• Google’s SERP Redesign: What You Need to Know

    googleEarlier this month, Google updated the appearance of its search engine results pages (SERPs) and the whole world did a collective pug head-tilt of puzzlement. Something was definitely different, but what exactly?

    Here’s the lowdown on what Google changed, what you can do about it and our best guesses as to some of the motivations behind it.

    Ads

    The first thing that’s immediately noticeable is the absence of yellow highlighting around ads. Ads at the top of the page used to be completely highlighted with a dull yellow. Now, that shading is gone, replaced by a small yellow box that says “Ad.”

    In Google’s defense, this change is in line with the way the rest of the Internet has evolved to incorporate sponsored content. On Facebook, for example, ads are only distinguished by a tiny gray word, “Sponsored,” under the name of the page that’s paying for them. On Twitter, ads look just like normal tweets, except for a tiny yellow arrow and a line of text that reads, “Promoted by XXX.”

    Google’s new format for ads is actually strikingly similar to Twitter’s setup. The redesign is at least partly an attempt to keep the SERPs looking current and in line with Google’s major competitors.

    But, Google hasn’t succeeded as a company by ignoring the bottom line. Its skillfulness at combining usability improvements and revenue boosters is truly unparalleled. It’s no mistake the ads now look much more like organic listings, the goal being to trick people into clicking on them. This, of course, adds money to Google’s coffers and also makes advertisers happy.

    The change also makes it that much harder for e-commerce businesses to compete online without paying Google for search advertising. The reality is most businesses will have to devote an increasingly large budget to Google AdWords.

    Organic Results

    Google’s redesign has also changed the look of organic search results, most importantly altering the size of titles. The font size is now larger even though the overall space on the page allocated to each title hasn’t changed. That means many old title tags are now being cut off.

    The old trick of keeping titles under 70 characters isn’t going to cut it anymore. Google now determines how much of a title tag to display based on pixel size. Since different characters can have widely different pixel widths, it’s almost impossible to establish a character limit that will ensure titles aren’t cut off.

    This problem isn’t new, though. During the past few years, SEO junkies have surely noticed ads creeping down the right side of the SERPs, often cutting off title tags under 70 characters long before this redesign.

    What You Can Do About It

    Though it’s impossible to pick an exact number, a good rule of thumb is to keep titles under 58 characters long. This should make sure your whole title shows up post-redesign, even if ads are running down the right hand side. Avoid writing titles in all caps. Not only does it take up an unnecessary number of pixels, but it looks spammy, too.

    Screaming Frog, every SEO professional’s best friend, has updated its crawler to include title pixel width. It’s a good idea to run a quick audit of your site and to rewrite any titles that clock in at more than 512 pixels.

    Ultimately, this change to the organic results is going to challenge marketers to be more succinct, as they now have to communicate the same information in fewer words. While it certainly presents a challenge, this redesign may actually be good for the SERPs.

    In many cases, the extra characters in titles that have since been lost were just used to over-optimize with extraneous keywords. Cutting down titles aids Google’s overall efforts to combat spam and keyword stuffing. Short and simple titles that aren’t cluttered up with inessential keywords make for a better search experience for the user.

    Google

  • Amazon: Keep Your Friends Close and Your Frenemies Closer?

    4245550588_3b89f4ba64_zThese days, Amazon is practically synonymous with online retail. With the Jeff Bezos-led behemoth pioneering free two-day shipping, drone delivery, and many other innovations, it shows no signs of slowing down. For many online shoppers, Amazon is their first and only stop when they want to make a purchase.

    It’s only natural, then, that many new e-commerce businesses, especially those that only sell a single product, rush to get their goods listed on Amazon, often at the same time they are setting up their own direct stores. With all the traffic Amazon attracts on a daily basis, this can only be good for business—right? The answer is a lot more complicated than it might seem on the surface. The reality is that many businesses are just starting to realize Amazon may not be as much of a “friend” as they initially thought. It is, in many ways, the Regina George (from Mean Girls) of the e-commerce world: the ultimate “frenemy.”

     Friendly Competition

    The core of the issue is this: many companies are headed online because they want to build a direct, high margin e-commerce presence. However, when a retailer lists its products on Amazon, it is essentially creating a competitor – one that offers exactly the same product, often for cheaper than the retailer’s site itself, and that has more reach and authority in the marketplace. This presents potential problems in several areas and begs the question of whether Amazon is helping to create incremental demand or is just taking advantage of existing and increased brand awareness. Before deciding to work with Amazon, here are three important aspects to consider.

