Episode 139 - Shawn Collins on Affiliate Resources, Forums and the 80:20 Rule
Shawn Collins answers all my questions about affiliate marketing including what's hot, data feeds, affiliate recruitment, affiliate forums, the Affiliate Summit social network, empowering affiliates in PPC and other resources for affiliate marketing.
Shawn also shares some of his personal aspirations.
What are the hottest new trends in affiliate marketing? Name the big three that you are watching closely?
[Shawn] Local, pay per call and video.
What are the affiliate trends that are waning? Used to be big part of conversation but are not so exciting anymore and why?
[Shawn] I don't know if it could be characterized as waning, but I'd say mobile. It has been heralded as the next big thing for years, and the promise has not been realized.
What were the key take aways or most interesting actionable insights for you from Dr. Robert Cialdini and Brian Clark aka Copy Blogger's keynotes at ASW10?
[Shawn] I like how Dr. Cialdini have out a tip card at the conclusion of his keynote (http://blog.affiliatetip.com/archives/principles-of-ethical-influence-by-robert-cialdini/) which boiled down his 6 principles of ethical influence. As far as Brian Clark, I liked his perspective that affiliates should think of themselves as new media producers.
What are your best tips for merchants who are willing to let their affiliates bid on their keywords? How can you empower your affiliates in PPC?
[Shawn] I think the Animal Farm approach works best, though it can upset some affiliates, whereas all affiliates are equal, but some are more equal. There are some affiliates that are willing to build extensive, long tail campaigns for a merchant, and I think it's good to select a few of these affiliates to allow trademark bidding, as this enables them to make some easier money to balance the work and risk in working the long tail.
What are the best resources for finding affiliates if you are a merchant/vendor? How can you recruit affiliates? What are the strategies and practices that are best for recruiting?
[Shawn] Google is a great tool - affiliate managers should search for their keywords to find sites ranking well for those keywords. The two ways I recruited the best affiliates were through in-person meetings at conferences and direct mail.
Explain product datafeeds and how they work for affiliates.
[Shawn] These are simply database files that enable affiliates to build out a variety of sites, such as comparison shopping or review sites, and the database files populate the latest information and images for the products from the merchant.
Facebook is the new place to advertise - what tips and techniques can you offer for increasing conversions, for targeting, other?
[Shawn] I haven't run affiliate campaigns myself on Facebook, so I can't really speak to what is most effective.
What are the best practices for using Twitter to drive traffic to sales pages?
[Shawn] The soft sell - Twitter is no different from any other avenue for affiliates. They should add value to the process by solving some sort of problem. A straight up affiliate link is useless for all.
How do you find a CPA network that is right for your business? How do you compare and contrast them? What kind of offers work best for CPA nets? Where are the danger points in working with one or more networks?
[Shawn] My recommendation would be to monitor the affiliate forums to see what affiliates are saying about each cpa network. That's the best way to get the pulse. On the surface, many of the make the same claims and are difficult to differentiate. True to the name of the networks, pretty much any offers based on leads work well within CPA networks (assuming these is sufficient consumer interest in the marketplace), while retail, revenue share offers aren't as effective - those fare better in the "traditional" affiliate networks. The reputation of an affiliate network can make a big difference, for better or worse. It's essential to perform due diligence to determine whether a CPA network tends to engage in unethical behavior.
Who are three of the most amazing people in Digital Marketing and Web 2.0 and why?
[Shawn] Missy Ward: while it's hard to remain objective, since she's my business partner, I am continually impressed by her passion, business sense, and charity work.
Wil Reynolds: he has been the speaker with the best marks at Affiliate Summit for several years, because he shares an extensive amount of new information each time, and he's such a genuine guy.
Note: Wil is going to be a guest on an upcoming DishyMix.
Rae Hoffman: she provides fantastic, honest assessments of the industry at large, and regularly performs SEO site clinics that provide real, applicable, advice that can be quickly implemented for results.
Describe why you think these people were the category winners for the Pinnacle Awards at Affiliate Summit West 2010. How do they distinguish themselves? Are they people we should follow and why?
[Shawn] The Pinnacle Awards start with an open nomination process by anybody who wishes to nominate folks in the industry (including themselves) and then the nominees are voted on by the Affiliate Summit Advisory Board (~30 folks from different aspects of the industry), and the winners are those who get the most votes in each category. So, mine is just one vote for each of the nominees. That said, these are all people who have distinguished themselves before a jury of their peers, and I think that makes them well worthy of following.
Affiliate of the Year
Affiliate Manager of the Year
Affiliate Marketing Legend
You do two podcasts, Affiliate Thing and GeekCast.fm - describe the value of those shows - how do they compare?
[Shawn] Thee main GeekCast.fm show went silent, due to the challenge of getting four busy people together weekly for a show. But I've been doing the Affiliate Thing podcast weekly for over three years with Lisa Picarille. On this podcast, we typically chat unscripted for about 30 minutes per show on the latest news, tips, and resources in affiliate marketing.
Tell me about your new book - what are the highlights?
Internet Marketing From The Real Experts : 3 Minute Lessons On.. Affiliate, Email, SEO, Social and More. The Gang of '88
~ Shawn Collins
(Author), Missy Ward (Author), Jeremy Schoemaker (Collaborator), Brian Clark (Contributor), Jim Kukral (Contributor), Ted Murphy (Contributor), Mari Smith
[Shawn] The book is a compilation of the first seven issues of FeedFront Magazine, a magazine I started with Missy Ward to give a voice to the people in Internet marketing who are the doers in the various areas and continually innovate. We were frustrated by the magazines out there that were researched and written by journalists, because they were often out of the loop on how things were done, and they didn't understand the nuances of affiliate, search, social media, etc. So, we decided to create an outlet where the people with first hand knowledge could share their wisdom without filters.
