Rich Clark Marketing

Opinions from Rich Clark one of the UK's leading Marketing Professionals


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Help for Senior Marketers Looking for a Job

Job Hunting for Senior ProfessionalsThe economy was a little shaky at the turn of the year, with many traditional retailers hardly setting the world alight. Sadly the global pandemic accelerated a few casualties and highlighted issues in the business models of others.  As a result, there seems to be an unprecedented number of people looking for work, even those at a senior level that business previously turned to, in order to help navigate their way through various crisis.

Sadly, even businesses that haven’t fallen have removed amazingly talented people from senior marketing roles, taking a short-term view over medium and long-term. I set-up a WhatsApp group to help Senior Marketing professionals, either in this position or open to helping others. As a result, I am posting this article in the hope it can offer, help, hope and above all do some good for anybody searching for a role.

I won’t break it down to a top tips but I will break it in to sections. Each person that has contributed will be referenced and I will link to their profiles. After all if you like their wisdom or input, why not connect?

The sections I will break this in to are:

The hunt

The application

How to get noticed

The interview

Tackling bad news

Celebrating success

The hunt

Remember job hunting is not one way. If you have reached a senior marketing position, there is a good chance you have achieved over your career and delivered results. Very few people get so lucky that they reach the top.  Sometimes it can feel helpless. Sometimes the panic sets in and you want to be seen by as many people as possible and the temptation is there to up frequency and forget about quality. Don’t.

As Chris McPartlin says “be choosy”.  Chris highlights potential issues with your CV being on every platform, particularly the content aggregators. “Don’t take the shotgun approach when releasing your CV over the net. Retain some control”

“Remember, you’re C-level or a director. The more your CV pops up and the longer its available on the web, you will be perceived as an actively searching person. You will get noticed by the wrong people. Questions may also be raised, as your CV would have been out there for a long time”

Probably the most important thing to consider at the start of the hunt is what do you definitely want from your next role. What don’t you want. What are your compromise areas? Sometimes money is not the most important thing. You might need a better work/life balance, you may need a challenge or you may want to work in a sector that you are passionate about. Just be clear, this is really important for yourself, but also for any would-be recruiter.

As Rachael Pettit adds “Speak with your contacts and let them know you’re looking, it’s surprising how many senior roles are not posted on traditional job sites, rather word of mouth recommendations. I’ve also found that talking to contacts, be it founders, ex-colleagues, mentors has really helped to sharpen what is the right opportunity for me”

Andy Turba believes organisation is paramount “Create a daily schedule. Juggling randomly between job search, talking to connections on LinkedIn or answering emails will eventually go against you and your productivity will go down. Try to write down your schedule the night before. This will leave you with time to concentrate on specific tasks. Making you more efficient and stop your mind wandering from place to place or task to task”

So the message is clear, take control of the process and make it a job in its own right.

The application

Where applicable, the application can be one of the most significant stages. It could be what separates you from shortlist to scrap paper bin.  When applying for a role and written content is requested, make sure you understand the role, you understand the spec and you understand how your experience fits. All sounds obvious, but recruiters have to sift through tons of applicants. Look at LinkedIn jobs at the moment. Jobs get posted and within a couple of hours, hundreds of applications.

Nicola Vidal expands on this with the following 5 step approach

1 Read the spec thoroughly and highlight the skills you match

2 Take your time. Prepare a draft letter. But genuinely tailor it. Better to apply with 5 well crafted applications than 10 rushed ones

3 Use a friendly tone. Be professional but sell yourself. Buzz words are needed if they are relevant

4 Be concise and relevant.The application should cover off what is required. No literary prizes will be won

5 Speak their language. Tailor the application specifically to the job spec

How to Get Noticed

As most senior professionals will tell you, the power of your network is really important. This is not only true when you are looking for a role but also when you have landed one.  Network with people but in the right way. Simply being a LinkedIn connection isn’t networking.  Interact and offer some value to your network, otherwise, what is their motivation for helping somebody that is simply a LinkedIn connection, especially if they could be competitive and in a similar role.

