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Affiliate Summit West 2013 – Takeaways

I was fortunate to be able to attend Affiliate Summit West 2013 (#asw13) last week and learned a lot. I’ve been going to conferences for a long time and have been to many over the years. Recently, I’ve been able to attend SMX, AdTech, Internet Retailer, and others. I’ve never taken the time to publicly share my thoughts on the sessions and keynotes but it might be a good idea to open up a dialogue and see if my findings matched up with anyone else’s.

Affiliate Summit West 2013

Many of these findings might only apply to me and my projects, but overall I believe they can help no matter what business you’re in.

Mobile Should Dominate Your Focus

Mobile has been growing leaps and bounds the last 5 years. Smartphone use is on the rise and m-commerce conversions were up 40% over last year. If you don’t have a mobile site or your site isn’t responsive, you are missing a huge opportunity.

Creating a mobile site isn’t enough anymore, you need to segment your mobile messaging by the type of device used. For example, a Blackberry user might be a completely different demographic from an iPad user. Make sure to think this through and adjust accordingly.

Remember the future of inbound marketing revolves around mobile. Look for channels that interact with the mobile customer.

Know Your Goal 

Sounds simple enough. But more often than not our goal is to sell more stuff, and we’re missing out on surprising and delighting our customer base in the process. When we focus on sales only, we lose the opportunity to create brand ambassadors which are necessary for long-term success. The goal in any online business should be to create a brand. By focusing on your brand you can create trust with your audience. When the trust is there and you believe in your product, the sales will come.

Be Benefit Driven

When you’re crafting your content or campaigns, focus on the benefits of your offering. We live in a world where information comes at us from all angles at 100 miles per second. The customer wants to know “How can this article benefit me” or “How can this product benefit me”. When we get wrapped up in talking about technical features, or designing things without a content substance we can lose the customer. Within the first few sentences of a post, it should be crystal clear what benefit they’ll get out of reading until the end. In the example of a product page, make it clear what buying will do for them.

Competitive Analysis Paralysis

I’m guilty of this one. Spending way too much time analyzing what our competitors are doing. This can lead to what I call “big brother syndrome”. There will always be someone better than you. The key is to not try to emulate what they’re doing but figure out what your differentiating factors are and focus on those. When you constantly analyze everyone else you are adding no value to your business.

Know When To Quit

Failing is one of the hardest things to have to deal with, professionally or personally. If you’re an elite marketer then you’ve failed a lot. When we are too reluctant to fail we waste valuable time trying to make something work that our gut tells us never will. Seth Godin has a book called “The Dip” which talks about this in greater detail. I recommend checking it out.

Remember without failing on your last project your latest project might have never been successful. Continually improve, fail early, and remember their lessons.

High Quality Work Wins Every Time

Do you ever have a huge stack of work that needs done that you just want to crank through? Sometimes that’s ok, but remember quality work stands the test of time. Prioritize and spend the extra hour refining that blog post or take a second look at those campaigns, you won’t regret it. When you are completing things just to check them off your list, you’re failing your customers.

Repurpose Your Content

If you are spending time creating this quality content, put it to good use! If it’s a blog post, maybe that can be made into a Podcast, eBook, Infographic, or social media posts. Get creative and think of where your customers are online.

Put Yourself Out There

The classic saying is that as an attendee, you get out of a conference what you put into it. Talk to people, try to be interested in not only the company their representing but who they are as people. I’ve met lots of good friends and business contacts that started with the question, “So, how did you get into online marketing?” Most people there are just trying to sell things, so trying to make friends sets you apart from everyone else. You paid a lot of money to be there, so you might as well go to the parties, meet as many people as you can, and make some new friends.

Know Who Your Customers Are

I’m surprised by how many times I see marketing messaging from brands that don’t have a vision for who their customer is. Customer research is vital to giving your brand a voice. If you sell boutique women’s clothing at a higher price point you better know who you’re talking to. Give this target customer a name. In this example we’ll call her Susan. Susan is 50 years old, loves hearing about new trends in fashion, has 2 grown children, and makes over $100k per year. When you write campaigns, blogs, or social media posts, they should be for Susan. If you can pull this off you’ll gain the trust of your target demographic.

Tools and Sites I Intend to Try

There were also a number of sites and SEM tools I heard about which I’d like to try. Hopefully within the coming months I’ll be able to give some feedback on them.

SiteScout – Self-serve RTB platform
Coull – Video performance network
Impact Radius – Affiliate marketing tracking suite
HasOffers – Custom affiliate network creation
WhatRunsWhere – Competitive intelligence for media buying
HireWriters – Bloggers for hire
Cloudfare – Low cost CDN

If you have anything to add I would love to chat with you. You can leave a comment below or add me on Twitter (@jessesem).