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Adapting to COVID-19 and Growing Together with Affiliate Marketing

As COVID-19 has upended our worlds and forced us into a new normal, we unquestionably recognize the importance of human connections and adaptability in these unprecedented times—two defining features of affiliate marketing.

This state of crisis that has become our reality has redefined ecosystems, shifted consumer shopping behavior and altered stages of growth—quickly beckoning the need for eCommerce retailers to adjust their online advertising spend and strategies.

As digital marketing initiatives are being constrained or paused due to budget cuts, online retailers are leveraging the cost-effective value of affiliate marketing ever more so to help reach today’s consumer and fuel online revenue growth.

Here are some examples demonstrating how affiliate programs are empowering growth for online retailers amidst the coronavirus pandemic:

Employing Customer Ambassadors: Underscoring the human connection factor, retailers are emphasizing the opportunity for their customers to earn money by referring their community of friends and peers to purchase from the retailer’s online store.  A retailer’s customers are effectively becoming a 100% commission-based online salesforce for retailers.

Matching Talent to the Environment: Just as sports coaches adjust game time strategies to external factors like weather, injuries and opponents, affiliates are essential players in these changing times—a powerful combination of entrepreneurship and innovation that helps drive growth for retailers in ways now deemed necessary. Retailers that previously eschewed Coupon affiliates are now placing them in the starting lineup; recognizing the importance of giving consumers a cost-savings in these tough economic times. Search Engine Marketing affiliates are given priority for their peripheral vision expertise in helping retailers become discoverable for search results potential customers are now seeking.

Communicating Value Add: The affiliate marketing industry is a guiding beacon for the importance of communicating and sharing ideas and strategies to help our ecosystem respond to, and rebound from, setbacks. Affiliate managers are utilizing LinkConnector resources to communicate top-selling products, inventory availability, promotional offers and shipping times to their affiliates, who then communicate (within their promotional context) these important details to consumers. Similarly, affiliates are making their resiliency known by highlighting innovative ways which they can quickly pivot to give merchants exposure to relevant customer demographics in need.

Driving Orders in Surging Categories: Read More

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AM Days Workshops Are a Hit at Affiliate Summit West

Wade Tonkin of Fanatics leads a LinkConnector sponsored AM Days

Wade Tonkin of Fanatics leads a LinkConnector sponsored AM Days workshop.

Affiliate Summit West 2020 (#ASW20) just wrapped in Las Vegas, with over 6,000 affiliate marketers in attendance. One of the outstanding additions to this year’s conference was a series of AM Days (@AMDays) workshops which proved to be an exceptionally valuable experience for everyone involved. On day one, LinkConnector sponsored the session Identifying and Recruiting Targeted Content Partners – a hands-on, interactive session targeted toward affiliate managers, brands, and advertisers.

Wade Tonkin, Senior Affiliate Manager at Fanatics, led the training, sharing tools and tips to help advertisers identify the right partners for their brand. He also covered effective outreach strategies to engage and recruit content partners who can drive significant incremental sales. Attendees left the session ready to map out successful recruiting campaigns that will have an immediate impact on ROI.

AM Days events never disappoint. Founded by acclaimed marketing guru Geno Prussakov, these workshops and conferences consistently feature the most knowledgeable experts in our industry. The events provide invaluable networking opportunities and take the audience, step-by-step, through useful tools, tips, and techniques that they can readily bring home and put into action. The AM Days events attract big brands like Zappos and Shutterfly, providing affiliate marketers with unique access to high potential partners.

LinkConnector is proud to be a longstanding AM Days supporter. After this amazing series of workshops at #ASW20, we can’t wait to see what Geno has up his sleeve next.

“LinkConnector has been heralding AM Days as a ‘must-attend’ conference to our merchants since its inception 10+ years ago. Geno’s workshops deliver education and training for affiliate marketing managers to grow and sharpen skillsets needed to launch or advance their company’s affiliate program. This hands-on education plus the in-person networking with peers and industry trailblazers continue to make AM Days a conference we are proud to support and sponsor!”  Read More

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Vote LinkConnector Your #1 CPS/Affiliate Network

“Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.“

-Abraham Lincoln

LinkConnector is incredibly proud and honored to be recognized amongst the best of the best affiliate marketing networks worldwide on mThink’s BLUE BOOK Top 20 Affiliate Network rankings for the past eight years in a row.

