Customer Analytics Part III: Using & Managing Your Data, A Checklist

Today we continue our Customer Analytics discussion with a quick checklist for your customer data analysis.

Three Steps to Customer Data Analysis

1.  Identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that you will track and make sure you are capturing the relevant data.

This step is a combination of the knowledge from Parts I and II of our Customer Analytics discussion. With the wide ranging types of data that can be captured and the many comparison options to put the data in context, it is important to identify the key indicators of health and growth for your company.

This means looking at your company’s goals to decide which data sets and trends are most important to track. There are so many ways to track customer engagement that you can end up spreading your resources thin by trying to gather everything. Instead, prioritize the most relevant data and make sure you have the tools to get what you want.

Avoid ending up with a mass of random numbers by having a clear plan and a manageable list of benchmarks.

2.  Integrate your customer data into a single comparison tool and convert data into comparable units.

The next step is putting all your data together. If you are using different analytics tools to keep track of email engagements, A/B tests or survey results, you need a centralized repository that can blend your data. This means thinking through software integrations; do you have CRM software that will integrate all your analytics and how will you add external data?

Centralized data also needs to be standardized for comparison. You will want a central analytics tool that will let you transform data into standard units, allowing you to gauge and compare customer engagement and satisfaction from purchases as well as customer service calls. Pulling real-time comparisons requires software that allows you to set a standardization plan.

3.  Create a dashboard that lets you visualize your analysis.

Once your system is set up to load and compare all your data, you need a plan for converting the raw numbers into an easy-to-read format.

⋅  Use charts & graphs in conjunction with in-depth reports. Set up real-time-updating trend visualization in your analytics software. Use charts and graphs that reflect your core KPIs (hopefully a manageable number) and promote instant comprehension of your data. Also make in-depth reports on the underlying data easy to generate, so that you can easily dive deeper when you see changes.

⋅  Set up alerts for important comparison points and benchmarks. Identifying the small number of benchmarks that require the most awareness additionally helps narrow your focus. Setting alerts based on these benchmarks will give you the best chance to respond rapidly.

Now that we have mapped the steps for analyzing data, we’ll look more closely at how to conduct some of the relevant comparisons. Come back to the blog as we continue to unpack customer data.

Customer Analytics Part II: Putting the Data in Context

Welcome back to our Customer Analytics discussion. We’ve gone over what customer analytics are and where data is sourced. Now let’s take a look at how we assess that data and find usable information.

Focusing on Segments of Data in Context

After cataloguing what feels like an unwieldy amount of information about who our customers are, when and where they find our products online, and how they navigate our webpages, it isn’t always obvious what to take away from the raw numbers. To make them meaningful, we need to think about the relationship between new customer data and other benchmarks, including:

1.  Industry data—Look for markers that are significant to your goals and compare your customer data with your competitors’.

⋅  Ask questions such as: Are you converting visitors to customers more or less often than others in the industry? How many visitors do competitor webpages get in comparison to yours? Do you drive visitors from the most common channels or are you serving a niche audience that is funneling from a particular source?

⋅  Use comparison tools—There are a host of tools that let you check in on competitor website traffic, search phrases that lead to your competitors, and online or social media chatter about your competition. Check out this list of comparison tools for some of your options.

⋅  Look at industry reports. For example, Wolfgang Digital’s E-commerce KPI Benchmarks 2017 Report is jam-packed with e-retailer benchmarks to compare against. An important one: e-commerce sites average a 1.6% conversion rate—how does your site compare?

2.  Time—Compare your new customer data to your old data.

⋅  Have customer interactions and purchases changed over time? Compare specific data sets over time, e.g. overall purchases or customer lifetime value. Choose a few markers of growth and chart each over time to get a wider view of your company’s overall change.

⋅  Are there are changes in relation to internal and/or external variables? Track changes that occur after shifts within the company, such as a particular ad campaign, but also after macro-level shifts, such as changes in industry regulations.

3.  Channel comparisons—Map sales and engagement data from various channels to compare how each performs.

⋅  Use a combination of raw numbers and percentages—I.e. look at both the quantity of purchases from a social media channel and the percentage of viewers who converted. Looking at both will you give you the most accurate understanding of the highest sales and the best ROI.