Roger Binks was made redundant at the start of the pandemic and highlights some of the things he has done to get noticed on his LinkedIn profile

“authoring posts to demonstrate my back ground but [importantly] with an edge and writing short papers/articles [for the same reason].  I have taken care to research the right subject, hash tags and people to add to the posts – all designed to maximise reach and audience quality. ”

When I speak to anybody that has successfully found a role or is actively looking, the same advice comes up. Networking is key. Make sure are seen and are either known or become associated with the right things. Be an active member of people’s networks without becoming overly intrusive.

The Interview

Interviews can be tricky at the best of times. With the current restrictions on ‘normal’ working practices, physically meeting for interviews is nigh on impossible. Video calls can often be difficult to judge. Sometimes peoples reactions are difficult to read. Not getting the signals when somebody is about to talk can cause awkward silences or even moments of overtalking.  Add to the fact that technology is not always our friend, so speed and connectivity can cause concerns.  But everybody is aware of this. We can all make allowances. My best advice for interviews from a personal perspective is based on two factors. Be yourself. If the people interviewing you don’t like your personality or there is no rapport, chances are you won’t fit in anyway. Second, always listen.  This is important in normal circumstances but even more so on video calls. Read signs when they are there and empathise with what is being said (if you feel empathy). Remember, you are being interviewed and were probably selected due to your experience or background. There is an interest in you and you have something that the business could use. Otherwise you wouldn’t be there.

The awkward questions

Regular ones include what do you think about our brand? How could we improve our site? What would you change about our marketing?  You do need to know answers to these and you need an understanding of the company. Equally you can’t know everything about them and thats fine. But when tackling these questions, be honest, you need to answer with what you would do. Again, you won’t succeed in the role once you land it if you have to adapt your ideology massively.

Chris McPartlin cements this view “… be yourself. Senior level professionals should demonstrate confidence and self-esteem. You know what you’re talking about and most likely have over a decade of experience under your belt. Act accordingly. It doesn’t mean being disrespectful or acting arrogantly. Show confidence. Show conviction.”

In my opinion you also need to show something above the the technical aspects. Show you can be a leader.

Tackling Bad News

Possibly the most difficult part of a recruitment process. When somebody gives you the bad news that you haven’t been successful, particularly if you have massively invested in a process or its a dream job.  This hurts, you wouldn’t be human if it didn’t

From my personal perspective, remember this isn’t personal. Most people in senior marketing roles will have had experience of turning down candidates that have been good.  It should never be personal.

Always push the person giving you the bad news for a constructive set of feedback. Just saying, “sorry you were great but the other person had more experience” or “we just decided to go with an internal candidate” doesn’t help you.  Ask for positives and negatives from the people you spoke to.  You can learn from the process and often learn more from being declined than the one you land.

Celebrating Success

Whilst the obvious time to celebrate success is when you land that role, remember to do it in the right way. Your network should and probably will wish you luck, but many are out of work at the moment, through no fault of their own. Do it humbly and offer support and encouragement to others in your network.

It is also important to celebrate those small wins along the way. Getting shortlisted. Really smashing that interview. Creating something that genuinely helps you and others.

Please remember that it is important to celebrate success. Landing that job is great, but thats just the start. Make sure you land well. Have a plan and make sure the role is a success.

The End

I do hope some of you found this useful and can apply some of the logic to your own search. We have tried not to include the obvious like be happy or keep your chin up. These are givens.

I would love to know what you think, so please let me know in the comments or by dropping me a line of my LinkedIn.  One thing I have learned, is that it is very rewarding to help others and support them.

