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Author Archive » Anna Barcelos, Contributor, AMA Boston

Why B2B Companies Should Consider Affiliate Marketing

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

I was at a Boston AMA bloggers meeting and affiliate marketing came up.  That sparked some thoughts for this month’s post:  What is affiliate marketing? How can B2B organizations get the most return on investment from affiliate marketing programs? This post serves as a baby step into the huge world of affiliate marketing and how B2B companies should consider starting an affiliate program, whether for their own products or partnering with organizations that have complementary products or services.

What is it affiliate marketing?

In the simplest terms, affiliate marketing involves selling third-party products and services for a commission.  According to AffStat, 80% percent of affiliate programs today use revenue sharing or cost per sale (CPS) as a compensation method, 19% use cost per action (CPA), and the remaining programs use other methods such as cost per click (CPC) or cost per mille/thousand (CPM).

Affiliate marketing has been widely used for years, primarily in the B2C market.  A Forrester Research report indicated that B2B affiliate marketing is a multi-billion dollar market.  More and more B2B companies are taking a closer look at affiliate marketing because it’s a quick, cost-effective way to deliver brand awareness and generate revenue.  Affiliate marketing is done on-line; therefore, it’s trackable, and compensation is performance-based depending on the action (e.g., lead, click, or sale) keeping customer acquisition costs very low.

How can B2B organizations succeed with affiliate marketing?

As with any marketing programs, it’s critical that affiliate marketing fits within an organization’s marketing plan.  It’s also important to have a specific set of goals for an affiliate program, resources to coordinate it since a large portion involves business development and relationship building, and an excellent knowledge of targeted niches or markets that compliment your company’s products/services.

Affiliate partners can range from product/services providers to blogs/bloggers to industry associations.  Affiliate marketing also enables companies to cost-effectively reach or test new markets or niches, identify strategic partners or place their products and services where others may not search for them.

Affiliate marketing companies

If you do a Google search you will come across hundreds of affiliate marketing companies in specific markets.  Top affiliate marketing companies like Kowabunga! And LinkConnector are currently working with B2B organizations like Marketing Sherpa and Getty Images, respectively.

Many B2B organizations are still not putting enough attention in this area and should.  The benefits far outweigh the costs.  Two great resources on affiliate marketing include Shawn Collin’s AffiliateTip blog and the Affiliate Tips website. Have you considered or are you currently using affiliate marketing within your organization? Please feel free to share your experiences.  We’re always interested in learning from you!

Anna Barcelos has over 15 years of experience in both traditional and on-line marketing.  Recently she was the Director of Business Development & Marketing for Business Link International, a messaging services provider where she worked directly with top B2B/B2C clients to put together effective consumer satisfaction and lead generation programs.  You will find her writing about the importance of integrating classic with the latest marketing media and how to achieve the best results.  Currently she is a freelancer helping and educating small to medium-sized businesses on how to use marketing tools to drive business. She’s an AMA member, monthly AMA Boston blogger, and you will always find her on Twitter.  Feel free to follow Anna at @abarcelos.

How an Organization is Using Social Media to Increase Awareness and Significantly Impact Lives

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

On-line networks are filled with information about social media and how companies are using it as a way to increase brand awareness and form closer, more meaningful relationships with their customers.  However, the skepticism among B2B marketers remains.  You can Google dozens of blog comments and articles where marketers still don’t associate social marketing with bottom line results.  Marketers are demanding more quantitative data on social marketing.  As a B2B marketer, I am continuously looking for examples of how social media has created an impact, whether financially or socially, and have provided one for my January post.I had the pleasure of chatting with fellow marketer Danny Brown about social media and how he’s using it to get the word out on his latest project www.12for12K.org, a charity organization that focuses on helping 12 charities, a different one each month, for 12 months.  January’s charity, War Child, provides relief for children of war torn countries like Gaza and Afghanistan. 

Q.     What sparked your desire to start the 12for12K initiative, what it is, and why use social media to do it?

A.      I’ve been involved with charities for a while. I don’t know when it was that the idea for 12for12k came to me – maybe it was an epiphany? I guess it started as “What can I do for 12 months?” and then the numbers came – 12 months, 12 charities, 1200 people, $10 per person per charity, $12,000 per charity.Once the idea was in place, I knew social media was the way to go. The outreach you have on places like Twitter and Facebook, as well as the connections that you make and that they make in return, made social media an obvious channel for the 12for12k project. The first week has been slow as people come back from the holidays, but we have some big plans for promotional pushes over the next couple of weeks.