4.  Customer models—Map the steps that are most common to completing a purchase, and also identify the common demographics among your customers.

⋅  Combine your information on these two aspects of customer information to get a more complete picture of how, when and where to reach your customers. Use your data to get a stronger picture of your average customer and your highest value customers.

Still feel like you have a lot of questions about how to really unpack the value of all your customer information? There’s more to our Customer Analytics discussion, so come back to the blog as we continue to dive into Big Data.

Elements of E-Commerce | Customer Analytics

Welcome to Thanx Media’s “Elements of E-Commerce” blog series. Follow along as we wade through the nuts and bolts of e-commerce technologies that you need to know.

Today we’re taking a look at customer analytics. The first step is orienting ourselves with the what and where. Over the next few posts, we’ll dive deeper to start unpacking the bigness of Big Data.

What are Customer Analytics?

It’s not just having all the data, but using the data that we have on our customers. Customer analytics track customer demographics and the various touchpoints that connect a customer to a product or service. Instead of tracking general sales numbers following a marketing campaign, we should now track and analyze data on how specific customers interact with that campaign.

When done right, analytics offer insights that let us target products and offers to the most interested customers and show us what customers need to feel they received good service.

Where does the Data Come From?

Everywhere—there are more sources of data than there are people. Really. By 2008, the number of internet-enabled devices had outpaced the number of people in the world; and those devices keep multiplying. And in addition to the connection that the Internet brings, there are all the old connection points to keep track of as well.

So when beginning a plan for customer analytics, the first step is to identify all of the places that you can get information about your customers. Most B2B and B2C e-retailers can look to these:

1.  Website traffic, including:

⋅  Number and frequency of visitors.

⋅  Visitor geographic locations.

⋅  Time spent on the site by visitors.

⋅  Popular pages, and the most used or unused parts of a website.

⋅  Individual visitor navigation—the pages visited by particular visitors, frequent/repeated navigation tasks, length of visits.

⋅  Time spent browsing before completing a purchase.

⋅  Cart abandonment rates, in general and visitor-specific.

2.  Social media engagement, including:

⋅  Post-specific or campaign-specific views, engagements, and shares.

⋅  Click-throughs and conversion rates.

⋅  Follower acquisition and churn rate.

⋅  Chatter by other social media users referring to your company—positive and negative sentiments, referrals.

⋅  Social media influencers most followed by your customers, or by your target demographics.

3.  Internet noise—references to your company by other websites and blogs. Track:

⋅  Click-throughs and conversions.

⋅  Positive or negative sentiment.

⋅  Internet influencers most followed by your target demographic

4. Search results—internet keywords and typical searches that lead to your company.

5.  Email interaction, including

⋅  Contact signups, including for offers and newsletters.

⋅  Opened and engagement rates for emails.

⋅  Click-throughs and conversions.

6.  Other customer contacts, including:

⋅  Help/support calls, emails and chats.

⋅  Customer loyalty engagement, use, and service requests.

7. Offline advertising responses, including:

⋅  Sales following direct mail campaigns, sometimes tracked by campaign-specific offer codes.

⋅  Sales following TV/print ads.

8.  Customer surveys and feedback, on- and offline.

Obviously, there is almost endless information. With the right tools to sort and gather, and the right integration between your tools to track individual customer results, you’ll be able to narrow your focus into usable areas of this data. Come back next time and we’ll continue to unpack how to sort through it all.

Customer Loyalty Programs Part III: Planning & Automation for Measurable Data

Thanks for finishing off our Customer Loyalty Program discussion with us in this Part III. In Part I we outlined the types of programs your company can run and in Part II we went over tips for planning the right program. There’s one more step to pulling together the right program—making sure you are set up to get and use the right data.

What to Track

The success of your program depends on your goals. For example, are you looking for more immediate sales or is the frequency of repeat sales the most important measure? Before starting your program, think about the priorities you’ve set and which metrics are the best indicators of meeting those goals, such as:

⋅  Engagement and enrollment—If visibility is a key goal, the level of enrollment can offer an indication of how often you’re reaching your customers. You also want to keep track of how often customers engage with various touchpoint offers and reminders to gauge whether your message continues to draw interest.