This recognition is a testament to the trust of our merchant and affiliate customers, agency partners, and industry peers in our commitment to make a positive difference in their affiliate marketing goals and relationships.

The definition of trust is “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something and one in which confidence is placed.”  Trust is the bedrock of relationships; building and reinforcing trust is at the heart of everything LinkConnector does.

If you are an affiliate, merchant or affiliate marketing agency, now is your chance to vote for your favorite affiliate network(s) by completing mThink’s 2020 Top 20 CPS/Affiliate Network Rankings survey.  The questionnaire takes only a few minutes to fill out, and we hope you’ll include LinkConnetor in your answer to the 2nd and 4th questions.

Three pillars of LinkConnector that demonstrate our worthiness of a Top Network spot and make the most difference in setting us apart from other brilliant networks on the Top 20 list are as follows:

We solve problems

Innovation is a hallmark of LinkConnector and an expected deliverable from our customers. Affiliates and merchants count on us to help them creatively overcome challenges – from tracking issues (such as Safair’s ITP and Google’s Parallel Tracking) to creating simple solutions bridging the monetization opportunity between influencers and brands – LinkConnector listens to our customers’ needs and purposefully develops innovative solutions to encourage their growth. Read More

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5 Benefits and 5 Techniques that Add Value to Affiliate Networks

#AffiliateTracking

On the closing day of Affiliate Summit East (#ASE19) in New York City, LinkConnector’s Co-Founder and Co-President, Choots Humphries, presented on the topic of 5 Benefits and 5 Techniques that Add Value to Affiliate Networks.  We are excited to recap actionable takeaways from this presentation.

Choots opened by making the point that all Affiliate Networks are not created equally and there are many types of networks.  There are affiliate networks, like LinkConnector, offering a full range of technology and tracking solutions along with management services and program optimization.  There are Ad Networks (or CPA Networks) which generally act without transparency to promote an advertiser’s offer based usually on an insertion order.  And, there are networks which would be better classified as a pure tracking solution which offer advertisers tracking solutions for all forms of online advertising and aren’t exclusively geared towards an affiliate program.  Choots further elaborated that the contents of this presentation were going to be focused around traditional affiliate networks.

Choots kicked off the presentation by listing five benefits of Affiliate Networks and announced he would be offering five techniques or considerations for each to extract value from network relationships.  Here are the five benefits…

Proper Tracking and Crediting

Proper tracking and crediting for merchant and affiliate customers is one of the most critical functions of a network.  Here are five consideration points shared to demonstrate such:

ITP 2.2 Compliant and Supports Parallel Tracking
Make sure your network is ITP 2.2 compliant, if not Apple’s changes to Safari’s privacy policy will increasingly erode at your ability to track sales or receive credit from Apple devices.  Also, if you are a Search affiliate or work with search affiliates, ensure your network supports Google’s new requirement for Parallel Tracking. Read More

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It’s Time for Coupon Codes to Change

Coupon codes have evolved slowly in the Affiliate Marketing industry, but now represent a new realm of opportunity and optimism. 

Consumers have used coupons for online shopping discounts for over 20 years. As consumer demand for online coupons rose, affiliate websites like RetailMeNot.com, Savings.com, and Coupons.com were created to meet and monetize this demand. And, over time, coupon codes provided by affiliates evolved slightly to increase conversion and value to the Affiliate Marketing relationship. For example, a specific vanity code branded to an affiliate site or a code more easily remembered (e.g., Save10) tends to be more effective than a random code. Coupons specifically designed to increase shopping cart value (e.g., 10% off a purchase of $100 or more) are also used to increase the value of an online transaction for affiliate and merchant partners. These optimization techniques have one thing in common—they represent only minor evolutionary progress when compared to traditional coupons consumers have used for over 100  years. With the plethora of member data available to affiliates today, so much more is possible and significant evolution is inevitable.

Coupon and loyalty affiliate companies have much data about their members. This data includes demographic details, as well as purchase habits and interests. Armed with such data, affiliates could significantly optimize further if they had the ability to present coupons specific to each member. Another level of optimization could occur if these affiliates could react to consumer decisions in real-time, but coupon codes for any particular merchant are constrained by a merchant’s shopping cart and the need for that merchant to create coupons manually and significantly ahead of a consumer’s purchase decision. But what would our Affiliate Marketing world look like if this constraint were lifted?  What would be possible if affiliates could create codes on demand that transparently worked in a merchant’s shopping cart?