Q.   With all the mixed press out there about social media (i.e., it’s a fad, doesn’t deliver ROI, etc.).  Describe two ways you think social media will endure the test of time and provide value for organizations.

A.    I think the main reason for organizations to get involved and use it is the cost factor. For example, instead of spending $50,000 on a PR campaign, why not spend $5,000 on a coordinated social media PR campaign instead? Use the tools that are available and spread the word that way? Of course, still have some form of traditional PR working alongside it, but nowhere near $50,000 worth.

The other real benefit is the connection social media can offer between businesses and their customers. With the unsure economy and reduced consumer spending, you need to keep your customers – connecting with them via the likes of Twitter and blogging and actually interacting with them will reap its own rewards. I always liken social media ROI to “Risk of Ignoring” – that’s where the value comes in.

Q.  How has social media benefited your own business and how do you measure its value?

A.  From a business point of view, it’s allowed me to get my brand and services in front of people I may have otherwise struggled to (from a logistical point of view). I can have a short bio on Twitter, people know what I do and how I do it, and that’s on view 24/7 to potentially 4 million people. Just the other day I met with a potential new client who found me on Twitter, liked what I was saying and set up a meeting.

Of course, it’s not just Twitter – there’s LinkedIn and FastPitch and many others, as well as using my blog to offer views on something that might help people. As far as measuring its value, it’s a waiting game, and I always advise my clients of this. It won’t be an overnight success; it won’t happen within a few short weeks.

But if you can build solid relationships with people through social media and offer as much of your service as you do promoting it, you’ll build a link that’s hard to break. People will come to you first and that kind of connection and trust is where the real value lies.

Danny Brown is a long-time corporate communications, marketing and promotions professional who has been involved in social media for six years.  He owns PressReleasePR, a boutique agency specializing in search engine optimized press releases and social media PR.   He has guest authored at Web Analytics World , is a blog partner of WebProNews and iEntry, and regular contributor to the  Dad-o-Matic project.

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Anna Barcelos is an AMA member and monthly blog contributor with 15 years of B2B/B2C marketing experience.  She is constantly on the look-out for best practices in both traditional and on-line marketing and likes to share it with fellow marketers through her blog and social media sites like Twitter (@ableo2).  Currently she’s the Director of Marketing & Business Development for a RI-based messaging (email/voice/surveys/SMS/fax) technology company.

Social Networking…LinkedIn and Facebook and Twitter…Oh My!

Monday, December 15th, 2008

As a marketers, let’s admit it, we love to network!  OK, so I will speak for myself.  All these networking tools are a whole lot of fun!  For the longest time I have been hearing the buzzword Social Networking and not really placing great emphasis on it.  Of course the social networking epiphany didn’t actually happen for me until after I started receiving phone calls and emails as a result of it.  For about 14 years, my career has primarily revolved around traditional and on-line marketing for B2B and B2C companies.  I have many contacts in the industry but have mainly had dialogues around marketing best practices.  This past summer, my career evolved into more of a business development role, and I can’t say enough about how social networking has helped me to be more successful in forming new relationships and partnerships!  Clearly social networking has gone corporate .  The trend has really increased in the past couple months, which is interesting, because that’s when I began really getting into it.   Here are the three social networks I frequent the most and what I’ve discovered about each one.  I highly recommend you use all of them and more!

LinkedIn

Yes, one of the classics.  LinkedIn focuses mainly on business networking, and I have found great connections there.  It is also a great place to keep up with people’s careers.  You’re able to make recommendations and write about the latest projects or business ventures you’re working on.   The profiles resemble resumes, which is great for those seeking employment or finding new business prospects or ventures.

Facebook

Facebook originated as an ideal place for college students to connect.  Over the past years, however, it has also gone corporate.  Although I couldn’t convince the folks at my company to have a presence on it (hello?), I created a profile and am building connections as a result of it.  Facebook is more personal.  It extends beyond just knowing someone on a professional level.  You’re able to display photos of family and friends as well as events you’ve attended with colleagues and friends.  There are a lot of fun applications you can use to “play” with your friends.  I haven’t really checked those out in great depth yet, but they include things like sending a friend a drink or taking quizzes to see if you’re alike.  There are a lot of ads and applications on Facebook.  It doesn’t hurt to check it out to see if it’s right for your company.