⋅  New Sales—For example, if you run an enrollment bonus campaign, track whether there is any increase in new customers based on the bonus.

⋅  Customer Lifetime Value—Keep track of whether loyalty customers buy in greater quantities or more frequently.

⋅  Customer Churn Rate—Does your loyalty program make customers loyal for longer? Track the length of your customer relationships and judge whether loyalty members cut ties less frequently.

Planning for Measurable Data with the Right Program and Automation

Your program structure and the tools you use are import to tracking the right data. Keep the following in mind when planning your program:

⋅  Integrating with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Point-of-Sale (POS) systems—Make sure that you are adding a customer’s use and engagement with a loyalty program to your general customer records so that you can better target the customer and better understand the customer journey. You’ll also need to keep track of customer loyalty offers at the time of purchase, so make a plan for how the program integrates with your POS.

⋅  Integrating existing email lists and tracking engagement and conversions—When you start your program, you’ll want to be able to reach out to the customers you already have, so plan targeted advertising and use your existing lists. Tracking the conversion rate of existing customers helps determine the value of your program to customers who already appreciate your products and services.

⋅  Tracking engagement and conversions via online advertising, website, mobile apps and social media—Make sure you can track response rates to social media campaigns and other online advertising so that you know if you are reaching new customers through each platform.

⋅  Look for inbound leads or use campaign-specific codes—Track your general advertising engagement by tracking who clicks, browses and converts. You can also segment your tracking by using campaign-specific offer codes, to more easily single out engagement and conversion for program trials or segmented customer lists.

⋅  Automating remarketing based on engagement—Use the data you gather on engagement to automatically create remarketing lists, and plan for automated remarketing ads and additional offers to entice interested customers. Don’t forget to track across channels, including website traffic, email engagement and social media campaigns.

Planning is huge when you’re talking about a program that you want to be tied to your products and services in the long term. Get in touch and we can help you put in place the right systems and support for your loyalty program.

Customer Loyalty Programs Part II: Tips for Sustainability & Success

Welcome back to our Customer Loyalty Program discussion. In Part I we outlined the types of programs your company can run. But we also noted that loyalty programs can fail—while consumers sign up for a lot of programs (an average of 29 per US household), they don’t use most of them. The average household is active in only 12 out of its 29 loyalty memberships. And remember that Capgemini Consulting tells us that 90% of social media sentiment on loyalty programs (across industries) is negative.

Today we dive deeper to make sure that your loyalty program is actually rewarding your customers, paving that road for higher value repeat customers.

Getting to Know Your Customers—What Do They Hate?

Let’s start by looking at the reasons customers get frustrated by loyalty programs. We’ll go back to that Capgemini Consulting survey for some answers, and the key mistakes to avoid:

1.  Reward relevance, flexibility and value. 44% of consumers find that loyalty programs don’t give them what they want because the rewards are too low, not useful or can’t be used the way they want.

⋅  Key takeaway: think about your customers and create a program for the people you are targeting.

2.  Multi-channel integration. 33% of consumers needed it to be easier to use their points in different places and wanted the coordination between online and physical locations to be better.

⋅  Key takeaway: make sure to sync your physical store, website and mobile apps. Have clear, easy and consistent ways to earn and use rewards in each of these places.

3.  Customer service. 17% of consumers had issues with wait times for customer service calls, unpleasant service, and customer service staff lacking the knowledge to fix problems.

⋅  Key takeaway: When planning your program, think about the short- and long-term resources that you need to give your customers the best experience.

Creating the Right Program For Your Target Customers

Knowing what you need to avoid is key, but so is knowing what your customers love. Keep these tips in mind when planning so that you end up with the right program.

⋅  Think about your brand. What brought your customers to you? Frame your loyalty program around the thing that your customers values most about your products and services. For some people that may be price but for others it may mean service perks.

⋅  Are your rewards valuable to your customers? If your loyalty program is $1000 spent for $1 earned, think about whether your customer will care or find that program nominal.

