With 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.
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.