Matt: So anyway, why don’t we kind of go ahead and jump right in and as you can see the one focus I was kind of taking a spin on was affiliate marketing, are you comfortable talking about that subject?
Joel: Yeah I mean in terms of I’ve done a lot of affiliate marketing but from the perspective of a retailer or a company using affiliates to drive traffic to their business I’ve never actually engaged in it the other way.
Matt: Okay, so as an affiliate marketer selling other people’s products, correct?
Joel: No it’s like getting other people to sell my products or the company I work for’s products say like, say I worked for a large retailer called Laura Ashley in the UK.
They sell furniture and fashion and then I always work with affiliate networks and the affiliates themselves to drive traffic to our site. We pay them a commission on any sales that result from that traffic, I’ve done the same for Euro Office which is a big online office at the United Staples?
Joel: Yes, so they are basically like Staples Office Depot in the US they are called Euro Office. They are only based in Europe at the moment and they do the same they’d work with various affiliate networks and affiliates.
So I mean that’s my perspective is from that side obviously I’ve got an idea how affiliates work and how they think but I don’t have hands on knowledge of being an affiliate.
Matt: Okay, well, so even still, so you are helping run the affiliate program, correct?
Joel: Yeah exactly.
Matt: Okay well even still from that perspective I mean do you talk directly with the affiliates themselves or just correspond with them via email and stuff?
Joel: Yeah, both over the phone and via email
Matt: Okay well so just out of curiosity then are you getting a lot of people who are just brand new to internet marketing and the world of ecommerce or is it a whole mix between super affiliates, I mean what’s your experience in regards to that?
Joel: Well a typical affiliate program you’ll have say 90% of the revenue coming from about 10 super affiliates mainly in the voucher code space and also in the rewards space.
So sites like, in the UK, I don’t know whether you have different ones in the States, but is a big site called Quidco where basically it’s a loyalty site so the end customer will site up and they’ll pay £5 pounds yearly membership to Quidco and any sales that anyone does through Quidco and the affiliate commission that Quidco receives from a merchant will go to straight back to the end user.
So to give you an example, I want a new mobile phone contract a new cellular phone contract so I go to Quidco and have a look at the deals and maybe there will be mobile phone retailer is offering 10% discount on the year contract. So say a year contract is $1000 you get $100 and commission paid on that.
So if you site up through Quidco you get $100 back and out of that you have to pay your $5 or your £5 yearly membership fee of Quidco for anything you earn from other retailers and your shopping after that goes straight back to the end user.
So I mean that is a fantastic business model, in the UK at least where the key affiliates those in the voucher code sites. And then in terms of the smaller affiliates people just beginning in affiliate marketing they make up a very small percentage of the revenue that the retailers receive.
So therefore they get less attention, so when you are running an affiliate program you look at who is driving your revenue for you now, so the ten core affiliates, you need to take care of those.
But then also you look at the other side and who do you think has got opportunity, and who’s growing. And then you try and nurture them and try and encourage them to do more for you because you are effectively competing for the real estate on the affiliate sites.
So if you are say an office that is retailer and you’ve got Office Depot or Staples and then you are number three, why should they promote you above Office Depot or Staples? So you work out what commission or what deal they’ve got with Staples or with Office Depot.
You try and improve that commission but also from an affiliate perspective they want to develop revenue based on an earnings per click. So they want to send traffic to the retailer that will give them the highest revenue per click. So say they send 100 clicks to Office Depot and they get $10 they send 100 clicks to Staples, they get $9 and then if they send 100 clicks to you how much are they going to get.
If you can make sure that they get more than $10 they are going to focus on you. So you need to balance the commission you pay them by having a great site with a high conversion rate.
Matt: Got it, so is your affiliate program is it an open mark or a closed program whether they go through an opportune process just to make sure, I mean how do you run the affiliate programs that you are associated with?
Joel: It’s always been on a closed network so I’d work with a retailer and pair them with an affiliate network or most cases more than one affiliate program usually two or three.
