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Many of you have been asking about new “Affiliate Marketing Legends” interviews, and yes, we have many more in stock for you!
In today’s one, I am excited to feature Missy Ward of Affiliate Summit! Below you may find her brief “profile” and my interview with this legend of the industry follows right under it.
GP: When and how did you get into affiliate marketing?
MW: Back in 1988, I was hired to do paste-ups (the way pages were laid out before Quark, PageMaker, InDesign, etc). Many companies and job positions later, I was a VP of Marketing for a start-up here in Florida. One day back in 1999, one of the owners came into my office so excited about this new thing he heard of where this company had these virtual, independent consultants that marketed the company’s product on their own, with no expense to the company. The best part was that the company would only have to pay those independent consultants a commission if they made a sale. He was referring to Amazon, and it was their Associates Program.
GP: If there was no affiliate marketing, what would you likely focus your efforts on?
MW: I would probably be involved in politics. I feel that my leadership and communication skills, along with my determination, could help make some needed changes in the world and inspire others into action.
I’ve not given up on this idea, and it may still be in the cards for me in the future.
GP: I’ve known you for many-many years and your productivity has always impressed me. What efficiency-related habits have helped you the most in affiliate marketing?
MW: I wasn’t always productive and always felt out of step with just about everyone around me. It wasn’t until I received my ADHD diagnosis and figured out ways to compensate for some deficits that my productivity started to increase. I also landed into an industry where I can leverage some of ADHD’s characteristics such as creativity, multi-tasking, risk-taking, and the inability to not let go of an exciting project until it is completed or loses its sparkle. So, while many people may feel as though ADHD is a curse, I think of it as my super-power. As far as tools or habits go, I need to calendar everything and stick to the time allocated for each task. If the item doesn’t get done in the allotted time, it gets put back on the calendar for completion later on. I allow myself time for breaks and things like playing around on Social Media or watching funny videos. Lastly, I calendar time for schedule interruptions and the creation of contingency plans because not everyone can live on my schedule.
GP: What are the top criteria that you would use when evaluating affiliate programs, deciding whether to work with one or not?
TC: I try to promote products and services that I have first-hand knowledge about. Whether you like the product or not, you’ll have a much easier time writing good copy that sells. I also make sure that I don’t promote something that is being marketed using false claims; is being investigated by organizations or trade groups, or is simply plain old junk. Once I find an item that I want to market, I look for an affiliate program that has it and then evaluate it based on item price, website conversion rate, look/feel of the site, their calendar of promotions, and the creatives offered and whether they’ll allow me to make my own. Lastly, I prefer to work with larger retailers that already have a large customer base as it’s easier to make a sale when a customer already has an account with the retailer and their credit card on file.
GP: What is the “number one” thing that you wish every brand with an affiliate program had or did better?
MW: Every brand with an affiliate program should be using a tracking system that offers multi-touch attribution. Not only does it enable them to analyze and allocate marketing spends more accurately, but it helps them understand the lifetime value of their customer. Multi-touch attribution also allows them to pay more than one affiliate for a sale or pay a specific type of affiliate a different commission rate than their standard program commission.
GP: What 3 ingredients of affiliate marketing success can neither an affiliate, not a brand succeed without?
MW: Affiliates must be creative, have marketing, data analytics, and technical skills. But, the most important skill required to be successful in affiliate marketing is stick-to-it-iveness. There is no magic bullet nor a foolproof way of integrating it into your marketing efforts. Like any business, it takes time, effort, and optimization to succeed.
Brands running affiliate programs must understand the value of the channel and provide a budget that affords the ability for the program to be successful. They must also have managers that understand the relationship-driven industry and provide the tools and support that affiliates need to do their jobs.
GP: What would you do differently had you had a chance start everything all over again?
MW: I would have quit my day job as a VP of Marketing earlier, so I could have focused all my efforts on my business instead of making my old boss rich.