Episode 129

3 Keys to Run A Successful Affiliate Program in 2020

Greg Powell - Tactical Marketing Co
July 29, 2020
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Almost every eCommerce company I talk to is investing heavily into Facebook and Google Ads.  Probably less than 30% are actively investing in Affiliate marketing.  I first met my guest, Greg Powell, while we were both providing consulting services for another agency.  I instantly could tell that he knew his stuff.  Now he’s running an extremely successful Affiliate Marketing agency - Tactical Marketing based in Joplin MO.  


- Fringe benefits of an affiliate Marketing program including free PR and new audience discovery and testing.

- 3 ways to tell if your product is a good fit for Affiliate marketing

- Avoiding affiliate horror stories - namely, how to avoid coupon site hell.

- How attracting the right affiliates makes all of the difference

- Best affiliate networks for your category

- Plus much more!


Mentioned in this interview:

Ravean

ClickBank

Russell Brunson

Mentioned Affiliate Networks:

Commission Junction Affiliate

Pepperjam Affiliate

AvantLink

Awin

Greg Powell -  Founder and CEO at Tactical Marketing Co

Via LinkedIn

Via Facebook

Via Instagram

Via YouTube


Tactical Marketing Co - Affiliate Program Management

Via LinkedIn

Via Facebook

Episode Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. And today, we are talking affiliate marketing: what has changed, what is new, what's the value of an affiliate marketing program, how does this all work? So I think this show will be really good if you're considering an affiliate marketing program and even if you've started an affiliate marketing program, hopefully we'll give you some tips and ideas and strategies to make it better.

Brett:

And so this is one of those rare, rare shows where I'm bringing on a guest who is physically very close to me. The OMG Commerce headquarters, we're in Springfield, Missouri. We also have an office in New Jersey and then we have some remote employees, as well. But my guest is hailing from Joplin, Missouri, so about an hour away, very close in internet terms. And so usually my guests are from another part of the country.

Brett:

My guest today is Mr. Greg Powell. He is the founder and CEO of Tactical Marketing. He's been running affiliate programs since the dawn of the internet. Maybe not quite, but a long time. And so, I'm really excited to pick his brain and talk affiliate marketing. With that, Greg, welcome to the show. How's it going, man?

Greg Powell:

It's going great, man. Thanks so much for having me on. It is a rarity to talk shop on eCommerce with somebody that you could drive and meet for coffee within an hour.

Brett:

Exactly.

Greg Powell:

So-

Brett:

That's funny, we deal with a lot of clients here on the West Coast or East Coast or whatever and I... Most people don't think of Springfield, Missouri as a hotbed for eCommerce activity, although there are a couple of good eCommerce agencies here. But I remember talking to one client based in L.A and it was like, "Oh, yeah. We're in Springfield, Missouri." And he paused a minute and he said, "I don't think I've ever spoken to anyone from the state of Missouri." I was like, "Well, we have the internet, we're pretty advanced here, even though it may not seem like it." But anyway.

Greg Powell:

I'll tell you, Brett, there are probably even less people that I've spoken with that have done business with someone in Joplin, Missouri.

Brett:

That's a fact.

Greg Powell:

So-

Brett:

That's crazy. We're working on getting and we may, hopefully soon, we'll have our second Joplin, Missouri guest. We've been talking to Toby Teeter, the Joplin Chamber of Commerce president, who also built an amazing ad business and some other eCommerce stuff. Dude's crazy. He's in Joplin, too. So, who would have thought?

Greg Powell:

I am looking out my window of my office across the street at his. So small, small world, man. Know that there are some like-minded eComm folks in our area. But no, I'm excited to be on the show and this is going to be fun to talk affiliate marketing today.

Brett:

Absolutely. So before we dive into the hot topics around affiliate marketing, give us your 90 second background. How did you get started in online marketing? How did you gravitate towards affiliate marketing? Was it one of those things where, as a kid, in school papers and stuff, what do you want to be when you grow up, you chose affiliate marketer?

Greg Powell:

Of course.

Brett:

Or did that just come later.

Greg Powell:

Well, it was astronaut or affiliate marketer in fourth grade. was affiliate marketing. So I'll give you my segue into this space is kind of a funny one. This starts in the early 2000s with the boom of Texas Hold'em an online poker and me being enamored by those guys and playing a lot of poker and being really bad at it, but also building terrible looking websites and doing a little bit of SEO and-

Brett:

Poker and bad websites, I love how this started.

