Als 3. Gastbeitrag beim Affiliateboy habe ich mir etwas besonderes überlegt.
Shawn Collins ist in den USA als Online Marketing Guru bekannt. Ich hatte das Glück ihn für ein Interview zu gewinnen. Meine Fragen sind, denke ich, interessant für Affiliates, Merchants und Agenturen. Da in unserer Branche ja eh mehr englische als deutsche Ausdrücke gebräuchlich sind, lasse ich den Text einfach mal im Original stehen.
Gegen Kommentare (und Trackbacks! ;-) habe ich wie immer nichts.
Jetzt also zu Shawn und dem Blick über den großen Teich.
Frisch aus dem Messenger:
HenningBuss: So Shawn, you are well known in the states as the founder of the Affiliate summit. Could you introduce yourself to Germans who might not have heard of you and tell us what exactly you do?
Affiliatetip: My pleasure – I have been in affiliate marketing since 1997, when I started as affiliate manager for Medsite.com.
Affiliatetip: Since then, I’ve worked as an affiliate and affiliate manager consistantly, as well as working at the first affiliate program directory, Refer-it.com.
Affiliatetip: While there (1999-2000), I helped run the Affiliate Solutions conference, as well as running the directory.
Affiliatetip: Both of these experiences at Refer-it helped me with two core things I do today: running the Affiliate Summit conference (since 2003), as well as the AffiliateTip.com affiliate program directory (since 2004)
HenningBuss: That sounds awesome. How did the Affiliate summit develope into such a huge event from rather small beginnings? Did you have to do a lot of advertisment to grow it or did people just keep showing up more and more, as Affiliate marketing grew?
HenningBuss: Did you have cooperations to grow it, etc?
Affiliatetip: Affiliate Summit was the creation of myself and my partner, Missy Ward.
Affiliatetip: We’ve been in the industry for a long time and I think it aided in the growth that we’re not typical event planners – we’re affiliate marketers, and when people have suggestions or complaints, they can come right to us.
Affiliatetip: We’ve evolved each successive event based on the feedback.
HenningBuss: Wow, and what is the rate of growth of your conference?
Affiliatetip: The first conference in November 2003 had just 200 people and the most recent event (January 2007) had 2,079.
Affiliatetip: The recent show in Las Vegas was our 6th show, and we’ve gained momentum each time – largely from word of mouth.
HenningBuss: who benefits the most from this get-together? Merchants, affiliates, networks or agencies? They all participate, dont they?
Affiliatetip: We’ve done very little advertising – most of which has been through our affiliate program, where we pay 15% on any referred registrations.
Affiliatetip: We have crafted an agenda and overall environement, so that there is something for everyone in the industry – different educational sessions and events cater to different types of people in the industry.
HenningBuss: As usual, Europe is behind the states in marketing. When can we expect your event to come to Europe? Will the UK be first and what are your plans there?
Affiliatetip: We are in the process now of setting up an Affiliate Summit conference for this coming September in London.
Affiliatetip: We do not have firm plans on futher expansion thus far.
HenningBuss: will the London event cover the UK market only?
Affiliatetip: We don’t feature content specific to one market, so the London event will really be intented to appeal to affiliate marketers from any area – we’re just trying to make it more convenient and accessible.
Affiliatetip: At our last conference, we had attendees from North America (of course), South America, Africa, Asia, Europe and Austrailia.
HenningBuss: that sounds great. Probably some German players will show up there, as well. I really hope to persuade my company to send me there!
HenningBuss: Besides the summit, you run a few other projects
HenningBuss: like your blog
HenningBuss: and your podcast
HenningBuss: can you tell us about that?
Affiliatetip: I blog daily on affiliate marketing at http://www.affiliatetip.com/blog – I post news, tips and resources for affiliate marketers 7 days a week there.
Affiliatetip: The podcast is called Affiliate Thing, and it takes place a 12 noon EST on Wednesdays. It’s a half hour show co-hosted by Lisa Picarille, Editor-in-Chief of Revenue magazine and myself.
HenningBuss: cool, so you know the Affiliate Marketing scene like almost no one else
Affiliatetip: I try to stay on top of things – I’m always trying to learn new ways to work in affiliate marketing.
HenningBuss: what do you think are the latest trends and developments for affiliates?
Affiliatetip: I’m very interested in the possibilities of working with video now, and mobile phones in the future.
HenningBuss: you are also active in so-called „SMO“, like you have a MySpace profile
HenningBuss: what other services besides myspace should be considered by affiliates?
