for marketing help or advice with your program, either to grow it through new channels, optimize it for higher profitability and new customer acquisitions, or get strategic guidance and insight.
  3. You are an industry partner or service provider looking for a strong strategic partner to help you grow your business, brand and customer base. (more…)

Exclusive Interview: Tricia Meyer Comments Black Friday / Cyber Monday Results

Tricia-Meyer-Cyber-MondayWith some of the hottest sales days of the year just passing us and Affiliate Summit West just around the corner, I wanted to get some insight from one of our industry veterans on how Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales went from an affiliate perspective, what challenges the industry is facing going into 2014, advice from an affiliate to a merchant and a few other tid-bits.
This month’s exclusive interview is with the well loved and respected, Tricia Meyer.

1. How did you find Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales this year compared to other years? What changes did you make to get different results this year?

This year sales started much earlier. Years ago we didn’t even have traffic on Thanksgiving. This year, we saw a huge spike in sales…rivaling Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I think it was a combination of fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as all of the media attention on Big Box stores starting their sales earlier. We loaded up everything that we could to start on Thanksgiving but still took the day off to spend with family. Now we have fewer days between Cyber Monday and Christmas so we are having to stay on top of sales hourly.

2. As an affiliate of a community blog, a loyalty site and multiple micro-niche-sites, what do you want merchants to know about working with you?

More than anything else, the more that they can help us automate and streamline our processes, the better chance that we will be able to include them on our site. When merchants load coupons into the network as text links rather than promotions, we do not get them automatically in the feed. So the merchants want us to add them manually from the newsletters. But with over 1000 merchants, we just can’t get to them in time. The more that we can use the technology that the networks give us, the better.

3. What do you see as the single most challenging issue with the affiliate marketing industry right now?

From my perspective, content sites are getting squeezed out. Between cookie overwriting, Google’s fickle rankings, and the legal issues of disclosure and taxation, veterans with content sites are finding themselves looking for full-time jobs to pay the bills with their affiliate sites now just being on the side. If that continues, we could eventually see more and more of the piece of the pie going to the biggest sites with less going to the little ones that truly provide unique content. We need affiliates of all sizes to stick with it to keep the industry strong.

 

4. Of all the sites you own, which are your favorite Top 3?

I love Sunshine Rewards just because it is my primary focus and where I have gotten to know so many members over the last 8 years. Second would be WineClubReviewsandRatings.com. That one is just fun. I get to make money essentially drinking wine and writing about it! Lastly I would say Tricia.me although I don’t spend as much time on it. It’s the only site where I feel like I can write about anything. It isn’t about making sales or profitability. It’s just about writing about what I think is important.

5. I see you will be speaking at Affiliate Summit West 2014 about affiliate management. What is the main premise of your session and what do you want merchants to take away from it?

I will be moderating a panel called “Grill the Affiliate Managers” where I will be asking tough questions to affiliate managers and OPMs. Merchants will learn just how important a good affiliate manager is to the success of their program plus the kinds of decisions affiliate managers have to make (working with toolbars, choosing networks, approving affiliates). There are a lot of gray areas and a lot of ways that unseasoned affiliate managers can kill programs.

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6. Bonus question: Who are the people to watch in 2014 in the affiliate marketing space you feel are making a difference to our industry, who don’t get a lot of attention?

Someone who I think is brilliant but I hardly ever hear people talking about is Tony Pantano. He is the kind of guy that you need to meet at the conferences and just spend time talking to. He has his fingers on the pulse of every network plus he will be returning to a position on the Performance Marketing Association Board of Directors. He’s been in the industry a long time and was active in the Affiliate Tax fight. And it is terribly biased because he is such a good friend, but Eric Nagel is still one of the smartest people I know in affiliate marketing and is always on the cutting edge of everything related to affiliate marketing. As more of us are looking to automate processes, Eric is the go-to-guy on figuring out how to do that.

Affiliate Summit West 2013 Recap

Affiliate Summit West 2013 was by far the best Affiliate Summit to date. A fabulous crowd of affiliate marketing enthusiasts and newbies gathered together to network, learn, grow and create new opportunities for each other like no other event I’ve ever been to. All 5200+ attendees were buzzing with excitement, and I was no exception.

This was my first year attending with three of my team members: Carolyn Kmet, our VP of Performance Marketing, Greg White and Frank Ravanelli, two of our fantastic account managers. We sponsored a room for AIM to represent our clients, our team and meet with anyone who wanted to spend time with us, which turned out to be a fabulous experience for us. We look forward to sponsoring a room again next year.

