This is a post on one of the truly good guys in the OPM world, Evan Weber, who was kind enough to do a post for me before on how to find an outsourced affiliate marketing company.
Evan Weber has been in the Online Marketing space since the late 1990s. Areas of expertise include: SEO, Paid Search, Social Media, Affiliate Marketing, Conversion-rate Optimization, Web Design, and Referral programs. Evan is regarded as an industry leader and a great person to work with in general. No one has more passion for the affiliate industry as Evan and it show in the content and education he produces. That being said – let’s get into it shall we?
Evan, we’re seeing a lot of changes with Search and Social Media. Does that make things easier or more complicated for your firm?
All of the changes in Search and Social make it easier for our firm to manage affiliates and put forth the kind of education and strategies that make our affiliate marketers more effective. We try to stay on the cutting-edge of Search and Social so we can share those innovations and techniques with our affiliates. We disperse knowledge and resources through our affiliate newsletters and personalized emails.
What do you say to clients who are intimidated by taking their business online?
Most people aren’t afraid to take their business online, it’s just how to go about doing that effectively with the right strategies. Our firm goes as far as completely redesigning and programming client’s websites in order to get them ready to do well with their online marketing approaches. We also employ conversion optimization tools like Optimizely to increase conversion rates on client’s websites so all of their online marketing efforts work better, which allows them to spend more to drive more traffic and customers.
Is social media marketing something business owners should be trained to do, or should they hire someone to a new position?
I personally think the best socially media management will come from within the company, but of course you have to have the right person/people on the task with the right strategies or it won’t be very effective. Non-proactive social media management is one of my pet peeves. I don’t think many companies manage their Social very well because they have people on it without a good amount of social networking experience themselves or a concrete strategy on their messaging, promotions, frequency, etc. In general, social media management should be very proactive, friendly, and attempt to engage the audience and increase excitement and sharing/liking.
When did you become active in the social media world, and how did your firm become an expert?
I have been social networking since the early 2000s with on onset of LinkedIn and Plaxo. I was an early adopter of networking tools in the Internet Marketing industry and active worked to build my connections over the years. Social Media is about looking at what other companies are doing with their Social Media and doing similar things, trying to improve upon those observed strategies and better them. I consider myself an expert in Social Media only in the respect that I know what types of strategies should be employed to make it more effective for companies. It’s all about your strategy and how proactive your social media managers are behaving. They should be extremely friendly, engaging, and helpful, doing things like polling the audience and running contests and promotions on a very frequent basis to get the best results.
What are some common misperceptions about Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook? How can each be used effectively to promote a business?
That’s a great question! I think Twitter is seen to be kind of geeky and for people that spend all day long online, which is completely untrue. Like anything, you need a strategy specifically for your corporate Twitter account, i.e. building followers, posting strategy, direct messaging certain followers, using it for customer service and to keep customers happy and engaged. LinkedIn is definitely seen as unapproachable by most people for business, simply because they haven’t figured out how to leverage it properly for business development. I call LinkedIn the most amazing, under-utilized business development network on the planet! LinkedIn really is a great business development tool (see my posts on Affiliate Summit forums on LinkedIn). Facebook is probably where companies should be spending the majority of the social media activities. Running promotions like sweepstakes and contests, with apps like Wild Fire App, can really rocket your fan base and whip up a great amount of excitement and viral sharing. Companies should be advertising on Facebook to gain more fans through Facebook advertising to targeted populations. With the improved Like button, companies should have Facebook completely integrated in their websites and what they do online to really take advantage of Facebook’s viral nature.
What is the most common consulting question you receive?
How do I get more sales quickly? I can’t tell you how many companies have misconceptions about Online Marketing and how long it takes to fully take advantage of the various traffic sources. Companies think they will get 1000 sales the first month through their affiliate program for instance. Affiliate programs are a long-term strategy that should be growing all the time, but most companies have unrealistic expectations about how quickly it can grow or who the actually affiliates are. Along the same lines, companies in general are cheap about investing in growing their affiliate programs and social media if they can’t see a measurable increase from every dollar invested. But not everything is measurable initially and some things are just smart to do like affiliate recruiting emailers and advertising in Google and Yahoo for niche affiliates and driving them to your affiliate sign-up page.
What business mistake have you made that you will not repeat?
Taking on clients that are too small and have no money.
Could you tell us a little about Experience Advertising and how it’s different from others in the space?