     1.    Amazon’s Marketing Machine

    Amazon is currently the 10th most trafficked website in the world, and does better in organic search than almost all other online retailers.  It also has a massive Pay Per Click (PPC) program, product listing ads, remarketing, etc. What this means is that e-commerce retailers run the fairly high risk of Amazon ranking or bidding higher for their own brand in searches. While this is not all bad, since retailers obviously do make money when people purchase their products through Amazon, it begs a very real strategic question that is often ignored: is increased volume via Amazon worth the lower margins that often go with it, given the cut that Amazon takes? This is particularly true when you take into account the fact that brand terms are very easy to rank for and buy. Ideally, a retailer would prefer to see Amazon spending money on keywords related to the product category or theme, rather than the brand name (i.e. “online widgets” versus “Acme Widgets”)

    2.    Loyalty To Amazon

    Beyond the bottom-line impact of a relationship with Amazon, there is also the issue of brand building and the opportunities to develop a relationship with customers that are lost when those customers are not actually purchasing from the retailer’s site. Given that the “competitor” Amazon has a hugely successful built-in loyalty program (Amazon Prime) that has a lot to do with customers purchasing repeatedly from them, it is an open question as to whether the customer’s loyalty is to Amazon or to the retailer’s brand. As soon as a product gets listed on Amazon, there are guaranteed to be people who will prefer buying it directly from them, reducing the direct interface between retailers and their customers, which potentially has negative longer term effects on lifetime value, willingness to switch, etc. For a new brand, the company can also lose the value of being in touch directly with earlier customers and getting their feedback and information.

     3. The Problems of Attribution

    Not only does Amazon impact profitability and customer lifecycles, it also obscures the effectiveness of a retailer’s  marketing channels. This is because many of their own marketing efforts ultimately lead to conversions on Amazon, adding a layer of significant complexity to the data

    For example, imagine someone who clicks on a paid search ad and lands on a product page on a retailer’s website. They like what they see, but they want to check out the Amazon reviews before making a purchase. Once there, they decide to buy directly from Amazon, since they have a Prime membership. That paid search ad did lead to a conversion – it just wasn’t on the retailer’s site. That means Google AdWords doesn’t count it as a conversion, and an accurate ROI becomes almost impossible to determine.

    The same scenario is also true of display ads, Facebook ads, SEO, and pretty much every other marketing activity. It leaves the retailer’s marketers in the dark because they have limited insight into what’s driving the conversions on Amazon, even with the selected information that Amazon provides. It also can make the performance of those campaigns seem worse than they are.

    4. Giving Exposure to Competitors

    A final issue to consider is that, while Amazon might initially increase a company’s exposure, it also increases the exposure of competing products. When people perform a search on Amazon, even for a specific brand, they see not only the retailer’s product in the search results, but also the products of the retailer’s closest competitors. With many people using Amazon’s internal search engine instead of Google for e-commerce queries, this problem is especially acute.

    Take, for example, one of the hottest products of 2013: Google Chromecast. Perform a search for “Chromecast” on Amazon and its major competitor, Roku, shows up right on the first line of results:

    Untitled

    Compare that to how Chromecast is presented on Google’s own website:

    Untitled

    The difference is obvious. Google would no doubt prefer visitors go straight to their website instead of searching on Amazon.

    Google is a massive company with household name recognition and plenty of money to spend on marketing, so Chromecast is likely to do fine whether it’s listed on Amazon or not. But it’s not difficult to see how a similar situation could do quite a bit of harm to a new, single-product startup just getting on its feet.

    The same is true of remarketing. It’s not uncommon for Amazon to send out emails to people who viewed a retailer’s product on the site, which is great—except that  they also include similar products from competitors right next to it. The competition, as they say, is only a click away.

    What To Do?

    When it comes to listing products on Amazon there is no ‘right’ answer. It has helped thousands of businesses grow, and is undoubtedly a hugely powerful platform. However, in our opinion, too many companies don’t think through all of the issues involved with the “frenemy” relationship—they just assume it’s something they have to do. For many businesses, Amazon  turns out to be a short-term gain that in the long-term undermines the ability to build their own brand, which is not a trade anyone should make lightly and without considering the consequences.