As far as highlights, there are 100 or so "chapters" in the book, which are mostly articles of 500 words or less. I am more excited about the concept overall and the easy to digest format of short articles that pack a lot of information over select sections. We tout on the cover how these are all items you can read in about 3 minutes, because this is something we've found to be important with our fellow marketers - they don't want fluff. They want to jump in and grab some key nuggets of information in a short amount of time.
What is your plan for yourself 10 years from now?
[Shawn]I've always found print to be a really exciting, even romantic (in a non-love way) area. This probably explains why I enjoy getting into magazine and book publishing when many are signing their respective death certificates. Ultimately, I'd like to write the great American novel (or 2 or 10).
If you could keynote any conference or event, which one would it be and what would the title of your speech be?
[Shawn] I am intrigued by TED, and would love to speaker there, but I'd have no business as a keynote.
In what area do you feel superior to most people? What talent or capability of yours is remarkable? Name your single most amazing personal gift/talent.
[Shawn] I've always had a passion for writing, and I used to take it for granted until I started editing articles for others. It's a great outlet and gratifying when it can be used to influence people in a positive way.
Who has been your greatest teacher?
[Shawn] My father was the most influential with direct moral lessons and indirect life lessons. He always reflected back to his post-college years and how he wanted to take a job in advertising, but the pay didn't equal another job as a statistician. It burdened him that he settled for a career he didn't like, and one he worked in until the day he died. That put a fire in my belly to do whatever I could to do work that I loved and wanted to do. I never wanted to have the look on my face on Sunday nights that he used to have, as he was mentally preparing to go back to work and b miserable.
If I could wave my magic wand and make one thing work better in your business or career, what would it be?
[Shawn] I'd be able to break through more with the younger marketers who are seduced by the easy buck for shady business dealings.
What is the axiom by which you live your life?
[Shawn] The Golden Rule - (paraphrased) do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
How much do you think luck has played a role in your success?
[Shawn] I can't deny luck has played a role, but I think it's been somewhat minor. Hunger for success has been far more instrumental.
What is on your bucket list? Top 5 things on you would like to do?
[Shawn] Visit every MLB ballpark, drive through Ireland with my family, run a political campaign and get the candidate elected, write a book that's been in my head for 20 years, and see that book made into a movie.
What activity could you do all day long without getting bored? [Shawn] Write.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? [Shawn] Political marketing
Susan Bratton: Welcome to DishyMix. I’m your host, Susan Bratton, and on today’s show you’re going to get to meet Shawn Collins. Many of you probably know Shawn and have been to his conference, Affiliate Summit. You remember that just recently I interviewed Dr. Robert Cialdini who was the keynote of the most recent Affiliate Summit. That was an amazing interview about influence and persuasion, so if you haven’t heard that episode of DishyMix, I think it’s one of the best we’ve ever done. And I think we’re about to do another great episode with Shawn. Shawn, in addition to being the co-founder of Affiliate Summit, is co-editor in chief of Feed Front Magazine. He is the founder of geekcast.fm. He’s a regular on Affiliate Thing, a show with Lisa Picarelli. And he has just launched his second book. He had his first book, Successful Affiliate Marketing For Merchants, and he just launched under his own imprimatur a book called Internet Marketing From The Real Experts, 3 minute lessons on affiliate marketing, email marketing, SEO, social media and more, from the gang of 88, and we’ll find out more about what that gang of 88 is. He also publishes an annual asset report and he has a network of websites and blogs, including his affiliate tip site, that are now a network where affiliate marketers or merchants or anyone in that space can advertise, and I am an advertiser. I’m advertising Rev Share Now on his network of affiliate related sites, so we’ll talk about that too. So lets get Shawn on the show. Welcome Shawn.
Shawn Collins: Hi there Susan. Great to be here.
Susan Bratton: Good morning. It’s fellow podcasters doing a show together. The bar is high Shawn.
Shawn Collins: Yeah, very excited. This is much more fancy than mine, since I’m actually using a phone here. Usually I just do Skype using a headset.
Susan Bratton: Well I think that can work as well. It just depends on Internet connections. So listen, first thing I wanted to start out the show with today is of course what are the hottest new trends in affiliate marketing. You told me in preparation for this – and thank you for all the work you did getting this show organized ahead of time so we can deliver a great one – you said the three areas of affiliate marketing that you’re watching closely are local, pay-per-call and video. I’d like you to take each one of those and just briefly take us down into it for a second and tell us when you say local and affiliate, what are you saying and what’s working best? What are you watching about that?
Shawn Collins: Well I guess essentially it’s just people are able to target so narrowly these days with, whether it be Facebook or Google AdWords. So if they have just, it can be some kind of product or service that’s really, it appeals to anybody around the country, around the world, but they’re able to just make the ad more localized. Say if they’re trying to sell some debt consolidation or just office products, they can say that this, I can target the San Antonio people and have that in the ad just so it feels like it’s more relevant to those people.
Susan Bratton: And what do you think that’s… That’s really just targeting. What you’re talking about is GO targeting. GO targeting affiliate pay-per-click ads, is that basically it or what?
Shawn Collins: Yeah, that’s one aspect of using Google. So it’s something that wasn’t really being done much in the past by definitely marketers, even though it’s, I guess its been out there as an option. But I guess also the Facebook has made it more of an option to go after people that are alumni of certain universities and…
Susan Bratton: Yes. Yeah. And I would really call that, I would call that just segmentation. But that’s now, affiliates are picking up segmentation, then probably soon, if not already, behavioral targeting, right?
Shawn Collins: Yeah, absolutely. And also the, there are some true local marketing too where people were getting the actual, I guess sort of merchant, as you would say, for affiliate marketing. So the relationship may be a local accountant or dentist or something, so they’re promoting in that way, and then the people that are referring new clients are getting a piece of the action if they refer that new client.
Susan Bratton: Got it. And now pay-per-call, that’s something that I’ve been familiar with certainly. Tell us how it’s working in the affiliate space most effectively.
