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The New Requirement for Landing Media Coverage

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The New Requirement for Landing Media Coverage

When Valeria Palmertree, an independent public relations consultant, was working to place one of her clients, a “small, sophisticated jewellery brand” on the website of a lifestyle magazine, she thought it would be a seamless fit. She had a good relationship with an editor, and said the brand was “very well aligned” with the outlet’s overall aesthetic and ethos.

But there was a roadblock: the brand wasn’t yet part of an affiliate network, the platforms that track when readers make a purchase, allowing publications to get a commission on sales when readers click on links to products in their articles.

Her client, Palmertree said, was wary of giving up a cut of their profits when they were still operating on such a small scale. But after over a year of trying for editorial placements to no avail, she convinced them to try signing up for ShareaSale, an affiliate network that works with top publishers.

“We set her up, we pitched the brand, and within a matter of weeks, there was an inclusion,” she said.

To nab a mention in a major publication online, offering affiliate links has become something of a requirement in today’s media landscape. In a survey of over 100 brands and agencies from Awin and Digiday, nearly half plan to allocate at least 40 percent of their marketing budgets to affiliate programmes this year, and 17 percent plan to allocate over 80 percent.

As the traditional media business model of selling ads has become less lucrative, publishers have sought alternative ways to generate revenue. Revenue from affiliate links has made up for some of the decline, a trend that accelerated during the pandemic.

Publishers have put muscle behind these efforts, adding teams tasked with creating shoppable content. Vogue’s masthead lists seven full-time commerce staffers — more than it has on its features team. InStyle has a commerce team of 16, including a writer dedicated to Amazon; there are 13 people on its editorial team. Glamour has a commerce team of four compared to a traditional fashion editorial team of two. Cosmopolitan employs a shopping (another term for commerce) team of four.

Spokespeople for DotDash Meredith, Hearst and Condé Nast did not respond to requests for comment for the story.

The growing importance of affiliate income to media companies’ bottom lines has fundamentally changed how fashion editors choose which clothes, bags and shoes to feature.

“Editors have a much larger job these days,” said Kelsey Ogletree, a journalist and the founder of Pitchcraft, a software platform connecting publicists and small businesses with writers and editors. “They’re considering not only is this product worthy of editorial coverage, but also what is the money-making potential for their publication.”

However, the growing importance of affiliate links to the bottom line brings with it questions around whether they’ll eventually hit a point of diminishing returns. If a magazine recommends a product, is it because an editor has truly tested and loved a product? Or is it because that product sells particularly well, or that brand offers a higher commission to the publisher than a competitor?

Those lines have always been blurred — editors have long been encouraged to feature advertisers in photos or other editorial content. But brands, publicists and marketing experts say link between conventional ads and content wasn’t so all-consuming.

“With media, there’s an expectation going in that these are supposed to be places you can trust for product recommendations, there’s supposed to be that separation of church and state with advertising,” said Palmertree. “It feels like there’s a little bit of a blurred line there now that maybe didn’t exist before.”

The Changing Landscape

Affiliate links have prompted a shift for publicists, too, as they now must make affiliate placements along with organic press mentions. The expectation is that they’ll be able to guide their clients through the affiliate network onboarding process, then land placements in shopping round-ups. The holy grail is having a product reviewed on its own.

Jennifer Bett Communications launched an affiliate division last year specifically focussed on getting clients placements in link-driven shopping roundups or articles, one of several public relations agencies to create such a team. As well, affiliate marketing agencies have started hiring more traditional publicists to integrate that aspect into their businesses, said Parrish Essell, agency new business team leader at ShareaSale.

Uniting the press and affiliate links placement teams under one roof leads to “higher quality affiliate content,” said Melissa Duren Conner, JBC’s managing director.

Affiliate networks themselves also have direct relationships with publishers, added Essell, who will ask for recommendations on brands with interesting, unique products — and a compelling commission rate.

“The business side and the editorial side used to be really separate,” she said. “What we’re hearing from a lot of our publishing partners is that those … have to work together.”

The Cost

Affiliate marketing is more time and labour-intensive than other forms of marketing, like paid social, which simply involves creating the ad and uploading it to the platform. Affiliate involves maintaining relationships with publishers, and often requires the manpower of an in-house expert or an agency partner.