    The best reason to work with Amazon should the opportunity to have incremental exposure to the brand, rather than having Amazon simple throw the product into its catalog and use its marketing muscle to target customers already looking for the product/brand online. Before taking the plunge, it’s worth asking a lot of questions, checking the contract and pricing policies, and understanding how Amazon will compete with the company’s brand terms in online marketing.

    Photo via Carl Malamud on Flickr.

    Google

  • Click Fraud Isn’t New: And Here’s How to Avoid It

    3933748843_fd7822767b_bClick fraud isn’t new. Savvy marketers have known about it for some time. But the amount of fraud is so staggering – and the digital marketing industry’s response so lackadaisical – that the situation is approaching a tipping point that is sure to drive changes in media buying.

    The Wall Street Journal picked up the topic in a recent article, reporting that “36% of all Web traffic is considered fake, the product of computers hijacked by viruses and programmed to visit sites.” This represents billions of dollars wasted every year on advertising seen only by bots and not the desired end users. This behavior is a byproduct of some perverse incentives by those who sell this media and poor oversight and analytics from the buyers.

    At Acceleration Partners we’ve been very proactive and vocal about addressing and limiting fraud in online marketing. How? By taking the power away from bots and algorithms and empowering actual people. It’s not hard for companies to protect the integrity of their brands and prevent fraud—they just need their marketers to actually know where their dollars are spent and how their programs are running. They also need to ask questions when things don’t make sense and not be confused by complicated responses that don’t actually answer the question directly.

    Know Where Your Ads Are Running

    First and foremost, marketers need to understand where their ads are being placed. Lack of visibility opens brands up to fraud and also improper representation of the brand. The goal is to place ads on quality sites with content relevant to the brand. When marketers take the time to look at sites where their ads are running, this is usually obvious.

    Part of this entails being vigilant about what ad networks and DSP’s you use. It is important to screen networks for trustworthiness and to avoid networks that place ads on hundreds or thousands of sites without proper visibility At the end of the day a human being may often need to be involved in making the call about whether a site is relevant enough to an ad and excluding those that aren’t and it takes sophisticated technology to monitor and detect fraud in what is an ongoing arm’s race.

    CPA Is the Ideal Payment Model

    One way to cut down on fraud is to pay for an actual sale or lead instead of a click. This cost-per-acquisition (CPA) model is ideal, but it won’t be possible to implement across the board. The next best thing is a cost-per-click (CPC) model followed by cost-per-impression (CPI). It’s important to note that there are no hard and fast rules. Fraud is still possible in a CPA model, it’s just harder to pull off than click and impression fraud as it requires a sale. However, each channel needs to be looked at under an ROI lens and at some point reviewed by human eyes. Also, no matter what type of media you are buying, your reporting should measure that media on a CPA basis, especially for e-commerce and ideally with multi-channel attribution to ensure that the spend is incremental.

    Watch for Outliers

    Make sure someone is watching for data that is outside of the norm, especially in display advertising. For example, if the click-through rate (CTR) from a site is well above the industry standard of 0.2% to 0.25%, that could very well be an indication of fraud. The same goes for huge spikes of traffic from a site without any apparent cause or relevance to the brand.

    Looking at geography can also help.  With both display and affiliate marketing, a good way to detect fraud is to look at traffic by country. Large amounts of traffic from Russia, India or Southeast Asia to a site that targets U.S. customers could also indicate fraud, especially if conversion rates or related metrics for that traffic are well below normal.

    Understand Who Is Promoting Your Brand

    In affiliate marketing especially, we believe it’s important to know who is promoting your brand. Develop a relationship with your best affiliates so that if something looks questionable, there’s a real person to ask about it and work with to address the problem. A person-to-person relationship can go a long way toward making sure promotion is consistent with the brand image.

    In large part, the current fraud crisis is due to the fact that human beings have been removed from large chunks of the digital marketing process. Last year, for example, more than half of display ad buys were made using automated systems. By 2017 that number is expected to grow to 80%. If humans are carefully overseeing this automation, this can work, but too often the machines are left to do things on their own which has both brand and fraud implications. The marketing world now has plenty of big data, what we need is really smart people reviewing this data and using their judgment to limit fraud and ensure brand relevance in digital marketing. This way companies can expect stronger ROI on all their paid performance marketing programs.

    Photo via JD Hancock on Flickr.

    Google

  • How Affiliates Can Avoid the Wrath of Google

    4249731778_ab4fc01fd9For the last several years Google has been cracking down on spam and many low-quality sites have disappeared from Google’s results. For most sites, it’s pretty black and white: generate quality original content, and you should be fine.