Shawn Collins: It’s really, it’s pretty new, launched on Share A Sale, one of the biggest networks recently and also it’s on Commission Junction and some others. And so essentially just the same technique that’s been done for forever where you see an ad in a magazine and say hit extension 123 so that it attracts back to that ad but so affiliates are able to do this and so they can do offline ads or just any kind of, maybe if they wanted to do something in a magazine or a flyer or something, just so they’re able to behave as an affiliate and get that commission, but hit a new arena of people outside of their websites.
Susan Bratton: It’s really interesting to me. It’s like a full circle thing that’s happening now. I’m heavily involved at this moment in my life in information product marketing, building up a publishing company, publishing many different titles. And it’s funny to see the pay per call and the amount of Internet marketers who started on the Internet, who are now moving offline – small space ads in the back of magazines, direct mail, you know, cards and things like that. They’re all experimenting the offline world now. It’s just so funny. We started out offline, brought it all online, and now the online people who never knew anything, they’re learning offline.
Shawn Collins: Yeah, and the funny thing there is that I, for years I’ve been preaching to people that run affiliate programs is that a great way to recruit new affiliates is to go offline because everybody goes out there and they buy banners and they do email blasts, but what I was doing – I ran an affiliate program for ten years – and I was, I would go and just build up lists based on just some various research of some good target sites and I would shoot them postcard that had maybe three valuable propositions about my affiliate programs and I would just get them to come offline to sign up for it, and I was getting such a great response back compared to any kind of online recruitment.
Susan Bratton: That’s so funny. Well and nothing like going to Affiliate Summit and pressing the flesh. That’s the number one way, right?
Shawn Collins: Yeah. It’s tough for me to be objective, but I think you really just can’t be deal making one on one like that, versus trying to do it by email or IM or whatever.
Susan Bratton: And I want to come back to that ‘cause I want to talk about how the best way is to find great affiliates at the show, ‘cause I felt a little bit lost ‘cause it was my first one, so I wanted to get some good advice from you on that. But lets hit on the third one of the trends that you’re watching, and that’s video. What’s the most effective affiliate video mash-up that you’ve seen?
Shawn Collins: Well I think the one problem there is that the affiliates are a little bit too far ahead of the consumers and they’re trying to have all kinds of clickable video and consumers just aren’t clicking on video right now, they just don’t get that that’s an option for the most part. So I think the most effective way that I’ve seen, just from my own case studies, from doing it myself, is to have a URL in the actual video and that’s been acceptable by YouTube so far to date, where say if my website was abc.com, I would just make a redirected link so, say if I was promoting Amazon I would have abc.com/amazon on the video for the entire time so that people can click on that and they can go get more information. And so I was doing that for, I’ve done that for a lot of different electronics reviews that I’ve done videos for and I’ve gotten a surprising amount of people that actually type that in at a very good conversion rate.
Susan Bratton: But you have to have a decent URL. You have to have a good custom URL with your affiliate partner. You can’t put in some crazy jacked out affiliate link.
Shawn Collins: Yeah, definitely. But I, like in my case I had a, I was doing video reviews and the site was called weviews.tv, and so it would have weviews.tv/macbook when I’d review a Mac Book, so it was pretty quick and easy to enter that in.
Susan Bratton: Yeah. That makes all the difference of course in podcasting too, having a simple URL or the standard URL and using a promo code, which is what we’ve been doing. Have you heard of – this could just be our word for it – have you heard of direct links in affiliate? You know we build our own affiliate network for our products at Personal Life Media, it’s called Rev Share Now, that’s what I’m advertising on your affiliate network of sites. And there are two features in it that I haven’t seen in the Commission Junctions and the Share Sales. One of them is what we call direct links where an affiliate can go and register their website, their blog, whatever URL’s, whatever domains they have, and any traffic that generates revenue from that domain gets attributed to you; that we call a direct link. Have you seen that out in the world? Is that a common thing? Is that a new thing? What are other people calling it?
Shawn Collins: Yeah, know that a company named Link Connector has the same sort of thing and their naked link technology.
Susan Bratton: Mm hmm.
Shawn Collins: And I know the company My Affiliate Program, also know as My App, they had it years ago. And a couple other couples that had it, but I haven’t seen it yet from the sort of traditional big affiliate networks like Commission Junction, Link Share, Share a Sale and Google. But I use it myself also for, there’s a, the Funk Network called Fusion Quest that we were using for years for Affiliate Summit, and I had it there. And so I like it a lot just because it makes it invisible but it’s an affiliate link…
Susan Bratton: Right.
Shawn Collins: to the consumer…
Susan Bratton: It’s a simple cloaking mechanism. It’s all done by the computers, on the back end.
Shawn Collins: Yeah. And I, the one thing that appealed to me a lot about that was that in the past – and I’m not sure, I don’t really think it’s much of an issue now – but in the past a lot of the antivirus software programs were trying to target any kind of cookie from an affiliate program or any kind of affiliate links that were from the main networks and see if those were somehow a spyware just to make it seem like they were more effective in catching all these evil links, so to have the redirect or that kind of direct link there was essential to beat the antivirus software.
Susan Bratton: You know what’s funny though? Some, some turd knocker tried to register Google as his domain so that any revenue that came in to our system from Google would be attributed to him. And Tim said he tried twice. I thought, well, you know what, at least it’s humorous. Let me ask you about another one too; another thing that we built in to our system was the ability to use promo codes, because we own a podcast network and podcasters are dying for sponsors and for products that they can promote, and Audible’s done an awesome job in the podcasting community. They have hundreds of podcasters – so does Go Daddy – hundreds of podcasters who say “You know, this show is sponsored by blah-blah-blah. Go to…”, and then they’ll say “Audible.com/dishymix”, right. And we generate revenue on those programs on our podcast networks. So when we built our affiliate system we built a system that allows all of our information products to have a standard URL – whatever the URL is for that product – and then when a podcaster promotes it, they promote the product and we give them a discount. So save a hundred dollars if you go to speakupwithpower.com and use promo code ‘dishy’, you get – ‘cause people have heard that, I advertise that product on my own show – they go there, they save a hundred bucks by using my promo code and then it’s attributed to me. So the ability to get a really solid discount that we don’t push out to any place but that channel, our reseller channel – you know, it’s not on the web anywhere – and the ability to go to the standard URL and just use a promo code that you hope is memorable, ‘cause if you could use something like, you know, ‘thing’ for affiliate thing or whatever, people would remember it. And that’s proving to work out well, and I haven’t seen other affiliate networks using promo codes and leveraging the podcaster channel. Have you?