⋅  Personalize and segment your program among different customer groups. Use your customer information to target your loyalty rewards to the customers who want it most and in the way that is most valuable to that customer.

Running a Program to Make it Stick

A targeted, sustainable program needs to work in the long haul. Remember these tips to make sure your program stays at the top of its game:

⋅  Keep it simple. Don’t frustrate customers by making constant changes or getting too complex with new offers. Start with a simple program that customers understand—simple earning and simple spending. And then keep it that way even as you add touchpoints or offers.

⋅  Advertise so your customers know and remember the perks. Make your rewards clear and known to your customers. Think about where and when you can inform and remind them how the program works, including:

⋅  asking for signups when the customer is completing a purchase,

⋅  making loyalty programs part of your direct mail, display ads or social media advertising campaigns, and

⋅  creating a program outline on your website.

⋅  Send reminders when a customer is a near a reward. Buyers speed up their purchasing when they are nearing a payoff, so remind your customers where they stand via email, mobile app or website personalization.

Keep Track of What’s Working

Also central to a strong program: understanding what works and what doesn’t. Come back for Part III of our discussion and we’ll go over planning your program to collect actionable data.

Elements of E-Commerce | Customer Loyalty Programs

Welcome to Thanx Media’s “Elements of E-Commerce” blog series. Follow along as we wade through the nuts and bolts of e-commerce technologies that you need to know.

Today’s Element is customer loyalty programs; they help you keep customers using your products and services. Customer loyalty is important: existing customers spend about 67% more than new customers according to HubSpot. And shoppers increase their spending by 20% when they are close to getting a reward, according to a University of Chicago study. So it definitely makes sense to focus on keeping existing customers interested and happy. In this Part I of our Customer Loyalty Program discussion we’ll look at options for your company’s program.

What are Customer Loyalty Programs?

Points, rewards, discounts! Sign up today! All of those offers that reward you for shopping, those are a part of a customer loyalty program. So is the gist that you give your customer some cash to incentivize her to keep shopping? Yes and no. Giving customers cash can help bring them back for more, but the bigger goal of a customer loyalty program is to create a continued connection with your customer.

Loyalty programs give you more touchpoints to engage a customer. So use these opportunities to excite them as well as offering price-based promotion.

Types of Customer Loyalty Programs

1.  Points programs—This system relies on points accrued based on behavior, such as making a purchase or bonuses on anniversary dates. The points can be redeemed, including for cash, products or prizes.

⋅  A points system needs to be set up for long-term use and you need to think about how to end the program. If you start a points program, you need to have enough resources to let the program run in the long-term so that your customers can get their expected value from the points they accrue. And have a contingency plan: if the program ends up not working for you, make sure you know what you will give your customers in exchange for their existing points despite the program ending.

2.  Discount & cash-back programs—As a reward for making a purchase or completing a survey, you can give customers special discount codes to entice them to their next purchase. Or you can offer them rewards cash, redeemable towards their next purchase.

3.  Prize programs—Reward customers with valuable prizes when they reach certain benchmarks, including purchase amounts or a number of years as a customer.

4.  Tiered programs—Offer higher levels of rewards, whether it is more points or higher discounts, to customers as they hit higher spending levels.

⋅  Remember that customers might react negatively to being downgraded. Plan for easing customers into a lower tier when they stop meeting your program’s requirements for higher-level rewards to avoid losing them altogether.

5.  Fee-based programs—Charge customers a membership fee that offers them valuable perks. Customers who pay for a membership are likely to feel invested in using it. Think this sounds counter to the give-rewards goal? Amazon’s Prime Membership is a version of a fee-based program that works: Prime members spend more than double the amount spent by non-prime customers.

6.  Co-op programs—This system offers customers a cash dividend based on their purchases, for example a cash dividend in the amount of 5% of the customer’s yearly purchases. The idea here is to make the customer feel invested in the wellbeing of the company; the customer takes part in the health of the business and takes part in the profits.

7.  Coalition programs—These are multi-company benefits that are offered to the customer through a single sign-up. This way a customer can pool her rewards points from purchases at several vendors and use the points flexibly toward a reward at the vendor of her choice.