    But there are some legitimate sites that have been caught in a gray area by the recent algorithm changes. Among these are affiliates, which often feature content distributed by merchants, and, thus, which are in danger of violating Google’s prohibition on duplicate content.

    Word has finally come down from Google offering a little clarification of its position regarding affiliates. As with most of Google’s decrees, this one took the form of an innocuous blog post on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog (an excellent resource for anyone who manages a website).

    It specifically calls out affiliates as sites with thin or duplicate content. Google’s major problem is that much affiliate content is syndicated across hundreds or thousands of different sites.

    Here’s the word straight from the horse’s mouth:

    If your site syndicates content that’s available elsewhere, a good question to ask is: “Does this site provide significant added benefits that would make a user want to visit this site in search results instead of the original source of the content?” If the answer is “No,” the site may frustrate searchers and violate our quality guidelines. As with any violation of our quality guidelines, we may take action, including removal from our index, in order to maintain the quality of our users’ search results.

    Let’s unpack this. First it’s important to know Google prizes original, quality content. If you just throw up content you receive from a merchant, Google considers that content not original, and you run the risk of incurring Google’s wrath.

    One way to keep Google happy is to use the content you receive as a guideline or template. Re-write it so it’s in your own voice. Add a paragraph or two that addresses the concerns of your specific audience. There’s a reason people come to your site, and it’s not so they can read generic content. Putting a little effort into making sure all the content you put up on your site is original can go a long way, not just with Google but with the people visiting your site, too.

    What happens if you don’t do this and just keep the duplicate content? It’s likely you could suffer the consequences of an angry Googlebot. This could include complete removal from its index – a death sentence for most sites. What’s far more likely is that your site will simply drop in the rankings, possibly several pages. Only 8.5% of traffic even makes it past the first page, so getting downgraded could have the same practical effects as being removed from the index completely.

    How can you prevent running afoul of the law? Google has Affiliate Guidelines that are worth taking a gander at if you hope to earn money as an affiliate. Here are the major takeaways:

    -Create original content – Some duplicate content (such as product descriptions from merchants) is impossible to avoid. But, if you can embellish the content you get from merchants you will only be doing yourself a favor.

    -Provide value to the visitor – Google’s primary concern is providing a great search experience for users. If the company sees people are responding well to your content, you are less likely to be punished. Spend some time in Google Analytics looking at user engagement data such as bounce rate and average time on site. Do what you can to try to get these numbers moving in the right direction.

    -Post more than affiliate content – It seems counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to make money as an affiliate is to post about more than just affiliate content. Create posts that aren’t promoting anything. People don’t like to be marketed to all the time. Non-affiliate content will create an audience receptive to your product recommendations.

    Creating original content is tough and time-consuming, but it’s the only surefire way to avoid being downgraded in Google. As its algorithm gets better and better every day, thin affiliates with duplicate content will continue to be punished. Have other questions about being an affiliate? Check out our Affiliate FAQs.

    Google

    Photo via Robert Scoble on Flickr.

  • How to Use Facebook Ads Effectively

    5684115572_55bc83414f_bAnyone who’s spent five minutes on Facebook during the last few years can see advertising is becoming a much more prevalent part of the Facebook experience. The social networking behemoth is monetizing, and that means it needs to bring in advertising dollars.

    These days it’s nearly impossible for even the most active businesses to achieve success on Facebook with a purely organic model. To truly maximize the social media channel it’s becoming increasingly necessary to buy paid advertising.

    But if you don’t do so strategically, it’s easy to sink a lot of money into Facebook without seeing much return on investment. Social media as a whole has a notoriously low return on investment (ROI), and many businesses are afraid to even stick a toe in the water.

    Cost effective results on Facebook are possible with effort and careful analysis. Here are our tips for getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to buying Facebook ads:

    Targeting Is Key

    If the three rules of real estate are location, location, location, the three rules of paid digital advertising are targeting, targeting, targeting.

    What sets Facebook apart from pretty much every other channel out there is the sheer volume of information it has about its individual users, the audience of your ads. If you don’t take advantage of this information to precisely target who sees your ads you are wasting your money.

    When you create an ad, Facebook gives you the option to create a custom audience. This stage of the process is roughly analogous to selecting keywords in Google AdWords, and a similar amount of care should go into your selection and cultivation of your Facebook audience.

