Why I'm not going to ASW13 & am Getting rid of Instagram

Affiliate Summit West
Affiliate Summit West

I got a lot of messages asking for meetings at ASW13.  For the first time since about 2006, I am going to miss an ASW.  The reason I am not going is that I have a new employee starting tomorrow, I have a new client launching during the show and I have been traveling non stop (and been to Vegas twice) within the last couple of months.  I need a break and to focus on training my new team member as well as doing a proper launch, not one from a show.  With that said, I am definitely going to miss everyone and I highly recommend you attend.

Affiliate Summit is one of the shows I make an effort to never miss and always recommend.  You meet a lot of smart people, bad players and hear how they make themselves sound good or ethical like they won’t just steal from you and you can meet that unicorn partner who adds value, is not a coupon or adware site, doesn’t use toolbars, reminderware, loyaltyware, PPV, CPV, etc… to steal from you.  Each time I go I have met at least one of these and it has made the trip absolutely worth it.  If you look through the Affiliate Summit section of this site, you’ll find packing guides and everything else you’ll need for the show.

There are still tickets available for Affiliate Summit, but they will sell out fast, so click here to buy yours if you haven’t yet.  You will definitely be missing an amazing time that can grow your business if you don’t go.  Click here.

So why am I talking about Instagram when I’ve never mentioned them before and rarely use them?  I read this article about Facebook’s final acquisition of Instagram (On Cnet today http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57559710-38/instagram-says-it-now-has-the-right-to-sell-your-photos/)and that they plan on selling all of your photos, without having to give credit, you a commission or even let you know.  With that said, they are giving you a service you love for free and need to make money.  At the same time, here are a few things that should scare you.

Parents – If you have vacations pictures with instagram of your kids, people can buy your kids running on the beach, in bathing suits and do whatever they want with them.  You have no say in how they are used, which companies can use them and your kids will receive no royalties if their images are used in ads, etc… when they normally may have earned money.

Artists – This is how you make your money.  You sell prints.  Instagram has an amazing community and that is why it became attractive.  Now companies and people can purchase your livelyhood and sell it off, give it away for free and not even have to give you credit.  Your company and your work is now a free for all.  Sucks, doesn’t it.

College and High School Students (and some adults) – You’re about to go look for a job.  You have pictures at mardi gras which are hidden or private or not posted publicly on Facebook to protect you while you interview.  All of the sudden these are now able to be purchased and used however the person wants.  Think about cyber bullying.  Someone can buy these pictures of someone in a company competing for a position, blast them all over the web and destroy your chances of getting the job.  Companies can buy them and place them on their websites which can become public and searchable and now you are stuck with these images representing you, even though you did your best by keeping all of these pictures and photos private.

There are a lot of other things that I can see going wrong with Facebook/Instagram selling off photos which you should think about.  I am going to delete my account, even though I don’t have anything in it, just because I don’t like what they are doing.  You should at least give the artist credit, allow the person to disapprove their images being used in ads, etc… and you should be able to block stalkers and people who could cause you harm from buying your images.  Those images could be the thing that puts them over the edge and you in actual physical danger.  These are just my opinions from reading the article and I am not a lawyer, etc… so these are opinions and not facts, but it scared me enough to write this post and delete my account.

5 Quick Tips to Make Money Online Right Now

It’s Q4 and everyone is shopping.  That also means you can earn more right now, faster and easier than many other times of the year.  If you’re looking for a fast way to generate at least a few extra sales, prep to take over Q1 markets or just want to have fun, here are 5 things you can do and should think about.

1.  Impulse buys:

Look for stores that have these or are entirely made of them.  Check out bachelorette.com’s Affiliate Program which I reviewed yesterday.  The site is filled with hundreds of impulse buys and gag gifts.  However, you don’t want to talk about bachelorette.com when you’re promoting them, you want to focus on the actual product you like.  If you say a name that is descriptive like bachelorette.com, people will think it isn’t relevant for them and may not click on the link.  I did this yesterday (not with Bachelorette.com) for a test, and it worked.

making sales on facebook
making sales on facebook

2.  Making sales on Facebook

Think about what types of impulse buy products are perfect for or relevant for people right now.  Right now it could be holiday gear, gag gifts or anything else for the holidays and then get ready to share it.  In the picture above, I took a screen shot about 45 minutes after I sent out a message from a blog fan page on Facebook.  Instead of saying what the product is, what the store is (from my point above), I just said I love this, did not show a picture so I could get people to actually click and be more engaged (interested), and go to the site.  The other thing I did was use Bit.ly for tracking so that it didn’t show what site people are going to.  This way the people who were clicking on the link were completely in the dark.   If they wanted to know what I thought was cool, etc… they would have to click on the link and then they were on a site with a ton of impulse buys that are hard to resist.