⋅  Added visibility done right. Partnering can be a clear way to boost your company and your loyalty program’s visibility. Before you enter into a partnership, make sure you’ve thought about the partner’s brand and how it aligns with your own. Also don’t forget to think about how the customer service will be managed; you don’t want a customer who is upset by another vendor to take it out on you.

8.  Rewards based on check-ins not sign-ups—You can also think about keeping track of customers who check-in at your business on Facebook or Foursquare, or who share your social media shout-outs consistently. These customers can be rewarded with discounts or offers to encourage them to keep up their social media sharing.

Next Steps

It’s also important to know how to run a program that actually does its job—keeping your customers happy. Customers are instead annoyed by a lot of loyalty programs: 90% of social media sentiment on loyalty programs (across industries) is negative, a study by Capgemini Consulting finds.

So focus on building a sustainable program that fits your customers; we’ll talk more about how to do that in Part II of our discussion, so be sure to come back. And don’t miss more planning musts in Part III. We’ll go over setting up your program to give you measurable data and how to keep track of the usefulness of your program.

Referral Marketing Part III: How Tech Helps with the When & Where

Thanks for coming back for Part III of our Referral Marketing talks. In Part I we looked at what referral marketing is and why it is important. In Part II we went through content and incentive ideas to get your customers talking. Now we’re going to look at how to run your program with technology that lets you give your customers referral options at all stages.

When and Where Do You Use Referral Marketing

There are so many possibilities for getting your first-time and repeat customers to tell their friends about how much they need and want your products. A quick tip for thinking about when to ask for referrals: think about when your customer is happy or excited about your brand and products.

Think about giving your customer a nudge at some of these points:

·  On a purchase confirmation page. Give your customer options to like and share the product that they obviously liked enough to buy.

·  When they get the product. Did the customer just get the product and is excited that it came in the mail? Making your product or packaging instantly shareable by being picture or video-worthy can capture that energy; include a postcard or thank-you note that reminds your customers to share.

·  After they’ve used the product. Try sending a follow-up email that offers a referral incentive after the customer has had time to test the product and feels more strongly about recommending it.

·  When it’s time to reorder the product or get a new version. Give the customer who has already purchased an added incentive to make their next purchase by offering a referral bonus in a follow-up email.

·  At loyalty anniversary dates. Show your long-term customers some appreciation and build on that goodwill by sending them special referral incentives along with other loyalty programs.

Tech that Makes the When and Where Doable

So you’ve created your plan—you know the style you want to use, your incentives, who you want to reach and when. Now you’ve got to find the right tech that lets you follow through. Where can software help and what do you need?

·  Widgets to make social media sharing easy. You need to make it easy for customers to push out your images and video, and maybe pre-populated taglines. So you need to attach one-click sharing options in a lot of places—images, offers, emails. When thinking about the widgets that are best for you, think about whether your needs are simple or if you want more customization options with more control over design and placement.

·  Automation and personalization controls. If you’re hoping to send targeted referral offers at different times for different customers, triggered by the customer’s actions, you can’t do this manually. You’ll need software that places the right offers with the right purchase confirmation screen or email. There are many options to automate your referral offers, so think about the size of your program and how easily you need to make changes when choosing.

·  Influencer marketing tools. If you are running referral programs along with your influencer marketing programs, make sure your referral tools work with your influencer marketing tools.

·  Analytics tools. Making the most of any marketing plan means looking at what works and reorganizing. With referral programs, you need to track where referrals are coming from—for example, are certain review sites linking to your products? Find a way to make a stronger connection there by creating a special referral program. Which customers are following through when sent a referral? Figure that out to help you decide whether your discount or video-sharing program is strongest.

The right referral marketing software will depend on the kind of program you want to run. Get in touch and we can help you find the right features for your plan.

Referral Marketing Part II: Choosing Your Incentives & Content

Getting the word out through referral marketing is a must, as we saw in Part I of our Referral Marketing discussion. But what is the best way to get customers talking? Choose two things wisely: 1) the incentives for referring a product and 2) the way you grab the attention of the person receiving a referral.

