Affiliate Marketing | VigLink

That’s the Power of [Link] Love

Recently, Zemanta wrote a blog post titled Link Love Is the Way We Roll , addressing the concept of linking out to other (similar, even competitive) sites from your own content. This post immediately struck a chord with us here at VigLink, because we feel the same way Zemanta does about “link love.” It’s a best practice.

Blogger intuition doesn’t always work in favor of “link love,” though. You want readers to stay engaged with your content for as long as possible, right? For that reason, the idea of directing them to other, similar content seems contrary to what common sense would suggest. We would encourage content creators to try to overcome this false perception that “link love” is not in their best interest, for several reasons:

1) It exudes confidence
The fact that you’re willing to reference other, similar information shows that you believe your content is compelling enough to share some of the spotlight, knowing that readers will come back to you.

2)  It’s realistic
It’s joining in on an existing conversation, rather than ignoring the fact that the conversation exists. It’s acknowledging that there are varying points of view on a topic, rather than pretending there’s just one, which happens to be yours.

“The marketplace is going to sort things out on its own whether you would like it or not. If you’re blogging and not linking due to fear of competition, you may be surprised that you’re not even in the running.”
-Brian Clark, Why Linking Out to Other Blogs is Critical

3)  It’s authoritative
It is proof you’ve done the research and examined the topic from all sides. You’re prepared to make an educated argument about something.

4)  It adds value

“The more you send people away to more valuable resources, the more valuable you become to your target audience.”
-Kevin O’Keefe, Blogging About Competitors Blogs is Smart

5)  People will show you “link love” back
Owners of competitive sites you’ve referenced will be much more inclined to send you traffic. Some call it karma, others call it good old fashioned reciprocity. So give them the gift of traffic, and see what you get in return!

6)  It helps with SEO
The more you link out to credible, similar content from your site, the more credible your site becomes to search engines. It’s a practice that’s been going on for years and mastering it will push you up to the top of search results, resulting in more traffic.

“Sharing isn’t just caring – it’s networking,” argues Zemanta. We couldn’t agree more. At VigLink, we think about the power of the outclick every single day. While we work hard to make the hyperlink intelligent, actionable, and profitable, we love to see others acknowledging that links have an innate capability to do good for any content creator. So don’t undervalue the power of linking out – to products or similar content – and, certainly, don’t forget to embrace the concept of “link love.”

 

Whitney Smith, VigLink Marketing Communications Manager

The Hidden Cost of Manual Link Affiliation

Ahhh yes, the benefits of website ownership: working from anywhere, choosing your own hours, and manually setting up your affiliate links. Well, we’ve never met anyone who calls “affiliate link tagging” a perk of website ownership either. From a big affiliate who’s dedicated staff to the chore, to an independent affiliate suffering through the tedium and frustration in spreadsheets (or worse still, a network portal), adding affiliate IDs by hand can be costly. For most sites, there’s a better way.

Let’s explore three cases where manually affiliating the links in your content could limit your earnings:

User-generated content
If your site has social features, odds are users are leaving links in comments and posts on your site. At best, manually affiliating these links is time-consuming and likely a technical challenge; at worst, you may not even be approved for the specific merchant program. If you want to get paid for these links, you’ll want to look to automation — VigLink automatically affiliates links within user generated content across more than 30,000 merchants.

Affiliate Program Changes
It’s bound to happen at some point to any affiliate marketer — hundreds of hours of work manually formatting affiliate links, completely undone over the course of one weekend when a merchant moves from one affiliate network to another or closes their public program altogether. Not only are the links no longer earning money, they may not even work at all. With broken links, users quickly lose faith and abandon. Customers who use VigLink never skip a beat — links to merchants just keep working (and the checks keep coming).

Revenue Maximization
The affiliate playing field is heavily tipped in favor of the biggest and best performing affiliates. Most merchants openly offer preferential rates to top affiliates and privately agree to additional incentives with a select few partners. Go it alone and you’ll be hard pressed to maximize your payouts. When you work with VigLink to automate your link affiliation, you can count on our scale and relationships to deliver higher paying programs for your links.

Savvy website owners know their first priority is building an awesome experience that keeps users coming back. After all, without users, efforts to monetize won’t pay off.  So spend time on the stuff that matters most – great content, features, and design – rather than signing up and sifting through dozens of affiliate programs, pulling down tags, and editing links. Focus on your users, link naturally and let VigLink take care of the rest.

 

Whitney, VigLink Marketing Communications Manager

Community-Building: Necessity or Nice-to-Have?

This post is a short recap by Oliver Roup, Founder and CEO of VigLink, of Affiliate Summit West. 