    Just as in AdWords the most successful keywords are often those that are most narrowed down to an exact match term, so too in Facebook will the most successful audience be the most targeted. Facebook gives you the option of narrowly targeting your ads to its users by location, age, gender and interests, among other criteria.

    Once you’ve narrowed down your audience, you can then develop ad text specifically relevant to them. In this way the audience functions much like an ad group in AdWords. Keep experimenting with different audiences and different ad text until you find the combinations that work best for your business.

    Facebook also gives you the option of creating custom audiences by using specific email addresses, phone numbers and Facebook IDs, as well as other information. This allows you to reach specific groups of people you know are interested in your business, such as previous customers or people who have signed up for your email newsletter.

    Take Advantage of Lookalike Audiences

    Facebook has begun testing a feature called Lookalike Audiences, which is potentially a revolutionary new way to target people similar to your existing audience.

    Facebook takes the same information you uploaded for custom audiences and creates a list of other people with similar profiles for you to zero in on.

    In assembling this lookalike profiles, Facebook uses basic demographic information as well as more specific information, such as what they like. In this way, Facebook is able to assemble a audience that closely resembles the people who are already your customers.

    So far Lookalike Audiences is still in beta, but those who have used it are reporting a lower cost per acquisition than traditional targeting. It’s definitely an option to explore for those who desire to spend their money wisely.

    Don’t Waste Money on Acquiring Likes

    Something to avoid when it comes to advertising on Facebook is paying money to promote a Facebook page. It can cost quite a bit, and the benefits are dubious at best.

    Check out this video, posted by Veritasium, for an awesome explanation of Facebook frauds and everything that’s wrong with paying to promote a page.

    YouTube Preview Image

    In short, there really is no way to promote a page without getting inundated with spammy likes. Even if you don’t use a “like farm,” and pay to promote your page with legitimate Facebook ads, your page will still be flooded with dubious likes from developing countries. That’s because like farms need to like lots of different pages, even when they aren’t paid, to disguise their illegal paid activity from Facebook.

    Not only are most of the likes people are paying for not legitimate, but they make it harder to reach and engage with people who genuinely like your page. Many businesses then end up paying Facebook again for ads targeted at those people.

    At best the practices surround advertising pages are ineffective, at worst they are bordering on corrupt. As a general rule of thumb it’s best to avoid promoting pages at all and send people directly to your site, where you have greater control over what happens and will likely generate a larger ROI as well.

    For an example of a Facebook ad campaign that was spectacularly successful, check out this New York Times article on Little Passports, one of Acceleration Partners’s clients. With the help of Facebook ads they managed to triple their customer base in six months. That’s the kind of power Facebook ads can have if approached strategically.

    Photo via Sean MacEntee on Flickr.

    Google

  • How Affiliates Can Organize Their Emails for Success

    7K0A9914

    Let’s just say it: email is a scourge of humanity. Yes, it’s made our lives so much easier in so many ways – and we almost surely take it for granted – but is there anything more stressful than an overflowing inbox? Or, one of those work days that you spend doing nothing but answering emails, which seem to multiply like the heads of the Hydra – every time you take care of one, two more spring up in its place.

    We understand this problem is particularly acute for affiliates, who can easily get overwhelmed by emails from the merchants they promote and their affiliate program managers. We recently got an email from one affiliate who revealed she had more than 2,000 unread emails in her inbox just from affiliate marketing.

    So, in an effort to make things a little easier, we wanted to share some of our email best practices to help you get ahead of the game. Hopefully these tips for general organization will help you approach each day efficiently, confident you are staying on top of all the information being sent your way, help you to get a handle on the best offers from your favorite merchants in no time and make you a more profitable affiliate!

    Single Out AP’s Emails

    The first thing to do is set up a rule for all emails ending in @acceleration-partners.com to be funneled into a specific folder, one you check every day. Many affiliates are active members of several different AP merchants. This will keep all of their emails in one place for you to find, so you never lose track of another $5 or $10 blog bonus again!

    On those super busy days, or weeks, we all have, this will make it easier to track down the info you need about a hot sale.

    Organize the Rest of Your Inbox

    In addition to creating a special folder for AP emails, it may also help to create folders for all of your different merchants. That way, when an email comes in involving one of them you can file it away and get it out of your inbox as soon as you have read it and done whatever you need to do. Not only will a little organization make emails a lot easier to find, but an empty inbox will give you an amazing feeling of zen.