Greg Powell:

And driving people to poker rooms and finding the... There's a Wild West affiliate marketing in those days was something I actually really liked. And while I was terrible building websites and not good at playing poker, I seem to be okay at driving referral traffic. And so I learned more and more about it. I took a job as an affiliate manager of an online poker company.

Greg Powell:

In 2004, I had no idea what an affiliate manager was supposed to do, but I knew I needed a job and it seemed like something that I could really get my feet wet in an emerging market. I just really loved it and just love the idea of the concept of affiliate marketing and the new digital form of word of mouth advertising. And learned a bunch through the years and I've been doing it a long time now. Still learning things, but talk about bad websites, bad poker playing, turning into a career.

Brett:

I love it. I love it. Yeah.

Greg Powell:

That's something my parents probably would have mapped out for me.

Brett:

Exactly. But often, that's how brilliant careers get started almost on accident, or you just experimented with things and you find something that really just clicks and really, really works for you, pun partially intended there. So let's dive into this. We talk to hundreds of eCommerce companies a year through the podcast and through speaking gigs that I have, it's 10s of thousands a year. And a lot of the eCommerce companies we work with, everybody's on Facebook, everybody's doing something with Google. A lot of people are on Amazon. I run into not as many that are actively building, running affiliate marketing programs.

Brett:

So wanted to get into some nuts and bolts here, but I think kind of an overarching question that would be great for you to answer is, what's the real value of an affiliate marketing program? If we don't have one now or just kind of a hobby, we're just dabbling, not really doing anything serious with an affiliate marketing program. What's the value? So maybe we can be inspired to do more with it.

Greg Powell:

Such a good question, it's funny because it seems like everybody that would ever sort of debate or argue on the value of having a good pay search strategy as a nice try, social ads work. I think it's harder now than it used to be. But all those are our channels that people believe in and almost feel that it has to be a part of it, right?

Brett:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Greg Powell:

And I'm almost under the same impression. I mean, I really am under the same impression with affiliate marketing. Here's a channel that every brand needs to have in their mix. If you don't, I think the thing you're missing out on is discovering new audiences and adding authenticity. The biggest win for us and for our clients is when a largely followed or highly respected editorial site, or really influential social influencer or blogger, picks up on a brand and showcases it to their audience. And it gets discovered by people who had never heard of it previously. Everything is so hyper focused now with audience profiles.

Greg Powell:

Even if you haven't done affiliate marketing, you surely have done a million different Facebook campaigns and you dial it in and you dial in. And you find these really focused audiences. And I think with any brands out there that has somewhat of a unique product line and somewhat of a unique story on how the brand came to be, the more relevant people that can share that story. I think the more authentic your brand becomes, also you open yourself up to audiences that you may have never thought of. We've managed brands in the past that were... We had a kickoff call, they said, "Hey, here's what we've done for the past year. These are the people who buy our product."

Greg Powell:

And so naturally want to find affiliate audiences that match that profile. But a lot of times we'll be able to bring out an affiliate or type of an affiliate. When I say type of affiliate, I mean someone who creates content and caters to a certain audience. And it maybe an audience profile or audience's type that the brand has never thought would resonate well before. Or just because of sensitivity towards budgets. They don't want to go test every potential audience out there. Yeah, yeah.

Brett:

The surefire wins and so that's kind of an advantage of a third marketing, it tests these audiences with really low risk, because you're only paying if you actually make sales, right?

Greg Powell:

Sure. Yeah. I mean, predominantly the way we work with brands. And the way I think affiliate marketing works best is when you pay for acquisitions, somebody comes through, makes a purchase, they get paid. The affiliate gets paid a percentage of that sale. And we've discovered some wacky audience fits for our clients. And we've also gone after audience profiles, so we thought would be a fantastic fit and it just didn't resonate well. And the nice thing was we went out a ton of money in paid ads.

Greg Powell:

Because essentially what happened is four or five affiliates signed up that had an audience profile that we wanted to test, we thought it'd be a good fit. It wasn't a good fit. The affiliates, unfortunately, didn't make a lot of commission, but that our client, the brand was out of pocket a lot. So, we discover these little hidden gems all the time on new audiences that can tell a brand story to a different set of people that we've never introduced the two before. And you and I kind of chatted before about some of the value ads and affiliate programs, some of the things that are 100% revenue based and don't get me wrong, our number one goal, our number one success metric for every brand that we manage is new revenue, new customers.

Brett:

Absolutely.

Greg Powell:

Then there's a lot of other little bonuses, PR bonuses, discovering new audiences, trust factors. If a large editorial picks up your site, it's always nice, especially if you're in a new startup phase to say as seen on-

Brett:

Yep.