I also had the opportunity to speak at this show for the first time (thanks again to Shawn and Missy) with my friend Kush A from VMInnovations. We spoke about Affiliate Strategies for a Post Penguin World, which highlighted the importance of building communities, owning your audience to extend the lifetime value of your users, embracing social media, having authentic content, staying relevant and diversifying marketing efforts (such as introducing video) – as well as diversifying your anchor text and back linking campaigns to thrive in a post  penguin world. We had a great turnout (about 100 people in the room) and I thank everyone who came to listen to us speak and learn with us.

Other highlights for me personally included:

  • Attending the Miss America Finally with Liz Fogg, Shannon Weidemann, and Deb Carney on Sunday night
  • Enjoying the ShareaSale Masquerade Ball with great people I haven’t seen in a year
  • Meeting great friends of mine for the first time in person – especially Pat Grady, Jennifer Ward and Kevin Wetherby
  • Watching my friends and people I admire win awards for their hard work and contribution to this industry
  • Spend a hilarious fun filled night out with my team at the CSI Experience, a delicious dinner and bonding till 3:30am
  • Meeting with some fabulous prospective clients and affiliates
  • The incredible excitement, interest and contributor response rate with Affiligate.org 
  • Hanging with the entire ShareASale team for some belgium beers before my flight home
  • Catching up with old friends and respected colleagues every day
  • Getting tackle hugged by Jennifer Ward and Tim Ash in the Meet Market on Sunday
  • Representing All Inclusive Marketing in a way that made me so proud. In the words of Carolyn Kmet “We exhibited knowledge and class, kindness and cohesiveness.  These are qualities that were very apparent to our clients, our affiliates and our competitors.  I cannot express how proud I am to be working alongside you to grow this company.”
To Shawn and Missy, thanks for giving us something that allows us all to enjoy our industry so much. We look forward to many more Affiliate Summits to come.

What to Pack For Affiliate Summit West

Whether you’re heading there for the first time or are enjoying your 10th Affiliate Summit, here is a list of things to remember to pack, and a few tips that have worked well for me at past events:

 

What to Pack

Here are  my essentials:

  1. List of names, phone numbers and email addresses of people I am meeting with (if you come from other country, check to make sure your phone plan works were you are – or get a temporary phone while you’re there – personal lesson learned from last year).
  2. 3 sets of business / business casual clothes, two dresses, pajamas, and three casual outfits for evenings out
  3. One pair of dress shoes and one pair of casual walking shoes
  4. Makeup, toiletries and personal items to make me look and smell pretty
  5. Notes for my speech
  6. Client and AIM promotional materials for our sponsored meeting room
  7. Gift bags for our affiliates to enjoy
  8. 200 business cards
  9. Laptop
  10. Money (Credit Cards and Cash)
  11. Passport
  12. Refillable filtered water bottle
  13. Halls / throat drops (lots of talking)
  14. Snacks for plane and the conference – it will be super busy and fast paced and you will need your energy
  15. Camera, lip balm, and your dignity!

 

If you miss anything else,  you can buy it there.

 

Additional Tips

1. Be yourself. Say Hi, smile, ask questions of other people and show genuine interest. My first summit was a huge success because I did this and people who were more veteran than I adopted me because I genuinely wanted to learn more about them and how this all worked.

2. If you have meetings, be on time or make sure you have the person’s number so you can text them if you’re running late. Sometimes meetings run longer than you think and you have to consider travel time. This happened to me at my last show and I couldn’t text the person because my Canadian roaming wasn’t letting me get texts out. She never got the message and thought I just left her sitting there. Be sure you check your numbers and plans.

3. If you’re new, check out the newcomers program. They have some awesome Affiliate Summit veterans there to help guide you and make your time there as successful and useful as possible.

4. If you’ve been to summit many times before and you find yourself meeting with the same people in the same crowds, I encourage you to break out and choose five random people to introduce yourself to. I ended up consulting for two different billionaires last year because I did this.

5. Have your goals set before you get there. Know which sessions will interest you most and that you plan to attend before the show. That way you will be organized and get what you need to out of it. Anything after that is just a bonus!

6. Go to the Shareasale party. Its always amazing 🙂

Happy Summit!

AFFILIATE MARKETING EXCLUSIVE: Personal Interview with Shawn Collins

affiliate marketing expert shawn collins talks to sarah bundyI recently had the privilege of an exclusive interview with Shawn Collins for my blog. Shawn has touched so many people in this industry and his work continues to set the bar for leadership and influence in productive and ethical affiliate marketing practices.

Click here to download the exclusive video interview with Affiliate Marketing Expert, Shawn Collins

Shawn’s Brief Bio:

Shawn Collins has been an affiliate marketer since 1997 with a number of active affiliate projects, and a decade of affiliate management under his belt. He is a Co-founder of Affiliate Summit, the leading global conference and tradeshow for the affiliate marketing industry and Co-Editor-in-Chief of FeedFront Magazine. He authored the book Successful Affiliate Marketing for Merchants, and was an editor and contributor to Internet Marketing from the Real Experts. Also, he publishes the annual AffStat affiliate marketing benchmark reports.

