Profitable Performance Marketing: More Money for You

August 11, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

…And I just made a mad dash to get here. Fun. Nothing like keynotes that run 30 minutes over and then realizing you’re in the complete wrong room for the next session. Oh yeah, I’m made of Awesome. And fairy dust.

We’re gonna talk about profitable performance marketing since that’s the point of all this after all, right? Up we have Durk Price, Lisa Riolo, Jason Oates, and Chuck Hamrick.    The speakers are running things in a roundtable type style so no fancy presentations this time around. Let’s hop in.

Lisa starts off recommending that people use bottom line thinking. Don’t focus on revenue. Instead, focus on profit – what you’re making after your expenses.  That…seems to make sense.

Durk comments that he uses tools to make his company more efficient. They want to do more with less because staffing is expensive. He looks for partners, not employees. He’s always testing people. If they didn’t have a potential to be a partner in the business, he wasn’t interested in them. Everything he does is long term. He doesn’t take as much money out of the business as he could because he wants to grow. He sacrifices short term goals to help long term business.

Lisa says you’re Not To Do list is just as important as your To Do list. You need to plan and prioritize to decide what you are or are not going to invest your time and resources into. You should spend at least half the time you spend developing new business fighting fires. If you’re spending too much time on fires, you need to figure out how to stop that. It may be to outsource the task.

She shows a prioritization chart that people should use. Sadly, you’re not here so you don’t get to see it. Sorry. Basically it says you want to focus on the people who have a lot of room for growth but who still aren’t reporting. That’s your first priority in business because helping them grow is how you’re going to help yourself grow.

Chuck is up to talk about partnerships and negotiating.

If you develop partnerships with a handful of people that you know well, be open with them about ideas and be as transparent as possible.  That’s how you’re going to grow. Don’t bootstrap your affiliate managers. Work with them. Understand that affiliate marketing isn’t a brand maker. You need to have a converting program.  Do PPC testing to see if you have something that’s going to hit the ground running. Most successful affiliates are small corporations.

Everything’s negotiable. He runs competitive analysis on programs before starting with them to see how they’re commissioned for payouts, what kind of creative they have, etc, and then he evaluates that to set the program. On the larger networks, there will usually be a boiler plate agreement. If you’re coming in on a high end, they’ll move things around for you. It doesn’t hurt to ask for a higher commission. You have a 50/50 chance they’re going to say yes. It’s a business relationship. Maybe you can get some more press up front.

Justin says a lot people get into contracts and relationships without fully looking at the competitive landscape. Amen on the relationship side. I can’t tell you how many losers I dated when there was a more competitive male right next door. I mean, um, never mind. Affiliate marketing. w00t!

Be data driven. Make sure you understand what you’re negotiating, what’s a good price and what you’re really getting out of it. A great deal for you may be a deal that never runs. He’d rather have a little bit of a lot than a lot of nothing.  Make sure there are benefits on both sides.

Lisa says a lot of time it’s not about money. It’s what information you can get to be more successful.  What was that thing Chris Brogan said yesterday? Money is not the only currency. Amen.

If you don’t know someone, don’t trust them without a recommendation. Find someone who can vouch for them or that program before you agree to anything. Use your network. And if they can’t produce good referrals, work with someone else.

[A lot of this session is a bit over my head and comfort level, so I’m likely missing a lot. Rae is our affiliate guru. Sadly (for some), she’s in New Jersey.]

From the audience: There’s a perception from certain affiliates that affiliate managers are out to take their cake. You need to build relationships with affiliates so they know that they can trust you.  Lisa agrees. Do your research in who you’re partnering with. What do they really offer in terms of technology, services, partnerships, etc?

Jason’s going to take the mic.

What’s new to email?

  • Acquisition: Significant reach. Tiered performance pricing. Branding benefits. Feedback lops.
  • Retention: Social/micro messaging. Channel/Source optimization. Feedback loops. Mobile.
  • Monetization: Fortune 100 advertisers. Inventory Management, Co-op Marketing. Feedback loops. Mobile. Increasing eCPMs.

The things brands were concerned with three years ago about email acquisition, they’re not there anymore.

Make sure you’re using the talent within your organization in a way that syncs acquisition, retention and monetization. You shouldn’t have separate groups managing each role.  You need to force collaboration. If people aren’t willing to play nicely, replace them.

He bases pricing on the back end. He’s not looking at just one metric like cost of sale. He’s looking at his conversation rate, cost per sale, up sales, lifetime value, how the list is monetizing, etc. If you look at all of those things, you’re going to make some smart decisions. You need to look at them at every source level.

When he sees a business that’s stagnating or not growing, it’s usually because of a lack of transparency. You need to focus on a few metrics and then be honest about those metrics.

They were working with eHarmony for email. eHarmony wasn’t sure how to price it or optimize it.   They shared all the metrics that were important to their business – conversation rates, how they were monetizing, what % of leads needed to be from US IPs, etc.  Jason’s group noticed that one of the publishers was running at 50 percent US IPs. They went back to the list and scrubbed out all the foreign IPs. It went from  an $8 payout to a $12 payout. Everyone was more profitable.

He shares another case study:

  • Problem: Unsubscribe files were being stolen by publishers and mailers and large advertisers were weary of email advertising
  • Solutions: 100 publishers, 28 Email Service Providers, the EEC, 3 Networks and 10 Advertisers all collaborated to supported and champion MD5 Suppression List Management.
  • Result: Publishers eCPMs have increased from running offers from Fortune 1000 brands.

Think about ways to build your internal list. Be providing enough information as possible and use that to market to them.   If you have information you’re running on other channels, use that as an opportunity.

Gear people up for a second sale by calling and confirming the first sale. You design an interaction to encourage someone to buy something else. Put an insert into the order or shipment. Put another coupon code. Give the affiliate credit for that second purchase.

Chuck uses save a sale to improve performance and retargeting to get people back on the site. For example, someone will leave their site to go to CNN and suddenly there’s a banner on CNN for their site, so the person clicks back. Magic.  Slightly creepy magic. Figure out how your audience wants to consume their information. They probably don’t want to get info through your monthly affiliate newsletter.  You need to figure out how people want to be communicated with — and accept that some may not want to be communicated with at all.  The same applies for consumers. Do they want an email, a coupon on Facebook, a Twitter message, a phone call, etc?

Lots of good info. Now it’s time for lunch. Mmm. Lunch.

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