This article is the last one of a 3-part series in which bloggers participated in a revealing survey — sharing their experiences, joys, and disappointments with different facets of the performance marketing industry — as it pertains to how they monetize blogs.
In this third article we will hear recommendations for industry improvements that will help those new to affiliate marketing as well as any who struggle to make it work for them.
The recent earthquake that rocked the Eastern Seaboard had been in the making since the formation of the Appalahian Mountains millions of years earlier. To our utter shock, and without any warning, it proved how small events compounded over time can have cataclysmic outcomes of Richter-scale proportions. I was in New York at the time; the 2011 Affiliate Summit East concluded it 3-day conference just days before the earthquake rumbled through New York.
Natural events have a way of portending and mirroring our realities. The question on the minds of online business owners and business bloggers is how to successfully use affiliate marketing and performance marketing networks to monetize blog content. Will the industry fix the 7 fissures now present before the tremors erupt and explode?
Loudly Voicing State of Industry
Affiliate marketing is on the rise — Adam Riemer
Adam Riemer, speaking in his recap of the Affiliate Summit East 2011 Recap says affiliate marketing is on the rise. While affiliate marketing might be on the rise, and new players are storming the scene, one consistent rumble — becoming as loud as geological plates crashing together — is publishers’ voices making known the state of industry according to their experiences, perceptions, and realities.
According to small business bloggers who attempt to monetize blog content, there are numerous areas of the performance marketing industry that could stand to be improved.
Believe it or not, the average small business person will forgive shortcomings in services and products. Why? Because they recognize the facts. They know they could be growing pains, represent the need for industry oversight, or smack of poor management. They understand that each of these scenarios is usually fixable with a little bit of chewing gum and elbow grease, or at least by having a hearing ear and a seeing eye . . .
While they are too busy with their own enterprises to dig into (and fix) the woes of affiliate marketing conglomerates and performance marketing networks, they did take the time to offer suggestions for improvement to those who have a hearing ear and a seeing eye.
Aside from a recommendation that the amount of affiliate commissions be increased, these are the top seven areas suggested for improvement. Addressing these areas will contribute to success for bloggers monetizing blog content.
- quality control
- usability and the underlying technology
- ethics, greed, unfair competition, and fraud prevention
- customer service
Improve The Quality
I can only assume they don’t check the products they authorize to be sold through their networks. Some of them are pretty bad and not worth promoting. — Adrienne Smith of AdrienneSmith.net
Remember the signature question asked by infamous former New York Mayor, Ed Koch? “How am I doing?” It wasn’t just a catchy phrase, it was an invitation for on-the-spot evaluation and the performance marketing industry could well apply it to both advertisers within the network as well as their own internal systems.
The outcry can be heard far and wide concerning ClickBank’s need to take a much deeper look at the products being put forth for general consumption. Business blogger Adrienne Smith, along with many others, places quality of products high on the list of recommended improvements. From suitability of products for their readers, customers, and visitors to the quality of the information provided to share with their audiences, bloggers declare this area one that needs focused attention.
The larger networks appear more interested in graphics than descriptive words so even the creatives have come under scrutiny. Bloggers seeking to monetize their content want a larger variety in banner sizes, and better designs (starting with less flash and more color choices). Further improvements that encompass interactive media and follow-on materials would be a welcome enhancement.
ClickBank might be on the hot seat, but they are not alone. The quality of products promoted within any performance marketing network must be taken seriously or they will die a slow death, no longer appearing in the pages where bloggers monetize blog content.
Improve Global Appeal
Paypal banned countries and tons of bloggers had big problems to collect their incomes. — Foodie Blogger, Gera of SweetsFoods
A number of bloggers say the networks should pay more attention to their dealings in countries outside their home area. Two things that rise to the surface in the international legs of programs are the need to improve access to certain types of products and the critical need to improve the number of options available to pay affiliates their commissions.
With respect to the latter issue, international bloggers cited problems with getting paid when networks sole-source PayPal services, especially since the number of countries it operates in has been dwindling over the last few years. Similarly, issues arise when the only options for payment are either bank check or direct deposit.
Improvements could be had in these two areas by making a more even selection of products available internationally, and researching – then implementing – payment solutions like Payoneer, which can integrate a network’s payment processing system with a solution that gives international publishers easy access to their commissions.
Improve Usability of Technology
Usability is key. The more improvements they can make in the area of making it easier to use their platforms the more money everyone will make. Gail Gardner, GrowMap
The underlying technology of any major system is in place to enhance efficiency and place relevant tools in the hands of those that need them most. Right?
Before attempting to create an educational component to show publishers and advertisers how to use the technology to meet their goals, the components of the technology should be solid, sensible, and simple. Right?
In simple terms, in order for small business bloggers owners to monetize their blog content, the tools must be easy to use. Unquestionably, bloggers cited this area for improvement. Apparently numerous advertisers could benefit from improvements in the underlying technology, too.
Here are some specific areas of improvement that would greatly benefit publishers:
- control panel and account management
- reports, charts, graphs
- facilitate and archive communications
- selecting and creating links for creatives
- accurate click tracking, leads, and sales
- access to help at the point help is needed
Able to withstand intentional malice, the underlying technology should further be bullet-proof, earthquake strong, withstanding many of the fissures that fuel the rumbles heard in earlier parts of this series.
Where Are We Headed?
Will the industry fix the fissures now present before the tremors erupt and explode?
Although we drilled down to get a clearer understanding of some of the recommended improvements, the others still bear deeper discussion.
Wouldn’t you say issues such as these can only be addressed by the industry policing itself, raising levels of standards, and adopting a caring attitude towards the publishers? That would at least be a beginning.
Thanks for reading. Add your voice to the discussion in the comments below.
Survey: Do Bloggers Monetize Content is still open. Share your experiences. Take this 5-minute, multiple choice survey.
Other Article in the Series
Read Part 1, Established Methods to Monetize Blogs.
Read Part 2: Survey: How Bloggers Monetize Blog Content.