Affiliate Programs: What to Do and What to Avoid

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Part traction channel, part revenue stream, part lead gen tool, affiliate programs can be extremely effective for everyone involved. When done correctly, that is. By definition, affiliate programs are arrangements in which a company pays a commission to affiliates for delivering conversions. Sales and leads are the primary conversions used, but some companies will pay for web traffic.

Amazon, of course, is one of the leaders in the affiliate space. Coined Amazon Associates, the e-commerce behemoth pays percentages and flat fees on sales generated from a company’s website or social media account. Say you review baby products on your blog. You can apply (and hopefully get accepted!) to the program, attach a tracking code to links to the product page you are reviewing and you’re set. In this example generating a sale of a car seat would net you 4.5% of the sale price. A bonus? Commissions don’t just apply to the product you are linking to. Any purchase from a customer you drive there counts!

Keeping with the baby theme, recommend your readers signup for the Amazon Baby Registry and you get $3 as soon as someone adds one item to the list.


Affiliate Marketing Revenue

Do Your Research

Just like anything on the web, some services are better than others. And when it comes to affiliate programs there are a lot of shady operations. Does it seem too good to be true? Well, it’s probably not. Look out for clumsily put together websites, a lack of terms and conditions and an unorganized fee and payout explanation. You should never pay to join. Anything that says “Get Rich Quick” should be avoided. And make sure the products you would be recommending are legit. The last thing you want is to get scammed out of commission AND your readers or followers scammed as well.

Bottom Line: Do your research, read reviews and talk to associates.


Staying True to Your Brand

It’s important to keep in mind that while you’re driving revenue and making a living that you are still a trusted source of information for your readers. So you certainly don’t want to be mentioning products you don’t recommend just because they have a high price tag. Further to that point, the best affiliates are transparent, noting on their site or in the article they are making a commission over referral purchases. The New York Times does a great job at that when they publish their books bestseller lists.


New York Times Bestseller List


Why Should I Engage in Affiliate Marketing as a Big Brand

Because it’s noisy out there and you can use all the help you can get! Similar to business development it’s a relationship that is a win for you and a win for the partner. You can almost consider an affiliate network your own paid street team. You just don’t have to pay them until there is money in your pocket.

In terms of who, let’s extend the street team analogy. Who better to market your product than your loyal customers? They are already educated on your brand or service and the promise of occasional discounts in addition to a commission could be a powerful motivator. You’ll, of course, need to vet them and make sure they have a platform worth your effort, but the impact of a team of influencers could be huge.

One place to start would be with your analytics. Who has purchased the most from your store or who opens the most amount of your emails? Is there someone who is always liking, sharing and commenting on social media? Isolating these super users and then vetting them prior to reaching out can save a lot of time.

Looking for some simple tips on setting up your affiliate marketing program? Check out this tutorial!


Want to learn more about affiliate marketing and the other 18 traction channels? Check out our YouTube channel and our podcast, Cutting Through The Noise.




Qualifying Leads: How to Gather Leads that Convert

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Generating sales leads is getting easier. With so many marketing platforms catering to this objective, it’s satisfying for marketers to watch the leads roll in. From there, leads are given to the sales team to establish contact, evaluate the needs and how the business can meet them, negotiate and hopefully seal the deal. In a perfect world, sales would close every lead that came through the marketing pipeline. However, this is often not the case. Often more frustrating is spending time working with information of an unqualified lead, resulting in no sales and a waste of both time and resources on the wrong audience.

So how can marketing help convert those leads to sales? Get smarter about the who, the how, and develop strategies designed to improve the experience for all. Focus on fine-tuning your inbound marketing rather than outbound. Inbound marketing efforts are already improving the quality and volume of leads received by many businesses. In fact, only 18% of marketers in 2018 reported that they gathered high quality leads contributed to outbound efforts.

Whatever your lead generation process is, here are some tips Pintler Group employs to improve the quality of leads.

Target Leads
Research Your Target Audience and Know Where to Reach Them

Okay, so this one isn’t so much a strategy but a reminder to marketers. Know your audience! Sometimes your service or product may call for you to cast a wide net, but be prepared that qualified leads will be lower. Sheer volume of leads isn’t enough to justify ad spend if the leads don’t convert. Research what worked in the past and consider replicating those efforts. What platform did you use? What language was shown in the ad? How many points of contact occurred before the sale closed? These types of questions can help narrow down an audience more likely to convert.

Develop a Shortlist of Questions to Ask

When responding to a lead, you need to have questions ready prior to the interaction. Keep these questions short and simple. Always ask what the lead is hoping to achieve. Ask why the lead showed interest in your business. Nothing is more frustrating than having a long conversation that ends with both parties realizing that neither can help the other. For marketers hoping to automate the process, consider sharing these questions in a survey format. Our next tip can help achieve this.

Qualify Leads with Email

Set Up an Email Automation

Email marketing is a powerful channel to incorporate into your lead generation efforts. When a user opts into your email subscription, take advantage of this interaction to provide value to the user and encourage lead generation.