Affiliatetip: Yes, there is a perception that MySpace is only for teens (I’m 36) – that is very false. I’ve found it to be a very productive environment for business.
Affiliatetip: I think the next big thing for affiliate marketers is to have a channel on YouTube – they now enable users to have cusomized urls to feature their content.
HenningBuss: and what are interesting trends from a merchant point of view?
HenningBuss: what should a merchant offer their affiliates?
Affiliatetip: For instance, here’s my customized channel, which I am in the process of building out: https://www.youtube.com/affiliatetip
Affiliatetip: I plan to experiment a lot with video as an affiliate and as a merchant.
Affiliatetip: There is an interesting software that I blogged about yesterday for merchants here.
HenningBuss: i read that
HenningBuss: so you think video is gonna be THE next trend
Affiliatetip: It’s called Web Video Zone, and it enables affiliate managers to provide clickable video to affiliates.
Affiliatetip: I think video is the now trend. ;-)
HenningBuss: well, i am in Europe, so basically have to wait 3 more months ;-)
Affiliatetip: That’s one thing that I consider to be something of a myth, though. I think Europe and the US affiliate marketers have come closer together in recent years with blogs, IM, Skype, etc. – things seem to happen at the same time from what I can see.
HenningBuss: Ah, okay. Another question: As a merchant, if i was to start a new affiliate programm now – what should I do as my very first steps to get new affiliates into my programm?
HenningBuss: do Affiliate look only for high commissions?
HenningBuss: or is there something else that should be on offer to them?
Affiliatetip: I would suggest optimizing an affiliat eprogram and testing it a lot before recruiting. I see a lot of affiliate programs launch with limited, bad creative and sometimes untested tracking.
Affiliatetip: Before launching the affiliate program, they should promote it as an affiliate themselves to test the tracking, creative, etc. and optimize accordingly.
Affiliatetip: Then go out with a three stage plan: recruit, activate and retain the affiliates.
Affiliatetip: Many affiliate managers obsessively recruit affiliates, but never do anything to activate them and then keep them in the program once they generate some transactions.
HenningBuss: That is very true. Or they only pay attention to big affiliates and neglect the smaller ones
HenningBuss: I have also had that happen to me as an affiliate
Affiliatetip: Yes, I would suggest that affiliate managers adhere to the Long Tail concept and cater to the many affiliates who will consistantly generate a handful of transactions each month.
HenningBuss: and what would be the best way to be in touch with the affiliates? Personal Telephone calls?
HenningBuss: would you say that recruiting affiliates is the main purpose of an affiliate manager position?
Affiliatetip: I prefer direct mail and phone calls – definitely not e-mail.
HenningBuss: direct mail? you mean snail mail?
HenningBuss: you actually send them real letters?
Affiliatetip: Yes, snail mail – not personal letters – more like campaigns to dozens or hundreds of prospective affiliates.
HenningBuss: and that works?
Affiliatetip: A good example of this is something I detailed recently, you find here.
Affiliatetip: Marlon Sanders sent me two pieces of direct mail and followed it with a payment to my PayPal account – before I ever promoted him. It worked – I joined and I’m actively promoting him now.
HenningBuss: you mean pay people before they promote your programm?
Affiliatetip: Yes, not as a widespread effort to tons of people, but it’s an attention getter for a select group of people you want to recruit.
HenningBuss: here in Germany it is already tough to get good spots in Google and other search engines if you have a new site. How about the US – there it must be even tougher for new affiliates
HenningBuss: to get started in the biz
HenningBuss: because there the competition is even bigger
Affiliatetip: I think it’s essential anywhere for affiliates to be patient – stay away from tricks and shortcuts.
HenningBuss: how hard, do u think it is for a brandnew affiliate to get started and make money online?
Affiliatetip: I think a new affiliate needs to be very dedicated, have some money to invest, and have some unique value proposition to their site, where it be content, a niche social network, etc.
Affiliatetip: Just starting up another coupon site or rewards site is uninspired and will likely be abandoned inside of a year.
HenningBuss: what should he invest in?
Affiliatetip: Site design, testing, promotion via ppc ads, hosting, e-mail service to collect subscribers and send newsletters
HenningBuss: okay, that was my last question for today. Thank you so much for the interview, Shawn!
HenningBuss: and I hope to see you in London in September
Affiliatetip: Thank you for having me – have a wonderful day.
Affiliatetip: Hope to see you, too, Henning.