3.  Remember to cross sell and pre sell.

This is huge.  If you are selling kids toys or have a gift guide, make sure you also mention a few stocking stuffers (that are also at the same store) that go along with the gifts.  Don’t just go after the big items, remember to mention the smaller ones, include links or ask the Affiliate Manager to create a widget with the ones you want and give a link to add them to the person’s cart.  This is a great way to increase the person’s AOV and increase your commissions without much extra work.

4.  Show them what they don’t need, but have a use for.

As seen on tv products are always showing you solutions to problems you didn’t know you had.  They are created to solve an issue and given cheesy music, bad acting and lots of sales copy.  If you have recipes or people who are hosting events and parties, show them a widget or storefront full of cool or funny aprons and things to keep their clothes clean while they are prepping and serving.  Talk about how it can get people to laugh, have fun and protect your clothes so you don’t ruin the outfit you spent forever choosing and putting on.  You could also talk about the fun pictures people will take which brings emotions in and helps to drive impulse buys.

5.  Create a sense of urgency.

If you are doing something with your newsletter list, instant results like PPC, with your store or with social media, create a sense of urgency.  Numbers are great to do this with.  2 hours left, 50 products out of 500 remaining, 2 days left to ship until Hanukah, the next 200 people, save 50% for the next 30 minutes only.  Combine urgency with numbers and words that will catch someone’s eyes and you can drive quick click throughs and hopefully generate sales.  You need to make sure the landing page has the same messaging and urgency in it as well.

Those are 5 things you can do right now to earn extra money for Q4 and even use during other times of the year.  Feel free to share your own ideas and tips to make extra money during the last couple weeks of Q4 in the comments section.  Thank you again for reading.

A tool I didn't want, think I needed and now love – Shareist

When someone first started to talk to me about Scott Jangro’s new project Shareist, it didn’t sound at all interesting.  I didn’t see the benefit, the value, etc…  The other week I finally decided to give it a shot, mainly because someone I was writing a guest post for is only using Shareist now, and I am actually amazed I didn’t try it before.  Shareist basically acts like your Social Media dashboard and a multi-functional blogging dashboard in the same place.  Here’s what I love about it, and for a change I don’t actually have many if any negative things to say about a product.

Benefits for blogging or using multiple wordpress sites.

Those of you who use wordpress or wordpress providers like studiopress (which I am starting to love), this is an awesome tool.  You can actually take all of your blogs and add them on as Notebooks.  Then you can add pages to your notebooks which work like blog posts.  You’ll see everything you need from wordpress inside of Shareist like your categories, tags, body copy, etc… and be able to post to any blog you’d like from the same dashboard.  What I also like is that I can invite people to be a contributor through Shareist and instead of having to teach them wordpress, Shareist is a much simpler platform and has an easy layout so that you don’t need to teach a new system.  (I did get confused at first, but it’s because I didn’t click on the + box to add a text box and because my computer was dying so it wasn’t Shareist’s fault.)  It’s a huge time saver for new Bloggers who have never used a blogging platform before.   The other thing that is nice is that you can also have other notebooks for other sites you guest blog on.  Now you don’t have to remember their urls or log ins and can have it saved with everything else and in one place.

Benefits for social media sites.

I love this because I can combine all of my accounts (like in Hootsuite) and have pretty much all of the functionality of social dashboards in one place at one time.  This is awesome because when I finish a blog post, like this one.  I can save and publish then instantly start to share across all the social channels I use, depending on the site.  This is a huge time saver because I no longer have to log into a ton of sites just to be able to share a link.  This is one of the biggest things that sold me on Shareist.

Affiliates

One feature I haven’t tried yet but am excited to try is for Affiliates.  With Shareist you can enter in the merchants whose programs you are in, your Affiliate ID and have Shareist automatically apply your Affiliate links off of keywords for you.  Now instead of having to have a rev. share with someone else, you can have this automatically done for you.

