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How to craft an effective affiliate marketing campaign for the holidays

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On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…Personalized promo codes, paid search keywords, and gift guides in a pear tree. Or something like that.

By early fall, affiliate marketers tell us that most holiday marketing plans should be set or nearly set given things like publisher inventory scarcity and influencer calendars filling up.

“[Affiliate’s] not like a social or email campaign that you can get out a couple days before Black Friday or Cyber Monday,” Marshall Nyman, founder and CEO of affiliate marketing consultancy NYMO & Co, told us. “The next two weeks are kind of the finish line before people have to have everything hashed out and decided for Q4.”

As brands finalize the details for their end-of-year campaigns, what are the best strategies to make the most of the season of giving?

Less is more

One of the main benefits of affiliate marketing is the number of touchpoints available to reach consumers, said Karl Holzwarth, director of affiliate and influencer at digital marketing agency Group 8A, which counts brands like Theory, Robert Barakett, and Echelon as clients.

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“We can use affiliate to do paid social, we can use affiliate to do paid search, we can use affiliate to do influencer,” he said. “There’s nowhere we can’t go.”

In the last year, Holzwarth said he’s seen affiliate marketing budgets shift toward cost-per-click (CPC) media placements, where publishers write articles promoting brands and are compensated based on article clicks.

But despite the plethora of affiliate options, both new and old, Holzworth said brands should step back and consider how many products and offers are being thrown at customers and publishers around the holidays, and therefore be strategic about where they’re investing.

“I think we’re doing ourselves a disservice by bombarding folks with irrelevant information because we’re not taking the time to consider the partnership from everyone’s perspective,” he said.

Time is money

In an ideal world, Holzwarth said marketers would speak to their customers to figure out what brought someone to their brand or a competitor. Beyond that, he said doing a deep dive on performance data and budget from existing campaigns can help hone Q4 strategies.

“You might find money by doing an internal audit of, ‘Oh, I’m paying 8% [commission rates]. All my competitors are paying four. I can still win by paying six. So let me take that 2% and do something else with it,’” he said.

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According to Nyman, brands should send product offerings to publishers as soon as possible to help secure limited placement in things like gift guides—especially if they don’t have an existing relationship with those publishers.

“It’s really just figuring out which publishers are most aligned with my brand or product, and then getting in front of them to understand what their offerings are for Q4,” he said.

Given ad oversaturation and publisher rate increases in Q4, Nyman said he often recommends brands spend less in Q4 and focus on connecting with publishers they’ve had success with over the year to help ensure coverage, whether paid or organic.

“Affiliate marketing is a sales job. It’s getting after people and getting them to promote you,” he said. “You’ve got to be the squeaky wheel.”

One way to generate interest with publishers and influencers is the offer of exclusivity, Matt Wool, CEO of affiliate management agency Acceleration Partners, told us. “That’s going to get them to be much more interested than if you’re just giving them the same 10% offer that you’re plastering on the internet in general.”

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Consider the economy

With a dip in holiday spending expected this year, Wool said he’s interested to see whether lower-cost brands excel in their affiliate campaigns because of additional discounts offered.

He said he expects the messaging to change to meet consumers where they are. “I think that you’re going to see a lot of brands trying to position their products as have-to-haves, as opposed to nice-to-haves because people are going to be more wary of discretionary spending,” he said.

Wool said he expects to see more investment in influencer marketing and third-party reviews, in addition to publishers, to help convince people that something is worth spending money on.

“People are making choices between rent and holiday gifts, and those are really hard choices,” he said. “They’re going to be really picky about what they want to spend their holiday dollars on. So I think every brand needs to recognize that and think, ‘How can I work with publishers and creators to position what I have in that environment?’”

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Set Your Team up for Success and Let Them Browse the Internet Faster

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Set Your Team up for Success and Let Them Browse the Internet Faster

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

According to TeamStage, 31 percent of employees waste about a half hour each day, and the top 10 percent of them can waste as much as three hours in a day. Part of that might be attitude, but the other part might be hangups caused by internet speed and advertisements. To nip that lost time in the bud, consider equipping yourself or your team with a tool to help stay on task.