Contributors

Please also take the time to look at the people that added comments and experience to this post

Roger Binks

Chris McPartlin

Rachael Pettit

Andy Turba

Nicola Vidal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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My Top Tips For New Marketeers

Top Tips

Top Tips For New Marketeers

It is after much deliberation and even consulting with colleagues, that I have decided to write a few of my top tips for people starting out in a career in Marketing. Marketing can be quite daunting to outsiders or those about to embark in a career in the discipline, so help is always needed.  I was worried that younger people setting out on their journey might look at something from an old fart like me and think, how is that relevant. But people did say, “your experience is amazing and to have advice from a well respected professional would be valuable” to quote one person.

So here I am, with a feeling of endorsement for the post in hand, I bring you my top tips. If you want text book, intellectual, corporatisms you can quote to show everybody how smart you are, look elsewhere. This is real and personal advice from the heart and just playing to my experience.

Feel free to comment. Add your own. Or even just criticise this, I have a thick skin.

1.Don’t chase money or titles

It can be really tempting to chase a job with a great title or the most money.  That is sometimes the case even later in your career, but its not the best thing.  Your first job is critical, but ever move you make throughout your career should be for a reason. Pick a first job you believe you will be passionate about. Good employers will forgive a lack of experience or naivety for somebody that is passionate about their role and their company.  The next step is one that is critical. I have seen many people early in their career demand more money or a promotion so early on, often before they have really proven themselves. Early on, sacrifice money and titles for the space to learn. If you aren’t developing or improving thats the time to think about a new role either within the company or elsewhere. But as with that first role, pick something that is right for you and plays strategically in to where you want you career to go.

2. When negotiating with third parties never accept the first offer

Salespeople, agencies and pretty much anybody in a commercial role will be trying to maximise the return for their employer and often for themselves. Us Brits aren’t great at negotiating or bartering.  But this is key. Create value for your employer by never accepting the first offer and rarely accepting the second. If you can’t move on price, try to negotiate something extra. Its not cheeky. Its nor insulting, its business.  The place I most learned what is possible was at boohoo, where every penny was counted as if it was our own, and possibly the best (and cheekiest) negotiator I have ever encountered was the then CEO Mahmud Kamani. I would sometimes cringe at his approach and think demands were unbelievable, but it nearly always got results.

3. Don’t compromise yourself

In any situation, never forget who you are. Yes it can be difficult climbing that corporate ladder. You will see people creating fake friendships to help them get on. The corporate laugh is penetrable when the boss makes a laugh. The tell tale brown nosing is visible from a mile off. It might help you, but you need to feel you have earned what you get and on merit. You need to feel comfortable that you have been true to yourself. If you can’t be, maybe the place isn’t right for you.

4. Build your network

As you progress in your career, a network is really important. I don’t just mean loads of connections on LinkedIn, take the time to speak to people, learn and show a willingness to listen.  Your contacts will help you in future career moves, but more importantly a network of relevant people you can trust and know will do a good job, is priceless as you move onwards and upwards in your career.

5. Lose any arrogance

Arrogance and thinking that because you have an amazing degree or some experience, is one of the worse traits. Have confidence in what you know, demonstrate your ability and knowledge but don’t push it further than is necessary, which links in to

6. Always learning

Accept you are never the finished article. I have been doing this for years, across various roles, business and industries.  Even at a Director or CMO level I am still learning. Never refuse opportunities to develop, even if you feel it is outside your immediate discipline always learn. It could be from your colleagues in finance that can shape your commercial acumen. It could be colleagues in the HR department that help you understand have people behave. It could even be as simple as the receptionist who has a different view of the world to you, which helps you have a more rounded perspective.

7. Understand your offer and your customer

The text book definition of marketing, effectively focuses on identifying customer needs and responding to that need with that they want.  So to play true to this, take time to learn about the company and products or services you are marketing. Go above and be the most informed person you can be. Ask the stupid questions, that everybody else won’t ask.  Really live who your customer is, learn what makes them tick and understand what is relevant to them. You can do this without masses of research as long as you understand who they are.