So far I have loved everything about Shareist except that there was no auto save when you are writing a blog post.  Luckily I posted on Facebook and within a day or two, Scott had built an auto save to help correct this.  That is one of the things I love about these tools before they get to big.  The support you get is amazing and they actually listen to and care about the things that matter to you.  This way you can get a tool that works and does almost everything you want or need it to.

Some of the other features which I haven’t used yet are the analytics, some of the app integrations and the customization you can use.  I didn’t think I’d even want to use a system like Shareist, and didn’t see a point in it until I tried it.  Now I think it is an amazing time saver and something that you need to use if you are a Blogger, Affiliate or if you do anything with Social Media.  It is an awesome free tool that you should definitely check out.

5 Ways Affiliates, Vendors & Agencies Rip You Off with Trademarks

When I talk to a lot of companies they show me their reports and a lot of the time their agencies, vendors and Affiliates are abusing them by using their trademarks and taking credit for sales and make up for a lack of profit on their ROI.  It happens with comparison engines, media buyers, Affiliates, social media agencies, PPC agencies and almost everyone else.  When we pull out the use of the trademarks, with a few exceptions, we actually see the value they added or if they caused a loss.  We are also able to figure out if they are worth continuing with or if the company should find a new vendor.  Here are 5 things to look out for from your agencies and partners in different channels to see how they may be using your trademarks and pretending they are adding value.

1.  Trademark bidding

This is probably the most common and well known version.  People who type your trademark and extensions like url + coupons already knew about you, were checking out, saw an ad you paid for, etc…  This adds no value to you for sales that came in which is why they need to be removed to see the actual value.  By removing them from the vendors below, you can see if the actual sales driven is the most cost effective use of your marketing budget and if you should continue to work with them.

PPC agencies – Have them remove all trademarks, extensions and misspellings from their reports and give you a trademark report separate.  Now take the total amount spent, the total sales and compare it to the revenue generated.  You’ll also want to compare the average cost per sale and revenue to other channels to see if it is worth continuing with all campaigns or moving part of your budget to a different channel so that you have your most profitable PPC campaigns running and you can invest the rest of your money in a more profitable channel.  You may also want to create a metric called average revenue per sale.

This is the cost per sale divided by total revenue from that channel.  This shows you how profitable you are off of each campaign, keyword, engine, network or device on the engine or as a whole for PPC.

Affiliates – This is easy money with zero work for Affiliates.  It doesn’t send you any new customers or traffic and in my opinion steals from you.  The only time it is acceptable is if you own a generic url and you have competitors bidding on every other space (even then you have better alternatives that are much more cost effective).  You may allow one or two partners to bid on the term, but make sure that they aren’t bidding on the url (unless all of your competitors are), extensions like coupons or discounts and that they are also not linking to your site (because this could cause your own trademark ad to be blocked) and also have more sales coming in off of generic non trademark terms.  Allowing them to only bid on trademarks is ripping you off.  Make them have to have at least 2 non trademark sales per every trademark sale if they want to do this.  By allowing them to bid on your trademarks, you are also going to stop content and value adding Affiliates from promoting you, just as a warning.  The real solution is to find a couple of cheap PPC companies and have them bid on the trademarks for a flat fee so other Affiliates cookies aren’t over written and you aren’t being ripped off or having your competitors have access to your customers.

2.  Social Media Agencies and Affiliates with your Social Media campaigns

This is one that is insane to watch.  Companies are so obsessed with building a community that they forget to ask their social media marketing companies what they are doing and forget to measure actual revenue per fan, follower, engagement, etc… and what was actually value adding.  If the company is using your email list, your trademarks and your accounts to grow your fan base and drive sales, that isn’t always value adding.  Here are some things to look for, ask and watch out for.

Twitter – If they are using your trademark as a hashtag, they are going after people who already know about you or are already shopping and asking questions.  By using your trademarks as hashtags they are taking credit for these people who already knew about you.  Let your customer service take care of the questions and issues with social media and make them drive new sales without using your trademarks.  If they add in words or hashtags like coupons or sales, they are now possibly hurting you by reducing your margins with the discount, bonuses, commissions, etc…  You want to make sure you are managing them and making sure they are not taking credit for people already talking about you, following you, looking for you and that they are adding value from real campaigns, efforts and their own followers.  Anyone can send out coupons from your own accounts or talk about a product and drive sales.  That does not add value and you should not be paying for it.

