Friday, February 13, 2015

Why I Love Affiliate Marketing

It's my turn to tell the world why I love performance marketing, after being challlenged by Kim Rowley.

While one of the most obvious reasons (which I will touch on later) is all the wonderful friends I've made in the industry over the years, I'll start with one that isn't as well known, and a bit more personal.

Back in 2000,  I found myself trapped in a job at Blair that I didn't enjoy, and my life outside of work was being turned upside down.  I was in a very dark place, and I didn't know where my life was headed.  I was doing my best to roll with the punches, but it felt like every morning I'd step out of bed and would soon be hit with another roundhouse.

And then one day, I got a call from Jeff Parnell, Blair's recently hired Director of E-commerce, to come down to his office for a minute.  As I strolled down the stairs, my thoughts were, "What now!?!"  I had no idea how much things were about to change.

Jeff told me that Blair.com was going to have an affiliate program through Dynamic Trade (the predecessor to Performics/GAN) and he wanted me to manage it.  Soon after I told him I'd be happy to, I realized I had virtually no idea what affiliate marketing was!  I moved from Advertising to E-Commerce and dove into learning whatever I could about affiliate marketing.  I've been loving it ever since!

I followed everything I could at ABestWeb, and learned a great deal from the folks there, and their fearless leader, Haiko De Poel.  I attended conferences and met affiliates and other managers.  One of the things that amazed me was how willing other merchants were to discuss their business and offer guidance.  Two of my early mentors were Jamie Birch (he was with Coldwater Creek) and Brook Schaaf (during his tenure at Shoes.com).  I was learning and making friends fast.

I've always been impressed by the ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit of so many I've met in affiiate marketing.  At a conference in the early 2000's, I met Zac Johnson (and his dad), a teenager who had more knowledge of performance marketing than I could ever hope to have.  I've watched Jamie and Brook form their own companies.  And I've been along for the ride with Shawn Collins and Missy Ward, after taking part in their first Affiliate Summit and watching it grow to an industry powerhouse over the years!

But in the end, my love of performance marketing is all about the relationships, and friends I've made over the years.  In addition to the folks named above, there are literally hundreds more.  When I have a problem/concern/idea, I know I can call and chat with David, Kim or Karen.  I had the two best contacts a manager could have at GAN with Ashley Gull and Megan Lutz.  My fiance is always a wonderful supporter, and hears me talking about people in the industry so much, that she actually knows who many of the people are when I mention a name.  She even follows some in the industry now, and it's not uncommon for her to say, "Did you see Zac's latest post?"

I like to tell people that I'm the Andy Sipowicz of affiliate marketing.  The cast of characters changes every year while I continue to sit at the same desk.  And while that is one of the similarities, I truly believe there is another.  When NYPD Blue first aired, the Dennis Franz character was abrupt, surly and often times downright mean.  His life was in a downward spiral.  By the time the series ended, Andy Sipowicz still had problems now and again, but he was at peace with himself.

I can identify with that.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Finalist in the Linkshare Golden Link Awards "Publisher's Choice" Category


It is truly an honor for Blair.com to be selected as a finalist in Linkshare's Golden Link Awards "Publisher's Choice" category.

Blair's affiliate program has been going strong for 14 years, now.  And though we've been on several networks over the years, we are humbled by the fact that our partners have  not only followed our program to the Linkshare Network, but nominated us for this award.

You can view all of the finalists in all the categories here.  If you're a publisher in the Linkshare Network and would like to vote for the Blair.com Affiliate Program, you can do so here.

Thank you to our affiliates, and to Linkshare, for making this possible.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Blair Affiliates -- Now Is The Time!

Like most other retailers, Blair.com sees a huge amount of sales during Q4.  I'm sure you hear that statement from all your merchant partners, and everyone is telling you how great their sales will be during the holiday season.

