How To Optimize Your Site In 3 Easy Steps

February 24, 2014

We are often asked about the best ways to optimize your site and so we thought it was about time to get an expert in to share their top tips. Murray Newlands is the Editor of The Mail and knows a thing or two about optimizing sites. We let him take it from here.


We know that building an affiliate site or a blog can be an arduous task. It takes time and technical know how to really make it work and if you want to make money from it, you also need to know how to optimize it to convert. Unless you use a landing page builder, optimizing your site can be a painstaking process, and little mistakes can cost you clicks and sales. To help you out we’ve assembled this brief list of things to consider if you want to drive more conversions from your affiliate site or blog.

  1. Have a Sitemap — If you already have a site or a blog then ideally you should already have a sitemap. If a sitemap is something that you’ve overlooked along the way, it’s definitely time to build one. Whether you already have one or are building one, you should make sure that your sitemap provides an intuitive way for visitors to navigate through your site and make it easy for them to find exactly what they’re looking for. It’s unlikely that every visitor will take advantage your sitemap but those who do will probably end up completing your desired action. If you’re building a new page, start by creating an intuitive sitemap and if your site is older, you may want to take another look at your existing sitemap.

  2. Be Yourself — Having a unique personality, perspective, or voice will go a long way with your visitors and help your site build a fan base. Establishing a unique voice will separate your site from your competitors and help visitors build a relationship with your brand. An easy way to demonstrate that your site is unique and original is to write your own product descriptions and reviews and voice your opinions. If you prove to your visitors that you’re one of a kind you will build a relationship with them and hopefully convert them into returning customers.

  3. Make It Easy to Make a Purchase — The best way to ensure that your site does not convert is to make the checkout process long, difficult, or confusing. If you want to watch your abandonment rates increase instead of your conversions, then don’t worry about your checkout process. But if you’re like us and most other bloggers and affiliates, then conversions are important to your online business and you should make it easy for them to happen. This means streamlining your checkout process and making it as simple and efficient as it can possibly be. The easier it is for customers to make a purchase, the easier it is for you to make a sale.

Whether you’re a dedicated affiliate marketer or an avid blogger looking to monetize your site, these are some tips that can help you take full advantage of your page and increase conversions. If you have any questions, suggestions, or tips of your own please leave them in the comments section.


Happy Valentine’s Day… To Us!

February 14, 2014

We didn’t get flowers and chocolates today… We got something even better!

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Yes, that’s right. We receieved our very first “Kick Ass” award from Even though, they normally only share this to their internal employees! So, how did we get to such a honor? I’ll  let them explain:

“Our company gives out ‘Kick Ass’ awards to employees that go above and beyond! We thought this award would be perfect for our affiliate partner that has done the same. We don’t just recognize top sale partners, but also those that put in time and effort to grow our business.”

Needless to say, we are delighted to have received this award! Thanks FootSmart!

Written by Lucy Bartlett, Marketing Manager

World’s Shortest Online Community Quiz

February 13, 2014

Cross-posted from the new ForumCon blog. ForumCon is the only conference dedicated to the business of forums  and community management and will be held this year in San Francisco on June 19. Join us!

Pop Quiz

Does your company “get” online community? Here’s a simple test:

What do you call it when somebody complains about your product or service in an online community?

a.) A problem

b.) An opportunity

If your answer was “b,” congratulations. You get it.

It’s amazing how often people forget that an online community is a group of real, live people. Imagine you’re at a gathering  – let’s say you’re at a cocktail party — and some guy says something bad about your company. In response, you quickly hustle him out of the room, then return, wave your hands around, and insist everybody forget what was just said.

Stupid, right?

When you delete a critical comment from a forum, you’re engaging in the online version of the same behavior.

More importantly, you’re missing an opportunity.

Let’s go back to the cocktail party.