And through that network the affiliates would have to apply to the network to get into the network first of all.
And then once they are in the network then they apply individually to each program but there’s not a particularly stringent approach and we check every site that applies and as long as you are not a spammy unrelated site then you’d get in.
Matt: Okay, got it. So a lot of the affiliates, how do they end up driving traffic through their offer? Do you find a lot of stuff through SEO or PPC or I mean kind of what do you see?
Joel: It’s very, very, a lot of affiliates began on SEO particularly the big vouch coach size and like the loyalty sites. They began getting their traffic through SEO and word of mouth.
So if people are getting a great deal from them they tell their friends and social medial and social networking is only made that expand. So basically if you’ve got a great site you can use social media to expand and SEO and they.
A lot of SEO also use Pay Per Click too, some of the affiliates are the best Pay Per Click marketers of seeing that they really understand the niche that they are working in and they’ve got incredible techniques to drive traffic.
And they know how to optimize their landing page to pass on the traffic to a retailer because they are obviously they need to convert much better in the end retailer through their landing page.
So the affiliates are very creative in the ways that they generate traffic, they’ll use any means possible.
Matt: Got it. What is you take on an affiliate using either a brand names or company names that are trademarked and/or Pay Per Click campaigns for that matter?
Joel: Well I don’t see if it’s ethically or morally wrong. It’s an agreement that they can make with the end retailer but personally I tested out both with two different large retailers.
I tested out with using page search brand affiliates so that you’d make an agreement with them where they are allowed to bid on the brands so they get some easy sales but they have to reinvest that money into the long term, put you in the long term.
And it worked to an extent but I always found that when we stopped using pay search affiliates completely.
So basically if we didn’t give them we’d always allowed them to work on the generics. But as soon as we stopped along the branded terms then it wasn’t cost effective for them to work only on the generics.
So the relationship ended but it benefited the business in the end so with the traffic from the brand would obviously go to us and then there is little generic traffic they were driving so in the end we’d make a lot more traffic from not using affiliates on branded terms and that happened in two completely different retail situations. My advice is if it is to a retailer is to not use pay search affiliates on branded terms.
Matt: Interesting. Then do you find that, so going back to Pay Per Click with the affiliates, do you find that they are sending a lot of traffic more and more on content.
Joel: Well I was working with two quite large brands so it was more, when they are allowed to bid on the brands it was far more coming through to brands but 90% of the traffic and sales was coming through the brand and we’d always try and encourage them to do more on the long term sales basically you can pay a lower commission on branded terms.
So say your average commission is 10% with 80% maybe that’s 3 or 4% on branded terms so 15%, 20% on generic terms. But even so they find it hard to compete on generic terms because the industries I worked one was with fashions and high-end furnishing and the other was office supplies, both really competitive markets.
So generic terms is not cheap, we’d have trouble making the generic terms be profitable in their own right. So affiliates struggled even further because they obviously had to drive traffic to their own sites and then onto us, and then only
get a commission on the sale rather than the full margin the end retailer receives.
Matt: Very interesting. So to you, do you invest in staying in track and actually breaking down on your metric? I mean what do you look for, what do you find that’s important?
Joel: What I think is that working for a retailer is a fulltime job depending on I suppose the size of your business but you have to weigh your resources and time based on the revenue that’s bringing by that, the retailer is there for about 15 to 20% of the revenue came from affiliate marketing.
So therefore which we’ll invest that sort of amount or percentage of the time in the channel. And it was normally basically a fulltime job for one individual.
And so the way we’d do it is we’d like categorize the affiliates into different groups depending on how much revenue they bring how many sales. Also you have to look at the real KPI’s of the business so most businesses have a KPI of new business customers and they want to recruit new customers.
They know that if they keep filling with new customers and nurturing their existing customers they’re going to keep on growing.
So the new business customers are always the key target so we’d say okay for all of these affiliates, who’s driving the highest number of new business customers?