Facebook ads, Twitter ads, etc… – This is something that I see on a regular basis.  Social Media Marketing companies showing how much they grew their clients likes and followers by spending their money on ads on social media sites.  That is a joke and something that should instantly tell you not to work with them.  Anyone can spend money and get likes or fans.  The real question is did they do it without using your brand, how much money did you get back from these new fans and followers and was it more than you would have made with other channels?

What you need to do is measure the amount of new fans and then see if you can keep track of them by name or ID and see how many turn into customers and how much money they spent.  You also need to subtract people who had been on your site already since they had exposure to you and see if the ad that was shown was branded or not.  If it was branded or incentivized the user with a coupon, don’t count it.  If it was about a topic and didn’t use your brand, it brought in someone new who was interested in the topic that your store or services help with.  That is where you get the value from and where you should be measuring the total sales from.  You should also ask your social media company for every dollar I spent, how many did I get back in return in actual value adding sales?  You probably ask all of your other vendors what your ROI is, so you should ask them as well.

3.  URLs

One common thing you’ll find are Affiliates buying misspellings of your urls.  It could be typos or variations like .co that you don’t own yet.  Another type is when they combine letters like r and n to look like an m so that they can trick your customers into clicking on their links first.  When the user comes through these urls they are usually shown an exact replica of your site or they are automatically redirected to your site through an Affiliate link.  These are current customers or people who already knew about you.  They are doing a direct type in to go to your site or something else so the Affiliate added zero value and is taking credit for someone you paid to bring in or that another Affiliate referred.  Another common thing you may find are PPC trademark bidders that copy your ads exactly and use their domain with the misspelling or typo in the url.  Other times they’ll buy variations and send people through them off the content networks so they are harder to find.  This can be tricky to catch and most companies never actually do catch these people since the Affiliates set up other sites and make the sales look legit or real.  That is why you need an actual hands on person managing your Affiliate program that can name a bunch of these types of partners instantly when you ask about them if they know any.  One other thing you need to be careful of is the user experience.  If you remove them from your program instantly, you’re customers who think they are on your site will end up on dead pages or redirects that break creating a bad user experience.  Make sure you have a plan to remove them before you act.

4.  Media Companies – Media buyers will target your site with media buys based on your trademarks (they’ll pretend they didn’t know) and serve cheaper ads while charging you a gigantic markup by taking credit for sales you would have had without them.  Other times media companies will serve trademark ads on search engine content networks to make up for missing sales since they are fairly easy to convert.  One thing you need to know before hiring a media company or buying media is the adware they are affiliated with and make sure they aren’t setting their cookies and tracking ids with popups, unders, etc… on your own site and targeting your own urls.  Other media companies will have an actual non adware network that has opt in partners, but will only target your trademarks on their network.  Then they can drive low cost high ROI sales and use cheap clicks to make the conversion rate look normal.

5.  CSEs

Comparison shopping engines will start bidding on your trademarks and urls the minute you list with them.  Then they will drive people to a dedicated page or a page with your products on them on their site.  You have to check for the products you own the trademarks for, your urls and any other trademark or product you manufacture so that they can send you the traffic that uses their sites and not the traffic that you would have had without them.  You may also want to make sure you have done your own ORM (online reputation management) so that you have the top ten listing for all of your trademarks.  If you don’t and the engines rank for your products, you could now lose customers to similar products, other vendors with the same ones and also paying again to bring the customer back to your site.  Many of the engines also own other properties so you need to double check every ad and look to see which ads are for which engines and even make test purchases to see if any of the sales are credited to the engines by these partner sites which they didn’t earn.

Your trademarks are the first things unethical marketers and unethical marketing firms will go after and take credit for.  It is free, easy money and sales that they don’t have to work for.  They don’t add value to you if the agency is taking credit for them since you are the one who already generated their interest and built the market or demand, so you should not be paying out or counting trademark sales.  The only times trademarks are adding value is with your ORM SEO and when you are trying to cover space when you have a generic company name.  Make sure you know how traffic is being driven and you separate out trademarks from value adding and incremental sales before you redo your budgets and give the wrong channel more funds than other channels which are actually more profitable.  You should also talk to your agencies and vendors before working with them about how they will split out trademark sales and show value adding sales you wouldn’t have had without them.  You may also want to talk to an attribution firm or a company like mine to help figure out what is adding value and who is not.