Instead of trying to cover up this guy’s critical comment, let’s say you have a friendly drink with Mr. Complainer, find out what he’s sore about, and make it right. Not only have you won over the guy that was badmouthing your company, you’ve done it in front of a room full of party-goers who now think you and your company are pretty swell.

When you see disparaging comments about your company in an online community, seize the opportunity to impress the crowd.

Generally speaking, you see two kinds of complaints about companies in online communities.

One goes something like this: “That company screwed me.”

In cases like this, acknowledge the customer’s frustration. Ask for details so they know they’re being listened to. Do what you can to make it right. Most of all, be open and honest. If the customer’s demands are unreasonable, politely explain that you can’t do what they are demanding of you and why. But if you can fix the problem, tell the customer publicly in the community (being careful to avoid disclosing any personal or sensitive information) and wow the crowd.

The other type of complaint is more vague, like “I hear that company stinks.”

When responding to comments like these, seek specifics without  being confrontational. Skip the schoolyard “Says who?!” and go with something like “I’m with the company and I’m surprised to hear that. Is there a problem or concern I can help you with?” If there is a specific issue, address it head-on. If the comment was unproven innuendo, that will become evident when the response sounds like “Well, I heard it from a guy, who heard it from…” Or when there’s no response at all.

Deleting complaints makes your company look bad. It leaves the impression that you’re afraid to engage with your customers, or worse, that you’ve got something to hide.

Don’t be that company.

Authored by the ForumCon favorite Dave Cayem

Introducing Publisher Roundtable

February 12, 2014

Today we are excited to introduce the Publisher Roundtable, a brand new platform designed to help online content publishers learn from one another about what really drives success.

Publisher Roundtable

While anyone can start a site, growing and maintaining one successfully is the real challenge. With Publisher Roundtable, we aim to combine the experience of thousands of publishers and form a collective intelligence that makes everyone better.

If you run a site large or small — a personal blog, a multi-voice editorial site, a forum — really any site focused on original content — we invite you to join the Roundtable. The first of a series of short online survey-style interviews will examine how publishers build an audience. Comparing satisfaction with the quality of various channels used to acquire audience — including SEO, SEM, and social media, the interview will identify which of these channels are the most effective and what makes them effective.

Publishers who participate gain access to exclusive data to inform decisions around marketing, monetization, and content creation. After the interview, publishers can easily compare their answers to those of their peers. Responses across all publishers are anonymously aggregated, analyzed, and packaged into “Tips” reports available exclusively to participants.

All of this is made possible for free through a collaboration between VigLink and Netpop, a leading market research firm.

If you’d like to learn more, please visit us at, where you’ll find more information about the project, how it works, and answers to FAQs.

Ready to join in? Get started here.

Posted by Oliver Deighton, VP Marketing

Why Mobile Shopping is Broken

February 7, 2014

We can all agree: shopping on smartphones is painful. Fixing that will go a long way to improving the value of publishers’ mobile traffic. As smartphone traffic buys more often and spends more each time, publishers earn more. The graphic below illustrates where smartphones shopping goes bad. This article in Wired from Oliver Roup, Founder and CEO of VigLink, offers practical fixes retailers can implement now.

Mobile Shopping Exp Infographic

Promote Your Home Business Through Facebook

February 6, 2014

There are lots of tools out there you can use to help promote yourself and your online business, but there are specific expert “tricks of the trade” you need to know to do it well. Bradley Taylor from Derby, England, is one of those experts doing it right. He kindly shares his top tips for using Facebook to promote your business successfully in today’s blog post.

A little more on Bradley, he is a motoring enthusiast and loves writing about cars, everything automotive, and sharing tips on how to be the best blogger possible. You can find him on Twitter and connect with him on Google+ for more info and to read his other top writing tips.


Facebook can be a pivotal entrepreneurial tool in securing an online presence for your home business. Due to the massive amount of users frequenting the site each day, you have a broad audience at your disposal to whom you can promote your business.


