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What We Learned at Affiliate Summit West 2019 | AvantLink

In early January, the AvantLink team headed to Las Vegas for Affiliate Summit West 2019 (ASW 19) as a Silver Sponsor. Members of the account management and business development teams descended upon the action. They observed few common themes of the show: the importance of having a strong brand, why content is (still) king, and how to capitalize on influence. In many ways, they’re not dissimilar.

At the core of these three themes is human behavior – tapping into what drives individuals to make decisions & take action, like buying what you’re selling. Read on to see how you can put these concepts to use in your own business.

1. The Importance of Having a Strong Brand

The keynote speaker at ASW 19 was Neil Patel. Forbes named Patel one of the top 100 entrepreneurs under 30. He has founded numerous successful digital marketing companies, best known for Kissmetrics. Self-professed to having once capitalized on some get-rich-quick aspects of the affiliate industry, Patel acknowledged those days are long-gone. The key in this new age of affiliate marketing, he says, is the importance of authenticity in your brand.

Authenticity is about having a strong vision and a willingness to stand behind that vision.

Now, authenticity can be a tricky subject – as soon as you try to be it, you become the antithesis of it. So, what is underneath authenticity, what can we take away from this? Authenticity is about having a strong vision and a willingness to stand behind that vision. To fully embody it in all that you do.

At AvantLink, we hold stead-fast to our beliefs that it’s more important to have quality-over-quantity partners, to operate solely on a performance basis, and to own our roots as the go-to network for outdoor brands. We value these qualities & stand behind them on a daily basis, even when our competitors are often-times doing the opposite.

In 2019, strength of brand is earning its keep while click-bait is losing its power. You’re not going to make it if you’re just showing up as a generic website trying to be everything to everyone any more. Whether you’re an affiliate or a merchant, you can strengthen your brand by narrowing your niche and knowing what compels your customers to buy.

2. Why Content is (Still) King

The conversation about content sites was buzzing at ASW. While we have long-valued our content partners, it seems to be making its way into the mainstream. While the higher-funnel traffic from content sites is considered higher-value the challenge is getting the content to convert. Over the last 2 years, AvantLink has seen more-and-more traditional print publications turn to the affiliate channel as an additional revenue source.

Heavy-hitting content sites are becoming savvier at their affiliate marketing strategies.

Print publications are now turning to their online entities to close the gap of decreasing print ad spend. Yet the rise of ad blocker technology is making display ads less than effective. These publishers are now looking to incorporate affiliate links more than ever. From creating additional columns that are focused on ‘comtent,’ ecommerce-related content (listicles, gift guides, best-of’s, round-ups, etc.), to leveraging their targeted email-lists, these heavy-hitting content sites are becoming savvier at their affiliate marketing strategies.

While many smaller blogs remain valuable from a branding position, they don’t always drive the most conversions. Fortunately, bloggers can learn from these bigger players (and from our first lesson from ASW) to start generating more conversions!

3. How to Capitalize on Influence

To satisfy the demand for more insight into the influencer space, ASW added an entire segment called “Influence” to the conference. We noticed that, to many, influencers are still the Wild-West of affiliate. But don’t worry, we can help! AvantLink’s sister company, Fervora, had the chance to debut their unique solutions & the opportunity to redefine influencer marketing and the role it can play in your business.

With more-and-more businesses turning to influencers to promote their brand and products, tracking these efforts is becoming increasingly important. Fervora simplifies the sign-up and link-creating process to make the influencer space accessible to the less-than-tech-savvy influencer. Fervora’s unique position is their focus on micro-influencers. Not big celebrities like Kim Kardashian, but your everyday fans – the ones who are already leaving 5-star reviews for your products online. (Learn more about Fervora here.)

Affiliate and influencer programs have historically been run separately, but they share the similar structure of referral-based advertising.

Furthermore, many of the education sessions for ASW had a focus on influencers. We discussed topics from what to pay them, to how to find them, to how to measure their ROI. While affiliate and influencer programs have historically been run separately, they share the similar structure of referral-based advertising – 3rd party entities sharing about your product and brand. This means you can parlay many of your existing affiliate program strategies and processes into the influencer space. Don’t be intimidated! Get started today!

All-in-all, it was a successful trip to Vegas. We had plenty of time to connect with current partners and to explore new opportunities. Were you at ASW this year? If so, what was one of your key takeaways?


Jen Hudak

Jen Hudak

Jen has been working at AvantLink since 2015. She comes to the affiliate industry with extensive knowledge about building brand awareness through social media and content blogging due to her 11-year career as a professional skier. Jen is excited to lend her voice to the AvantLink brand so that more people can take advantage of what affiliate marketing has to offer. When not at work, Jen can be found skiing Utah’s champagne powder or exploring Park City’s endless single-track trails on her mountain bike.

Jen Hudak

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