Facebook Trying to Become Pinterest? The Want Button.

The other day I was reading an article about Facebook wanting to include a want button in addition to their like link or button.  The want button is supposed to be able to be clicked if the person actually wants the item or has an interest, like they want it or want to buy it.  Although this sounds like it could be great for shopping and finally helping to target Facebook users into sales, it may actually make your ads less targeted to an extent; however it may also help you to hit a more targeted audience with your ads to market again to later.  I’m going to break it out into the good and the potential bad about Facebook featuring a want button.

The Good:

1.  Targeting based on groups of friends to figure out who has the most interest.  This is great for a Marketer to know because you can start to target based on interests and things groups of people have in common that click on want.  Once you have that you know what types of sites to recruit for Affiliates, who to target based on media kits and which types of sites you’ll want to go after to gain more interest with Media Buys.

By using the Facebook want button, here are some of the things you can find out what the group of people who clicked want have in common with each other.

  • schools – education level, if they went to the same, where the schools were located in the country, ivy league vs. non, etc…
  • work – where people work, what types of companies your product’s fan base work for (size, location, etc…), if you have entrepreneurs vs. 9 to 5’s and executive vs. non based on titles.
  • gay or straight – By scanning interested in you can discover if you are attracting gay people vs. straight and what percentage is bisexual or doesn’t want to say.
  • relationship status – You could discover what percentage of your fan based is married, dating people, single, etc…  Crossing this with gay or straight and gender can be a seriously powerful targeting tool.
  • male or female

2.  What region of the country the wants are in to show demand (which already exists but now product based regional demand).  This is extremely powerful because you can tell where you should run your offline ads, etc…  It can give you a much larger insight than just relying on broadcasting and orders in if you haven’t already advertised and collecting shipping data.

3.  Target based on demand and social triggers to push ads and coupons for a deal or product.

4.  Upload a datafeed of products to push them through a widget into Facebook based off of wants and keywords, then set up a PPC bidding to show the product and price and position based on the demographics above.  (They would need a quality score.)

5.  You could include a buy now after you hit want and take the person to a comparison shopping section on Facebook where people can shop by price, review and rating on the store.

6.  If you have a shopping or ecommerce tab on your Fanpage, you now have a good idea for what is trending on Facebook and can list those products first and hopefully generate more conversions.

The Bad:

1.  Ridiculous items that people cannot afford.  People may click on things that they cannot afford but want.  Versace gowns, million dollar cars or even iPhones and technology that not everyone can actually afford but seems like a legit want.

2.  Fake wants because it’s funny or an image or joke.  People click on things they want as a joke because they think it is funny.  Look at the voting sites that have things like interesting, useful, funny, etc…  People just click regardless of what the actual purpose or article or image is about.

3.  Abuse of the button because people don’t understand what it’s for.  Some people, probably a bunch, will actually just click on the button giving you a ton of bad and false data and bad info to target ads with.  This could be a huge issue for Facebook.

4.  Facebook is still for playing and socializing, not shopping.  Even though people want, if you can buy space or show an ad to buy a product after the want button is clicked, people still want to socialize and play, not leave and shop.  I think that selling clicks on ads or on a revenue sharing basis after someone clicks want is a huge opportunity and I would definitely test this.  It could also cause legal issues though if a manufacturer or retailer generated the interests that caused the wants and someone else jumps in because they have a bigger budget or a better marketing team and monetizes it.  If it is a small company this could be devastating to them.

5.  Can want point to the store where the person can buy it or where it was originally found?  If it doesn’t point to a product where it can be found, or if it cannot take people into a price comparison shop on Facebook, it becomes somewhat useless, except for the demographic information it can collect.

6.  Abuse from stores asking for more wants for social triggers for SEO. If this becomes a social trigger, which it probably will, large stores and people with huge budgets can place these on their sites and remove smaller companies chances of ranking, especially based on products and long tail keywords which they rely on.  Using want as a social trigger for shopping results in the SERPs will definitely skew the results and hurt a lot of small businesses.

I love the idea of a want button, but am also very skeptical about it.  This post is just opinions and nothing in it is a fact.  It would be great for you to pitch in and let me know what you think is good or bad or if you would try using the Facebook want button for advertising, etc…