And finally

8. Be results focussed

When I mentioned this to most people, they immediately think about the trackable, e.g. what sales can be achieved or what ROI is acceptable. With any spend quantifiable objectives or targets should be set. But this is equally show you are somebody that can deliver. Find out the pains of your team, your manager or the organisation and see if you can influence solutions to those.  Or simply show a great can-do attitude, rather than being that one that finds a million excuses or reasons why something can’t be done.

There are two types of people. Radiators and drains. Don’t be a drain

If you got this far, well done, thats quite a lot of commitment. I hope you found it useful, interesting or at the very least allowed you to lose some time.  Please let me know what you think and share with anybody you think might benefit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to gain social media followers


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Growing your brands Social following

OK, let me just start this post off by dismissing any concerns that you may have about me thinking followers are the most important measure for your social. Put simply it isn’t. But whilst we all outwardly say your followers, likes friends etc aren’t important, there is that element of vanity that means we all pay attention.

How to gain social media followers

How to gain social media followers

When looking at these numbers in context of a brand, there are genuine reasons why you need to consider follower numbers, but again, don’t make it your only focus.  A good example of this was when I first joined N Brown Group. We had a focus on growing Social Media for Simply Be in the US to enable us to generate organic traffic, buzz and awareness.  However the follower count on Instagram was very low (low double digit thousands).  This prevented people taking us seriously in the social space and caused a restricted engagement level from our audience.

We set a target of 100k Instagram followers to enable us to look credible to the audience, which in turn would improve engagement and drive organic KPIs.  Whilst I won’t go in to the specifics of what we did, the following tips on how to grow your social following will give some clues.

We hit our 100k Instagram target on SBE USA instagram

We hit our 100k Instagram target on SBE USA instagram

1. Be part of and lead conversations

The most important part of any social media approach is to be part of the conversations that your audience are interested and engaged in. Be relevant.  The days of brands not following and not engaging with their community are over.

You need to know who your audience is. Don’t deviate from that to chase followers. Be credible and relevant to those people and they will share, which should gain you more followers

Obviously there are some hygiene factors that you also need to ensure are in place:

  • Complete profile – make it interesting, provide as much info as concisely as possible and add links if relevant – this is your opportunity to convince the doubtful viewer
  • Whilst ensuring your content is always relevant is the first rule, but don’t forget to use keywords you want to be known for, hashtags etc
  • Make sure your feed is valuable and varied. Depending on the platform, sharing relevant posts is a good way to be part of the larger conversation but also allows you to tap in to other audiences.

2. Be active and engaged

Slightly linking to the previous point. People are often looking at how their numbers are perceived and from a very basic level, they do clean up the accounts that they follow. Make sure you aren’t one of the accounts they put on their consideration list to be unfollowed.

Test posting frequencies and test what content works well and when.  Comment on other relevant accounts post. Communicate with your audience, seek out others and communicate with them.

For others to consider engaging with you, make sure you are present on your target platforms. Make your account worth following.

Now the counter to this is, don’t overdo it. You can become a pest, post too much and cause people to unfollow you as well. Testing is key.

3. Always Listen

Its important to always listen to your customers

Its important to always listen to your customers

Both points up to now have been more about your behaviour and what you post. But equally important is how you respond to your audience.

Now the obvious thing to mention here is genuinely listen to your followers, its surprising how many brands don’t read or respond to comments.  You should also have a means to track sentiment to your brand and understand the feelings and perception to your brand that may not necessarily be directly posted to your platforms.

You can adapt your content strategy to help build on positive views or to address any negative perceptions.

A potentially less obvious point is look at how your followers are responding to the content you post.  If they continually speak with their feet by not engaging, their could be something wrong with what you are producing.  If they respond to a certain type, don’t just think you have the winning formula, but obviously look to see how you can expand on that theme. Don’t become a one trick pony though.

Remember, there is no shame in posting something and if it gets no engagement, take it down.  Its not interesting to your audience so it doesn’t deserve a place on your feed.  Even if it looks beautiful and you have spent time and money on the content, if your audience doesn’t like it, why is it there?