And it requires giving up a percentage of earnings — publishers often expect or require as much as 20 percent, said Essell, higher than an influencer typically receives.

“Five beauty brands vying for one spot, what helps them get over the edge? Likely the affiliate rate,” said Duren Conner.

There are still some holdouts: Zara doesn’t participate in affiliate programmes. But many brands feel they don’t have a choice but to play the game.

Otherwise, “there are just gonna be certain stories that you’re going to wish you’re in that you may not be,” said Duren Conner. “It’s going to make it harder, especially if you’re a young brand.”

There are other ways to secure a coveted media mention such as through stories that focus on a brand’s backstory, business strategy or its founder, rather than purely encouraging readers to make a purchase.

Though editors are often still thinking about affiliate links, even then.

“The first couple of years of telling the brand’s story will determine how well a brand can convert and perform on an affiliate piece down the line,” said affiliate marketing consultant Emma Grace Moon.

The Benefits

Apparel and accessories brand Frances Valentine waited six years after its 2016 debut to launch a full-blown affiliate program. Originally it was meant to increase awareness among influencers, but it’s led to an influx of traditional press coverage, too, said Florencia Gilardoni, the company’s marketing director.

After launching its affiliate program, “it skyrocketed as one of the top channels that consistently gives us revenue,” said Gilardoni.

That press coverage has paid off for Frances Valentine in multiple ways. The brand dressed Melissa McCarthy for Booking.com’s Super Bowl ad that aired last month, a high-profile opportunity that Gilardoni said was made possible by the boost in media attention.

“That’s something that probably would not have happened without the press coverage for her stylist to notice us,” she said.

For Jeannie Shin, director of marketing at luggage brand Calpak, she also found that joining an affiliate network in 2018 encouraged editors to link directly to their website, rather than one of their retail partners, always a wish for brands.

Before adding affiliate to its marketing mix, the brand was losing out on valuable data.

“We’re not seeing who the customer is, we’re not able to retarget this audience and grow that business,” she said.

Of course, just as influencers have had to contend with the question of trustworthiness in their recommendations, so do publishers. Shilling every product that might convert, no matter if it’s a fit for the publication appears in or not, rarely ends well.

“Editor picks do lose some of their meaning when they’re being driven by affiliate programs,” said Ogletree.

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How to Build Trust and Transparency With Your Customers While Taking Their Data

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How to Build Trust and Transparency With Your Customers While Taking Their Data

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Innovation starts with identifying the outcomes customers want to achieve — which is why most companies rely on modern tools and technologies to acquire vast amounts of customer information for creating personalized customer experiences.

You need your customers to share their details, including preferences, to ensure you create a seamless, engaging and personalized customer journey. However, this need is at odds with the growing concerns surrounding customer privacy. Now, more than ever, customers are growing increasingly protective of their personal data.

According to a survey conducted by Gartner, consumers are less comfortable with brands collecting other types of data, including browsing history. Only 27% of respondents feel comfortable sharing information pertaining to their employment, financial data and personal health.

Users know the risks associated with their personal information fueled by various privacy breaches, data thefts and increasing regulatory scrutiny. Hence, businesses striving to innovate and meet customer demands must navigate the complexities of privacy protection since customers trust brands that value their privacy security.

On the other hand, the stringent privacy regulations, including the GDPR and CCPA, are even more concerning. These regulations demand businesses to collect, store, and manage customer data securely. Failing to adhere may entitle the business to pay hefty fines and even reputational damages.

In a nutshell, if a business wishes to jump on the innovation bandwagon, it can’t ignore the inherent privacy risks, especially when collecting vast amounts of customer data. Let’s unpack why businesses must be more vigilant about customer data security and privacy when innovating and learn how to navigate this complex landscape.

Related: Why Your Company Needs to Rethink Its Purpose to Acquire Loyal Customers — And Drive More Sales.

Why you need to innovate with privacy on top of mind

Delivering seamless user experiences is vital, but ignoring privacy security wouldn’t please your users. Stats reveal that users worldwide are more concerned about their privacy than ever and wish to do more to protect it.

On the other hand, when we see things from an organization’s perspective, they have a typical mindset of invoking technology’s true potential to innovate for improving user experiences. However, ignoring privacy and security could be the worst strategy in today’s business landscape, especially when your customers know the importance of their privacy.

