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Hey all I’m live blogging from Affiliate Summit East 2011 and here is my notes from the Taking Advantage of Seasonality in Affiliate Marketing session. Keep in mind it is on the fly and unedited.
Tricia Meyer, MeyerTech LLC, @SunshineTricia
Kristen Grace, Buycostumes.com/Celebrate Express, @kristengrace email@example.com
Todd Farmer, PerfomStreet Media, @toddfarmer Moderator
Todd considers seasonality as long hanging fruit
Todd was founder of Kowabunga, MyaffiliateProgram – now plays as affiliate, merchant and consultant
Tricia owner of Sunshine Rewards, workaholic, and other niche sites according to Todd. In AF for 7 years, and has done speaking for a number of years.
Kristen Grace affiliate manager for Buycostumes and Celebrate Express. Founded in 1999. Worked for company 8 years.
Seasonality Defined and Examples. What is seasonality? Statistical term referring to cycles. Also known as periodic variation. Can be regular or semiregular. Best example is peak of retail sales during the Christmas season. According to wikipedia. From TM
Buycostumes does 75-80% of revenue in next 7 to 8 weeks. See if AM is willing to share peaks of their seasons. So you can plan ahead. From KG – You want to dabble in both seasonality and something that has more consistency.
Obvious Examples: Christmas, Halloween, Weddings, NFL, Back to School, Graduation, Easter
Not as Obvious: Sweetest Day, NCAA March Madness, Oscars, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Pi Day
Quick Response: Death of a Pop Icon, High Profile trials, “crazies” in media, Non “PC” products
Looking for a full list: http://www.tricia.me/calendar – Basic editorial calendar. Feel free to spread around as a resource. Also has calendar misspelled in case you do.
Relation fo Affiliate Marketing
Sites built specifically for seasonal peaks (costumes guide, christmas gift ideas, sports fan sites)
Bloggers who use seasons for content ideas
Cash back, coupon and product comparison sides that spotlight seasonal items
Almost every single site piggybacks on seasonality in some way to increase profits. If they do not, you should. From TM
Preparing for seasons.
Merchant side – Newsletters, special promotions, webinars, creative network tips, product outlook, industry insight, coupon naming conventions, contests
Affliates get a lot of mail but if it is valuable they will notice it and read it. Newsletters are crafted for the holiday. Retailers is also working at least a month or two in advance. 2 weeks before a holiday is a bad time to send out a newsletter. Special promotions – when thinking about the coupon code that you are promoting should be relevant to that holiday. Easy to remember, the creative can be fun. Make your case to be creative with your company. Customers will be more likely to click. They kicked off the season with a webinar: Gotomeeting, Joinwithme is free – get feedback from affiliates and see if they like it. Great way to connect with affiliates, talk about upcoming promotions and season. Keep things easy. Use trigger keywords so that affiliates can find creative easily. Create an affiliate account yourself so that you can see what the affiliate sees and you can test how easy it is to find creatives. Do you know the seasonal peaks, put it together as a report for your affiliates. Gives you credible, you want to be a good resource for your affiliates so that they trust you and sell more for you. She also loves to do an annual contest. Does not have to be elaborate – can just be a raffle for an entry for x number of sales. Make a big deal of who wins. Follow up with the affiliates consent and then issue to a PR. Helps to spotlight your company and gives you credibility. From KG She prioritizes her time, prepares in advance for all the seasons. For things that pop up it is easier to respond if you are organized. It helps her to create distribution lists.
Preparing for Seasons
Growing your creative (perfect example Harry Potter)
Starts as a kid and ends grown up. Likes to use official logos to make it more authentic. A creative should grow. Each movie has a theme, make sure it matches up to be more relavent. Star Wars, Twilight, Tranformers, Thundercats are good examples. Smurfs are one of biggest searches in costume space right now. From KG
Bread and butter to have one. All seasonal business should have one. They do not want affiliates bidding on PPC on the 28, 30, 31st of October and then coming to complain because they lost money. Visual learners love color coding.
Rate cards, promotional opportunities, mailings, negotiating with merchants, logo/site changes, banners, blog posts, filming/locating videos, adding new merchants
Rate cards – letting merchants know a month or two before quarter starts what you are doing so they can work with you for custom landing pages, coupon codes
Put your mailings together in advance. Every year you are doing Halloween, so prepare in advance and then you can let the merchants know.