Shawn blogs daily on affiliate marketing at Affiliate Tip and co-hosts the weekly Affiliate Thing podcast on GeekCast.fm. Additionally, Shawn has been quoted in numerous publications, including Entrepreneur Magazine, Internet Retailer, Inc. Magazine, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.

Links to Shawn’s Affiliate Marketing Contributions:

Feed Font Magazine (Free)

Geek Cast.FM (Free)

Ask Shawn Collins (Free)

Aff Stat Report (Free)

Affiliate Tip Blog (Free)

Extra Money Answer (Free)

Affiliate Marketers Give Back (Free)

Affiliate Summit Meetups (Free)

Affiliate Summit Webinars (Free)

Affiliate Summit Forum (Free)

Affiliate Summit West, Central and East (Free Info)

In many ways I suppose Shawn is one of my personal heroes in the industry. He’s worked hard to bring a positive name to the industry through quality education and free resources to help those around him. His integrity and “stick to his guns” ethics make him one of the most important leaders in the space, and I’m personally proud to know him and work with him in the betterment of affiliate marketing everywhere.

Top 5 Highlights from Affiliate Summit West 2012

Affiliate Summit West 2012I’ve just come back from another great Affiliate Summit event and am excited to share my top 5 highlights from the event. In no particular order, here are my personal top 5 favorite things about Affiliate Summit West this year:

1. The People

A record breaking 5000+ attendees made it out to Affiliate Summit West in Las Vegas this year. Although many newbie merchants, networks and affiliates made there way around the sessions, meet market and exhibit hall, I was able to meet up with an incredible group of people from various places.

I had the great pleasure of having personal conversations with Shawn Collins and Missy Ward, founders of Affiliate Summit. I had great conversations with top performing affiliates such as Scott Jangro, Todd Farmer (Affiliate Legend), James Martell (Affiliate Super Bootcamp), Tricia Meyer (Sunshine Rewards), Lisa Kennedy (Savings.com), Mike Allen (Shopping-Bargains), Diane Khania (Coupon Cabin), Bill Swartwout (High Noon Marketing) and Sandi Wohlford (FatWallet) to name just a few.

I was able to catch up and have a few laughs with industry veterans Carolyn Kmet (Groupon), Lisa Picarelli (ReveNews), Todd Crawford (Impact Radius), Kim Rowley (Affiliate Legend of the Year) and so many more.

I love this show because of the great caliber of awesome people who attend each year. It’s a warm and welcoming place to spend three days while being productive and progressive. Without all the amazing people who attend each year, this event just wouldn’t be the same.

2. Eric Thomas, Keynote

Eric Thomas, also known as The Hip Hop Preacher and author The Secret to Success of started the day with an incredibly motivating and inspiring keynote right after the Pinnacle Awards ceremony. Within the first 10 minutes of his talk I was welling up, having to wipe inspired tears from my eyes. What a beautiful soul this guy is, to share his story of success despite his disadvantageous start in life. More importantly, his story was brimming with pride for his children and the successes of others.

I very regrettably had to leave half way through his presentation to attend a meeting I had booked at the same time, but WOW, what a great motivational speaker and overall great human being. I wish there were more people in the world like this who are not afraid to keep going, never quit, and create success for themselves and their family through honest, dedicated hard work and belief in ones-self.

3. SeaWorld’s Affiliate Event

OK, maybe it was because we had our baby with us or maybe it’s because I’m really just a kid at heart, but the Sea World Affiliate Event thrown by SeaWorld Affiliate Manager, Ashley Edwards was so much fun!  A few of the SeaWorld crew, including some amazing birds, reptiles and animals from the park came to show themselves off to the room of giddy attendees. They went over the highlights of their affiliate program and a reminder of why SeaWorld is such an awesome place to visit. A few people got some free SeaWorld day passes (including yours truly) and even got to hold some of the creatures that came to Vegas with the team.

It was a very cool promotional idea on their part and I’m glad we got to have some fun with a few other family and kid oriented people. Regardless, affiliate managers could take note that this tactic brought in some very eager and targeted affiliates who signed up for their program right on the spot.

4. ShareaSale’s “Under the Stars” Party

This by far was one of my favorite nights of the entire four days at Affiliate Summit. ShareaSale’s president, Brian Littleton, is notorious for throwing awesome parties and he did not disappoint again. The ShareaSale “Under the Stars” Party was held outside of the Paris Hotel right below the Eiffel Tower! The view was spectacular – a clear view of the Bellagio Hotel and fountains across the street. The DJ was awesome, playing music that even the dead would have wanted to dance to, and the free flowing open bar kept people’s whistle’s wet throughout the night.