No matter how unreasonable it may seem to prioritize privacy in today’s world, where data-driven decisions dominate, embracing privacy protection can eventually open up new avenues for growth and innovation.

Users are more likely to engage with digital platforms and applications when they trust that their privacy is respected and their personal data is secure. They love to share personal information, along with their preferences and participate in innovative initiatives.

Consequently, a deeper understanding of user preferences and needs helps businesses develop effective and targeted innovations.

Why ignoring privacy regulations will spell trouble for your business

The relationship between innovation and privacy is quite evident. As organizations navigate their technological advancement journey, privacy regulations guide them toward a sustainable future where innovation does not affect or compromise users’ fundamental rights.

Whether it’s CCPA or GDPR, every regulation guards privacy rights and protects organizations from legal obligations. Furthermore, organizations that cater to customers across the globe shouldn’t ignore the importance of adhering to various data privacy regulations, as failing to do so may entitle them to pay hefty fines.

What’s worrisome is that if your organization’s reputation is tarnished for not adhering to global privacy compliances, your potential customers won’t trust you and will inch toward your competitors with all the necessary compliances in place.

And regarding innovation, you can freely collect essential information about users, and they won’t mind if you adhere to the latest data privacy and security regulations.

Strategies for privacy-driven innovation

1. Prioritizing a privacy-first mindset

Organizations that don’t prioritize privacy at every stage of their product development and innovation initiatives will not be able to win customer trust.

Hence, it’s essential to lay the foundation of your product by equally emphasizing privacy along with other aspects, including user experience, usability, compliance and marketing. Collaborating development, security, user experience and marketing teams to emphasize privacy security is perhaps the need of the hour for every business striving for success.

2. Prioritize transparency tactics — communicate clearly, win trust

If you establish clear communication with your customers regarding data collection, usage and protection, you can quickly win customer trust and loyalty. Most customers are reluctant to share their personal information just because they aren’t sure why an organization is demanding it in the first place.

Once they’re comfortable sharing essential information, you can use this data to drive meaningful innovation, such as offering personalized recommendations, suggesting products/services based on their preferences, and more.

3. Tap the potential of technology

Embracing cutting-edge privacy-enhancing tools and technologies can help you navigate your innovation journey seamlessly. Using robust privacy management tools, identity management platforms and multi-factor authentication can eventually help build lasting customer trust and loyalty.

Furthermore, using cloud platforms to scale rapidly would further enhance user experience without compromising security.

4. Optimize data collection

A data-minimization approach in which organizations collect only essential data and maximize its value helps deliver impactful results. Admit it: No innovation is possible without knowing what your customers want and their pain points. Effectively analyzing essential data can help boost targeted innovation efforts, ensuring impactful outcomes.

5. Skyrocket innovation with powerful partnerships

Last but not least, collaborating with privacy experts, regulatory bodies, and industry peers to exchange knowledge and best practices can accelerate your innovation efforts. Businesses can embark on an innovation journey flawlessly through collective support and expertise.

Related: This Unique Marketing Strategy Is Winning in 2024 — Here’s Why (and How You Can Implement It Successfully)

Navigating the nexus of innovation and privacy

While navigating the innovation landscape, organizations shouldn’t overlook the undeniable nexus between innovation and privacy. Hence, ignoring privacy while pursuing innovation could hamper customer trust and lead to legal obligations.

Emphasizing a privacy-first mindset, coupled with transparent communication and technological advancement, are undoubtedly pivotal strategies for unlocking the true potential of innovation while safeguarding customer privacy.

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How to Determine The Ideal Length of Your Marketing Emails Your Customers Will Actually Read

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How to Determine The Ideal Length of Your Marketing Emails Your Customers Will Actually Read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Email marketing is booming: last year, 52% of marketers said their campaign’s return on investment (ROI) doubled, while 5.7% of marketers experienced an ROI four times larger compared to 2022, a Statista report shows.

How can you create similar results for your business this year?

The effectiveness of email marketing comes down to a few key factors:

  • Knowing your audience and its pain points and desires.
  • Creating emails that respond to those specific needs.
  • Getting your emails in the inbox, where your subscribers can interact with them.

As the CEO of a B2B email marketing company, I often hear from customers about their top challenges. A big one? Creating emails that really engage and drive results. Getting the content, length and audience targeting just right is tough.