I mentioned the super affiliates earlier on and those guys they drive a lot of repeat business especially the loyalty sites because you’ll have some people that or say you’re in an office particularly with the office supplies company because there’s a lot of repeat business in that industry, people have to order office supplies for their company once per month, or in a lot of cases once a week.
And you’d have like an office manager and she or he’d be ordering once per week going through Quidco and getting commissions themselves so that they are supplementing their salaries by about £100 per week.
So it’s a very lucrative little deal for the secretary or whoever it was ordering their office supplies.
And then we segment all of the affiliates based on how much revenue they bring, how many new business customers and we’d also try and look at the potential of each affiliate scores.
And if an affiliates grow in sales then we’d give them a bit of love an attention and maybe we’d give them a special bespoke deal for the next month then if they hit a target then they’d get a special price or a present.
And then based on we’d split into like four main groups based on kind of the score they’ve got on the revenue of the new business and their potential. And we’d create incentives for them, and also we’d do different incentives based on the type of affiliate they are because what would work for a vouch code site would not work for an email affiliate or a paid site affiliate.
So you’d look at their potential, what they are doing for you and the type of affiliate they are, what would work for them and for a lot of the guide and you’d also organize a communication by that rank as well.
So maybe the top guys you’d be in phone contact at least on a weekly basis, just catching up on how sales are going, ideas that they’ve got for each other. So many affiliate sites would come up with new ideas for landing pages they want to try out and encourage you to get involved in how can you try them out?
And then for our side, the retailer’s side, you’d be trying to improve conversion rate but also trying to basically give them offers that appeal to them, coming up with new and creative ways to incentivize them.
Matt: Right on, so how do you go about attracting affiliates way?, I mean how do you come in contact with them, do you actually recruit them, do they find you or is it two-way street?
Joel: Yeah, normally when you sign up with an affiliate network you discuss with the network the kind of business you’ve got and that will put you directly in touch with all of the core affiliates for that market then you just build a relationship through them.
And then with mostly the affiliate networks, you’ve got something like a database with the affiliates you can sift through and see who you think has potential for your account, and contact them directly.
So we’d have a process where we are trying and contact some 30, 40 new affiliates every month, have a discussion with them on email or over the phone and see if they’re interested in working for us.
It’s pretty hard to get in contact with a lot of affiliates to be honest so they might just be so busy that they never responded but perhaps you’ll contact 40 and maybe two will come back to you.
Matt: I see that, and then in terms of business or in terms of stick rate so do you contact them, hey I’m all super let’s to this? Do you find yourself maybe picking up one or two very active affiliates say on a monthly basis for example?
Joel: Yeah, you pick up a few that will say okay let’s give it a go and then it will work out well and then you’ll keep the relationship going.
Other guys might say yeah let’s give it a go and for whatever reason you don’t earn them enough commission for their site compared to other guys that they are pushing other retailers that they are pushing, so then their focus realigns back to other people they had already pushing so they give it a try and if doesn’t work, then they move on.
Matt: I see, so you do a lot of heavy lifting and you use a lot of leverage from the affiliate networks themselves.
Joel: Yeah I think having a good relationship with the affiliate network is key because most retailers will have an account manager working on their account and it’s important to make a really good relationship with that account manager and work with them because they are managing a number of different accounts and their time could be allocated however they see fit.
But if you’ve got a good relationship then they’ve always got you at the back of their minds so it’s really important to have that relationship.
Matt: I see, so what are some of the problems you see say an extra affiliate marker asks about your product, your work I mean what is the general feel you usually go over with them?
Joel: Yeah, you’d have an overview of your company but affiliates are really interested in the figures so affiliates are speaking to you about money essentially. So they want to know things like your site conversion rate, how much you are selling, what commissions you are paying, what revenue the other affiliates are achieving, similar affiliates to them, what are they earning through you.
