This August I had the pleasure of attending Affiliate Summit East. It was held at the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center on Boston Harbor. The turn out for the show was the largest ever for their east coast show. The crowd consisted of agencies, merchants, affiliates, affiliate networks and vendors. There was a pretty even split. Here is a breakdown of attendees provided by conference organizers:
Looking back at Affiliate Summit, there a few things that stand out in my mind.
1. Social Media
Everywhere you turned at Summit Social Media was a hot topic. One of the many sessions I attended was Leveraging Social Media, which was presented by Sam Harrelson of AffSpot.com. Sam gave a great presentation on how affiliates are increasingly using social media as a means to drive traffic, cultivate a loyal following and also stay up to date on all of the hot issues. During the presentation Sam talked about many of the social networking sites, but was primarily focused on facebook and twitter. Much of the presentation was focused on finding niche audiences within these mediums and creating loyal “followers.” In order to do this, you need to provide value for users. Your primary goal in a social media strategy should be to develop a community. This can be accomplished by adding value such as your thoughts and information relative to the theme of your page or group. You won’t be able to create this loyal base by trying to sell them something. Tap into your niche audience by providing information on what they are interested in; and if presented in the right way, this can ultimately lead to new and more loyal customers for your business. To create this community you need to get interactive. Whether you are using facebook, twitter or simply your website; you need to foster an environment where your users can come, get information quickly and interact with your page or site; through the use of widgets, applications and blogs.
2. Affiliate Marketers – Defining an Industry
As we all know, advertising on a cost per acquisition basis has been around a long time. As more and more businesses have been implementing this marketing method online, an industry has been taking shape. This has been developing over the past decade and it seems we are at the point now, where people are looking for industry standards and guidelines. However, these do not exist. One topic that was creating a lot of buzz was the formation of the Performance Marketing Alliance. This has been a hot topic, with some big names in the industry taking varying stances on the issue. Personally I think it would be beneficial to have some sort of body setting forth standards for the industry. I think there is a lot of confusion in the market place and some clarity would be good for all. However, the question of effectiveness remains. It’s great to set standards and best practices, but how will it be enforced? What kind of authority will this alliance have over the industry? Until these questions are answered, and I am not sure that they will, I think it’s business as usual.
Affiliate Summit East was full of networking. From the “meet market” on Sunday, to the sessions, to walking the conference hall floor, you were sure to meet some great people. I left the show very tired, but with a great feeling. That feeling was that this industry is growing at a rapid pace, and it is due to the people involved. One great example of this was the Affiliate Summit mentor program.
Overall the show was a great success. This may be obvious, but one thing I really took from the show was that affiliates are looking for quality programs. You can promote your program through the forums and do some real heavy recruiting; but if your foundation is not there, your program will flounder. It’s very important for affiliate managers to stay up to date on industry issues that affect the way affiliates do business. Understanding the latest trends and tactics your affiliates are using will help you to build a successful affiliate marketing program.