Brett:

Yes. Now guys like me can put that in your YouTube ad and your display ads and just go to town with it and the audience piece I love to because yes, sometimes it just doesn't make sense like with paid ads, you got a list of, "Okay, these are our top five selection." A lot of times we're mapping out a YouTube strategy for a client, we'll create this audience progression where we're looking, "Okay, these are the intent based audiences, the most likely to convert audiences."

Brett:

And if those really hit, then we're going to broaden it and go to affinity based audiences and then we can kind of map that out. But there are some audiences that like, "We don't ever get to because it feels risky." But with affiliate marketing, test some random audiences you find a hidden gem of an audience that's working, I say, "Okay, let's roll that out to YouTube. Let's run some GDN ads to that audience." So I think using that to inform your other paid channels is really smart and price something that a lot of people haven't thought of.

Greg Powell:

Yeah, but I'll share a cool story with you as an example of that.

Brett:

Yeah.

Greg Powell:

That played out last year. So we have a brand that... And it's funny with tactical marketing with this company. One thing I never intended to do that happened was to become tight knit and close to the crowdfunding space. But we've had a lot of success. I'll talk about this a little bit later on, I think why this happened. We've had a lot of success taking brands that have had a really successful crowdfunding campaign. And then they're ready to go, the campaign's finish, they're ready to go, straight eCommerce, we got to drive sales through our website now. Affiliate marketing is always one of the best channels for those types of brands. So we've had a lot of success into a lot of fun to work with those low rated startups.

Brett:

Because we use like a new and novel concept. Like there's something cool about it, they wouldn't have got funded if there wasn't demand and interest and unique stories. Great, great, fun companies to work with.

Greg Powell:

Yeah, and they've already proven that, "Hey, we've got something that people really like to the point where they'll fund this project into a company."

Brett:

Yep.

Greg Powell:

So there's a brand called Ravean. They sell heated jackets.

Brett:

Sorry, what's that again?

Greg Powell:

Yeah, the brand's called Ravean, they sell like heated jackets.

Brett:

And how do you spell that?

Greg Powell:

R-A-V-E-A-N.

Brett:

Better.

Greg Powell:

And crowdfunding success story, great brand, great product. Heated electric jackets, so charging pack, click the button. You're sitting out at a football game in the winter when it's 22 and everyone's dying around you-

Brett:

There's this Chiefs' game in the winter, oh my gosh.

Greg Powell:

Yeah.

Brett:

I went to a playoff game a couple years ago. Maybe potentially the coldest I've ever been in my life. I would have gladly taken that electric jacket, yeah.

Greg Powell:

So yeah, you get really spoiled by this thing. Let me tell you, so you can stay warm, really warm. So anyway, we are... You can imagine, there's a lot of brands and a lot of people should listen to the podcast that have a product that can be seasonal. I mean, heated jackets, something fantastic when you're thinking about going to a football game or parade or anything else, where you're going to be outside for a long period of time. Probably not something you think about in Springfield in July.

Brett:

For sure.

Greg Powell:

So it's a seasonal thing. So we thought, how can the affiliate program kind of aid in the seasonality dip that we get during the summer or the warm months? And so once again, kind of what we were talking about early in the show audience profiles, that we focused on parts of the world where it's cold during this time of year. Yes, that's a strategy, or is there anybody who needs a heated jacket during the summer? And that's the part really scratched my head about.

Brett:

Oh, I've got a guess. I've got an answer.

Greg Powell:

All right, guess.

Brett:

The people that work in like refrigerated areas, so you're in college, no high school, sorry. I worked for an unloading company and we worked in like refrigerated areas that may be a small population. I'm just throwing that out.

Greg Powell:

Actually, I should have this called in before because it's such a great idea and then audience haven't gotten there yet.

Brett:

That's your next free idea. Take it to the clients if they like it.

Greg Powell:

Yeah. It's always good when the guests become a wave from the podcast everyone with more value.

Brett:

Okay, that wasn't the answer, so what-

Greg Powell:

That is a great answer. It wasn't the answer simultaneous at this time was we found that there are a large number of people who are going through cancer treatments and dialysis treatments that are in a certain spot for a long period of time. Dialysis treatment could take five hours. Chemo can take three or four hours. These people get really freezing cold, they can't move-

Brett:

Call the hospitals too man, I think you'll-

Greg Powell:

.. it's really cold, man. That's what people always say when they're at the hospital, "Gadgets freezing cold in here." And so we were able to work with a couple of medical journals that became affiliate partners and it was, we can legitimately help people with a product that could add a lot of comfort to an already uncomfortable situation.

