So I am now home from Affiliate Summit East 2011 in NYC. Not only was this the largest Affiliate Summit East to date, but it was above and beyond the best one as well. There were tons of new faces looking to learn and Affiliates, Merchants and Agencies at all skill and knowledge levels. I got the chance to finally meet people who I have only spoken to online as well as re-connect with numerous people who I have become close to over the years. There were a ton of great sessions and even some new vendors that I hadn’t heard of. Here are some of the key things that I found at Affiliate Summit East this year…..btw stay tuned because I am announcing two new programs this week and next as well as one more launching shortly.
Three things that stood out:
These two networks not only stood out because of the events that they held where they didn’t exclude people, but the way that they presented themselves in a fun and professional way at their booths. Their presence and professionalism, not to mention their stance on adware, made it clear on the type of service you would receive and the type of network they are. Not only did they have enough people helping to answer questions at their booths, but every employee was busy helping people while some of the other networks had employees who were to busy talking to each other and ignoring people walking up. If you are looking for networks to work with or launch a program on, Buy.at and Share a Sale are above and beyond my two networks of choice.
People want to learn.
One thing that I noticed about this show was that the sessions were definitely more full audiences than numerous other marketing shows I have been to. People come to Affiliate Summit to learn how to be a marketer, about FTC regulations and a ton of other topics. They aren’t afraid to raise their hands and ask questions and people were also using the text to screen, anonymous question system if they were to shy to ask into a microphone. The questions varied in skill level with each session that I went to, but the thing that remained consistent was that people were showing up, paying attention and asking questions because they were there to learn. Although I don’t always agree with the advice that is given, Shawn and Missy put together an amazing show of speakers who have a huge array of knowledge and regardless of opinion, can and will offer their best advice.
This industry has grown, but hasn’t even begun to reach its peak.
One thing that I love about the Affiliate Summit logo is that it is mountains with multiple peaks. While doing the breast cancer walk with Missy this year I grew to hate mountain tops and peaks because they hurt like crazy. What I did learn is that when you reach them and see how gorgeous it is from the top, you unfortunately have to go back down. Many industries have peaked and are beginning their decent, but the Affiliate industry is still growing amazingly fast. I met tons of experienced Bloggers with traffic as well as new Webmasters who had never thought about monetizing their sites before and were just coming to begin to learn how to do it. There were numerous merchants of all sizes who just learned about what Affiliate Marketing is and were there to find out more information, get answers to questions like which networks to choose (Buy.at and Share a Sale 😉 ), and Agencies from the SEO, Email and other industries who were trying to figure out if adding an Affiliate department would be right for them. The one thing that hasn’t changed in the years I have been going to Affiliate Summit is that there are always a ton of new people who are just discovering the industry and that it is still growing rapidly. Affiliate Marketing hasn’t even begun to see its peak and is still going strong.
Three things that I recommend.
Research all advice.
When I was walking the trade show floor I found the exact merchant I needed for one of my wedding sites. Their products were amazing and the price points were incredible. The people at the booth were friendly and so I asked them what network they were on. The person at the booth said they are launching on ten networks and they are going to wait and see which one drives the most traffic (not even sales) and keep that one as their network. I was shocked.
Not only did she not think about the fact that if someone is using adware, if the person is referred from one network originally but goes for a coupon code and clicks a link from a different network that the cookie from the original network who actually sent the sales won’t get credit and they will make the wrong decision on which network to stick with since the second network which poached the sale got credit. Not to mention other issues like if Affiliates that had sales coming in were on a network they canceled they would have to wait to be approved into the new network, then the program again and then change out links, etc… Most Affiliates would probably just drop them because of the amount of work and bullshit this uneducated and seriously knowledgeable merchant would put them through. This merchant was incredibly ill informed and the person kept spouting off really bad advice and said that the lady who was behind me is very experienced in this industry and is the one who is guiding their Affiliate plan.
Instead of trying to educate someone who didn’t want to learn, I thanked her for her time and when she asked if I would add them, I said that I love their products and invitations, but that I would never work with a company that is using the strategy she explained to me. I also recommended that they do more research and really understand how tracking works, Affiliate Marketing works and to rethink last click in for first click in since first click in gets the sale would show which network it originated on. Unfortunately I got a blank stare and it was clear that they are a Merchant who is going to have to learn the hard way.
Go to some sessions for beginners.
Even if you are the most seasoned Marketer in the world, you can always use a refresher. Going and listening to a session for beginners not only helps you to realize how much you have grown, but it also helps you to remember your checklist of things that you need to do to do your job. It could be anything from your SEO audit list to checking for creatives in your program and making sure they all have a call to action. Even the most advanced people need a reminder and going to beginners sessions is a great way to make sure you aren’t forgetting to build a base and foundation on your marketing plans.
Listen more than you speak.
Many Affiliates are type A personalities and numerous people love to get their word in. I used to be one of those people that always had to have my say and would jump right into conversations. What I’ve learned from coming to this show for numerous years is that by sitting back and listening to others instead of always having to jump in, I can learn more about this business than I could if I was always thinking about how to get into the conversation and respond to questions. I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk or share information, but I do recommend you sit back and listen to what people are saying at least some of the time.
Three new things I did or people I met at the show.
@SugarRae and @_SeanDolan. These two SEOs are amazing. Rae and I have tweeted back and forth and she had a guest post here, but I had never really actually met or hung out with her or her husband Sean before the show. Both of them are amazing people, incredibly smart and absolutely fun to talk to and watch at karaoke. If you’re looking for some seriously cool people that know their stuff with SEO, these are the two to talk too.
Solo presentation at Summit.
This was my first official Affiliate Summit solo presentation. I’ve done round tables and moderated panels but never presented on my own and especially not in a huge room with a great turnout. It was a bit intimidating at first but I definitely enjoyed it and hope to get to do it again. If you came to the session, thank you for your support and hopefully I’ll see you at the next Summit or another show.
So at Affiliate Summit I got to finally see myself in two different marketing books. One is Missy Ward’s Affiliate Marketing Cookbook called All About The Cookies and the other is published by Wiley and written by @MurrayNewlands and they apparently quote me a few times. You can find that book here. I’ve been in a ton of magazines and blogs, but this is my first time in an actual book so it was extremely exciting.
Affiliate Summit East 2011 was above and beyond the best Affiliate Summit to date. I know I always say that but the truth is that they keep getting better and better. I’m meeting new people, seeing old friends and catching up with everyone I love from the industry. If you haven’t been to one yet, I highly recommend you register for Affiliate Summit West in Vegas this winter at Caesars Palace. You can find my banner for Affiliate Summit in the right hand advertising side and a banner for Share a Sale in the top right corner of this blog.