4. Build networks not just followings

Going right back to the start of this post, you shouldn’t just focus on the number of followers you have. You should be building a genuine network or community. Do this by seeking out relevant people in your network that you should be associated with. Sometimes this could simply be the accounts or people you follow. Don’t be tempted to just follow accounts with large follower base, follow relevant people, interesting people, people that you may want to share content from or engage with

Have a reason to be followed and reason why people would want to be part of your network. Could you post other accounts content on your platforms, share the audience reach and increase your follower base and that of the other account.

Its not just about influencers. Yes influencers are the new celebrities and depending on your sector, they can play an amazingly important role. But consider other brands, consider events, consider your customers. Bring those in that can enhance your network and get them active.

5. Have a point of view

Most importantly your platforms need to stand for something. It might be stunning creative. It might be a cheeky edge. It might even be deliberately controversial. Whatever your point of view you need to have one. Who wants to follow a vanilla account?

6. Hashtags

Use relevant hashtags

Use relevant hashtags

On some platforms (at the time of writing) hashtags are still useful. At this stage primarily Twitter and Instagram.

  • Don’t overdo the hashtag use though as it can make posts look desperate or unprofessional
  • Be careful on the hashtags you use. Research them before you post. Make sure the content is right to be seen next to your brand
  • Make them relevant to the content. Its easy to jump on trending topics and you might gain some short-term followers, but why would you want them if they aren’t relevant and why would they hang around if the hashtag or content posted isn’t what you are about

7. Don’t forget the traditional

Now this is an obvious one. But most brands have other marketing channels that they use.  Take the opportunity to include your focus social channels on all other channels.  Don’t forget printed material. Don’t forget outdoor. Don’t forget TV. Your site and emails are key. But if you move goods around the country, use your vehicles, receipts, delivery notes etc

If you can round all of this up with one campaign theme that lends itself to social then you are on to a winner.

The campaign idea #WeAreUs that me and the team came up with when I was at boohoo was a classic example of this. It put social at the heart of everything we were doing and also created a movement that our customers and target customers wanted to be part of.  It was such a success the #WeAre idea was adopted by many and is still in use.  That in itself is a fantastic endorsement of what we did.

Summary

Remember, followers numbers should not be the be all and end all of your social objectives. Whilst it is often frowned upon, depending on where you are in your evolution, it is a valid KPI as long as its in conjunction with other KPIs, for example engagement.

Know why you want to increase followers and what you hope that will deliver. Have a target in mind and be as obsessed with that target as you would with others, but again not in isolation.

Above all, recognise it as a little bit of vanity and put it in context against your other objectives.

Finally, be aware of fake followers as they won’t last and don’t be tempted to buy followers.  You really don’t want bots or accounts that just repost or follow paying platforms in your base.

Hopefully these tups are of interest and help. I would love to know the views of my readers so feel free to add in the comments or of course, tweet me on Twitter

Finally, don’t get obsessed with it all. Watch this video by DitchTheLabel to see what taking your social life too seriously can do


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Affiliate Marketing (for Merchants) – Part 1

Affiliate Marketing (For the Merchant)- Part 1

Long gone are the days when affiliates used to solely be one man in his bedroom, hacking about with some clever code.  In addition most merchants are more savvy to the opportunities affiliates can present when working in partnership.  Gone are the easy pickings of brand bidding and in the main, gone are the days when merchants used to treat affiliates as a second-class channel.

Affiliate Marketing is one of the most established online marketing channels.  Affiliation can provide everything from volume of clicks or UVs, e-Mail address collection and most commonly sales or leads.  Part One of my guide is centred around the more novice internet marketing professional, call it a beginners guide if you like.

Working out the commercials

The main benefit the channel provides merchants is a manageable approach to customers where costs can easily be controlled.  Merchants should know their margins and in turn know how much margin they can afford to give in terms of a commission (commission being the operative word, more later).  If the programme operates on a CPA basis the maths are straightforward.  If my product makes retails at £100 and I make 20% margin, my profit is £20.  I then know that if I want a 4:1 return on my spend my CPA would be set at £5.  Simple.  Remember if you are using an affiliate network you need to account for their over-ride (standard industry practice is 30% of commission.  In this case it would be an additional £1.50 (which already negatively effects your ROI.