So it’s more you give them an overview of your business to basically explain how it could possibly align with their site and how you are relevant for them. But then a lot of the time discussion will be on the commercials than the relationship.
Matt: Got you, and then when it comes to the, are you finding in terms of numbers themselves, do they really go like numbers crazy or do they just want to know the big picture, what can I earn at a time, that’s what I’m getting from you?
Joel: I would say affiliates are really into the detail of the numbers. They want to drill it down and say okay they want to work out how much traffic they could probably send you of that amount of traffic, how much is likely to convert, what sort of products are likely to be sold in those sales and what commissions are paid in these products and how much they’re likely to earn.
So they break it down and they understand the different elements that need to them earning their commission at the end of the day and they try and optimize for all the different elements.
Matt: And also as an app what about when it comes to a new product that hasn’t necessarily been on the market for very long, do you spend a lot of time testing products so you see how to convert then approach affiliates or do you approach the affiliate first?
Joel: Yeah, I mean it would be as soon as the product goes onto the site you want to sell it through all channels possible so in terms of the quality of the product and the appeal of the product well you check obviously the quality of the product before you put anything on your website.
And then you just want to sell it, to check the appeal you don’t know who exactly it’s going to appeal to, although you have a good idea when you start marketing but the affiliate channels want you to start with it straight from the beginning.
Matt: Okay, and then the other question I was going to ask in terms of the marketing, are there any red flags when you are an affiliate that you are just kind of well, I don’t know about that, that you look for in a particular partner?
Joel: Yeah I mean the only real thing is if their website’s filled with spammy web banners that don’t look relevant or they wouldn’t sit well with your business. So but for example we wouldn’t work with any porn related sites or any gambling related sites.
Most retailers have got an established brand they want to maintain that level, they want to position themselves with reputable sites they don’t want their brand to be seen on any particularly dodgy looking site.
So there’s the branding issue but then also there’s things like there’s a lot of techniques like basically cloning a page and pretending that you are the retailer.
That also didn’t sit well with us so if an affiliate would basically copy a web page, put it on their website and then just it’d work as a window through to your website and so people they could bookmark that page as your home page but it’s not actually your home page it’s on a separate domain so things like that not particularly keen on.
Matt: And what are your feelings when people say visit our first squeeze page or landing page so they can capture that say email information and then redirecting it to you, what’s you take on that?
Joel: Yeah I think that’s absolutely fine. I think it’s good that affiliates build up lists. Email marketing if done well is still very effective so yeah I don’t see any problem with that at all.
It’s obviously from the affiliate’s point of view and then going off to effectively two conversions; one to get the email address, the contact and then they are pushing for a sale as well.
So it makes their job more difficult but if they’ve got a landing page where they can do it then great but obviously again the landing page should obviously be not the retailer site, it should be on the affiliate site and branded as the affiliate site.
Matt: Great, so going back to the retailer and say the retailer has several different products to offer. So I’m going to go build a site, what if you’ve seen in terms of where products per page and a thing and what are some different seen of sites you’ve seen as well.
Joel: Well I mean the two big sites that I’ve worked for run affiliate products for they’ve both sold thousands of different products so it would be on a hierarchy based site where you’d have that would hold multiple products.
I don’t have the experience of, I mean obviously each product did have its own page but in terms of I haven’t personally experienced a site that just sells a few products and how they should present them.
But I think if you do just sell a few different products then you’ve got an opportunity to really target those products with your own affiliates. So I’d say yes retail your site into product specific landing pages and really optimize those.
And you’ve got a lot of room for testing as well so without doing any big testing or multi layer testing on the landing pages is a good opportunity if you’ve got that kind of a site.
Matt: You know you actually just mentioned a great concept, multi layering, do you mind maybe kind of diving into that really quick, from your own and if it is we’ll do one over the other.
Joel: Okay well, I think AB if you don’t have a lot of traffic to a page then AB testing is probably more effective because you are going to reach a statistically relevant conclusion a lot more quickly.