With the ability to create coupons on demand, affiliates could customize codes to its members based on real-time circumstances. Over time, and with A/B testing, codes could be optimized to each individual versus the general population optimization that occurs today. In this environment, one member might react better to coupons that expire within hours while another may perform better with several days to consider a purchase. Or, a particular member may convert at a much higher rate when offered coupons targeted to certain items already in their cart. With the ability to create member and situational targeted coupons specific to each combination of circumstances, affiliates will begin to add value beyond anything seen before in the Affiliate Marketing industry. This is value only a particular affiliate can contribute with access to their member data and behavior.

Personalized coupons are the inevitable evolution of online coupons as technology allows for real-time coupon creation by affiliates. Much stronger conversion rates, higher shopping cart order values, and greater customer acquisition are all possible with the ability to A/B test and optimize on an individual basis. Of course, this will serve to restore the value offered by coupon and loyalty affiliates once again in our industry.

Choots Humphries is the Co-President and Co-Founder of LinkConnector Corporation.

Are you a coupon affiliate seeking effective new ways to leverage customer data and  increase conversion rates? Try LinkConnector’s Infinity CodesContact us to learn more.

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FeedFront Magazine, Issue 46 Read More

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LinkConnector Turns 15—Reflections from its Co-Founder

As the first quarter draws to a close, LinkConnector has a significant and exciting milestone to commemorate—March 2019 marked LinkConnector’s 15-year anniversary.  In our industry, where change is constant, fifteen years is a very long time.

Reflecting back, we certainly have seen much transformation in our industry. For example, Google entering as an affiliate network and then leaving several years later.  Last click attribution, once the only solution available, is now one of the least popular forms of attribution.  Affiliate Marketing becoming Performance Marketing to try to separate from the early black hat days of our industry.  Now, some are trying to rebrand as “Partnership Marketing” and some affiliates became influencers overnight.  Due in large part to this constant evolution, entrepreneurship and innovation within our industry has changed how consumers all over the world find products, brands and services online.  How cool is that‽

One thing that hasn’t changed over the past fifteen years is how essential relationships are to our industry.  Make no mistake—networks are not simply technical tracking solutions.  Instead, they are the linchpin of creating and sustaining vital relationships.  Of course, the backbone of our industry is the relationship between the affiliate (or publisher) and the merchant (or advertiser).  Without this relationship, the performance marketing industry wouldn’t exist.  Both sides of this coin are equally important and, both sides heavily rely on each other to advance their business interests.

As a network, LinkConnector gets to personally interact with these core relationships.  We have had the pleasure of getting to know many, many of these affiliate and merchant partners over the past fifteen years and then getting to introduce them to each other where mutual ambition for new growth ignites.  As relationships are established, LinkConnector’s team members work passionately to grow and optimize each relationship not only through the use of technologies, but also with a human touch and empathetic energy creating an intimate experience not possible through automation.

Additionally, propelling this industry with so much potential, is the immense orbit around these central affiliate/merchant relationships.  Over the past fifteen years, LinkConnector has had the pleasure of collaborating with a wide variety of professionals ranging from OPMs to competitors to fellow industry advocates at the PMA—all working as hard as LinkConnector to elevate and advance our industry.

Thank you to our merchants and affiliates, both past and present for your trust and confidence. You are the reason we remain undeterred in our mission to be the catalyst for merchant brands and affiliate partners to develop trusted lasting relationships that achieve and exceed goals in ways once not thought possible.

We can’t express enough gratitude for LinkConnector’s employees (the heart and soul of our company) and our investors.  We have been extremely fortunate to have met and worked with so many talented people over the years and very much look forward to forging new relationships in the future.

The future is bright and we are excited to be a part of it.  If we haven’t had the opportunity to be a part of your affiliate marketing experience, our team would love to talk with you.  Reach us at [email protected].

As a final note, we are honored to achieve global recognition as a Performance Marketing Awards Industry Finalist (for the both the Industry Disruptor and the Publisher’s Choice of Network awards).  If you’ll be attending the Performance Marketing Awards ceremony in London on April 30th, we look forward to connecting in person.