Greg Powell:

We can also partner with the affiliate program and generate revenue for our publication, for our nonprofit that we have here. And so to me, it was a really neat one. We got a good friend who's going through dialysis right now. And that's kind of a nice feel good story, but it's also a prime example of how can we discover a new audience. We can test it and we can find a big solution to a problem that we're having on how do we move inventory during the warm months.

Brett:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Super interesting.

Greg Powell:

Yeah, people aren't cold outside, but you know what? There's a lot of people who are cold inside.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah.

Greg Powell:

And so-

Brett:

Really smart.

Greg Powell:

Example I really like and it's something that we're always trying to do, everybody's got a different type of products and different type of audience and everybody has a need to increase sales during certain times a year and then capitalize on seasonality that just comes up with different products. We just came off Father's Day. Happy Father's Day multiple times to us, sir.

Brett:

Thanks, man.

Greg Powell:

You are a professional dad.

Brett:

Yeah, exactly. For those who don't know the Curry house, we do have eight children so I'm the father of eight children, six daughters. So yeah.

Greg Powell:

Yeah, I see your Facebook posts that I think Father's Day times many to you, sir.

Brett:

Thanks.

Greg Powell:

So yeah, we had a great Father's Day yesterday as well. Thanks for the kind words there. But we just came off of Father's Day and we've got a lot of brands we manage that are very male, product focused and some meat companies, I was lucky enough to get on that on the-

Brett:

Good for you, man. That's awesome.

Greg Powell:

Takes this year from one of our brands. So anyway, we came off Father's Day, and we've had a lot of brands that had products and offers for that specific day. But I know the one thing you and I were kind of chatting about earlier was offers. I mean, if you're a brand and you're thinking about should I start affiliate program? Do I have a brand that's attractive for affiliate marketing? What kind of offers what I need to put out there? What do I need to pay? What's this thing going to cost me?

Brett:

Yes.

Greg Powell:

So we talked about some of the value ads earlier. If you want to we could dive into a little bit of is this right for me?

Brett:

Absolutely, yeah, I think that would be a great place to start or great place to transition to rather is yeah, how do I know is my brand a good fit for affiliate marketing? Because and you kind of alluded to this earlier on, you know that this should be consideration for every brand, every brand should consider affiliate marketing, we would say, largely the same thing about search and YouTube.

Brett:

But there are definitely some brands that I'll just use YouTube as an example where just makes all the sense of the world, like they could scale on YouTube other brands where you could do okay with YouTube, it should probably be part of your mix, but it's not going to be a complete game changer. So maybe we talk to that on the affiliate marketing side, like what types of brands, types of products, types of offers, are home runs with affiliate marketing versus some that are just good, but maybe not great.

Greg Powell:

Yeah, if I'd say what's the number one question we get? It's that right? Is my brand a good candidate for affiliate marketing? And I'm pretty simple criteria that I've kind of come up with, a little equation I've come up with over the years and for us, it's if you have a product that somebody could be passionate about, we do better with physical products. I don't know, I've heard a lot of things throughout the years, I'll just give you my take on it. I've always seen a physical product that you actually purchase and get in the mail perform a little better with affiliate marketing, certainly digital products out there and we're going to talk about some networks later if you have a digital product I always say that the ClickBank.

Brett:

ClickBank, yeah, that's kind of what they build for right?

Greg Powell:

On the way to go.

Brett:

Yeah, actually in another life actually was not long ago, but 2009 or so I partnered with Russell Brunson awesome influencer on a project called Dot Com Secrets Local, Russell's located in Boise, Idaho and so the founder of ClickBank, so I actually get to drive by the owner of ClickBank's house. It's very interesting, very eccentric fellow there. But yeah, ClickBank has always been like the info marketers product or digital products and some physical product companies use it too. But that's kind of its genesis, I think.

Greg Powell:

Yeah. And that's still kind of the bread butter. So yeah, digital products, I'm still big ClickBank supporter myself. But anyways, products and I think this is why maybe that we've done, that we've had a lot of success with brands that come off successful crowdfunding campaign is because they usually have a product that's very unique. It's-

Brett:

Something you're passionate about.

Greg Powell:

It's something cool, is something... And this is another criteria I always tell people. I say, "If you have a product that you make or a brand that is easy to create content about, then you probably are a good candidate for Affiliate Success." So if you have a product that people can easily create content about, a product that is somewhat different and unique, then those two criteria right there if you check both those boxes and it's probably worth exploring the idea of starting an affiliate program. We get all kinds of super cool things in our office, from the brands that we work with. And we play around with it and we try to think of content strategies and then we go out and we try to align that particular brand with influencers and that's such a widespread term now.