Shawn Collins: Yeah, it’s been very limited and I, to be honest I’m confused by that because they have the option to make those kind of promo codes ‘cause they use them for various things, like maybe for Christmas they might have like X-Mas Ten for ten percent off shipping or whatever…
Susan Bratton: Right.
Shawn Collins: So the opportunity is out there for them, but for some reason a lot of them just sleep with a switch and not doing it. I know that, I’ve heard on some podcasts on, within geekcast.fm that (unintelligible) and some of the podcasters there are working with companies and they got them to give them those kind of unique codes. But I, it’s been relatively rare for the most part for affiliate programs to do that. I’m not sure why they haven’t pursued it more ‘cause… in the case of the shows that I’ve listened to that have those unique codes, it was the podcasters that initiated it. It’s not like these affiliate programs came to them.
Susan Bratton: Yeah. They don’t know that that’s what’s needed, so the podcasters have to educate them. Well it’s working for us so far and I think it’ll, you know, it’ll continue to grow. So we’re trying to set up relationships with podcast networks, you know, and generate a whole bunch of promo codes for them to use, and that seems to be moving forward. It’s definitely an untapped channel, and whenever you can do, whenever you find a kind of a green field opportunity, that’s a good thing. I should keep my mouth shut. So I want to talk about the keynotes, and of course I started out the show talking about Dr. Robert Cialdini, and I wanted to know what you thought was the most interesting actionable insight that you got from his keynote.
Shawn Collins: I guess the one thing there is I think one thing I really enjoyed the show that you had him with and I felt like he really, he gave a lot of the great information on the show itself. For anybody who missed it, they can just sort of go back and listen to it from you. But I guess the, he was sort of reiterating a lot of things that if people read his book they already sort of knew, so I guess it was reinforcing his basic principles of influence. But it wasn’t really anything new to me; it was, I guess, I love what he was saying there and I booked him because I really enjoy what he does. But to me it wasn’t really anything new; it was just something I really enjoyed seeing it and hearing it again.
Susan Bratton: I loved how at the end of the keynote he, the first thing he did was he said, “If you give me”… I don’t remember the order he did it in. I might get it backward, you can remind me. But he did two things; first he taught us that if you want someone to do something for you give them something first. Don’t expect that there’s a quid pro quo, be the person with the olive branch in your copywriting. And so, the first thing I think he did was he said, “I brought these wallet cards with my six ethical rules of influence, and they’re available for everyone.” And then he said, “And if you give me your business card I’ll send you a copy of a Harvard Business Review article on the principles of persuasion and influence.” And so first he gave us the card, and then he asked for the quid pro quo because he wanted our contact information. I’m totally stealing that idea. It was fantastic. And I of course scurried back there and grabbed a wad of those wallet cards, and I posted on my DishyMix fan page on Facebook that I had them, and literally everybody wants one of those cards. I’ve been mailing those cards out to people who come to my fan page in Facebook, the DishyMix fan page, and post that they want one, and they just email me their address and I mail it out to them. And people have jumped on that, they loved that.
Shawn Collins: Yeah, they, it’s definitely a great little giveaway. I have it in my wallet, and it’s just fun to look at and just, I guess you can sort of remember that stuff if you really want to, but I like to have that just to rehash it in my own head.
Susan Bratton: Yeah. I think at this point we should probably commit those six things to memory. I think we might have them. So speaking of fabulous little giveaways, before we go to a break I want to mention your generosity. You’re giving us a couple of things for DishyMix fans. You want to tell us what you’ve brought to us today?
Shawn Collins: Yeah, the two things are one is the copy of the, our new book, Internet Marketing From The Real Experts, I’d like to put two copies of that out there for some listeners in your audience, as well as two gold passes for the upcoming Affiliate Summit that’s taking place on August 15th through the 17th in New York City.
Susan Bratton: Shawn Collins is Santa Clause. That is so generous of you. So you’re going to give away two gold passes to DishyMix fans for Affiliate Summit East in New York in August, and you’re going to give away two – and you said you would be willing to personally autograph them?
Shawn Collins: I’d be happy to even though I can’t take credit for all the content in there, I only have a handful articles, but I’d be more than happy to do that.
Susan Bratton: That’d be awesome. People love a personally autographed copy. So you’ve got two personally autographed copies of Internet Marketing From The Real Experts with three minute lessons on a myriad of things that are the most important things in Internet marketing today, so thank you for that. And before we go to a break, what’s the Gang of 88?
Shawn Collins: We’re just trying to come up with some kind of name for the authors because it’s basically 88 different people that contributed to this book, and since Amazon and all of these different places don’t let you list that many authors we just needed to come up with some kind of name and that was just, what we just reached out for when we were talking to the publisher.
Susan Bratton: Got it. It wasn’t the Gang of 1988 or something where you all graduated together somewhere or something.
Shawn Collins: No, but that is when I graduated highschool though.
Susan Bratton: Is it? Oh wow, you’re such a youngin Shawn. All right, well we’re going to go to a break to thank my sponsors, and when we come back we’re going to talk about Shawn Collins best tips for merchants. We’re going to talk about the best resources for find affiliates. We’re going to talk a little bit about CPA networks. We’ve got so many things we want to talk about, so lets go to break so we can get back here with Shawn. And don’t forget that if you’d like to get the Affiliate Summit East New York passes, gold passes or a copy, a personally autographed copy of his new book, Shawn and the Gang of 88’s new book, all you have to do is go to – there’s two URL’s, you can get there either way – dishymixfan.com or you can just go to facebook.com/dishymix. That takes you to the fan page. Just post what you’d like and why you should be the one that we give it to, we’ll pick our favorites from the posts and you’ll get your goodies. All right, we’ll be right back after this message from my sponsor that I appreciate. Stay tuned.