    There are dozens of different email providers out there, so it’s impossible to provide detailed instructions for organization to everyone. Here are links to tutorials for some of the top email networks:

    -Gmail

    -Hotmail

    -AOL

    -Yahoo

    And everyone can check out this article from Macworld full of super helpful tips.

    Try an External Email Service

    There are also third-party services that can make this task a little easier. Try unroll.me, for example, for a fast and easy way to clean up your inbox. This will help you get rid of old subscriptions that are taking up way too much space and blocking your ability to scan the rest of your email. Plus it offers other cool features like combining all of your subscriptions into one email.

     Respond as Quickly as Possible

    One of the easiest ways for email to become too overwhelming is letting it sit too long in your inbox without reading it or taking action. It piles up and before you know it you have a long list of unread emails that’s too intimidating to tackle.

    Keeping on top of your email, responding quickly, and filing emails in the appropriate folder will go a long way toward maintaining email peace of mind. But as an affiliate it could also make you some extra money.

    Most of the emails AP sends out to affiliates feature an offer for you to promote on your own for a $5 bonus. We almost always include a sample blog post, something that is easily copied and pasted onto your site so you don’t have to go digging through ShareASale for your specific affiliate link HTML.

    Bookmark our submission page in your browser and submit your link when we send out opportunities. It only takes about five minutes and could earn you $5-10.

    Don’t get discouraged if taming your email seems like a Herculean task. It takes time to create an efficient process, but it’ll pay off many times over in the long run. What are your favorite tips for organizing your email inbox? Let us know in the comments below!

    Google

  • Catch Bob Glazer with Discounted Passes to AM Days

    AMDSF14_AccelPartnersCan’t get enough Bob Glazer? Then head to AM Days March 19-20 in San Francisco.

    Bob’s giving a keynote address on the affiliate marketing industry’s latest transformation. He’ll be talking about what savvy marketers are doing to their affiliate marketing programs to fend off fraud, off-brand promotion, and misplaced incentive that reward affiliates for delivering existing, instead of new, customers.

    He’ll shine light on the emerging Gen 2 of affiliate marketing, including best practices for

    -Conducting a conversation rate analysis to look for abnormalities

    -Monitoring brand/trademark use

    -Adopting a multi-tiered approach to attribution.

    By popular demand Early Bird AM Days registration has been extended by one week to Friday January 31st. If you sign up by Friday to get the early bird rate and you use the discount code in the picture, you’ll save over $600 on your pass!

    Google

  • How Mobile Is Changing Affiliate Marketing

    7K0A0603It’s not going to come as a surprise to anyone who pays even cursory attention to digital marketing that mobile technology is changing the way businesses attract and interact with their customers. But what does mobile mean for affiliate marketing specifically?

    In affiliate marketing, as in the rest of the digital world, mobile traffic is exploding. On ShareASale, one of the major affiliate marketing networks, 25% of traffic and 20% of transactions came from mobile devices in 2013. That’s up 100% from the year before. Clearly, given this rate of growth, everyone involved in affiliate marketing is going to have to embrace mobile if they want to succeed.

    How to Optimize for Mobile

    For standard affiliates – bloggers who refer visitors to merchant sites through ads or content – not much has changed. These affiliates just need to make sure their sites are properly optimized for mobile. Merchants, too, should make sure their sites and affiliate programs are properly set up for mobile.

    Here are some technical steps sites can take right now to optimize for mobile:

    1. Remove disruptive creative content

    ○      Eliminate flash creative, sliders, Lightbox image galleries

    ○      Remove modal pop-ups and required log-in for entry to the site

    2. Website visual optimization

    ○      Increase the size of link targets to make touching easier on mobile devices

    ○      Limit the use of sliders in favor of longer scrolling pages

    ○      Reduce the number of categories and subcategories so that navigation is easier

    3. Order checkout and affiliate tracking

    ○      Streamline checkout process to only required fields

    ○      Ensure affiliate tracking pixel is installed on mobile checkout pages, including checkout on m. sites

    ○      If tracking sales through mobile app purchases, sign-ups, or downloads, ensure affiliate tracking is installed on purchase page

    4. Optimize e-mail marketing campaigns

    ○      Use mobile responsive design using HTML 5

    ○      Eliminate use of rotating creative

    New Opportunities

    In addition to changing the way people interact with traditional affiliates, mobile has also opened up opportunities for completely new affiliates that didn’t exist just a few years ago. Some of the most exciting are affiliates that buy mobile advertising space in apps and mobile games.

