All month long for GroupHigh’s “Affiliate Marketing April”, we have been learning about everything in the world of affiliate & performance marketing. From understanding the basics to examining modern best practices, our goal is to to highlight industry experts who have had incredible success in this space. To help with our discovery, we reached out to CJ Affiliate by Conversant’s Sr. Director of Publisher Development, Sarah Crosby and asked her a few questions. Here’s what Sarah had to say….
- Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your company?
“My name is Sarah Crosby and I am the Senior Director of Publisher Development at CJ Affiliate by Conversant. I have been with the company for over 10 years. CJ is the industry leader in affiliate marketing and was founded in 1998. CJ has the power to reach millions of consumers shopping online through our affiliate marketing network by facilitating fair, transparent partnerships between advertisers and publishers. We help advertisers acquire new customers and sell more to previous buyers, while facilitating ad revenue generation for publishers.”
- For those who are new to the game… talk to us in a general sense about how affiliate and performance marketing work.
“Affiliate marketing at its very core is about relationships,
a relationship between three parties: Advertisers, Publishers and Consumers. An advertiser can be a company selling a product like electronics, airline tickets, clothing, or an insurance policy. These advertisers are looking to connect with consumers and partnering with publishers, website owners or influencers who create valuable content for consumers defines the core of affiliate and performance marketing.
Advertisers contractually agree to work with a publisher, then provide the publisher with creative – in the form of links, banner or text ads or even unique phone numbers – that the publisher incorporates into their website.
The consumer is the one who actually sees the ad and then makes an action (either by clicking a link or by submitting their information via a form) that takes them from the publisher’s website to the advertiser’s to complete the action, which we call a conversion.
CJ is the network that is responsible for connecting advertisers and publishers, tracking conversions, monitoring the network, providing insights, reporting and publisher payments.”
- Tell us about the intersectionality and value of bloggers and influencers when it comes to affiliate marketing programs.
“Bloggers and influencers are a very important part of the affiliate marketing ecosystem. With the importance of influencer marketing on the rise, brands are looking to connect with influencers and content publishers to form long term partnerships. Affiliate is the perfect place for influencer marketing because brands can actually tie back sales activity through affiliate to see ROI. Influencers gain more insight into what their audience actually purchases. Both parties have full transparency and control over who they partner with.”
- What types of companies, brands, or products do you see find the most success working with affiliate publishers?
“That’s the great thing about affiliate marketing: companies across many different verticals including retail, finance and travel, to name only a few, can do well. If you are selling a product or service and looking to connect with consumers, affiliate is a great place to do that. Our publishers are also consumers so the larger, more recognizable brand names tend to do well, but niche advertisers and publishers also see success.”
- What characteristics of a blog or influencer persona do you typically see drive the most conversions for a brand or business?
“Influencers that tend to do well in affiliate need to have an engaged audience. If you are just starting out and have very few site visitors or followers you may want to wait to jump into the channel. Affiliate can also take some time to get ramped up so for those with no time to devote to developing their affiliate program this monetization option will be challenging. For interested influencers who want to get started or learn more it’s free to sign up for an account and at CJ we have a lot of great tools, services and a dedicated content team to help publishers make the most out of their affiliate experience.”
- If you were to give advice to a business starting an affiliate program, what would it be?
“In regards to advertisers just starting out some of the same advice is true. Affiliate is a long term commitment and it takes some time and effort to learn the space and nurture publisher partnerships. On the advertiser side, we have some great resources and options available to get people started. There are also many agencies and trained affiliate managers that can help you get the most out of your affiliate experience.”
- What do you feel is the biggest challenge for a brand or business managing an affiliate marketing program?
“The biggest challenge I see on the advertiser side is having the time to devote to really making your affiliate program a success and nurturing the right partnerships. If you don’t have the time definitely look into hiring some support.
Another challenge is that some advertisers limit their affiliate program or spend in the channel and they don’t incorporate affiliate with their overall marketing strategy. For example, if your PR or Social team is doing something with influencers that’s working incorporate that strategy into your affiliate program.
Affiliate is a great space to test new concepts, extend your reach (since we are global) and work with different publisher business models that can help with your company’s goals and KPIs.”
- Let’s turn a little to GroupHigh, what features help you the most with your affiliate program management?
“At CJ we have an influencer marketing service called our VIP Content Service. We have an in-house team of content experts that work with brands on their influencer marketing strategies and goals. We manage the recruitment, negotiation, campaign execution, and tracking of multiple placement opportunities on the advertiser’s behalf.
We leverage the GroupHigh tracking technology to help us track the social amplification for these campaigns. We combine this social data with the sales information that we track through CJ and this provides our VIP advertiser partners a complete picture of how their media investment performed.
We also have a dedicated team of people that are responsible for recruiting new content publishers and influencers into the affiliate channel and the GroupHigh technology allows us to be more strategic with who we proactively recruit into the network.”
- What were you using to manage affiliate efforts before GroupHigh?
“Before investing in GroupHigh we were doing a lot of things manually. We leveraged many different tools including browser plugins to try and get a better understanding of an influencer’s reach and contact info. GroupHigh saves us a ton of time when it comes to recruitment and provides a complete picture of a publisher’s influence.”
For more information about CJ visit http://www.cj.com/
For more information about CJ’s Content Solutions visit http://www.cj.com/content-solution
Do you have any affiliate marketing tips or examples you’d like to share? We would love to hear from you @grouphigh