Earlier this month I was in Las Vegas to lead a session on the value of community-building and social behavior at Affiliate Summit West.  It’s no surprise that social media has transformed the way consumers are reaching purchasing decisions, but it’s less clear what that means for affiliate marketers and online publishers.

During the session, I focused on the ways website owners can leverage the monumental shift towards “social-buying” by including spaces within their site where purchasing decisions are made. Easier said than done, of course, but here’s a quick recap of the things we talked about:

  1. If you are doing something “non-social,” and it works — keep doing it.  So, if you are successfully purchasing paid traffic, sending it to a landing page, and earning revenue, great. Don’t stop. But do augment.
  2. Create a framework for interaction within your site. This could be a robust commenting system or a forum component.  Facebook pages are great, as are Tweets, but building a community goes beyond what you are doing on social media sites — it brings the community to your site.
  3. Don’t overdo it. The goal of a community is to create a richer site experience for visitors, which will in turn create additional opportunities to earn revenue (via banner ad sales and affiliate marketing). If you attempt to force the monetization piece of a community — by introducing excessive advertisements or overly commercial product content — you will not succeed.  Twitter, which was founded in 2006 and has an estimated 175 million users, has only recently begun to focus on monetization (of course, this is an extreme — for most sites there is no need to wait that long or for that many community members to start monetizing — but it’s an interesting point of reference).

An increasing number of marketers are succeeding at introducing a community component to their site.  But, similar to a decade ago when some companies still considered websites “optional,” today many still view community-building as optional.  Those that realize that shaping their user-base into a community is a necessity, rather than a nice-to-have, will be leaps and bounds ahead of those that don’t in terms of traffic, revenue and influence.

A few more details on the ins and outs of community-building and driving social behavior can be found in my slides below…

Oliver Roup | Founder & CEO | VigLink

View more presentations from VigLink

3 Content Tips to Jump-start your January Revenue

December was a record month for online shopping, so you may be wondering how to keep your January sales strong.

Here are a few tips you can implement now to ensure your January revenue measures up!

Jump-start your Revenue

Tip 1: Help Readers Reach their Resolutions

Many of your readers have set New Years Resolutions for 2012 and many of those resolutions center around fitness and financial goals.

Help your readers achieve their goals by building content and sharing product tips that center around health and fitness, as well as financial planning.  A few easy ways to do this:

  • Share deals on gym memberships (as an example, 24 Hour Fitness, with locations across the country, is an eligible VigLink merchant).
  • Ask readers what their favorite ways to get in shape are — and the equipment they use to do so (this will encourage links to be shared).
  • Share your favorite financial planning books, and ask readers to do the same (be sure to include a link where readers can purchase each one).

Tip 2: Help Readers Keep up with their Favorite Teams

Weekends in January (in the U.S.) will be dominated by football in many homes. If your readers are some of the millions of Americans whose weekends will revolve around watching NFL playoff games, help them get the most out of it by building content around the following themes:

  • Gear for fans. NFL.com is a VigLink merchant and has fan gear for all your favorite teams. Share your favorite jerseys and other gear with your readers to generate additional clicks and revenue.
  • Memorabilia. eBay (also a VigLink merchant) has some great finds on sports memorabilia. Share your favorites with readers, and ask them to share their favorites as well.
  • Sporting equipment.  Why just watch when you can play? Share content that includes information on sporting equipment — special deals and favorite picks. DicksSportingGoods.com and SportsAuthority.com are both eligible VigLink merchants.

Tip 3: Test, Test … and then Test Some More!

Finally, be sure to use this month to A/B test content, landing pages, design, and ad options.  The risk of running an A/B test this month versus a month like December will be lower — and your wallet will thank you come the next holiday shopping season when your site is better optimized for engagement and revenue generation.

Here’s to a profitable January to each of our VigLink publishers!

Affiliate Lead Generation Best Practices [DOMAINfest Panel]

Steve Arentzoff, VigLink VP of Marketing, will be joining a panel of experts at DOMAINfest on January 31, 2012 to discuss affiliate lead generation best practices.

Panel: Affiliate Lead Generation Best Practices

Experts: Steve Arentzoff, Brook Schaaf, Jay WeintraubPeter Hamilton
Moderator: James Keating
For publishers, the expert panelists will discuss how to select an affiliate network or advertiser affiliate program. They will also share tips and tools on how to set-up tests, track performance and maximize monetization. For advertisers, our experts will discuss how to create compelling offer campaigns, including how to design an offer, how to find quality traffic, and how to use the latest conversion rate optimization techniques. Q&A to follow.

More About DOMAINfest

Online marketers, publishers and domain investors attend DOMAINfest events to share insights, uncover emerging trends, and discuss the best practices needed to be successful.

If you will be there, we’d love to meetup. Send us a note at success@viglink.com to setup a time!