Meet Jon Levine, a 13-year veteran of the online marketing industry, who currently works for All Inclusive Marketing  as their Director of eCommerce. At the upcoming Affiliate Management Days SF 2014 conference (March 19-20) Jon will speak on how to “Engage & Activate Affiliates Who’ve Since Gone Cold.”
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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?
Jon Levine: Mobile and mobile app affiliates. I believe that 2014 will be a big year for affiliates in the mobile space. With more and more eCommerce being done via mobile, affiliates who specifically target this market or develop apps that leverage affiliate relationships will be successful.
Question: What do you see as the main areas of opportunity for affiliate marketing (and affiliate marketers) 2014?
Jon Levine: I think a big area of opportunity is in data, but I don’t know if 2014 will be the year it becomes relevant. I think that merchants are sitting on so much data, but they’re unwilling to share it. I believe that this data can be harnessed and used by affiliate partners to see trends or uncover synergies that the merchant never thought possible.
There’s some big hurdles that need to be overcome before merchants begin to freely share their data, but I think there’s a huge opportunity if they do.
Question: As a veteran affiliate marketer and affiliate manager yourself, what do you view as the main areas where affiliates can truly help online merchants?
Jon Levine: I believe that the main area affiliates help merchants is reach. My reasoning for this is the affiliate’s expertise with their market and their customer, which is in turn the customer of the merchant. The really good affiliates know their audience and know how to speak to them. That’s what makes them a successful affiliate.
By partnering with these ‘experts,’ merchants gain a brand advocate that is able to introduce and/or maintain the relevancy of their product or services among its chief consumers.
Question: With the vast majority of merchants interested in having their affiliate programs drive truly incremental business, what types of affiliates would you recommend they recruit, and why?
Jon Levine: Content. Content. Content. And then Content.
Incremental means growth and growth means new customers. Loyalty and coupon affiliates are great at driving traffic, but they don’t do too much in the way of new business.
Content affiliates excel at introducing the merchant’s brand and products to a new audience, as well as reinforcing them with current ones.
Question: If you were to leave online advertisers/merchants and affiliate managers with one piece of advice, what would it be?
Jon Levine: Make communication your top priority. Having open and effective communication with the members of your program is the key to its success.
Listen to your affiliates. Interact and converse with them. Keep them in the loop. Make them feel like they’re part of a team. The more open and communicative you are with them, the more personal your program will become to them.
It’ll become something that they care about, not just because of the money, but because it means something to them.
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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 .