Brett:

It is man.

Greg Powell:

We try to connect clients to content creators to storytellers and that has always been the most natural fit for affiliate marketing. So if you have a product that's unique, that's easy, create content about that there's a passionate audience about if it aligns with the hobby or something that is super helpful, then you probably have a good... You should probably at least explore an affiliate program.

Brett:

Oh, what about on the math side? Because I know the offers important and stuff.

Greg Powell:

Sure.

Brett:

What kind of margins are we looking for? Is there a particular price point that works or doesn't work? Anything you can share on those fronts?

Greg Powell:

Yeah, it's a great question. Some of it has to do with the conversion side. So the jacket I was talking about a minute ago. Yeah, the average order value is the metric that affiliates look at a lot. And then commission is the secondary one. Because most affiliate programs will say, "Well, you talk about throwing one out there." I'll say a baseline commissions is 10%. Obviously, there's going to be some room in there with different products.

Brett:

Sure.

Greg Powell:

But one of the most common questions I always get is, what kind of commission am I going to pay affiliates. And where we start around the 10% mark and work our way up or down from there.

Brett:

Yep. Was that make sense? If you're selling on Amazon, Amazon's usually taking anywhere from five to 15, sometimes 20 if you're doing Google Shopping actions as an example, it's Google Shopping ads but you're just paying if someone actually purchases, it's like five to 20%. So yeah and with most the time of being north of 10. So I think that makes sense. Yeah.

Greg Powell:

And so apparent affiliate, you would actually think would be more appealing to promote a product that has a price tag. So you're going to get a percentage of sale, you're going to make more commission. I think that that is a determining factor. I also think the conversion rate is something that-

Brett:

Absolutely.

Greg Powell:

Some affiliates don't think about as much. If I'm going to buy a new laptop, it's probably something that I'm going to buy every two years, now the price points can be high. If I go through an affiliate link, I feel like it's going to get paid a pretty decent commission on that sale. But I'm not going to be in the market for that all the time, when it comes to apparel some sort of a food product, that can be something I could be buying every couple months. And while on the affiliate side, the commission may not be as high on a purchase like that. There are many, many more times potential buyers out there, right?

Brett:

Yes.

Greg Powell:

I would eventually say that there's a lot more people who are going to buy a pair of tennis shoes online than a new laptop. And so I don't think the price is always a drawback, we manage affiliate programs so the average order value is north of $1,000, we've managed programs where the average order value is 22 bucks.

Brett:

Yep.

Greg Powell:

It's-

Brett:

Is it more about observing? So conversion is important. It's also about being able to absorb that 10% commission, which really, if you're doing any kind of paid media or any other kind of marketplace, you're paying 10% or more to make that sale. Right?

Greg Powell:

Right.

Brett:

So, it's probably the only company that couldn't handle a 10% commission would be a company that just exists on organic sales or something like that, which those are few and far between. So it's probably less about price point. And more about does your margin support that? Which they should. And then considering conversion rate, is that going to be attractive to an affiliate?

Greg Powell:

That's what it is. It's like how attractive can we be? And still be profitable on this. And that's why kind of that baseline of 10%. It's not written in stone, but it's a good-

Brett:

Good starting point.

Greg Powell:

Yeah, good base point to kind of wrap your head around when you think about can I start affiliate channels? Will be profitable. For a lot of our brands, it's funny. I mean, we say, "Hey, we're going to pay a 10% commission." And so many times they say, "We'll take all their customers we can at 10%." Because there's some other channels that we're paying a lot more than that.

Brett:

Oh, heck, yeah, absolutely.

Greg Powell:

I'll tell you, I want to make this time and as valuable as possible for people who are listening. And there's something that I have to address because it's the elephant in the room of every affiliate marketing conversation, and it usually comes up next, after the things that you and I just talked about. And that is the kind of the scary horror stories you hear about folks who start the affiliate program and all they have or they've had a bad experience in the past where their affiliate program is all coupon at deal sites. You think about the way... I'll just use myself as a bad example, the way people shop online. You look at search volume for brand coupon code, brands promo code.

Brett:

Yep.

Greg Powell:

Whatever it may be.

Brett:

Significant for some brands mean a lot of people looking for coupon.