Choosing the Right Referral Marketing Incentive

First, let’s think about the options for asking someone to share products and offers:

⋅  Ask for a referral without any incentive. This is an option that can work at the right moment. Maybe your customers will want to share pictures of your beautiful product and all you have to do is provide a fun hashtag. Maybe on a purchase confirmation screen you can ask the customer to share product images with a quick click.

⋅  Offer the referring customer an incentive to send out referrals (1-sided incentives).

⋅  Discounts or immediate rewards. Think a “Get 10% off your next purchase”-with-five-referral-emails scheme. Offer rewards points in customer loyalty programs, or maybe send out free gifts.

⋅  Contests & Prizes. Instead of giving something that the sender will definitely get (e.g. a savings code), think about offering entry into a contest or sweepstakes for a bigger prize.

⋅  Offer the referring customer something and the receiving customer something (2-sided incentives).

⋅  Discounts or immediate rewards. Think a give-ten-get-ten arrangement; one customer sends out an offer for someone to save 10% and the sending customer gets to save 10% too.

⋅  Stackable rewards. You can offer a sender something for just sending out referrals, and then add an extra incentive if their friend actually buys the product. (This might be a 1-sided or a 2-sided stacked incentive.)

Thinking About the Content You Want to Share

The second piece to plan is what you will ask your customer to share in order to get a new customer’s attention. The key: be creative! Think about your audience and plan around their connection to your company—do you give them something they need or love, and why do they want it? For a ton of inspiration, check out this “Epic List of 74 Referral Programs.” Here are some ideas to get you started:

⋅  Discounts & Offers—This is the 2-sided incentive program idea. Are new customers likely to need a break on price to try your product? If price is important, make sure you are making it easier for new customers get that first taste.

⋅  Don’t forget to think about content within the discount or offer. Make sure that the link or email that you ask your customer to share will make someone want to look at it. That might mean including images or catchy headlines, but whatever you use make sure you’re getting your message across clearly.

⋅  Images or Videos—Is there a funny way to let people know about your brand? Or can you make an informational video that everyone will need to see? Make it, and make it easy to share; then see if people don’t just spread the word.

⋅  Easy to share? If you want people to share links, give them pre-populated taglines that make it easy for them to hit one button to Tweet or Pin.

⋅  Product Design—When you plan your packaging think about whether you can prepare it for easy sharing. Can you make the packaging Insta-worthy? Can you put it in a box that’s begging for an unboxing video?

⋅  Customer Reviews—Are there better ways that you can ask and remind customers to review your products? A review is another way to get that sense of personal recommendation, so don’t overlook this when planning your referral program.

A Few Reminders for Planning

⋅  A referral program shouldn’t be one thing. You should use a mix of these options to target different parts of a customer journey and for different target demographics.

⋅  Think about the likely return and find an incentive that is right for your program and budget. Make your program dynamic, so that different referrals are part of different marketing campaigns.

So how do you manage a referral marketing program, with its different offers, at different times, for different customers? Join us for Part III of our Referral Marketing discussion to dive into some of the technology and automation that help.

Elements of E-Commerce | Referral Marketing: Part 1

Welcome to Thanx Media’s “Elements of E-Commerce” blog series. Follow along as we wade through the nuts and bolts of e-commerce technologies that you need to know.

What is Referral Marketing?

Friends don’t let friends buy junk. Referral marketing looks to that trust—it asks your customers to spread the word about your company and products. Referrals put information and offers in front of new customers with an inherent personal recommendation.

A referral through a marketing program is an email or link sent by-a-friend-to-a-friend telling them to sign up for offers or buy products. The original customer might be given something in return for engaging other people. These incentive arrangements can also be part of influencer or affiliate marketing campaigns.

Word-of-Mouth and Recommendations are the Strongest Advertising

Does referring really work? There’s no question, it does.

An almost hard to believe example is Airbnb’s test referral program. The company offered existing customers cash to use toward future travel if they referred a friend. Almost every one of the referrals sent out actually led to a new Airbnb user! (2,161 existing Airbnb-ers referred 2,107 new users.)

You might question if that was a fluke, but there are so many reasons that referral marketing is one of the strongest ways to advertise:

1.  It’s the thing people trust the most:

⋅  83% of buyers say they trust recommendations by people they know. And 66% trust consumer and editorial opinions. (Nielson.)