Tip 1 – When working out your CPA to hit ROI targets, build in any network over-rides or additional costs to understand a true Net CPA and ROI.

Tip 2 – The networks will hate me for saying this, but the over-ride can normally be negotiated (if you are a merchant of either perceived value or revenue potential).

Choosing a network or going direct?

This is an age old debate within the sector.  The majority of merchants use an affiliate agency such as Affiliate Window or Commission Junction.  The benefits of using a network (even if you have an internal affiliate team) are numerous.  The major ones from my experience are the fact that payment to affiliates and expensive programme admin are taken care of.  Affiliates are a networks business and as such the platforms are built to take into account affiliate needs (much cheaper than merchants doing it from scratch).  Finally, the fact that the networks know all the affiliates and should be able to guide you on who to partner with.  They can also do some of the lengthy selling-in and negotiation with both established and up and coming affiliates, that direct merchants may not be aware of.

But what about Amazon?  Yes Amazon are one of the key success stories in terms of going direct.  However their entire model (as a vanilla pureplay) meant that they could set the system up from scratch.  The prices and range are so broad that affiliates fight to work with Amazon, rather than the opposite way round with a majority of merchants.

The main benefit of the Amazon approach is that they know their categories better than any network ever can.  They also know their stock and pricing in real-time rather than relying on a third party to update feeds.  They can speak passionately about promotions and campaigns and the affiliates hear it directly.

Tip 3 – Take the best of both approaches. Use the networks to manage and administer the account but work jointly on relationships with key affiliates

That leads me neatly on to the point I told you to keep an eye out for in the earlier post.

Commission

Affiliates will always want more as this is their bread and butter.  Merchants will inevitably want to pay less as it hits their margins.

My view is that if you treat the outlay as commission you should hit a fair level.  I have always considered my top revenue driving affiliates as a virtual sales force.  They are my sales people out on the road that can get people’s attention and drive them to my virtual shop window.

Like a physical sales force, this virtual salesforce will be motivated by money.  However the virtual sales force may be even more motivated by the commission they can earn.  This isn’t due to greed but related to the fact that the majority of this virtual salesforce has to place their own investment in.  That may be monetary through Google adwords or through effort and opportunity cost through the likes of SEO or social media.

Whilst your virtual sales force will be reactive to the commission structures you put in place and any additional incentives, the majority are also pragmatic enough to realise that you can only reach a certain level, before it becomes impossible for you to maintain.

As with physical sales forces, incentives can prove extremely motivational.  A push to go the extra mile.  Whether that is by taking advantage of a sponsorship property you have and offering tickets.  Inviting affiliates to attend a bespoke event or cold hard cash.  All can influence an affiliate.  However with the more experiential incentives, you shouldn’t necessarily expect a parallel increase in revenue.

Tip 4 – Treat your affiliates as a virtual sales force. Reward them and the commission negotiations are normally easier and fairer all round.

Types of affiliates

As I said in the intro of the post, gone are the days of one man in his bedroom trying to earn a quick buck.  Nowadays, affiliates are some of the brightest online marketers or smartest developers.  You must define your strategy and decide what affiliates you should work with and to what level and on what basis.  Below are a few examples of different types of affiliates

Cashback – this is possibly the biggest area of growth within affiliate marketing.  Sometimes thought of as the pariah within the affiliate community, the growth is in part due to the economic climate.  Essentially, these affiliates pass on all or part of the commission you give them, directly back to the customer.  Sites such as Quidco and TopCashBack fit into this category

Loyalty – the name is slightly misleading in terms of the loyalty is normally with the affiliate and little loyalty will be passed on to the merchant.  Essentially working in the same way as Cashback, except rather than cold hard cash being placed into a customers bank account, points are awarded.  Examples of these are Nectar and Airmiles.