From April 15 through 21, this five-year subscription to Control D Some Control Plan is on sale for just $34.97 (reg. $120). This is the best price for this deal online. This tool is designed to help users browse and use the internet faster while also blocking ads.

Control D is described as a “one-touch solution” for taking control over the productivity of your computer and internet usage. The deal supports use for up to ten devices, and it empowers each user to block advertisements, enjoy faster browsing, and set internet safety rules and restrictions for kids.

Control D’s bandwidth is substantial. It can accommodate up to 10,000 custom rules, block more than 300 servers, support multiple profiles, and unlimited usage. This robust and well-designed tool is a reliable option for any business leader who wants to liberate themselves or team members from distractions online.

Control D is rated a perfect 5/5 stars on Product Hunt.

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Remember that from April 15 through 21, this 5-year subscription to Control D Some Control Plan is on sale for just $34.97 (reg. $120)—the best price on the web.

StackSocial prices subject to change.

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Grab Microsoft Project Professional 2021 for $20 During This Flash Sale

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Grab Microsoft Project Professional 2021 for $20 During This Flash Sale

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

If you’re in charge of a business and you don’t have a clear understanding of how to approach projects in an organized and effective manner, that’s a problem. Like many leaders before you, consider leaning on software that’s designed to streamline the project workflow for companies representing a wide range of industries.

A rate that will only be available from April 19 through 22, you can get Microsoft Professional 2021 for just $19.97 (reg. $249).

This well-reviewed software comes with a range of pre-built templates that you can use to set your project off on the right foot. It supports a number of helpful functions like building complex schedules with varying timelines, auto-populating those schedules in instances where it can, and submitting timesheets that can be distinguished by project work and non-project work.

Some additional features of Microsoft Project Professional that can help entrepreneurs and their teams include what-if scenario generation capabilities. Microsoft Project Professional also allows you to sync projects on your local server with those online, which is massively helpful for remote teams.

Its comprehensive and well-curated offerings are part of why Project Professional is rated an average of 4.7/5 stars on the Entrepreneur Store.

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Don’t miss this limited-time opportunity to make a worthwhile investment in your business for the price of a beer at the ball game.

A price that will only last from April 19 through 22, you can get Microsoft Professional 2021 for just $19.97 (reg. $249).

StackSocial prices subject to change.

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AI Will Transform the Workplace. Here’s How HR Can Prepare for It.

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AI Will Transform the Workplace. Here's How HR Can Prepare for It.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Our workplaces are about to undergo an unprecedented level of transformation, and HR will take center stage. Artificial intelligence will dramatically reshape HR in a way that goes beyond recruiting, hiring and talent management. Leadership teams at all levels need to embrace this change to transform and lead their organizations forward.

It’s the people, and not the technology, that makes AI initiatives a success. Intrapreneurs, in particular, are the driving force behind it. As I shared in Fearless Innovation, I noticed this when I was working on the innovation agenda for the Great Places to Work study — the most innovative companies were those that had a leadership team that was embracing intrapreneurship and were open to change.

HR is the beating heart of any organization, and as such, it needs to take center stage in both adopting and leading ethical and innovative AI transformation across the organization.

Related: How Artificial Intelligence Is Reinventing Human Resources

4 tectonic shifts AI will drive in HR

1. A new wave of massive reskilling

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As AI becomes more prominent across business functions, the need for new skills will only grow. Forty percent of enterprise leaders believe that their workforce would need to reskill as a result of AI and machine learning. In fact, research shows almost a third of all hours worked in the U.S. could be automated by 2030.

All of us need to reskill to some extent to be relevant in the AI era. Not only would people need to re-train, but generative AI is introducing a whole host of professions that have been non-existent until recently, from AI ethicists to human-AI interaction designers. Some of these roles might sound futuristic, yet they are becoming increasingly relevant as technology advances.

