A little effort on the part of affiliate managers within the performance marketing industry goes a long way towards helping a small business blogger monetize blog content. This is no less true whether the affiliate program is part of a huge advertising network or if it is contained as a standalone affiliate program.
Affiliate Managers Can Make It Easier To Monetize Blog Content
Small business bloggers and individuals running personal blogs have amassed a power not to be ignored. By virtue of the communities they’ve built and the levels of ongoing engagement, bloggers are a force to be reckoned with. The buying power inherent in the blogosphere is enough for affiliate managers to sit up and take notice.
Much like a good neighbor or a conscientious leader, now is the time for affiliate managers to take them by the hand, undergird and build them up, and pave the way to better monetize blog content.
Who or what are affiliate managers?
Most of you already know, but for those who don’t, in brief, they manage affiliate programs. They might be a dedicated AM working for a huge advertising network or running a standalone affiliate program. They might wear many hats, with in-house affiliate management being only one of them. The affiliate manager could be the developer of the software program you promote, or an administrative assistant, or even a support rep.
Ultimately, their goals should be the same: ensuring your success as an affiliate in their program. Their own success is partially guaranteed through have a little industry-related education, an insider’s understanding, relationships with small business bloggers, an ounce of compassion, and a walk-a-mile-in-your-shoes mentality.
Who’s making it easy for you to monetize your blog content?
Your affiliate code is a very special, unique bit of text that allows us to track referrals to your affiliate account. So, when you’re sending prospective customers to the XSitePro site, or any resources that we make available, your own affiliate link ensures you get credited with any resultant sale.
Conventional wisdom says the average visitor is well able to turn a blind eye towards banner advertisements. Unless a program makes it easy for you to provide customer referrals, they are shooting themselves in the foot and may as well turn the hose on you, too.
Smart affiliate managers have found ways to get around banner blindness by offering a wider range of affiliate tools and diverse methods for monetizing blog content. They’re being innovative and creating a powerful virtual sales team right under the competition’s nose!
Let’s take a look at 5 areas in which savvy affiliate managers — whatever their other hats — are easing the painful path many bloggers have taken trying to monetize blog content. These ladies and gents are on the money with their various approaches.
- Innovative Affiliate tools
- Custom deep links
- Small change incentives
- Collateral Materials and “More Information”
- Premium plugins
Innovative Affiliate Tools
A good-looking, well-stocked affiliate control panel with a variety of innovative tools will make a difference to bloggers’ efforts to monetize their content. (And to affiliate sales, too!) Above and beyond the standard fare of a few banner images, what types of tools should affiliate managers consider?
Try these on for size:
- sticky videos with affiliate links embedded
- monetized news feeds
- attractive landing pages
- rebranding tools (online or offline)
- prewritten content (emails, tweets, ads)
Is anyone actually using these innovations? Absolutely! I won’t name names here, but their affiliates get excited at the thought of using their tools and promoting their products.
Custom Deep Links
Standalone Systems – S2Member is both a free and a premium plugin. The developer acts as the affiliate manager, using a standalone affiliate management system that includes the custom deep link feature. They have a gloriously complete video training library. I was racking my brain to come up with a way I could refer my clients to their video library without cutting myself out of a commission. Enter “custom links” to a landing page of my choice: the video page! WoOt!
Advertising Networks – Commission Junction and Shareasale also include this deep-linking feature in their suite of tools for publishers. Are you using it?
Proprietary Systems – These guys have created a proprietary affiliate management system. Their program is not connected to the big advertising networks; neither do they use any of the off-the-shelf standalone systems. When I wrote them to ask how I would go about deep linking to their service, they responded:
That’s an interesting question and it’s the first one we’ve had on this. It’s quite easy – just append your unique referral code onto the URL of the page like so … add [it] to any page!
As you can see, some affiliate managers go the extra mile to make it easy to monetize blog content. Sometimes, all you have to do is ask.