But with multi variant testing you need to have a particularly high traffic page to come to a statistic or the relevant result within a reasonable timeframe. So say you’ve got 1000 to a page over a month period, you probably want to go for AB testing.
Whereas if you’ve got 10000 visitors then you can look at multi variant testing because you’ll be able to come to a conclusion of what’s working and what’s not and then have an actual move coming out of the test where it’s like the lower traffic volume page is going to take too long to run a multi variant test. So it might be better to do an AB test and then from the winning result again run another AB test and keep innovating in that way.
Matt: Got it, that makes perfect sense. And then when you are running a test for really anything, say it is a new campaign you’re doing, is there any kind of certain time link or something hitting for a visitor to prove yeah that worked, no that didn’t
work to change.
Joel: Well, all of the main multi variant testing tools like Google Optimizer or any of the page ones as well they have stops in that will tell you when the test is reached at least where the result is statistically relevant.
Say you don’t need to try and make up your own idea of what is and what isn’t a time to stop it you just base it on what the tool tells you because they’ve planned in the complicated mass behind it.
Matt: Got it. Is there a tool that you can refer when you can use?
Joel: Well, I’ve used Google optimizer, and I’ve used one called Maximizer, this is going back a few years down. It was a really effective tool because we managed to increase the site conversion rate by about 10%.
This is a site that made £10 million per year so an extra £1 million revenue through changes over a two-month period. It made a massive difference to the business over a short period.
So yeah obviously it scales, the larger your revenue the quicker it can scale. It’s something that all the sign ups should be doing once. Yeah I think you need to have at least probably 5000 visitors a month before it’s worth doing testing because it’s going to take you a long time to get specifically relevant results if you’ve got really low traffic. But that’s it so like even on lower traffic sites like AB testing on your home page, you can still do.
Matt: Well that is all awesome, £1 million actually added. Speaking of conversions, do you have a couple of tips you can share just maybe general principles about conversions because it’s not always necessarily about traffic but what you already have.
Joel: Yeah, sure I think you always need to think from the user’s perspective. Most people on a web page they are looking for something because they’ve got problems that they want to solve or they’ve got a need of some kind so you have to spell out what the problem is and what your solution to that problem is and why your solution is the best solution out there for the best price or best value. So think from the user’s perspective what do they want to know to solve their problems and plan your page around that.
So it’s good to give examples around the particular problem that you solve but also it’s really good to use some customer testimonials from your past lessons where it shows people that you have actually been effective in helping other people to solve the same problem they have got in the past. So you use testimonials and I’d also say you could use things like video to basically spell out your message as well.
One of my clients is a video production company and they produce videos mainly for people’s landing pages.
And they have found it can increase the conversion rate of a page massively because people go on and they’ll quickly watch video for two/three minutes and they’ll get a good idea of the concept of the website and they’ll also be able to relate personally to the website because a video, you can talk in an emotional one to one. Or it feels like a one to one way with a customer, so, keep your mind open to using other types of media rather than just simple text.
Matt: Those are some great tips. And I think those are just a lot of the just really simple solid questions I just have for you, you’ve given some great content on this, and you kind of have any, you have a website, don’t you?
Joel: Yeah, sure it’s deepfootprints.co.uk.
Matt: So say I have a product and I’m looking at maybe get some help on or get some exposure, is that something that you also help other product owners with or do you only focus on big companies where they have multiple products in their inventory basically?
Joel: Yeah, typically our customers are retailers that we support on affiliate marketing, but also if somebody was interested in getting into affiliate marketing or they needed some help and advice on a particular market then we can help them on a consultancy basis to research that market for them and help them protect, perhaps build content and get into that market. So we can work both ways but most of the work is done with the retailers.
Matt: Okay, and then do you offer and this on a website I had seen that you do SEO will you may dive in really quick with what you mainly focus on.