Aside from the music and the atmosphere, my personal favorite moments where seeing Brian Littleton in a classy three piece suite and fedora (you looked great, Brian!) and watching a lady roll by with a desert table around her waist. Talk about extravagance! In the words of Missy Ward – those deserts literally went to her hips!

Great job again, Brian. Another successful night by you and the ShareaSale team.

5. AMT Launch Excitement

The most exiting part of the entire show for me personally was the overwhelming positive feedback and excitement around the launch of our new company, Affiliate Management Trainers (AMT). Not only were affiliates thrilled that such a service now exists, helping merchants and affiliate managers learn the business to provide better support and experiences to their affiliate partners, but merchants, networks and even independent industry veterans were interested in the opportunity to further the level of personalized support and education to merchants.

The Merchant Sponsorship Program rewards an “upstanding merchant” for their efforts in working with affiliate partners when following industry best practices and strong business ethics, and was one of the main areas of interest with the AMT launch at the show. Merchants have the opportunity to win a free trip to Affiliate Summit next year through this program, keeping in mind that merchants must be nominated by an affiliate to be considered. The idea is to help better the industry through personalized education and accountability of merchants through “upstanding behavior” as deemed by their affiliate partners.

All in all, the show was another great success and I look forward to attending another Affiliate Summit event again soon!

The Importance of Properly Planning your Brand

Yes, planning. We’ve heard it a million times. “If you fail to plan, plan on on failing”. It sounds cliche but the point is, it’s true. I’ve written several articles on How to Write an Effective Internet Marketing Plan which outlines the very basic elements that should be considered when planning a new online venture.

But what I want to discuss today is the importance of properly planning your brand and what impact having a properly planned brand could mean for you. Your brand is far more than your logo. It’s the synergy between who you are, what you do, how you think, what you represent and how others see you. It’s everything from the look and feel of your website to the values you communicate to your target market.

Let’s have a look at the affiliate marketing industry as an example. There are two ways people in this industry have successfully built brands. One is to brand themselves and the other is to brand their product or company.

1. Your Personal Brand

Examples of individuals who have successfully branded themselves are people like James Martell, John Chow, Missy Ward and Shawn Collins to name a few. These people, when you say their name, have huge brand recognition and chances are, even someone new would have heard their name a time or two.

If you visit their websites they have pictures or “icons” of themselves and have a strongly recognized “voice”. You wouldn’t have to have met them to know what they look like and chances are if you did (for the first time), you might be slightly nervous because they are considered slightly iconic in the industry.

Each of these people make it clear what they do and who they are. James Martell teaches newbie affiliates how to make money online through his Affiliate Marketers SUPER BootCamp. Shawn Collins and Missy Ward are most famously known for co-founding Affiliate Summit the affiliate industry’s largest and most recognized conference. From these other new successful brands and products were born.

But did this all happen by accident? Absolutely not. Each person spent countless hours (even years) carefully planning their brand and delivering a consistent message about who they are and what they do. Its that effort in planning, foresight and consistency that has helped them become the household brands they are now.

2. Your Company Brand

The second way to brand in this industry is to focus on your product, service or company as a whole. When you think of ShareaSale you think of honestly, strong ethics, personal attention and warmth toward both merchants and affiliates. You don’t only picture their logo. In fact, I personally am on their website daily and don’t remember exactly what it looks like. But I do know where to find them, know that they will be at all the industry shows and can name at least half their team and call them friends.

We think of the people behind the brand and what they stand for and how they will affect my business and my affiliates. I think about the good tools they offer, the quick response times from their IT department and the fact that when I call for help, I get immediate, friendly attention where I know I will be well taken care of. ShareaSale, through careful planning, long term vision and deliverance of a consistent message, have successfully build a brand around their people and values and as a result are one of the fastest growing affiliate networks in North America.

So I challenge you, whether you are an affiliate or a merchant, to look at the big picture of who you are and what you represent. Look long term toward the feeling people will have when they think of your brand and how they will respond. Then work your way backwards until you achieve it.

Just one thing to note, sometimes your brand might turn out differently than what you expect. At the end of the day, it’s your audience that determines what your brand really means. With proper planning your brand won’t be too far off.

3 Tips for Attending Affiliate Summit West 2012

Register Today for ASW12

Affiliate Summit West 2012 is just around the corner and is the most anticipated affiliate marketing event of the year. This year’s Affiliate Summit will be located at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, between January 8-10. It is expected to sell out by the end of this month.

All the biggest players from all angles of the affiliate marketing world will be at this event. Last year, Affiliate Summit West saw a record breaking 4,800 attendees, with this year being even larger.
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