Susan Bratton: We’re back with Shawn Collins. So Shawn, merchants who are willing to let their affiliates bid on their keywords, how do you empower your affiliates in pay per click? What’s the right way to think about this?
Shawn Collins: Well I think that there’s no shortage of people that would be very happy to do the direct PPC and to user trademark. But the majority of them just aren’t bringing anything to the table. So I think what you should do is just sort of deputize maybe two, three or four people who are willing to go out there and do these big broad campaigns where they’re going to hit thousands or tens of thousands of keywords and let them have use of your trademark, ‘cause basically it’s sort of a tradeoff there where they’re going to get some low hanging fruit with the trademark keywords, but then also they’re working the long tail and they’re taking a lot of risk and some loss there with a lot of these keywords, so you’re in sort of, you’re in true partnership there with these people that are willing to put some money and risk out there.
Susan Bratton: That makes total sense and really understanding who’s going to be the best for you as a PPC partner too, making sure they know their, they have their chops in it as well. So what about finding affiliates? I’m aware of this company called Syntryx; are you?
Shawn Collins: Yes, and I, by the time I stopped managing affiliate programs they weren’t really out there as much so I never personally used them, so I was always doing all their recruiting myself. But I know they have a good name for the service they provide.
Susan Bratton: So I’ve looked at that tool and evaluated that tool and gone in and essentially they’ll give you, you know, a huge spreadsheet with hundreds of potential affiliates with their certain kind of ranking on it so that it helps you prioritize who you might at least go check out and look on Compete or whatever for, you know, traffic - Quantcast or Compete to see what kind of traffic these sites get, etcetera. But it still feels like a needle in a haystack to me. Is all of this stuff so hand done - like going to Google and, you know, searching your keywords and seeing what sites come up and clicking on those and finding the contact and contacting them – is it that laborious.
Shawn Collins: Yeah, it really is. But I think a lot of people just want to grow their affiliate programs so fast, but it really takes a lot of like just getting your hands dirty and doing the work yourself. And the one thing to bear in mind is that if you do just the more strategic approach then you’re going to get these better affiliates instead of, you might only get a few a week, but they’ll be productive instead of bringing in a hundred that are dead weight. So and there are some shortcuts for like instead of just going manually to Google, there’s a software I used in the past that I imagine is still around called Link Capture, that’s at linkcapture.com. And so what you can do there is you can just put a query in for whatever the keywords relevant to your affiliate program and also you can run a report on which sites are linking to your competitors and then it’ll just, it’ll pass it back for the ones for the search engine - it’s not only Google but Bang and all the others, Yahoo – and then you can just export that out to CSB file, and this thing also, it syncs up with who is and some other things, so you’re able to pull all of their, whatever they provide to someone that’s, correct information for mailing addresses and email and so on and so forth. And so what I would do with that is I would build these target lists of domains who are ranking well for my keywords, and like I was mentioning earlier, I’d do a postcard campaign to recruit them. And I was seeing upwards of ten percent response rate of people joining the affiliate programs from that.
Susan Bratton: Do you have any of those old postcards? Is there a possibility that I could blog one of those postcards?
Shawn Collins: Yeah, let me look through my file cabinets. I probably have a bunch of them that I can scan in and get over to you.
Susan Bratton: I’d love that. So I’ll let you know that if Shawn is able to get those to me I’ll put them up on the blog and you can take a look at them that way, to get an idea of what that postcard campaign was. I’m sure it was simple, but using your formula would be awesome. Thank you for sharing that.
Shawn Collins: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I guess there are a lot of different ways you can do it. Two different services I used in the past, one was this Vista Print and you can use any old printer to print them…
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Shawn Collins: But also one thing to sort of cut corners for time and it was pretty cost effective too was to use amazingmail.com, and I guess they probably have some competitors, but you can go in there and basically you can upload your design, your database and then write whatever your copy is and do a merge so it says “Dear”, whatever the first name is and all that, and it’s a nice personalized postcard, and they do all the mailing and everything for a pretty cost effective price, versus if you’re going to sit there at your kitchen table and stamp and address each one yourself.
Susan Bratton: Exactly. I like Overnight Prints better than Vista Print. Their cardstock is higher quality and their glossy look is really nice. And their cardstock’s slightly larger when you get the cards from them. But they’re all good. When I went to Affiliate Summit one of the things that, I was going to find affiliates. And it was my first time there, and I didn’t really know the lay of the land, it’s a whole new world for me. And my strategy was to ask anybody I knew or anybody I met “Hey, what would you recommend? Who’s the one person here that I need to talk to if I’m trying to find affiliates and super affiliates and JV partners for my information products? And oh by the way, here’s my little picture of all my information products so you can see what I do.” That was my strategy. It was not terribly effective. What do you do to make the best time at Affiliate Summit if you want to find… ‘Cause those big super affiliates, they hide. They’re squirrely, like, they won’t give you their cards.
Shawn Collins: Yeah, I think one of the problems there is that there are too many people that are really creeps about their business card and they’ll just opt them into newletters without permission and different things, so they, so many are more wary of giving their email at, so the bad apples there have messed it up for the legitimate programs. But the two things that are definitely very effective is we have a social network at network.affiliatesummit.com, you can go there and you can identify the, all the people that are your targets, affiliates in there and just sort of a conversation going before the conference and schedule to meet them, ‘cause I’d say to really do a crapshoot there and hope to find them once you get there is a lot more difficult, but if you can set up a whole bunch of meetings in advance after meeting them in the social network then it makes it a lot more effective for you.