Experience Advertising focuses on managing and growing affiliate programs for companies both large and small. We also advise and consult on online marketing activities like: paid search, SEO, Social Media, conversion-rate optimization, and web design. My personal background in ecommerce and frame of reference with Online Marketing is part of what sets us apart from our competition. I think we have better daily, weekly, and monthly processes in place to administrate and grow our affiliate programs. Out affiliate newsletters are second to none in the industry and we take a lot of pride in producing affiliate newsletters with a purpose, a strategy, and a beautiful design. We reach out to personally work with affiliates more than any company with education, resources, and tools to make them more effective at online marketing. Our overall affiliate management style I feel is more friendly and accommodating than any other agency, in that we seek to get every affiliate we work with on the phone for a nice call to analyze their website and provide helpful strategies in Search and Social to help them generate more free traffic. Our website building tool is unparalleled in the industry, we have launched over 3000 free affiliate websites on the WordPress platform for affiliates.
What marketing techniques have you found most effective? Are there any that you believe businesses are relying too heavily upon?
I don’t thing companies put enough effort or resources into their organic search strategy. They could always be beefing up their site with more fresh content, and then sharing it socially, to leverage the searching going on in their niche. Companies are also too cheap with growing their affiliate programs in general. We try to use strategies to grow our affiliate programs that are measurable but sometimes they just need to be convinced it s a good idea to spend money on recruiting, bonusing, and running contests for instance. I think companies should have a really great Social Media strategy in place and the right people to execute it. You should never rely on any agency to do what they think will work because it’s usually not proactive enough or robust enough to really move the needle. I think companies need to focus heavily on their paid search strategy as well. Most companies don’t leverage paid search to the fullest, which goes hand-in-hand with conversion rate optimization because the better you are converting the more you can spend on the front end to drive the traffic and compete with your competitors for positioning, which increases sales and revenue.
It seems to me that within that large number of SEO and OPM firms there are few that have strong brands. You seem to be one of the few in the space who get branding. Where did you learn about branding? What has helped you develop a strong brand?
I actually don’t feel like we have too strong of a brand. We have done a few things to work on it like being ranked on lists of best firms and then leveraging online press releases. I think online press releases are the most under-utilized, cost-effective form of branding and promotion you can do. We recommend ereleases.com as the press release service of choice to build buzz and rankings. I think all of the content posting and education we produce, and then the social sharing we push it out with, is the reason we have some good branding and exposure. If people see you are trying to help and educate, with no strings attached, they will want to work with you. We never insist any affiliate or partner promotes our clients, we just tell them how to be more effective with their online marketing which creates loyalty to our clients’ affiliate programs.
What can OPM firms do to build strong brands & strong credibility?
Producing great content and strategies for your affiliates is a great way to build credibility. Affiliate managers in general don’t know enough about online marketing so they can’t effectively make affiliates better performers. They see affiliates too much as “a means to an end” and not acting as though they really want to help affiliates be better affiliates. OPMs can look at what we do and emulate it!
What are some trends you are seeing in the PPC space? SEO space? Social Media?
I think a lot of the trends are towards viral sharing and referral programs. I have been creating referral programs for years and encouraging all of our clients to put referral programs into place, but now there are lots of technologies to make it easier to run referral programs and contests. I really love curebit.com for ecommerce sharing. Regarding SEO and PPC, I think it boils down to each company focusing on their channels and maximizing what’s going on with those channels on a monthly basis. Is the strategy aggressive enough? Are you hitting on new keyword niches and trying to make them convert? PPC and SEO is always a work in progress and should always be improving every month to truly leverage the medium.
Before we wrap up, how about a tip for my readers? What are a couple of things you would do if you were were local landscaping businesses that just got their first web site and are looking to get new customers from the web?
Focus on local search strategies that are known to be effective like:
– Paid Search on local keywords like Miami landscaping, and all the surrounding areas
– Make sure your website is ready to capitalize on the traffic with a great site, with calls to action and phone number
– Have a blog on-site you can fill with articles on finding landscapers in your targeted cities, towns and locations
– Run Facebook advertising in your local zip codes where you provide services, including a coupon promo
– Launch online press releases to spread awareness of your company with a local focus
– Run a Fan Page so you can build your fans and viral traffic
– create an online customer referral program to turn happy customers into incentivized advocates.
I hope you liked my interview…if you have any questions feel free to reach out to me anytime!
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