    Some affiliates build apps specifically for merchants. If a merchant doesn’t already have an app where users can shop, these affiliates will build one based on the affiliate product feed. Mximo, for example, is an affiliate that enables brands to launch their very own mobile catalogue and shop app.

    Affiliate networks such as ShareASale are embracing this mobile revolution and now offer the ability to integrate the affiliate tracking pixel into the app so purchases can be tracked through ShareASale. If someone places an order through that app, the affiliate that built it receives a commission.

    Acceleration Partners is excited to help our affiliates maintain their success through the mobile revolution and help our merchants capitalize on the new opportunities created by mobile. To discover more about our innovative affiliate marketing practice, please visit our Affiliate Program Management page.

    Google

  • Storefronts Expand the Potential of Affiliate Marketing

    TinyPrintsBigThe affiliate marketing team here at Acceleration Partners is always looking for innovative new ways to work with our clients and expand the scope of their programs. One of our new successful methods is the creation of storefronts that allow our merchants to partner with all kinds of non-traditional affiliates who otherwise wouldn’t be involved in affiliate marketing at all.

    How It Works

    A merchant creates a partnership with a school or other nonprofit cause, and sets up a co-branded storefront on their website. When supporters of the organization click on the co-branded Storefront tracking link and make a purchase from the site, the merchant donates a portion of the sale to the organization. The storefront is thus a mutually beneficial arrangement, driving extra business to the merchant and making it easy for schools and other organizations to raise money.

    For example Acceleration Partners helped facilitate a Tiny Prints storefront for Highlands Preschool in Piedmont, California. Tiny Prints set up a co-branded page on the Tiny Prints website featuring Highlands Preschool’s name and pictures and an assortment of Tiny Prints products.

    The storefront allowed parents and other friends of the school to purchase personalized holiday cards from Tiny Prints. For every purchase someone made through this special storefront, Tiny Prints donated 13% of the sale to the school.

    The storefront was a win-win for everyone. For Tiny Prints, it brought in sales that might not ordinarily have come in. For the school, it was an efficient tech-friendly way to raise money. For parents, it was a great way to support the school while buying holiday cards they likely would have purchased anyway. With programs like these, the days of kids tediously going door-to-door peddling popcorn or wrapping paper or flower bulbs are quickly fading.

    The Potential of Storefronts

    The most exciting aspect of storefronts is that they turn entities not normally involved in affiliate marketing into high-quality affiliates. And because they have a personal relationship with the people they’re referring, it’s much easier for them to make a sale.

    Storefronts aren’t limited to schools and other nonprofits. Almost any professional can be turned into an affiliate; the sky’s the limit.

    Let’s say a sporting goods company wants to create an affiliate storefront. They could establish relationships with personal trainers and set up a special section of their site to which these trainers could refer their clients. When the clients make a purchase, the sporting goods company makes a sale they otherwise might not have and the trainers earn a commission. Everybody wins.

    AP is excited to continue exploring the potential of storefronts in 2014. For more information about our unique approach to affiliate marketing, please visit our Affiliate Program Management page.

    Google

  • Bob Glazer Featured in Retail Online Integration

    ctsAP Founder and Managing Director Bob Glazer recently published an article in Retail Online Integration detailing why ‘last in’ affiliate attribution needs a second look.

    Attribution is one of the hottest topics in marketing at the moment and has a major impact on how online businesses make decisions. Attribution determines which marketing channels get credit for a given sale.

    Many sites give every channel receives 100% credit for every buyer that interacts with it. But this setup leads to problems: conversions get ‘double counted’ and the company ends up overpaying for sales.

    To fix this problem some companies adopted ‘last in’ attribution, giving the last channel a buyer interacted with credit for the sale. But this discounts the contributions of channels (and affiliates) earlier in the process.

    ‘Last in’ attribution leads to inaccuracies because in today’s digital world people often interact with multiple channels before making a purchase. And in the affiliate world, attribution is even more important because it determines who gets paid. ‘Last in’ attribution incentivizes low quality affiliates to come up with tactics that ensure they’re the last interaction – and the one who gets paid.

    In the article, Bob fully explains the problem with ‘last in’ attribution and sheds light on how some of the best affiliate programs are finding a way around it. Check it out!