Susan Bratton: Say that URL again.
Shawn Collins: It’s network.affiliatesummit.com.
Susan Bratton: Okay. Great. And do you have to be a registered Affiliate Summit attendee to use that?
Shawn Collins: Yes, we manually approve people after checking if they’ve been registered.
Susan Bratton: Got it.
Shawn Collins: And we try to make it easy to join, so it’s part of Ning…
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Shawn Collins: so if you have an account there.
Susan Bratton: Ning’s sites rock, don’t they?
Shawn Collins: Yeah, I like them a lot. And one other thing to, that’s really exploded for us is our Meet Market – I don’t know if you saw that on a Sunday.
Susan Bratton: Oh, I went to it. It was crazy. I threw myself into that thing. My favorite person I met was Glen Pagano. Do you know him?
Shawn Collins: I don’t think so.
Susan Bratton: I walked in and I was, it was like a sea of people all doing deals and talking to each other, and I was like “Whoa.” I just have to meet Susan Bratton, super connector, mosh pit, you know, handshaker. I was so crazy in there. I loved it. The energy was amazing. But I literally walked into the Meet Market, and I just kind of moved myself against the wall, and I had assay the situation to figure out how I was going to approach this room. You have made such an amazing situation happen in there. But I didn’t, again, give us some hints about how to approach that.
Shawn Collins: So I guess the thing there is we, it was originally developed as an alternative for the companies ‘cause the majority of affiliate programs didn’t have booths, so we wanted to have some kind of venue for them to be able to set up and meet people so they had basically, we figured that was sort of a cross between an exhibit hall and a job fair where they would get like a six foot by two foot table to set up and put some flyers out and whatever. But that’s immersed to be this really gigantic thing for us in the last few years where this time around we sold out this pretty large space and we had to have a secondary room for it because we just had such demand for it. We had about 50 people, 50 companies that wanted tables for it after we had already maxed it out. But that’s a place where anybody who’s running an affiliate program, it’s a more cost effective accessible way to go in there and recruit affiliates and have sort of a home base.
Susan Bratton: One of the things that I love about it is the name, Meet Market. It’s a great name. Who came up with that?
Shawn Collins: I did, but I have to admit that I stole it ‘cause I read the New York Post here, one of my local papers, and each Sunday they have a dating section where they have one person, they have like three people to pick from and they call it the Meet Market, so I sort of borrowed that a few years ago from them.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, that was clever. And I like also that you always have beer. And not that I had, I didn’t drink a single beer, but one of the things that I think is good about it is that it’s much more casual, it creates a more of a casual camaraderie kind of a feeling to have that at the same time.
Shawn Collins: Yeah, we try to make it just a relaxed fun atmosphere, and I guess part of the whole I guess target for this conference for myself and for my partner, Missy Ward, that we wanted to make it a conference for people that maybe hate conferences, to make it more of a fun relaxed atmosphere ‘cause we don’t feel like going back to college each time we go to a conference.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, exactly. And I liked, now I didn’t see him in person, I actually watched his videos after the show, but I liked that guy Will Reynolds and I liked when he said – that’s his name, right?
Shawn Collins: Yeah.
Susan Bratton: I liked what he said about his Twitter strategy, ‘cause it’s exactly what I do for Talkshow Tips and Masterful Interviews, my two books that teach people how to conduct a really good interview on their podcast or their radio show or for their information product or whatever it might be. And he said, he gave the example of if you’re an air conditioning company or you’re – yeah, you’re an air conditioning company – you would go on Twitter, search the keywords that say “it’s hot”, “I’m hot”, blah-blah-blah, and then you would follow those people and Tweet about air conditioning, so that people might become aware of your air conditioning company. And I thought that was a, that’s what I do. I follow people who say things like “My show”, “My podcast”, “My new interview with”, you know. I track those people, follow them, they follow me back, and then they become aware of Talkshow Tips or Masterful Interviews and they seem y stream of information and they come to my website and they sign up for my auto responders and then hopefully I convert them to a customer. And I really like that cycle. I don’t expect that someone’s going to click through my affiliate link or my link to my site and purchase. They’re going to come into my funnel that way. And I thought he had a really nice approach to that – of course I agree with it ‘cause that’s what I’m doing. What do you think about Twitter? Do you think – ‘cause some people say Twitter’s game over, it’s just gotten to be just a disaster - where do you stand on all of that as far as possible scenarios in the affiliate world?
Shawn Collins: Well one quick thing real fast I just wanted to say that you mentioned Will Reynolds and he’s a great guy. He’s actually been our most popular speaker dating back to 2005 every time we do feedback, so, you know…
Susan Bratton: Yeah, he’s a cutie pie.
Shawn Collins: Yeah. And he’s, the great thing about him is you see some people at conferences that just try to rehash the same thing for the last three years, and he just does a whole brand new thing every time and just he shares so much stuff, so he’s such a great resource. But as far as Twitter, I think a lot of people tried to go there and be really in your face, and I think it’s just really, at least for me it’s just been effective to do a soft sell and actually just put a lot of value out there and quality content and then mix it in with some stuff that you can monetize here and there. But if you’re just going to put out just randomly like here’s a link to buy the iPad, then people aren’t going to really be interested at all in following you.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, provide value…
Shawn Collins: Yeah. And one thing…
Susan Bratton: It comes down to that.
Shawn Collins: One thing you can do pretty smooth like you were saying about thawing people back or just thawing them initially is I think it’s, there have been plenty of times where I’ve seen people that ask for recommendation for a favorite camera or whatever, and so I would say, “This is the particular one that I’m using, and I have a link to buy it on Amazon”, so I’m actually giving something where I’m endorsing something and saying that I like it a lot and then monetizing that, but I’m not going out there and just initiating that conversation, just sort of doing it with somebody who’s already a friend of mine on there.
Susan Bratton: It takes so long to get an affiliate link out of Amazon. Isn’t that irksome? Is there any kind of thing that speeds that up?