Greg Powell:

I will tell you that I would be very surprised if those weren't affiliate links and what do we do as a brand knowing that that is what happened? How can we still have an affiliate program that is profitable and that achieves what we set this thing out to achieve. Which is divide influencers and brand advocates and not just find people who are already going to buy our product and pay them a commission right. And they have-

Brett:

For some people that's the last step. I've researched it, I've decided I'm going to buy this product. Let me just do a quick check. Let me see if there's any coupons out there.

Greg Powell:

Oh, man, no doubt and it's something that I would be doing you and listeners to the show a disservice if we didn't talk about.

Brett:

Absolutely.

Greg Powell:

So I'll tell you the kind of our approach to it. And I think the way that you can have a diversity program that still remains profitable. People are going to always search for the best deal once they find a product that they like. And coupon sites are going to continue to rank for those terms. Now any well run affiliate program should not allow affiliates to bid on keyword traffic. So when we manage a program, we can totally forbid branding on doing Pay Per Click bidding on-

Brett:

That's traffic you should be getting anyway.

Greg Powell:

You should be getting anyway, there's no value in that. So we have kind of a different approach. And that is, we're extremely strict on the coupon sites that we allow to work with our clients. If they have no ability to drive new customers, then they don't get to play. A lot of these large coupon sites, large deal sites, a lot of people don't realize that they also collect email addresses, they have the ability to show ads on other pages that may have a similar audience profile. And a lot of people have gotten really burned in the past by setting up an affiliate program and then paying for traffic that they probably would have gotten anyway. I'll just be honest.

Brett:

Yeah, I mean, that's one of the... And then you have that experience happen to you, you tell a lot of other people. It's scaring people away from affiliate marketing.

Greg Powell:

Probably Brett. Honestly, I think it's the one biggest hesitation and one biggest area of disappointment for brands that we talked to, that have tried affiliate marketing and failed in the past is because of the kind of affiliates that they've attracted and nothing bad, if you have a brand that coupon sites are latching themselves to, they know it's something that people are buying. They wouldn't waste their time otherwise. But you have to be able to get some value out of those folks, you have to really limit those kinds of partnerships and yeah, there's-

Brett:

How do you go about doing that? You just doing that in the affiliate network? We'll talk about that maybe next.

Greg Powell:

Yeah.

Brett:

You just affiliate, you're eliminating some of the coupon sites and denying them access to the affiliate program. How are you going about managing that?

Greg Powell:

Exactly, right. So for so long, affiliate programs were set up on sort of autopilot mode and that's one of the... Well, we inherit the client that has an affiliate program. We usually inheriting them because they know the value of affiliate marketing. They've just let this program sort of grow out of control, kind of like a yard that you didn't look after that grew all summer. How do we fix this thing to where it's where want it to look at, again.

Greg Powell:

So for us, it's very hands on not allowing affiliates to be able to participate in the program that can't drive incremental revenue, they have to be able to send new customers to the site not just close the deal on someone who was already going to make a purchase. So we're very proactive in doing outreach to the influencer type folks, you and I talked about it first, disallowing a vast majority of those coupon sites. And if the coupon site is allowed, they are always going to get paid a smaller commission than the baseline. So-

Brett:

Makes sense because you're taking a hit on the coupon as well.

Greg Powell:

Take hit on the coupon. I mean, profitability is always the thing that we're keeping in mind. So we know that we are giving them a big tool in terms of a discount to be able to close that person. So that's a big conversion tool. So we've got to be able to safeguard the revenue a little bit. So we pay a lot, we pay a smaller commission to those affiliate sites and we also make it a prerequisite that you have to be able to do some proactive marketing on our behalf whether that's email blasts, whether that's social posts, YouTube you mentioned is one of my favorite affiliate outlets of all time because seeing a product and hearing that review is golden.

Brett:

And that's another thing that I will do before purchases is say, "Hey I'm pretty certain I want to buy this product, but I'm just going to go to YouTube and look for reviews." And so the search for projects YZ and reviews and so you some influencers talking about it, that's really, really powerful.

Greg Powell:

Yeah, we try to harness that a lot. I mean, YouTube is such an incredible medium for product discovery and for validating a purchase. We've gotten to be pretty heavy in the travel space when it comes to clients and we're working with a lot of people who sell really cool techie, travel luggage and backpacks. And if you're going to drop $300 on a travel backpack, I would hope that you do a few Google searches and-

Brett:

You probably do some YouTube videos as well.

