In this edition of the Affiliate Buzz, host and Instructor of the Affiliate Marketers BootCamp, James Martell, is joined by guest Chuck Hamrick, President at Hamrick.biz, an outsourced program management company that manages affiliate programs for advertisers.
James points out that if you are an advertiser considering starting or expanding an affiliate program to increase leads, sales, and profits, then he and Chuck are talking directly to you. He also encourages affiliates to listen to learn the industry from the perspective of an advertiser.
What Is an Outsource Program Manager?
James kicks off the episode by talking with Chuck about Affiliate Summit. Chuck uses events like this to find networking opportunities, meet new people, and keep up with industry trends. James points out that this Affiliate Summit was so large that people had to make appointments to avoid missing each other.
Next James asks Chuck to tell about himself and where he's from. An avid skier, Chuck lives in an area of Utah that offers plenty of opportunity to enjoy the sport. In the late 1990's Chuck transitioned into his first SEO jobs, but it wasn't until 2005 that he took a job as a full-time affiliate manager.
Then Chuck segues into explaining the role of outsource program manager, or OPM. These outside contractors might focus on a dozen or so programs at one time for a wide range of clients.
Starting a Program to Increase Revenue
Next James says he often runs into advertisers or merchants who are pondering adding affiliates to their marketing mix, and asks Chuck how these people can reach that goal. The first tip Chuck has is to do a bit of homework and see what the competition offers.
Chuck goes on to suggest that when someone is considering starting a program, they should factor in about 90 days to get a program launched and up and running. He points out that not all programs meet expectations and some do get shut down.
Then Chuck states that if a program is going to take off then it is going to happen within those first 90 to 120 days. James agrees and adds that from an affiliate standpoint, even the programs that he and Arlene love and feel is a perfect fit for their business take some time to market.
James remarks that today it seems that affiliate networks seem to be coming out of the woodwork, and asks Chuck for some advice on how to pick one. The first thing Chuck suggests is an analysis between the programs that are similar in nature and then zeroing in on the ones that work.
For those who have to get a product out and need to dive into affiliate marketing, Chuck suggests ShareASale, an economical performance marketing network. He states that similar networks could cost a broad range of fees, so it is important to get an OPM's judgment on the topic before making a selection.
Then Chuck outlines the hodgepodge of skills required for someone working as an OPM, including basic HTML knowledge, some experience with programming, and organizational skills to stay on top of communications. He states that what it boils down to is a unique blend of learning on the fly, leaning on the network, and self-education.
James and Chuck also discuss the steps needed to put together a successful program which include:
- the network agreement
- program access to the network
- add program description and account information
- create commission structure and performance incentives
- work with designers to design banners in various sizes
- secure a data feed to help generate sales
- coordinate the tracking system between the webmaster and the network
- test out the data feed and check that all the information is correct
- uploading the banners and creating the text links
- launch the program and start promoting as soon as possible
Chuck reminds that 80% of our sales are made through text links, so it's important that you've covered the bases with branding and promotional banners. Although this may be modified in the future, it is the starting point and therefore one of the most important steps in the above list.
The discussion then turns to the topic of promotion. After the banners and text links are in place, Chuck says that the next step to launch a program is to make sure that you have a very rich program description, because you'll get some launch in your promotion to the network.
When the network introduces you, the program description will give affiliate marketers information they want to know, like what kind of commission you offer or what the brand is selling. From there Chuck suggests using social networking and talking to affiliate networks directly to promote your program.
Next Chuck describes some of his programs -- like Suunto, a GPS watch company out of Finland; Tasc, a performance clothing company; and GreenSmartLiving, an eco-friendly e-cigarette company which helps people quit smoking traditional tobacco products while cleaning up the earth. He also tells about the types of affiliates that he's looking to attract.
Wrapping up the podcast, Chuck invites listeners to contact him directly with questions or anything else not covered in this podcast. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him directly at 435-277-0449.
Chuck leaves listeners with this bit of advice: it's not always how well your site is ranked or how well it produces. Pay attention to your profile on affiliate networks. If you really want to be in an affiliate program, then reach out to the manager to discuss with them how they can market your products or services.
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Hamrick.biz - http://hamrick.biz/
Affiliate Summit - http://www.affiliatesummit.com/
ShareASale - http://www.shareasale.com/
Suunto watches - http://www.suunto.com/en-US/
Tasc Performance - http://www.tascperformance.com/
GreenSmartLiving - http://greensmartliving.com/