2. The great restructure

As automation takes center stage across more business functions, there will be the inevitable need for organizations to restructure and rethink how they work. This transition will not only involve the integration of new technologies but also introduce a shift in the workforce dynamics. Intrapreneurs will need to identify gaps both in skills and operational processes and forge brand-new roles for themselves and those they manage. HR must play a key role in enabling a smooth and easy transition in this regard. The transition will not be smooth or easy, and it’s only HR that has the capability to make it impactful.

3. Arrival of “digital humans”

“Digital human” may sound like an oxymoron, but that’s the term that’s starting to appear in business and operational plans. More roles, regardless of industry, are becoming digitally enhanced where some form of AI assistance is embedded in their everyday work. A real-life example is the introduction of the digital nurse — AI-powered healthcare agents which have already been proven to outperform human nurses in certain tasks.

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Imagine the impact these digital roles will have on the workforce the more sophisticated and prevalent they become. Eventually, HR will need to create policies and systems in place that account for this new type of “staff augmentation.”

4. Regulating the robot

The threat of AI bias and misuse is serious. Not only can the technology put many jobs at peril, but potential improper implementation can expose organizations to serious liability and negatively affect the workforce. From avoiding bias to inclusivity, HR teams play a critical role in the ethical deployment and management of AI technologies.

HR professionals will be tasked with navigating the delicate balance between leveraging AI for efficiency and ensuring that its application upholds fairness, privacy and non-discrimination.

Related: How to Successfully Implement AI into Your Business — Overcoming Challenges and Building a Future-Ready Team

What HR intrapreneurs must do to embrace AI the right way

The future of work is being shaped by AI adoption, and its success hinges on the right approach from the outset. My experience shows that for successful organizations, one universal trait stands out: the presence of change agents. Every organization, regardless of size, benefits from intrapreneurs who are open to change and committed to spearheading transformation efforts. These intrapreneurs are pivotal in driving the future of work, as they help orchestrate the integration of new technologies into their business models.

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HR and talent leaders should harness this dynamic, encouraging a symbiotic relationship with intrapreneurs to develop customized solutions for AI adoption, ensuring that they are not just keeping pace with technological advances but are actively shaping their trajectory.

Securing a seat at the table:

HR should take a proactive stance in the adoption of AI, even if it is still in its early stages within your organization. By securing a position at the forefront of the AI initiative, HR can and should facilitate and guide the entire organization in embracing this significant change.

As AI has the potential to impact every facet of the organization, it is imperative for HR to not only understand and advocate for this technology but also lead its integration across all departments. HR should encourage and support intrapreneurs and all employees to leverage AI in their daily tasks, demonstrating its value not just for operational efficiency but for personal and professional growth as well.

Master the technology:

To effectively navigate and regulate AI, HR must first understand it thoroughly. Grasping the full potential of this technology is crucial for reaping its extensive benefits. HR plays a vital role in identifying the necessary tools and skills that employees must acquire and then integrating these learnings into daily work practices.

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Before implementing AI more broadly, HR should initiate comprehensive training programs that not only educate but also reassure employees about AI’s role in the future of the business. By leading these educational initiatives, HR can shape the structure and effectiveness of these programs, ensuring they meet the needs of the organization and its workforce.

Related: 3 Ways to Prepare Your Business For an AI Future

Looking ahead

Generative AI has the transformative potential to redefine the business landscape, but realizing this vast potential hinges on more than just the adoption of technology. It critically depends on the talent within the workforce, driven by HR and bold intrapreneurs. These visionary leaders don’t just implement new tools; they exemplify their use, demonstrating the profound impact of AI across every level of the organization.

HR plays a pivotal role in fostering this environment, enabling intrapreneurs to guide and inspire every individual they touch. Together, they turn each employee into a catalyst for change, igniting a widespread passion for innovation that deeply resonates and sustains long-term success.

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