Greg Powell:

Yeah, you're going to 100% watch some YouTube videos. And that's where I think, a huge value of having affiliate program. There's a huge value in having an affiliate program because now you have a way to attract and compensate those fantastic reviewers that could introduce your audience or introduce your product to a perfect hybrid target audience, they're coming there because that YouTuber has credibility and respect in that world. And their endorsements worth 1000 words. And so we try to very, very limit ourselves on the attention and focus of these coupon ideal sites and we try to spend all of our time bringing in influencers and people who could open up new audience profiles and showcase a brand to a group of people have never heard it before.

Brett:

Love it. So how do you... So I got really two main questions as we kind of wrap up and there may be a couple of ancillary or follow ups, but how do you go about attracting those affiliates? So you get your affiliate program, how do you find them? What are you doing to identify them? Are you letting them come to you? And then also, we'll talk about affiliate networks. I think that's probably something that's changed in recent years. But let's talk about attracting affiliates first.

Greg Powell:

Yeah, it's so funny, man. It's almost like they're... All my favorite movie is the Field of Dreams movie, right?

Brett:

Yeah, man, that's so good.

Greg Powell:

One of the greatest lines in that movie is you build it, they will come, right?

Brett:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Greg Powell:

That is the opposite of what happens when you start an affiliate program. You build it and they will not come or the wrong people will come, right?

Brett:

Yeah. Just like an eCommerce site. You build an eCommerce site no one's going to come. You got to go out and get people, advertise, SEOs.

Greg Powell:

So affiliates, so really what... I think that what separates a successful affiliate program from one that is underperforming, is attracting the right affiliates into that program. One of the reasons we get hired a lot is... Oftentimes one of the reasons a brand will hire us to run their affiliate program is because we have a really large network of contacts, or affiliates that can actually drive traffic and sales. These are folks that... Some of these guys I've worked with 10 years or more now and we know that they're able to just do traffic. And so-

Brett:

And on the flip side, they know that you're likely going to be bringing them products that will sell and products that are really worth their time.

Greg Powell:

Yeah, they very quickly will weed out the folks that are bringing them offers that aren't converting, that are not a good match. And we're pretty cautious about we want to be respectful of their flooded inbox and time as well. So we don't want to just pitch them everyone who comes through. We want to make sure it's a good fit, but we've got some really amazing contacts and relationships now with folks who are thought leaders, rake like crazy high for certain covenants search terms.

Greg Powell:

We at least get some good relationships with those type of folks and it's a constant thing then. There's always new emerging publishers who we want to bring it into the mix and be a brand advocate for clients and there's always new information to share with those guests. So many times an offer or a brand just gets stale with an affiliate. At first seemed like a match made in heaven. And then they never heard from him again, the affiliates are very time sensitive and send me what's going to convert, let me know when I should say, give me the offer. And I'll share with my audience.

Brett:

You need to map all that out. You talk about the content, you need to spell that all out. So the affiliate can just grab it and go, right?

Greg Powell:

Absolutely, we're always working with the marketing team with the client on at least a couple month roadmap. What are the new offers, new products that are coming out, any sales, promotions, events, anything content worthy that we can share with affiliates, so then they can in turn, create content and share it with their audience. Because it helps everybody. So that's one of the... I think that's probably the most crucial piece of Affiliate Success, to be honest with you.

Brett:

Yep, attracting the right affiliates.

Greg Powell:

Attracting the right affiliates, and then getting them the content creative that they need to actually share the offer with their audience.

Brett:

Find the right person, give them the right tools, right message, right offer to share. In terms of offers that... So we talked about 10% kind of being baseline commission, you're paying to that affiliate. What about the offer, they extend to their audience, I'm assuming in some cases, there may not have to be that much of a discount, like it's a new and novel product which is interesting. People may just buy it because, "Hey, this is new and novel, and I want it." But what kind of discounts are affiliates looking for typically, that they can give to their audience? Because they want to be seen as the I can-

Greg Powell:

Yeah.

Brett:

With the deal.

Greg Powell:

So one of the things... Apologies, one of the things that we encourage our clients to do is to sell the value more than the discount, right?

Brett:

Love it.

Greg Powell:

I would tell a huge fan the last couple of years of offers that include... I become a huge fan of like bundle offers as opposed to 10%, 20% off offers.

Brett:

Sure.

Greg Powell:

The last few years, because I think it's just... I hated it, I always think of a brand is something that you're extremely passionate about. You see so much value in it, you want your customers to see a huge value in it as well. And so we've actually really tried to steer away to the last year of the normal 15% off your first purchase type of ad that you see everywhere. And more of buy a jacket, get a free pair of gloves type thing.

Brett:

I like it.

Greg Powell:

And I think that we will always encourage our clients to come with some sort of a product add on or a bundle type offer as opposed to just a direct discount. Now of course, you're going to run into seasonality like Black Friday. You're going to come in..