Related: How to Get People to Open – And Read – Your Emails

Most of your prospects prefer shorter emails

If you’re struggling to make your emails more engaging, here’s an aspect you may be overlooking: just make them shorter. Recent data from a ZeroBounce report shows that 66% of consumers prefer short emails, and only 6% favor longer ones.

But keep this caveat in mind: For 28% of people, email length becomes irrelevant if the content is well-tailored to their needs and interests.

It’s no surprise that people prefer shorter marketing emails. When inboxes are clogged with messages, why would you opt for a long message instead of a quick note? Concise and direct emails respect your prospects’ time and have a higher chance of getting their attention. But while most people prefer brevity, the quality and relevance of your emails are what truly capture and retain interest.

The message is clear for the 28% who don’t mind the length: When an email resonates well with their needs or interests, they’re willing to invest more time, regardless of word count. This segment of your audience is receptive to more in-depth content that speaks directly to their challenges.

How to determine the right email length

So, how do you strike the right balance between brevity and substance? The key is to start with understanding your audience. Segment your email list based on behaviors, preferences and past interactions. This segmentation allows you to tailor your messages more precisely. Also, you probably send different types of emails. That aspect alone should guide your approach:

  • Newsletters can be longer and cover several pieces of information in more depth.
  • Drip campaigns can consist of a series of emails that gently push your prospects closer to a purchase. Those emails can be short — sometimes, a few lines followed by a call-to-action (CTA) is enough.
  • Targeted campaigns, such as a discount or free offer, can have an engaging image paired with a couple of sentences and a catchy CTA button.

If you’re still unsure whether your email is too long, here are a few tips to save you time and make things easier.

Start with a clear goal

Every email should have a clear purpose. Whether it’s to inform, increase engagement or drive sales, your goal will dictate the necessary length. Don’t add fluff just to extend an email; keep it as long as necessary to fulfill its purpose.

Choose simplicity and clarity

Use simple language and clear CTAs. Marketing emails rarely benefit from any metaphors. Your email should guide readers smoothly from the opening line to the desired action without unnecessary detours.

Personalize to the last detail

Use what you know about your customers to tailor your emails. When marketing emails feel personal, people care more about the message and less about the length.

Test and adjust to what your audience likes

Studies can point you in the right direction in terms of consumer preferences, but only you can determine what your audience responds to the most. Before sending your next email, consider A/B testing different lengths. Then, analyze your metrics to see what performed best.

Improve your layout

Sometimes, the way information is presented can affect how we perceive the length of an email. Breaking text with relevant images or using bullet points can make longer emails appear more digestible and engaging.

Related: 4 Things You Can Automate in Your Email Marketing That Will Save You Time and Drive Sales

Ask your subscribers

Asking for opinions shows you care about serving your audience better, so why not include a poll in your next newsletter? Allow your subscribers to tell you how long they’d like your emails to be. Nothing beats direct customer feedback in helping you create more effective campaigns.

Bonus tips to increase email engagement

Here are a few extra tips to help your next emails get more clicks:

  • Try to keep your subject lines between 30 and 50 characters. Not only will your subscribers process them faster, but keeping your subject lines short ensures they display well on all devices.
  • Check your email list health to avoid bounces and the likelihood of landing in the spam folder.
  • Assess your spam complaint rate – it should be under 0.1% to comply with Yahoo and Google’s new email-sending rules.

Also, remember your goal is to connect with your audience genuinely, no matter how many words it takes to get there. If your email ends up longer than you’d planned but addresses a topic many of your subscribers care about, don’t worry. Engaging content can often justify a longer read.

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Get $60 off This Portable VPN Travel Router

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Get $60 off This Portable VPN Travel Router

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.

More than 50% of ransomware attacks targeted companies with fewer than 100 employees (according to StrongDM), so it’s important for businesses to use powerful VPN services. The problem is that the monthly fees can add up. Now, however, you can get robust portable VPN protection with a Deeper Connect Air Portable VPN Travel Router.

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It works as Web 3.0 infrastructure and for Blockchain mining. It’s the ultimate all-in-one internet security solution.

Get a Deeper Connect Air Portable VPN Travel Router for just $159 using coupon code: CONNECT, a 27% discount off the regular $219 retail price.

StackSocial prices subject to change.

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