Twitter

This one is very interesting (and addictive at times).   Twitter is probably one of my favorites because it’s so amazingly simple!  This simple application enables you to post statements (140 characters or less), whether business-related or personal for all to see.  The way Twitter works as a networking tool is you post items, people will “follow” you if they’re interested in what you have to say, and in turn, you can follow them.  You build your network by following and being followed by people.  You can post URLs of your website, blogs or anything you think may be of interest.  If using it for business be sure to have the user name match the company name for consistency.  It gets really fun when you start getting followed.  For me there is this challenge of building my network of followers.  I have read some great posts and met some interesting people on Twitter.  It’s another great place to plug a new product, blog posting or anything else you feel would help your business. 

There are many social networking tools and web sites.  The walk-away here is to invest your time wisely on the ones that “give back” – whether personal or professional.  Please, always be yourself because people see through that more than ever today. 

Visit my profiles

www.facebook.com

www.twitter.com/ableo2

http://www.linkedin.com/in/annabarcelos

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Anna Barcelos has over 14 years of B2B and B2C broad-based marketing experience, both traditional and on-line. She is the Director of Marketing and Business Development for BLI Messaging, a Providence, RI-based email, voice, survey, SMS and fax technologies company.  Anna is currently a member of AMA, MarketingProfs, and SOCAP. She is also a monthly AMA Boston blog contributor.

So…Looks Like We Are In a Recession. Never Fear Marketers Are Here!

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Last week’s article Recession Nation: 49 States at Risk pointed out that every state in the country with the exception of oil rich Alaska is either in or at risk of being in a recession.  Working for a marketing services organization, I automatically hear from customers and prospects that their budgets are being slashed.  It’s a common trend I’ve experienced during my 15 years in marketing.  Yet, each and every time I see a recession as an opportunity.  Are marketing people delusional in feeling this way? Are we eternal optimists?  I don’t think so!    No matter what happens in the economy, let’s not forget our customers!  How do we help them if they are in situations where their budgets have been cut?  What do we do within our own organizations when management puts the pressure on us to reduce budgets?  We do what we do best – get creative! 

With all the latest cost-effective on-line technologies, even the smallest budgets can be used for successful marketing campaigns that yield opportunities for revenue.  Here are three cost-effective ways to leverage both traditional and on-line marketing without putting a strain on marketing budgets.

Keep going with email marketing
Despite the challenges marketers face with email marketing, whether deliverability or CAN SPAM compliance, the fact is – email marketing works!  82 percent of the marketers surveyed by Datran Media indicated that they planned to increase their use of email marketing this year.  There are numerous statistics all over the web about how you can use this cost-effective medium to generate leads and up-sell your products and services to existing customers.  The key is to find an ESP (email service provider) that does all the leg work of ensuring that your emails make it to your prospects and customers.  All you need to worry about is your message and call to action. You can send emails for pennies compared to traditional marketing efforts.  Most of you are already doing it.  Those that aren’t, what in the world are you waiting for!

Make your direct mail campaigns work harder by incorporating PURL technology
PURLs or personalized URLs are a fairly new application that automatically generates a separate URL for each person you’re targeting.  The technology works by creating a personalized web page for each direct mail recipient (e.g. www. AnnaBarcelos.CompanyName.com) that is printed on the direct mail piece.  A DMA study a couple years ago indicated that 42% of direct mail recipients prefer to respond on-line.  Capture these recipients by directing them to special pages that contain offers or collect information to help convert them to paying customers.  PURL technology is cost-effective at pennies per recipient, fully trackable and can double response rates.  I don’t know about you, but I recycle most of the direct mail I receive.  Bet I wouldn’t throw one out if it had a PURL on it.  Wouldn’t you be curious to see what awaits you on a web page created just for you?

What about the good ole fashioned telephone?
It costs 8 to 10 times less to generate revenue from existing customers than obtain new ones.  So why do companies still spend countless amounts of money trying to get new customers when there are plenty of existing ones that they can up-sell products and services to?  Take a look at your existing customer base and their current purchases.  I’m sure there are up-selling opportunities, but you won’t know until you pick up the phone and talk to them.  So simple, yet we don’t do it often enough.