Brett:

Yeah.

Greg Powell:

And to be able to play, you're going to have to do some sort of an offer. Some sort of discount offer. And we should get creative on commission as well. A lot of people think that you are tied to a commission. And that's what it has to be. But there's some fluidity as well and sometimes it's paying affiliates more, let's say that we have a brand that had an amazing Kickstarter campaign.

Greg Powell:

We've sold a lot of product through affiliates. Now it's time to come out with version two of this awesome product. And we want to get rid of the rest of them that are sitting in the warehouse. And there's certain affiliates that are really good at moving a lot of products if we can give them a bump in commission.

Brett:

Sure.

Greg Powell:

Or give them exclusive 5% off flash sale this weekend, something like that. So there's a lot of genuine partnerships that you can have with an affiliate program. You don't have to... So many people say, here's our affiliate program. This is our block of affiliates, there's individual people in that program that have the ability to do different and unique things.

Brett:

Yep.

Greg Powell:

Knowing who those partners are and knowing how you can sort of utilize their unique attributes. You can start to do a lot of really cool creative things with the partners in your program.

Brett:

Yeah, totally makes sense. I love it. Well, this has been fantastic. I know we could talk for another hour or two more, about different facets, but let's kind of wrap up here with a discussion on networks. So I know back in the day, we'd mentioned ClickBank already, Commission Junction was a big one and now CJ and Pepper Jam and there's a whole bunch more. But what networks are you recommending? How do you go about helping a client land on the right network? Should we use multiple networks? Talk to us about that.

Greg Powell:

Yeah, how we talked about earlier on different affiliate audiences cater themselves better to other products and offers, different affiliate networks also catered towards different types of brains. And I think it's mostly happens due to the type of brands that are on that platform. Commission Junction is still a great network. But there are also some other platforms out there that cater towards different affiliate types.

Greg Powell:

There's a company out of Utah called Avant Link, A-V-A-N-T, L-I-N-K. Fantastic guys who have built a really nice network of outdoor retail brands and affiliates. Fashion apparel, beauty, we have had a lot of success with ShareASale, brands are looking to scale outside the United States that US focus brands looking to grow internationally with affiliates. We've had a lot of success with Awin, which is the parent company of ShareASale.

Greg Powell:

There are different platforms out there with those affiliate tights tend to navigate towards. It's an asset or a brand because selling someone on joining your affiliate program and promoting your brand to their audience is step one, getting them signed up and active is obviously a big step two. If they already feel comfortable, and they already have an account with that network, then it's a much easier process to get them on the program-

Brett:

Make sense.

Greg Powell:

To get them links. They're familiar with the technology, they trust, they're going to get paid. And it just makes the process a lot easier. So it's almost like building a foundation of the house, house could be awesome. You got to make sure that foundation is solid first. Choosing the right affiliate network is a very, very important step one.

Brett:

Love it. Love it. Great. This has been fantastic, man. Super informative, lots of fun as well. So we appreciate coming on. If someone's listening and they say, "Man, I need affiliate marketing and I don't want to go it alone." I'd like to talk to someone as smart as Greg and team. How can people best connect with you and tactical marketing?

Greg Powell:

Yeah. Well, if you're listening to the podcast, you've made it through this far. Thank you so much for listening to all our insights. Just shoot me an email directly actually, it's Greg@tacticalmarketingco.com. And I'd be happy to help. One of the things we do a lot Brett is to program audits. If you haven't fully programmed that... You're scratching your head why is this thing not working? Or I'm already doing a million different marketing tasks. I don't have time to run the affiliate program also, happy to do a free program audit for anybody listening to the podcast as well and see if there's some more value that we might be able to add. So, Greg@tacticalmarketingco.com and I would love to talk to anybody.

Brett:

Fantastic. I will put that in the show notes at OMGcommerce.com. Click on the blog, you can find it there, or just email Greg directly. That's an awesome offer in and of itself. And then it's tacticalmarketingco.com to check out the site. And so yeah, man, tons of fun. Thanks for coming on. We'll have to do part two at some point.

Greg Powell:

We will man, thank you so much for having me on Brett, appreciate it.

Brett:

Awesome. Thanks, Greg. And as always, thank you. Thank you for tuning in. Thank you for sticking around and making it this long. This is awesome. Hopefully you are leaving educated, inspired and ready to up your eCommerce game. And so with that, we'd love that review on iTunes. We'd love to hear any show suggestions or ideas you might have to make this show better. And with that, until next time, thank you for...

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