⋅  84% of B2B buyers begin their decisionmaking with a referral. (LinkedIn.)

2.  Recommendations lead to high value customers:

⋅  The Harvard Business Review reports that in one case study, referrals led to new customers who were 18% more loyal and had 16% higher sales value.

3.  Referral marketing can have effects beyond the single referral:

⋅  Visibility. Even when referrals don’t lead to new buyers, the very fact of information sharing increases a company’s visibility. Asking a customer to send five referrals will promote your brand awareness, even if only one of those referrals leads to a sale.

⋅  Existing Customer Loyalty. Referral bonuses give your existing customers a reason to stay connected to your brand and products. You can add these incentives to other loyalty programs, doubling up on your customer care and giving you more chances to encourage your existing customers to make referrals.

4.  Most consumers are happy to make recommendations:

(But marketers need to make it happen!)

⋅  83% of satisfied customers are willing to refer a product or service but only 29% actually do. (Texas Tech.)

With all this evidence that it works, it only makes sense that we’re going to help you sort out how to run a strong program. Join us in Part II of our Referral Marketing discussion for ideas on incentives and referral media that will get attention, and Part III for a breakdown of resources and technology that will support a long-running program.

Affiliate Marketing Part II: The Right Publisher for Your Campaign

In Part I of our Affiliate Marketing discussion, we went over the basics—what affiliate marketing is and what affiliate publishers can do for advertisers. But there are so many options, and so now we need to take a look at what type of affiliate advertising will best meet your goals.

Finding the Right Forum

Affiliate marketing can be done in a ton of places—blogs, discussion forums, social media, TV or print media. To choose the right forum for your campaign, it’s important to think about the audience you want to reach and what type of information they are most responsive to. These are some of the online options that let you connect with buyers with different needs:

1.  Content-focused publishers. If you want to reach an audience based on an interest niche, blogs and content-focused websites can be a good source for reaching interested and dedicated readers.

2.  Review-based sites and comparison forums. If your product has a strong competitive advantage or you want to focus on differentiating the product, review sites will reach readers who want that type of research, possibly with the added push of a personal recommendation.

3.  Coupon sites. Want to reach people who are looking for a good deal? Get buyers excited to try your product by making special offers through coupon sites.

4.  Social media partners. Reach out to an audience by creating buzz with social media partners, who can generate likes, follows and even reviews.

5.  Loyalty programs. Partner with sites that offer cashback and other rewards to reach an audience by offering that added incentive to buy.

Thinking about Affiliate Publisher Pay

Part of finding the right partner is working with your budget. Publishers work on different pay agreements, so you’ll need to research which partner fits your budget as well as your audience.

1.  Pay per click (PPC) affiliate marketing. Each time a reader clicks on a link, the advertiser will pay for the click. Clicks don’t necessarily mean revenue, so make sure you have a plan to stay within budget when using PPC. For more tips on planning for PPC, check out Elements of E-Commerce: Paid Digital Marketing Using Pay Per Click.

2.  Cost per action or cost per lead (CPA/CPL). With CPA, payment is not made until some step beyond the reader clicking the link is completed—maybe the reader has to buy a product, or sign up for a newsletter. When the reader does that triggering action, the advertiser pays the publisher.

3.  Cost per impression (CPI). Here, the advertiser pays a publisher for a certain number of times that the publisher’s page is viewed. Again, this doesn’t tie payment to any earned revenue, but that may not matter if the goal of your campaign is increasing the visibility of your product.

Entering the Right Partnership

If the point of an affiliate marketing campaign is to a get an audience to think of you because of your alignment with your affiliate publisher, the best partner is one that feels like an extension of your company. Here are a few things to consider before you decide that you want any of these partners talking about you:

⋅  Will you be able to reach the broad or niche audience you need with this partner?

⋅  What is the affiliate publisher’s brand and is it one that resonates with your buyers?

⋅  Is the publisher following regulations and not using bots to drive traffic?

Wading through all of these options doesn’t have to be something you do on your own. Get in touch and let us help you find the right affiliates and shape a campaign that’s fitted to your goals.