Joel: Yeah, sure, so folks on Pay Per Click and SEO and social media those are the three main products or services that we offer. Pay Per Click we work closely with clients to look at their business and understand in fact for all services we start off by looking closely at business and what they are trying to achieve and we look at the internet and how can we connect that website with the right people on the internet that will buy from them and look at all of the available channels to help them achieve their end goals.
So that might be Pay Per Click and Pay Per Click makes it important to really get into the detail of the figures.
So you work with the companies that understand exactly their margin and the customer lifetime value and you need tracking onto all of your Pay Per Click accounts to understand over a set period, say a week, how many people come into the website, what it’s costing, what the conversion rate is, what’s the cost per lead and how does that fit with the customer lifetime value.
And around that you can build bidding models and you can expand the account accordingly. With SEO it’s really I think SEO is moving a lot more towards trust and search engines, particularly Google are really working to clean up their internet in a way.
There’s a lot of spamming sites out there, there’s been a lot of SEO techniques that have been all about tricking the search engines into sending traffic.
And some of those techniques still work but we don’t use them we are more in a long term focus on our customers so we work with brands that want to grow into bigger companies and we help them look at their business and like I said before, find out where their little websites that might be interested in their business are on the internet and connect them up.
So it’s mainly through helping businesses to create the right content on their website that would attract other related websites to them and make them an authority in their specific niche.
And social media is much the same again really that’s about creating authority, making your business in authority in that niche so doing relationships one to one with the customers.
So I think with social media a lot of businesses that have dived into it made a bit of a mistake by treating it as a broadcast platform because obviously you can connect with the thousands, 2000 or even a million people on Facebook or Twitter and just send out a message to them but it doesn’t get a good response.
It has to be built up from the business and so you have to start connecting one to one with your customers on whatever social platform they are on and then from there communicate with them and then people in their network will start to notice you.
And if you can go through your existing contacts to find new contacts and expand out that way you are going to be a lot more successful rather than just getting a load of Twitter followers, broadcasting onto them and hoping you get a few responses.
Matt: You just said very key important about social media, thank you for sharing that top, that was great because that’s where too many people miss the boat at.
Joel: Yeah so I think a lot of people are starting to get a good idea of what’s going on. I read a great book called The Thank You Economy by a guy Gary Vaynerchuk, he’s an American actually from New York and then he’s cleared up so if you want to know about social media, read his book, The Thank You Economy.
Matt: Okay, so the book, he’s really delved into how you can approach social media from a conceptual stand point correct?
Joel: Yeah, that’s right. I mean he sets up his own business it’s a wine business and it’s started with a small shop. His dad had a wine shop somewhere in New York and from that they set up a website and he’s basically marketed at the business through social media and built into a $40 million a year business through social media.
So he’s been there and done that and now he runs a consultant business for social media where he helps large brands to use social medial so yeah he knows his stuff.
Matt: That’s awesome, probably of every event you are going to read out there, that’s a great starting point.
Joel: Yeah, definitely, yeah. I think that’s definitely a good starting point this is really accessible.
Matt: Awesome. Alright, well Joel I just want to say thank you for your time and you’ve covered a lot of different information. Everything has been on principle it isn’t marketing way of I know so many people would get caught up incessantly.
So do you have any final thing, partings, do you want to just say to guys do you want to put out there?
Joel: I think it’s important on the internet to keep your mind open and enjoy yourself if you are doing what you love, you are more likely to do it well and build good relationships with like-minded people.
Whereas if you’re just trying to add a bit of money out of somebody then you are less likely to come across as genuine because you are less genuine. So just find what you’re interested in and from that find a way to make money out of it if you can. But just focus on what you enjoy doing
Matt: Okay. Well Joel I just want to say thanks for your time, I appreciate it.
Joel: No, thank you Matt it’s been a lot of really good speaking to you thanks for the opportunity.
Tags: affilia, affiliate, affiliate marketer, affiliate marketing, affiliate networks, affiliate program, joel chudleigh, joel chudleigh affiliate marketing from a vendor8217s perspective, office depot, traffic