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Is There a Miracle on 34 Street in Online Marketing

As a consultant, one of the services I provide  for merchants is an objective review of their affiliate program. Recently, a merchant who has been struggling with their program, retained me to review their program. After I completed my research and evaluation we had a lengthy discussion of my findings.  As you can expect, for a merchant who invested a lot of time, energy and money into their website and program finding out  some simple but costly mistakes were made can be hard to digest. One of the hardest for many merchants to understand are leaks.

Leaks can be costly. No, not talking about a leaking pipe or roof, but leaks on a merchant website. A leak on a merchant website is any link or text that invites the visitor to leave the website. It is hard to understand why a merchant would invite their customers leave. In my opinion there is enough competition without creating more.

Each time I see a leak on a website I am reminded of  the 1947 classis movie, “Miracle on 34 Street”. In that movie there is a great scene with Kris Kringle and a female shopper. Although working for one famous department store as Santa Claus, Kris tells the shopper to go to Gimbles (a rival department store) to make a purchase; Gimbles had better quality and better price on a toy. The shopper is so impressed that Kris and the store he worked for had her best interests at heart, she vowed to the store manager that she would not shop at Gimbles but instead she would remain a loyal customer. In this movie, after an outpouring of positive feedback, the department store runs with the new marketing ploy of referring their customers to other rival stores for best prices. The positive feedback increased their public image and they saw increased profits despite inviting customers to leave and shop elsewhere. (In my movie scene summary I have removed the name of the store Kris worked for because that store and its program have nothing to do with this post.)

While it may have been plausible back in 1947, that same marketing technique has little value in 2014.  Referring customers to visit another store after you worked hard to get them to your website can cost you. Shopping at any store has become easy, we can easily shop almost anywhere and have a product within days. We have less of a sense of loyalty to a merchant because they are local, instead, we often shop value and price. Why send your customers to a competitor?

As a merchant, if you are giving your website visitors an invitation to shop elsewhere, you are risking losing them.  Weigh the benefits of linking to a competitor and more importantly, know the costs.  Let your competitors do their own advertising,





Day Three Recap of Affiliate Summit East 2014

Day three of ASE14 brought even more networking and another great day of sessions and the Exhibit hall.  First on my agenda after some networking over breakfast,  was the keynote address by Dr Julie Gurner, clinical psychologist.  Dr. Gurner spoke about some of the things we do that are counterproductive and make us less efficient. She mixed humor with science as she gave us all a little insight into how we hinder our own productivity and shared several steps for improved productivity.  One of her suggestions was to ditch the dream board and instead, she suggested we have a progress board. The science behind it is that a dream board is a positive fantasy; we picture ourselves already there, removing some motivation.  A progress board, on the other hand, is a positive expectation which drives us.

Dr. Gurner also suggested that we work with our body and brain; go with our own circadian rhythm. I am a firm believer in this one, and I’ve got a rather odd schedule as a result. By going with our personal circadian rhythm we will be most productive. While I don’t know of any study to prove it, I would imagine that most of us that that work online have non-traditional circadian rhythm. We were also reminded to stop multitasking as it is not the most efficient way to complete tasks. We should also utilize 90 minute work cycle with 15 minute breaks and snack wisely. Dr. Gurner can be found on Twitter.

After another networking lunch, and then it was on to another of the break out session. I attended “The Top 20 Legal Mistakes Affiliate Businesses Make” with Eric Crusius, Partner at Fed Nexus Law. This was a very informative presentation and while I won’t give all twenty items I will share a few. The number one mistake we make is not treating our business like a business; incorporate and don’t mix personal and business finances or records. We also need to make sure that we not only have contracts, but that we read and understand contracts. This is critical and I am always stressing it with both affiliates and merchants. Eric suggested that we may be able to negotiate contract terms but at the very least we need to make sure we understand the terms before signing.  He also reminded us to make sure we are aware of proper and acceptable advertising; being honest and following FTC regulations. If you missed his session be sure to watch the video, you’ll pick up several pointers.

With one last trip through the exhibit hall and some last minute networking, it was time to say good bye to many friends.

Affiliate Summit West 2015 (at the Paris in Vegas) is less than 6 months away!