I'm going to back up my statement with some proof!  Here are some stats from Q4 2012:

  •  Cyber Monday was the biggest day of the year for the Blair.com affiliate program
  •  Black Friday was in the Top 5
  • 3 of the top 5 sales days came in the week beginning with Black Friday
  • 9 of the top 10 sales days came in Q4
And there's a reason for these great numbers!  Blair.com always runs a fantastic promo for affiliates from Black Friday through Cyber Monday.  This year, you'll be able to offer shoppers 30% Off EVERYTHING, including Clearance items.

That promo will be loaded into CJ early next week, so you'll have plenty of time to be ready for the big weekend.

And here's some more great news!  I'm now managing the affiliate programs for Old Pueblo Traders, Bedford Fair and Willow Ridge.  If you're not partnered with them, please consider joining their programs and promoting them.  All 3 programs will be featuring the 30% OFF Sale from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, too!  You ccan find these programs at Linkshare.


Thursday, September 05, 2013

YOU can choose what sessions you'd like to see at Affiliate Summit West 2014

Affiliate Summit West 2014 will take place in January 2014, and you can vote on your favorite sessions!

Here's my favorite session, for obvious reasons:

The Case for Reactivation Over Finding New Affiliates

As a merchant's affiliate program matures, it can become harder and harder to find new, quality affiliates to add to your program.  My contention is that if you dig into the list of affiliates you already have, you can find hidden gems if you know where to look.

You'll need to register to cast your vote, but that only takes a couple of minutes.

Click here to cast your votes.

ASW14 will take place January 12-14 at Paris Las Vegas.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

No More New Promos at GAN

I've decided to not upload any future promotions at GAN.  With a skeleton crew keeping the business running beginning tomorrow, it just seems like it would make things more difficult.  PLUS... I'm hoping this will begin to push Blair.com GAN affiliates over to Commission Junction.

For any Blair.com affiliates at GAN who haven't signed up for our program at Commission Junction, yet, here is the link to get you going.

Starting tomorrow, Blair.com will be offering $.99 Per Item Shipping for the month of May to all Commission Junction affiliates.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Does Your Website Look Like This?


I get dozens upon dozens of affiliate applications each and every week for websites that look almost EXACTLY like this one.  It's a wordpress template, and the tell-tale sign is the spinning Amazon.com widget at the top.

When reviewing applications, I've gotten to the point where I close the tab that opened to display the website and have the "DECLINE" radio button checked even before the widget stops spinning.  There's no way I would be getting much value from having my links on a site that is identical to hundreds, if not thousands, of other sites populating the internet.

Sure... there are probably a few affiliates out there that can/will do a fantastic job with this template.  But if they're that good, I would urge them to get away from this template and start with something that is truly their own.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Google calling it quits for GAN

It's been a long relationship. Blair.com started it's affiliate program with what would eventually be the Google Affiliate Network in late 2000.

Back then it was called Dynamic Trade. Over the years, the name changed to Performics and then GAN, and I've had the opportunity to work with a lot of different account managers. A few had me banging my head on my desk (Suzie, in particular. That was early on, and she didn't last long with Dynamic Trade). But for the most part, I've been blessed with a solid team over the years. Some are still with Google, some are still working for Performics, and some have moved on to bigger and better places.

While I won't be working with them anymore, I still hope to stay in contact with Megan, Ashley, Carlen, Rachel, Jade, Wendy, Dan, Toni, Fiona and the rest, because they've become friends over the years.

It should be a relatively easy task to transition the affiliates in the Blair.com program at GAN over to our CJ program. Many of our affiliates have been in both programs anyways, and I'm confident that I'll get the support I need from GAN to move the rest.

I've been managing dual programs for Blair.com since the beginning, so this will be new for me. I'm looking at this as a new beginning for the Blair.com affiliate program, and I'm anxious to see what benefits we can find from a solo program with CJ.

That isn't to say that I won't consider managing dual programs again somewhere down the line. I'm a firm believer in that old saying, "Variety is the spice of life."

Thanks for a great run, Dynamic Trade/Performics/GAN, and for the great times!