For those using lead generation ads, setting up an automated email campaign that fires off when a lead is submitted can really speed up the vetting process. Using a service that connects multiple platforms, such as Zapier, can really eliminate the pressure to reach out in a timely matter.

A simple email automation campaign could consist of 2 emails:

#1: The first email is sent at a time delay of 30 minutes after the lead is sent, thanking the user for their interest and inquiring how the business can meet their needs.

#2: A second email is sent a few days later, encouraging the user to explore the website or provide the user with additional information, such as a downloadable PDF with sales information.

As mentioned previously, you could consider adding to the first email your lead qualifying questions in a survey format. Make your emails as useful to the user as you can. Consider including testimonials in text or video format or a FAQ section as well.

Facebook Advertising Custom Audience

Retarget Audiences

In marketing, timing is everything. Take advantage of the data you have and build data-driven retarget audiences. This information can be gathered from your website, email marketing software or from ads. Develop different paths based on actions taken and target users with lead generation ads. “Actions taken” could refer to any website visitor that has visited more than twice in 30 days, subscribers of your blog that have an open email rate of 50% or higher, or even users who have clicked on your awareness ad. Use this type of targeting to give prospective leads a push in the right direction and establish contact. By retargeting those who have already demonstrated some interest in your business, chances are better than they will turn out to be more qualified.


Discuss the Process with Your Sales Team

We’ve all worked in an environment where communication between departments may not be the best. Make an effort to improve those communications between sales and marketing. Ask the sales team what efforts have led to success for them and share what you have found successful on the marketing end. For marketers and sales teams, only good things can come from working together to improve lead generation efforts.

Learn more about sales and the other 18 traction channels in our podcast, Cutting Through The Noise on Spotify, Apple Podcast or anywhere else you listen to podcasts.

Watch this video to learn more about the psychology of sales.

Business Development: Finding the Right Partner

Small toys shaking hands.


The phrase “business development” can be intimidating. After all, it sounds like something only big corporations dabble in. Thoughts of power lunches in power suits come to mind. But just because you don’t have an arsenal of sales executives and vice presidents doesn’t mean you can’t develop your business in a rewarding way. That is, after all, the definition!


Clothing Business

Know Your Goal

Let’s use the example of a fictional clothing company named Threaded. They sell online and have a storefront in their Texas town. In recent years Threaded has experienced the same pain point as other retailers: a drop in foot traffic. Digital marketing efforts keep the e-commerce business on fire but have yet to get people in the store.

The owners task their marketing agency with increasing store visits followed by setting a revenue growth goal. There are multiple traction channels in play: unconventional PR, outside advertising and viral marketing. But they decided on seeking local partnerships. Enter the business development traction channel. And a few baseball teams.

A Standard Partnership

This form of business development is as simple as it sounds. In practice, two entities work together to reach an established goal. Ideally, the partnership is to the benefit of both parties. The important piece is that each partner brings something to the table the other can’t execute on by themselves.

Athletic wear, including shirts and jerseys, compromises a huge piece of the Threaded bottom line. They also believe in community first business. Combining these two things leads them to a partnership with the town’s Little League.


Baseball Game


Threaded designs and produces shirts for each of the six teams. Each has different graphics and colors, but the consistent piece is the prominent Threaded logo. The unique value each partner brings to the table? The Little League gets free shirts they badly need and Threaded gets brand awareness on the backs of a hundred kids and coaches. They also get billboards in the various parks.

Is That Really Developing Business?

Of course! A common outcome of strategic business development is brand awareness. While this is a byproduct of traction channels like advertising, this is organic. And aside from production costs, free. Every time those Little Leaguers take the field parents and friends see the Threaded logo. Pizza parties after the games? Same. It’s the repetition that leads a person on main street pop into the store when they recognize the logo.

As we often talk about successful execution in one traction channel can lead to success in other channels. In this case, there are two examples. Specifically, since Threaded is giving the shirts to the league for free they are getting good press. From mentions in the newspaper to general word of mouth, they are benefiting from the traction channel PR. Without any additional effort! Additionally, images of the kids wearing the shirts start popping up on Instagram and Facebook, both from the players and parents. All of a sudden people not at the game are seeing the branding.

When pursuing a standard partnership as your way of developing business both sides must win. In this case, success.


College Football Stadium

Licensed to Sell

Threaded is in a unique position that it has multiple avenues to execute strategic business development. This second example is equally as effective and somewhat the opposite of the Little League venture.

Sticking with their athletic wear trend, Threaded decides to license the name and art rights for Texas A&M. In this case, you have one company – a university – who has a recognizable brand but wants it seen wider. You have another company – threaded – who designs amazing products but needs a recognizable brand to attract eyeballs. And thus sales.

Both the school and Threaded get free advertising out of this partnership. People are advertising the school just by wearing the shirts and hats. Threaded starts becoming the college’s “brand” and it’s hard to go to a football stadium or music festival without being flooded with their products.

Winners all around again!

If you’d like to learn more about the business development traction, specifically how to validate efforts through data, check out this video. You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel for additional videos and listen to our podcast for even more content!