Negotiating with merchants should happen months in advnce because they are dealing with other affiliates.
Changing up your logo for the season can be a good thing. Sports site can have a hoop for March Madness. This changes up your site and people may visit just to see the changes, tweet about it.
Seasonal banners – where do you need to change them out. They tend to convert better. Some merchants automatically change them
Blog posts – plan them out. Talk about some obscure things – Grandparents day. Everyone is talking about christmas. They will visit you for gifts for Grandparents day perhaps.
Movies have filming information.
Adding new merchants.
Go into old posts to update for new Harry potter movie for example. You don’t want it to be outdated if it is still getting good traffic. From TM
Attach creatives in email to affiliates so that they can easily make changes. From KG
Capitalizing on Timing and Events
Timely Launches – annual events that take place on the same day (easy), events that float (easter, mardi gras) is harder. Create or press merchants for a calendar of campaigns.
Ability to update and scale quickly
Quick response to unforseen events
Taboo not politically correct topics
Communication is the absolute key. The affliate may not know if they should capitalize on something. A merchant may not know to create a deep link to a page on a site. Follow them on twitter, have a facebook fan page. Make it easier to get in contact. From TM
Seasonality is obvious but unforeseen events can be harder. You have to be okay with how you make your money today. Casey Anthony is a good example. You may or may not want to capitalize on selling masks, promoting a movie. It depends on what kind of affiliate you want to be. Merchants also have to make that decision as well. It is a delicate balance. From KG
From TM do you have an audience that comes back to you all the time, if they find that sort of thing funny then you might be able to promote it. If it is family orientated they may get offended. If you rely on search it might not be such a big deal.
From TF great example of there are certain things that come up, you have to decide who you want to be and who your audience is.
From TM personally she doesn’t captilize on those sort of thing. Her sites are very representative of her. She draws a line at the death of a celebrity or cases.
From TM if it is not such a controversial thing she will look to see how it ties into her site, for example Will and Kate. She leaves tweetdeck up to see what is trending in case there is something that will tie into her sites.
From KG categories – high profile cases, media (the flight attendant that slid down the emergency exit there is a costume, betty white has a costume cause she started to trend with super bowl commercial), politics (weiner costume, arnold schwarzneggar), royal wedding, celebrity weddings. Even if you don’t care about it, you have to believe that other people do. Only way you are going to drive sales for your company is through your partners. Death of a pop icon (michael jackson, amy winehouse) -all the other famous people that died at 27 was trending, so all those other people will also in the press too. When Donald Trump, Hugh Hefner, Eugene Simmons dies it will be huge. Anticipating big icons dying is a good thing to start preparing for.
Extending revenue opportunities
Sending product suggestions to affiliates – if you have products no one els has, then send a list to your affiliates. From KG
book and movie releases – ask you affiliate manager for a list of things that will be released in next month so they can prepare. Do that research for your affiliates because they are quicker to react when you do. From KG
similar holidays/events –
same market but different season – For college textbooks there is a season. For christmas then market to them college sweatshirts, because you know they are probably in college. Then market graduation products in the spring. From TM
Themed parties – For an Irish site they are looking for St. Patricks Day party supplies. From TM
Question from audience
How do you drive traffic? PPC or are you putting on a site that already has traffic. From TM she relies on organic traffic. It might be relevant to do PPC, but she doesn’t for seasonality. She prepares in advance. She discusses Grandparents day in August even though it isn’t until September.
What is the frequency that you message your affliates. From KG she messages at least once a month. She also has distribution lists so she can be specific. She tries not to message them more than 5 times a month. She has a format for each email that is similar. She asks before she puts them on a distribution list as well.
From TM she is more likely to read the VIP email from Kristen
From KG people are cutting back. Come up with ideas for families to create memories. They might be doing more a home party then going to Disney. Bachelorette parties are not going to Vegas they are staying home but they still want the feather boas. Keep that in mind.
Post seasonality sales – Make sure you are taking advantage of that. From TM
How do you keep your posts relevant? She had a Crhistmas website but found it very time consuming to keep it up to date. From TM use product feeds through popshops or golden can to make it easy to swap out products. From KG product feed aggregators are way to go so that prices automatically update. Things are apt to go out of stock when products are in demand. Make sure your product information is up to date, make that priority.
Tricia Meyer says
Thanks for taking such great notes during my session!!
It was a great session Tricia and I learned much. Thanks!