Creating your page

The very first thing you need to do is create a Facebook page for your business. Simply go to Facebook’s ‘Advertising Section’ then click on ‘Pages’. The following page contains tabs such as ‘Overview’, ‘Prepare’ and ‘Step-by-Step’, all of which provide easy to follow steps for you to build your own page. Once you have familiarised yourself with the process, click ‘Create a Page’ to begin constructing your page. You can select a type of business for your page which provides specific customization options to suit your business needs. After doing this, it is time to give your page a name.

You have 75 characters at your disposal with which to name your business. Think carefully about how you can title your page in order to receive the maximum amount of visitors to your site. For example, you could include certain terms related to your business which will help more people find you on Facebook. However, try to be fairly concise because overly long titles can often scare away users.

To finalise the process click ‘Create Page’. Once created, your personal Facebook account will now become the ‘admin’ from your page, granting you the authority to manage the page’s settings and content. The next stage is adding your company information.

Firstly, add a profile image to your page, such as your company logo or the product you are selling. Secondly, include a brief description of your business in the ‘Information’ box below your profile picture. Make sure you provide contact details in the ‘Info’ tab, so that your clients can view your company’s official website, ask you questions or contact you to purchase products.



Promoting your page

Once you have finalised your page, it is time to publicise it. There are numerous methods you can use to promote your page and improve its online presence. One of these is to create a custom URL for your Facebook page. This will easily direct people to your page and raise the page ranking in search engine results pages. To do this, select a ‘Username‘ for your page. You will have the option to assign a username for your personal profile as well as usernames for your Facebook pages. Aim to use a simple, memorable name that is similar to your website name for branding purposes. Decide wisely! Also bear in mind that, according to Facebook policy, you must have at least twenty five fans before you can select a username.

To further publicise your business page, become a fan of the page yourself and then forward it to all of your current Facebook friends. You can ‘Suggest To Friends’ en masse or target specific people, it’s up to you. Moreover, if you have any other social networks, websites or blogs then include links to your Facebook page on them. Simply go to Facebook’s widget page and use a ‘Page Badge’ or ‘Fan Box’ to place links onto your various sites. If you circulate any electronic newsletters or emails, you can include a link to your Facebook page on them as well. All of these methods will increase the exposure of your Facebook page and subsequently the online presence of your business.

Additionally, you can invest in a Facebook advertisement. For a fee, you can create an advert which Facebook will display across their website. To do this, click ‘Promote with an ad’ and you will be presented with a series of steps wherein you can customize the details of your own advertisement. These include options such as targeting your advert to specific demographics. You can specialise your advert according to geographical location, age, gender, relationship status or employer. For example, if you are marketing an educational service such as Maths Doctor (who skyrocketed their business through a Facebook campaign), you can customize your ad to target potential students, as Maths Doctor did. These customizations enable Facebook to market your business to your target audience(s), improving your chances of acquiring lucrative business opportunities.

One of the most successful ways you can promote your business on Facebook is through consistent posts. If you present your fans with interesting content and links, they will revisit your page more frequently, enabling your site to spread across Facebook, generating more fans and subsequently more business opportunities. Promoting your business on Facebook is a fundamental resource for any modern business. You can keep up to date with consumer demands, as well as interacting with your prospective customers on an engaging and instant platform. The possibilities are endless!

facebook fact image

T – 2 days to CMX Summit 2014

February 4, 2014


The first CMX Summit is taking place this Thursday, February 6th, and I am excited to say I will be going.  I will be reporting live from the event via our facebook and twitter. If you were still on the fence about joining, let me tell you why I am attending. I mean beyond the our amazing and exclusive 25% off discount we have to share! To snag yourself this special discount just follow this link and type in forumcon25. Tickets are quickly selling out, so act fast to secure your seat.

Onto the real reasons why I am attending – CMX Summit is a new conference, which is focused entirely on community building. This year CMX is bringing together unique perspectives from fields and companies like psychology, behavioral analysis, habit analysis, Apple, Lyft, AirBnB, Facebook, 500 Startups and more. I have been promised in the audience will be the industry’s leading community professionals and startup founders, who will be sharing their best tips on how to build, scale, and sustain healthy communities.