Voucher Codes – if Cashback sites are though of by some affiliates as pariahs, then voucher codes are seen as bandits.  Essentially these sites provide details of all the codes available, people click on a link to reveal the code and generally a cookie is placed on the customer’s PC, meaning that affiliate gets the commission.  Its at this point I feel compelled to say that these views are not my own.  Both Cashback and voucher code sites perform specific roles within a merchants mix.  Whilst I accept some cannibalisation will take place, there are a number of customers that wouldn’t buy without this bargain mechanic.  Examples of this type of affiliate include MyVoucherCodes and VoucherCodes.co.uk

PPC – there are some affiliates that specialise in PPC (sponsored terms in the search engines).  PPC can be a grey area in affiliates and you need to have strict control over who can bid and on what terms.  If you don’t have a PPC agency or any internal expertise, these affiliates can provide great top-up resource to your own PPC activity

Tip 5 – Understand your PPC strategy and place clear T&Cs in your programme on PPC restrictions, such as brand bidding, using your brand name in the URL, direct linking etc

Content – this is potentially where affiliates started out.  People generally with a personally interest, creating great content that they just want people to read.  These sites then realised that they could potentially make money from their sites and started selling advertising.  This could be anything from one person with their site on a topic of personal interest such as making orange food, to more established content sites such as The Sun.  Although blogs are rightly considered social media, I would place them in this section.  Nowadays blogs seem to be more geared towards providing useful content and information as opposed to the web log (diary) approach that was intended.

Price Comparison – another type of affiliate that isn’t normally relevant to all merchants is Price Comparison.  The standard of these types of sites are varied.  Some use bespoke software that allows them to scrape the web for up to date prices and deals.  The others (more akin to traditional price comparison engines) take a feed once a day and produce pricing information.  Networks have developed increasingly sophisticated tools to simplify the process for affiliates to add Price Comparison functionality to their content (the best example being Affiliate Window’s, Shop Window).  There are some broad price comparison engines available through affiliate networks, however the more successful ones for merchants tend to be the more focussed engines such as Whiteboxdeals, a Price Comparison engine specialising in large domestic appliances such as washing machines and ovens.

Social Media – with the low cost of entry of social media and the advances in affiliate technology from networks means a new wave of affiliates are emerging.  These are the ones that have embraced the newer technologies such as Twitter and Facebook.  Whilst all the research indicates that recommendation by a friend, either in person or online, is the most powerful tool, please be aware.  Some people using social media tools are not just making recommendations to their network but creating brand accounts.  This is especially true in Twitter where minimal dev work is needed.  That being said, there are a number of affiliates that have made social media work and come up with creative solutions or use an established network.

Tip 6 – If you consider using Social Media affiliates, ensure your T&Cs are very clear in terms of people using your brand name.  Also, vet applications very carefully.  Some people end up spamming contacts, which reflects badly on the merchant.

OK, so that’s it for Part 1.  In part 2 I get a bit more practical, rather than just an introduction.  I will look at what types of affiliates different sectors/merchants could be best placed using.  I will look at which affiliates and approaches you could use for different stages of a business of product lifecycle and I will also review the methods of building relationships and rapport with affiliates either directly or through the networks.  I may even explore the age-old debate about single Vs multiple network.  If there is anything else you would like me to cover leave me a comment here.

Finally, here is a recap of the tips

Tip 1 – Build in all costs to determine CPA (inc network over-ride)

Tip 2 – Negotiate your network over-ride

Tip 3 – Take a collaborative approach with your network to managing affiliate relationships

Tip 4 – Treat your affiliates as a virtual sales force

Tip 5 – Understand your own PPC strategy and reflect this in your PPC T&Cs

Tip 6 – Have clear T&Cs on affiliate use of Social Media and tightly manage applications

If there is anything else you would like me to cover leave me a comment here.