Shawn Collins: Yeah, there’s actually a thing they came out with I guess it was about a year ago, it was a little band that if you’re logged into Amazon there’s a, it’s called a Site Stripe, it goes along the top of their browser…
Susan Bratton: Oh great.
Shawn Collins: And if you just go to any page on Amazon and it has a bunch of options on there. One of them says “Link to this page”, and you can click on that and just create a link to that page, whether it’s the homepage or any product page, right away. And also it has a shortcut where it’s a link and you can click to just share whatever that page is on Twitter, get to your earning summary, all this stuff. Just a little, it’s maybe about a quarter inch or almost a half inch tall and has all these little resources you can use whenever you’re at Amazon?
Susan Bratton: Where do I find that?
Shawn Collins: I’m not sure if it’s an option that you have to do within your affiliate account ‘cause I’ve had it since they launched it and I don’t remember how I got it, but it’s, whenever I’m, I’m just perpetually logged into Amazon ‘cause I buy stuff there constantly.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, me too.
Shawn Collins: And so whenever I go to Amazon it’s just already there for me. So I guess maybe just to log into your account, it must be an option to have that show up.
Susan Bratton: Its got to be in there. We’ll go dig it up. That’s a great tip. An affiliate tip.
Shawn Collins: Yeah.
Susan Bratton: So it was funny too, ‘cause I heard you and Lisa Pickerelli talking on the affiliate thing about your pokins and how you wore your pokins and nobody had any pokins and pokins didn’t work. Did you, what I noticed that people were doing at your show was bumping their iPhone apps; have you done that? I think that’s the ultimate pokin.
Shawn Collins: Yeah, I think the pokin just sort of comes across a little silly to have that on your nametag I think. But I have, I’ve never been crazy about the iPhone. I have a Blackberry for years and I just got a Nexus one, which has the bump on it, but I haven’t bumped anybody yet with it.
Susan Bratton: Shawn, I would’ve bumped you. That’s too bad.
Shawn Collins: I’m not sure, I wonder if you can cross bump from the next one of the iPhone.
Susan Bratton: I don’t know. We should try that. All right, this is my last question because we’re running out of time. We could’ve done a two-part series I have a feeling Shawn. Will you come back on the show sometime?
Shawn Collins: I love to.
Susan Bratton: Okay, good. CPA networks, what’s the perfect scenario to approach a CPA network with? What do they want as far as like a model?
Shawn Collins: From the merchant perspective? If you’re trying to sell something?
Susan Bratton: Yeah, if you go to a, if you’re a merchant and you want to use CPA networks, you have to bring them something, and it’s got to be, you know, certain kind of offers, certain kind of price point, certain kind of conversion rate that you can show on the page, so that they’re willing to take it on and test it and see if they can sell it. What’s that sweet spot?
Shawn Collins: I guess there’s no universal one. The one thing is I guess I’m not sure how much they would work for your products since they’re really based on leads instead of revenue share, but typically they’re more for like maybe a debt consolidation lead or health insurance or something.
Susan Bratton: They like bounty; they don’t want to worry about sale.
Shawn Collins: Exactly. Yeah, they have, they do have some rev share offers on there, but nobody really touches them. But I think the one basic truth there that people never seem to follow is to just go exclusive with one of the biggest lead networks, or one of the CPA networks, and maybe not one of the biggest ones but just one of them, ‘cause people have this compulsion to put their offer at every single network. And so there’s not really any I guess big reason to go to a certain network to get it, but… ‘Cause a CPA network has an exclusive they’re going to go out there and tell it like crazy, and that’s one thing that when people are going to the Meet Market at Affiliate Summit they would say, “Which exclusive campaigns do you have?”, ‘cause if you’re a cookie cutter of some of the other networks then why should I bother getting a new login. So it’s good for the network and good for you to make exclusive.
Susan Bratton: Yeah. That makes sense, and I heard a lot about that at the Affiliate Summit, the exclusivity of the relationship. It’s the same 80/20 thing, you know. The same as picking a few of your affiliates and doing your, allowing them to do PPC with your brand words. It’s the same as picking an exclusive CPA network that you can put all your energy against. It’s the same as picking a couple of your affiliates and really working with them one on one.
Shawn Collins: Yes. I guess it goes back to Dr. Cialdini and scarcity.
Susan Bratton: Scarcity, that’s true. And you also recommended monitoring the affiliate forums to see what affiliates are saying about each CPA networks, that the best way to get the pulse, that’s what you told me. What affiliate forums should we be spending our time on?
Shawn Collins: I guess it depends what type of affiliate you are. In terms of CPA, I’d say the best one to keep an eye on is probably wickedfire.com, and it’s, in that particular form it’s, the conversations there can be a little bit dicey, but if you can past that there’s a lot of good information, a lot of blunt talk about which offers or which networks may be good or more importantly bad to keep you away from them.
Susan Bratton: And that’s Wicked Fire?
Shawn Collins: Yes, wickedfire.com.
Susan Bratton: That’s a great name. And what’s another one, say if you’re not doing the bounty, the lead, the cost per acquired, you know, customer, but instead you’re doing a classic affiliate rev share type of thing, how do you, where would you go for an affiliate form for that?
Shawn Collins: The biggest one there is abestweb.com, and that one’s been around for many years and there’s a very vibrant community there, it’s very helpful. And they have also all of the different affiliate networks, the quote/unquote “traditional” affiliate networks have sections there, so it’s a great place to go there and just, you can just go there and say “What does everybody think about the X,Y,Z Company”, or just pretty much any question you have, even basics on how to do different things like how do I set up a data feed or how do I create a, what kind of software do I use to edit a video. There’s somebody in there for pretty much any question that’s related to affiliate marketing.
Susan Bratton: That’s great. Thank you for those. I love all of these great tips you’ve given us. So I want to close off the show and I’d love to do something, I play this game, it’s called The Lightening Round. And I ask you a question, you give me a quick answer, I ask you a question, you give me a quick answer. Would you be willing to play that with me, just a countdown final minute or two?