This will be a great day of learning in the long wait to this year’s ForumCon and I can’t wait to share some of the top forum and online community tips I learn on the day.

Watch this space forum owners and community managers! Expert knowledge from those in the know on way!

Written by Lucy Bartlett, Marketing Manager


Join us at Affiliate Management Days & Save $600!

January 31, 2014

Thanks to our friends at Affiliate Management Days we are excited to share a superb discount for their up and coming San Francisco conference, March 19th – 20th. Use the code VLNK15 to get a very special 15% discount, saving you around $600 (!!) for the full conference.

Our very own CEO and founder, Oliver Roup, will be attending and speaking on the topic of “Mobile Affiliate Marketing: Why it is not Reaching its Full Potential.”

If you are not familiar with Affiliate Management Days (AM Days) it is the must attend event for any affiliate managers who are responsible for their company’s affiliate marketing strategy, management and operations. Whether you have an existing affiliate program or you are creating a new initiative, AMDays offers you the most valuable insight into how other online retailers are successfully implementing and managing their affiliate programs.

AM Days covers a vast range of topics including:

  •  Affiliate program set up
  •  Affiliate recruitment techniques
  •  Communication with affiliates
  •  Affiliate marketing fraud
  •  Role of affiliate network(s)
  •  Affiliate automation tools
  •  Landing page & conversion optimization
  •  Compliance policing & enforcement
  •  Legislative issues & challenges
  •  Innovations in affiliate marketing
  •  Tracking & multi-touchpoint attribution
  •  M-commerce in affiliate marketing

AM Days is the place for affiliate marketing teams and executives to come together and share case studies, insights and the latest tools and techniques to effectively and successfully manage their affiliate programs.

Make sure you get the best bargain possible by registering TODAY, before the early bird ticket price runs out.


Jeff Atwood Takes to the Stage to Talk Communities

January 29, 2014

Jeff Atwood’s in the house! We are delighted to announce that tomorrow we are sponsoring and co-producing this month’s #SFCMGR meetup. We have started the year in true style, having the one and only Jeff Atwood take to the stage to talk about forums and online communities.

Jeff Atwood is the serial entrepreneur and all round geek guru behind the programming blog, Coding Horror, and he is the co-founder of the question-and-answer website Stack Overflow and the Stack Exchange Network. His latest venture has taken him further into the world of online communities, where he has started an open source next-generation discussion platform called Discourse.

Discourse was developed due to Jeff’s (and others) dismay that forum technology had not evolved since the early 1990s.

He was our keynote speaker at last year’s ForumCon, where he wowed the crowds with his talk titled “Forums Are Dead, Long Live Forums.”

To build excitement for tomorrow, here is his thought provoking talk about the future of forums and communities:

We just can’t wait to hear about all the latest developments and what’s in store for the future of online communities.

To join us tomorrow, just RSVP here and head to the Twilio HQs (645 Harrison St. 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA), at 6.30pm tomorrow. Oh, and there will be free pizza and beer. What more could you ever want!

Written by Lucy Bartlett, Marketing Manager 

December ’13 Advertiser 50 Report

January 24, 2014

The December EPC numbers are are in. Here are the highlights:

December 2013 Advertiser 50

  • GoPro not only holds onto its lead, but extends it.
  • Fashion continues to make a strong showing, buoyed by strong commission rates and average order value.
  • 20% of the top 50 are new to the rankings.
  • Huge climb in the EPC rankings by OtterBox, NastyGal, Net-A-Porter, Lenovo, and Harrods.
  • For many, December is cold (see the rise of WeathertechThe House), a season for gift giving (big jump for OtterBox, maker of the awesome iPhone cases), and a time for travel (see the notable increase from British Airways).

Don’t miss the full report for the entire 50.