Meet Chuck Hamrick, a 15-year veteran of digital marketing, seasoned outsourced affiliate program manager (OPM) who currently serves as the administrator of the world’s largest affiliate marketing forum, ABestWeb.com . At the upcoming Affiliate Management Days SF 2014 conference (March 19-20) Chuck will moderate “Inside the Mind of the Super Affiliate” panel, as well as speak on “Using Affiliate Forums and Blogs to Create an Online Reputation.”
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Question: If you were to emphasize one area that every affiliate manager should be paying attention to in 2014, what would it be, and why?
Chuck Hamrick: Mobile marketing. This spring mobile will surpass traditional desktop/laptop as the main way consumers shop and make online purchases. Is your site optimized for mobile and your cart? Do you offer mobile banners to your affiliates? Does your affiliate software/network track mobile traffic and sales?
Question: What do you see as the main areas of opportunity for affiliate marketing (and affiliate marketers) 2014?
Chuck Hamrick: Online sales grow year over year. Are you taking advantage of it? Affiliate marketing isn’t shrinking, it’s growing. Poorly managed affiliate programs are no different than poorly managed social media, SEO or paid search. Site conversion is your first step while you grow your advertising and traffic. Affiliate marketing is an incremental addition to a successful eCommerce merchant.
Question: As a veteran digital marketer and affiliate program manager, what do you view as the main areas where affiliates can truly help online merchants?
Chuck Hamrick: To partner with the merchant/AM/OPM. When I send out a newsletter we have pushed the affiliates – the latest promotion, hottest products, latest coupon. These are also promoted through the merchants email, display and social channels.
Consumers may check via a search engine to research the product before purchase or if it’s the best deal. Affiliates can endorse this for the merchants brand and are rewarded with a commission for closing the sale. Merchants are spending heavily on TV and radio yet consumers will go to the Web to purchase. Affiliates can be there to capture those eyeballs.
Question: With the vast majority of merchants interested in having their affiliate programs drive truly incremental business, what types of affiliates you would recommend they recruit, and why?
Chuck Hamrick: My preference is a mix and it takes time to recruit productive affiliates to your program and get them active.
Partner with 1-2 PPC affiliates who “bid the gap” for your merchant, finding terms they missed. Pick 5-10 coupon/deal sites that are responsive to getting your ads up quickly and taking them down when expired. Content/Review sites are great and will need content/videos. Bloggers have low conversion so you need a bunch. Offer samples for reviews.
Datafeed/price comparison needs a detailed datafeed with sales price (often left out). Partner with a few loyalty but insure they are not using software to hijack others sales. Specialty affiliates can be tested such as email marketers, contextual, third party tool sites, cart abandonment, social. Be open minded as affiliates are the R&D arm of online marketing. When in doubt, talk to the affiliate directly.
Question: If you were to leave online advertisers/merchants and affiliate managers with one piece of advice, what would it be?
Chuck Hamrick: Investigate and understand attribution. With total visibility through your total online marketing channel you can better understand where to allocate resources. Marketing channels need to complement each other and not compete with each other. Don’t double pay for sales.
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The upcoming Affiliate Management Days conference  takes place March 19-20, 2014 in San Francisco, CA. Follow @AMDays  or #AMDays on Twitter as well as Facebook.com/AMDays. When registering , make sure to use the code SMBTRENDS to receive $500.00 off your two-day and all-access passes.
See the rest of the interview series here .