These are just three ways to add more muscle to limited marketing budgets.  As marketers, we are smart, creative people.  Let’s use that ability more than ever during these trying times.

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Anna Barcelos has over 14 years of B2B and B2C broad-based marketing experience, both traditional and on-line. She is the Director of Marketing and Business Development for BLI Messaging, a Providence, RI-based email, voice, survey, SMS and fax technologies company.  Anna is currently a member of AMA, MarketingProfs, and SOCAP. She is also a monthly AMA Boston blog contributor.

Marketers and Technical Folks…Living Happily Ever After

Monday, October 13th, 2008

I’ve spent most of my career marketing for technology companies.  I still chuckle when I remember the old Saturday Night Live skits about the IT guy, Nick Burns (played by Jimmy Fallon), who always had to fix someone’s computer, and it was usually something minor.  One skit involved someone in the marketing department that didn’t know what they were doing on their computer.  Impatient Nick instructed the marketer to get out of his chair with the famous “MOVE!” so he could fix the issue rather than trying to troubleshoot the problem with him.  Seth Godin put it best – “Different people have very different agendas.  The key in understanding someone’s actions is understanding their agenda.” 

Marketers and technical folks often run into challenges, and in the end it comes down to having different agendas.  Marketers and technical folks need to communicate more openly – learn about each others’ agendas – and realize they have common goals of achieving success for their organization. 

What are the challenges between these two distinct groups that often cause them to butt heads and what do you do about it?  Here are some insights and pointers I’ve learned along the way.

Marketers create the brand perception and recognition; technical folks think they already know it.

It’s amazing how many times products have been developed without much customer feedback.  Techies feel they know what customers want, build it and then tell marketers to go out and tell the world about it.  Often it turns out that these products aren’t very user friendly in the real world. 

I have been involved in numerous product development meetings where I’ve seen demos and wondered, “How in the world are users going to know what to do with this thing?”  As a user, I’ve been able to contribute feedback that has been implemented into the products.  I’ve convinced technical folks that although the product has a lot of benefits, unless these products are intuitive and easy to use, they won’t be a success.

Marketers argue “customers won’t want to use this” while techies are convinced “they want it, they just don’t know it yet.”

Technology folks often feel marketing people don’t understand the product well enough to communicate its benefits.  That’s been a fun time for me.   I’ve been told by technology folks in my early years that marketing is “just fluff.”   Try to convince someone like that about the true value of marketing! Usually I will test the product (as a user) and communicate the challenges from my perspective in the way they understand it – documents with bullet points of exactly what I tested, results and recommendations for making the product more user-friendly.   I realize I may be lucky to even be involved in this process compared to organizations where products are created under lock and key away from the marketing department.  I have earned the rights to barge into product development, but it wasn’t without a fight.  Remember, not all organizations have product managers – marketing’s only hope of learning about upcoming products and features. 

What’s a marketer to do?
OK, so there are a couple of challenges between these two strong-minded groups.  We got that.  How do we do our jobs, co-exist and even develop warm and fuzzy relationships between each other? Well let me tell you how I’ve been able to do it.  To date there has only been one way for me.

Make marketing “technical!”
On-line marketing has quickly evolved, and marketers are now able to track marketing efforts better than ever.   Having the luxury of working for a marketing technology company, I can say I’ve become a marketing geek.  I have used on-line marketing in conjunction with traditional marketing efforts to measure marketing programs much more effectively and present data to technical folks that they can use.  For example, through the use of email marketing and surveys, I’ve collected and tracked product feedback that can be communicated back to product development; anything from new feature suggestions to existing features that are hard to figure out.  Another example is working with my technology group doing A/B Testing – testing variable elements of email campaigns to see which produce the best results.  Collecting and reporting measurable results helps bridge the gap between marketers and techies.  Most importantly, it helps techies realize the true value of marketing and why organizations can’t survive without it! 

Marketers and techies can co-exist and learn from each other.  In the end, always keep in mind that despite the differences between these two groups, there is one common goal – customer satisfaction.  If you keep your eye on the prize, you will realize technology folks aren’t much different at all. 

Have you had similar experiences in your organization?  I would love to hear about it!

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The views and opinions on this blog are solely those of the contributors and do NOT necessarily reflect the official opinions of the Boston Chapter of the American Marketing Association.