Shawn Collins: Sure.
Susan Bratton: Okay, good. You’re a brave man Shawn. All right, so the first question is if I could wave my magic wand and make one thing work better in your business or your career, what would it be?
Shawn Collins: A longer day.
Susan Bratton: I can’t do that.
Shawn Collins: You said it was a magic wand.
Susan Bratton: I don’t think my magic wand is that powerful. What is the axium by which you live your life?
Shawn Collins: I guess just the plain old golden rule where I try to just always do unto others as I would have them do unto me. I’m not sure if that’s the correct paraphrase there, but it’s sort of that, that’s just the basic (unintelligible) I try to go by.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, we call that karma here in California. They call that the golden rule in Jersey. What activity could you do all day long without getting bored?
Shawn Collins: I love to write, so I could do that day in, and I usually don’t do things all day long. I go well into the night and I take breaks during the day. But I just love to write.
Susan Bratton: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Shawn Collins: I’d like to get into the political business in some way and the marketing of candidates and that sort of thing.
Susan Bratton: Republican or democrat?
Shawn Collins: Republican.
Susan Bratton: Okay. All right, last question. What’s on your…
Shawn Collins: You sounded disappointed there.
Susan Bratton: No. No, no, no, no, not at all, not disappointed. I am, I think I see both sides of so much that I don’t have, I don’t ever profess my affiliation. So I’m honoring whatever is right for you.
Shawn Collins: All right.
Susan Bratton: What’s on your bucket list? What do you want to do before you die?
Shawn Collins: Got a handful of things there. I guess one thing I’d love to do is to hit every baseball park around the country. I’ve been to maybe a half dozen or so so far, so I want to do that, and maybe…
Susan Bratton: How many are there?
Shawn Collins: About 30.
Susan Bratton: Okay. That’s doable.
Shawn Collins: Yeah, so I’d love to do it all in one summer. I’m not sure how much my wife would like that.
Susan Bratton: She’d hate that.
Shawn Collins: Yeah. We’ve got four kids, so that may not be so practical.
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Shawn Collins: Also I’d love to drive through Iowa with my family. I think, I mentioned I have four kids, so it’d be better when they’re a little bit older.
Susan Bratton: How old are your kids now?
Shawn Collins: Got a 10, 8, 6 and 3 year old.
Susan Bratton: Oh wow, you’ve got a big spread, yeah. Once they get, give them five years and you’ll, they’ll be ready to go.
Shawn Collins: Yeah. Yeah, I don’t know if they would really appreciate just riding around the ring of (unintelligible) and different things, and Iowa may be just saying “Are we there yet”, not really understanding the whole trip is the destination.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, exactly. I’d like to go, I’d like to go but not with you and four kids. I’ll meet you at the pub for a pint of Guinness though.
Shawn Collins: That sounds great.
Susan Bratton: Deal. What else? Anything else on your bucket list?
Shawn Collins: And also I’d love to get into like I mentioned about politics, love to run a political campaign or be just involved in the marketing of it and get somebody elected. In the past I thought I might want to actually get into politics myself, but I learned from working on some campaigns it’s really ugly and sort of miserable for the candidate and I’d rather be the puppet master and walk away after it’s finished.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, I think that’s a wise idea. Anything else or is that your bucket list?
Shawn Collins: And then one that’s been sort of a monkey on my back for over a decade now is that I have this novel that I need to write that I have been making notes for since I was in college, and I want to put that, make that into a book and then I’d love to see that in a movie after that.
Susan Bratton: What’s it about?
Shawn Collins: Sort of a real depiction of what goes on in fraternities.
Susan Bratton: The good and bad? All the hazing and everything?
Shawn Collins: Yeah, I figured it’d be a great thing ‘cause it would push the buttons of all kinds of groups, just all the… In my case I went to the University of Maryland, and I guess I can’t say it’s typical of every school around – and this is in the late 80’s, early 90’s – but a big share of hazing and drug use and misogyny and racism, illegal gambling, just whole laundry list of saucy stories.
Susan Bratton: Could make a really good book. Or you could just write the screenplay and take it right to a movie.
Shawn Collins: Yeah, the thing there is though I like the storytelling part of it and you have to cut out so much fun detail to go to a movie.
Susan Bratton: That is true. That is true, except Avatar, there was some fun detail in that. I was just telling Shawn before we started this show that I saw Avatar last night and I’m still kind of recovering from it. It was so, Tim and I were saying that it was the most sustained intensity our bodies ever experienced in our mutual lifetimes. It was crazy.
Shawn Collins: I’m looking to do a different kind of story, more of a conversation based one than action with blue people.
Susan Bratton: Action with blue people, exactly. The Na Vi. All right, Shawn thank you so much again for the generosity of the two gold passes to Affiliate Summit East and two personally autographed copies of your book, which is called Internet Marketing From the Real Experts – not the fake experts, the real deal people. So thank you so much for that. And thanks for coming on the show. It’s been a lot of fun to talk to you.
Shawn Collins: Yeah, thank you. It’s been a great pleasure to be here.
Susan Bratton: Oh good. I’m glad. I’m glad you had a good time. I know we did. And thanks for all the work you do in the world to educate people and bring people together in your space. You’ve just built an amazing franchise, and I really, really appreciate and support your success.
Shawn Collins: Well thank you very much. I’m a fan of yours from your podcast and everything, so…
Susan Bratton: My pleasure.
Shawn Collins: It’s a mutual admiration society.
Susan Bratton: Exactly. There’s nothing wrong with that, man. That’s a good thing. All right, well thank you so much Shawn, and thank you for listening to DishyMix this week. I know we went a little long, it seemed like it was worth it and I hope it was worth your time. Hope you’ll go back and listen to that Dr. Cialdini interview about persuasion and influence. And I look forward to connecting with you next week about some other fabulous thing. Have a great day.