“Small Change” Incentives
One dollar is “small change,” isn’t it? For some folk, $5 is small change. While most of us will agree we’d like to earn commissions that amount to more than a dollar (or even five dollars), there is no disputing the cumulative value of that small change over time. When affiliate programs thoughtfully add easy ways to pick up small change without much extra effort, they’ve done small business bloggers a good turn.
You’ll most find small change incentives in the form of lead generation, free signups, and short-trial periods. They take shape in a couple of ways but the most lucrative ones pay you a small amount when someone signs up for a trial or a free account. They pay the full commission when they convert those free accounts or trials into paying customers.
Affiliate managers help bloggers make this a viable monetization strategy by doing things like offering a form box that can be used on the blog that allows a prospect to sign up from the affiliate’s site. Simple, yet powerful! Can you think of others?
Collateral Materials, More Information
This doesn’t work for everything, but it works well for some products and services. If a gadget is highly technical or a service bears further conversation, customers look for “more information.” This is an area where affiliate managers can give affiliates a boost, by providing collateral materials that satisfy that need and help protect affiliates’ commission.
You can likely think of many different forms of collateral materials that can be put to use by affiliates. The common denominator would be the ability for the affiliate to rebrand them or they would be made available with the affiliate’s link already embedded in them. Some quick ideas: downloadable, printable reports, fact sheets, product or service comparisons, newsletter.
Using this strategy, when a blogger writes a product review, rather than just relying on the possibility of a one-time click, she’s given a potential customer a takeaway that helps seal the deal.
Bloggers Use Mad Premium Plugins!
In these instances, in which plugin authors are offering pay-to-play access to enhanced features, it is often the developer who is serving as affiliate manager. Yep, a programmer, a geek . . . And some of the stereotypical water cooler talk about them is TRUE!
But what I’m getting at is not a continuation of the gossip: my point is that they are well-equipped to make small enhancements to their plugins that benefit the bloggers who use them and recommend them. (Ha!) In many cases, it just needs to be put up on their radar.
What are some easy ways plugin authors can help you painlessly monetize blog content?
- your link embedded in the software (MaxBannerAds is a good example)
- a one-pager with affiliate tools only a click away (as opposed to a full-fledged affiliate management system
- a free version of the plugin with the affiliate link already embedded in anticipation of “pro” or “premium” sales
Going The Extra Mile
So far this year I’ve received about five letters from affiliate managers that have left an impression on me. While I don’t recall the names of any of them except two, I have not forgotten the service or product with which they are associated. Why have these stuck in my mind? Because I had an issue or a question or a rant that was responded to with aplomb, helpfulness, and courtesy.
The quote below is from a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document created for affiliates.
“I don’t see the banner sizes that I need for my sites. Can I create my own?”
“We do not encourage you to design your own banners. Instead let us know what size and what you need on them and we will gladly create them for you. ” — www.webs.com/faq.htm
Do you see the potential for building relationships between affiliate manager and affiliate?
Small business bloggers are communicating what they need from affiliate managers, in general, and the performance marketing industry, specifically. Those voices are strong in Improvements Pave the Way to Monetize Blogs. Who’s listening?
Share Your Experiences
Bloggers, are you using these types of tools to level the playing field? If not, you’re leaving money on the table! As a business blogger, what other methods make you feel like the programs you promote are really on your side? Any tips or suggestions for affiliate managers or product developers?
Are you an affiliate manager? Running your own standalone affiliate program? Go the extra mile on behalf of your affiliates. Not only will they thank you for it, you’ll reap the rewards in quality referral traffic and increased sales. A win-win all the way around!
Thanks for reading. Add your voice to the discussion in the comments below.
Bloggers: Take this Quick, Multiple-Choice Survey: Do Bloggers Monetize Content. Thanks!
Remember … A little effort on the part of affiliate managers goes a long way towards helping the small business blogger monetize blog content.