An Interview with Missy Ward of Affiliate Summit, FeedFront Magazine, and GeekCast.fm. Missy Ward is one of the true leaders of our generation in Affiliate Marketing.
Tell me more about all the many things you do?
As far as making a living goes… I am the co-founder of Affiliate Summit, FeedFront Magazine, and GeekCast.fm. I also manage the http://www.ThesisAffiliates.com program, on a performance basis. All of the money I make through that I donate to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. I’m also an affiliate and have a few affiliate sites including WeViews.tv and http://www.ShipToTroops.com and I arbitrage offers from time to time. I sit on the advisory board of Izea and A4uExpo and blog on http://www.MissyWard.com about affiliate marketing, social media and other things that tickle my fancy.
How did you get into affiliate marketing?
Back in the 90’s, I was the VP of Marketing for a company called Global Travel International. It’s a home-based business opportunity in the travel industry. One of my tasks was to figure out ways to generate new leads for the program, increase travel sales and also help our independent agents grow their businesses. I had a core group of independent agents that were doing their marketing online and getting paid on a performance basis for their efforts. I provided the marketing creatives, rigged up some tracking and paid them monthly commissions. I had no idea what I was doing; I only knew was that it was working. After a while, I realized that we had ourselves an affiliate program, in essence. I did some further research and saw that Amazon was basically doing the same thing. So, I did what everyone else did at that time – followed the Amazon model and learned by the trial and failure method.
What was your biggest challenge getting into affiliate marketing?
There wasn’t a whole lot of information available at the time on getting started. While I had been a marketer for years, all of my experience was in offline marketing. I had to learn everything – from the ground up – including html, design, where to get hosting, etc. Although it was an exercise in frustration at times, I was having a blast figuring everything out.
What are the main things merchants do that you wish they wouldn’t?
Besides the obvious of working with parasites, I wish they wouldn’t use affiliates as a test bed for their marketing efforts. There’s nothing worse for an affiliate than investing time and money to get a program up and going, only to find out that the creatives or the landing pages don’t convert.
What are the main things affiliates do that you wish they wouldn’t?
Affiliates often make the mistake of jumping on the bandwagon of the “new and shiny” offers that everyone else is promoting, thinking they’ll make a ton of money that way. While they might make a few short-term dollars, concentrating on the long-tail and learning how to scale properly nearly assures their businesses’ long-term viability. I also think that affiliates should always research the product or service that they’re promoting. Endorsing something that may be marketed via false claims; is being investigated by organizations or trade groups; or is simply plain old junk, can destroy your online reputation.
Where do you see growth in the affiliate field?
With merchants looking for more customer engagement, I think there’s a lot of opportunity in online-to-offline performance-based marketing. Generating eyeballs online which turn into transactions in-store, is a channel that is virtually untapped in affiliate marketing.
What new ideas are advertisers coming up with to take advantage of new traffic sources?
I think one of the most interesting things I’ve seen lately is advertisers beginning to offer affiliates CPC campaigns geared towards marketing on Twitter and Facebook. From what I gather, SocialSpark is really doing well with it and has somehow gotten a handle on the potential fraud associated with it all.
What do you do to improve the world?
I spend a lot of my time raising money for charities that either support breast cancer awareness and research or help children. These are two causes that are very close to my heart. Together with Affiliate Summit and affiliate marketers around the world, I’ve helped to raise nearly $140,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters, March of Dimes, Susan G. Komen Foundation, National Breast Cancer Foundation and Starlight Starbright Children’s foundation, in the last couple of years.
What do you do that is green?
I try to avoid taking my car anywhere that I don’t have to. I bike my older son to school, jog to the gym, walk to the grocery store, etc. Not only is that green but it also protects others from my lousy driving.
What is one thing about you that not many people know?
I am a die-hard AC/DC fan and have been so, since the late 70’s. I also have a huge crush on Robin Williams, which a lot of people just don’t get.
What is on your iPod?
I’m caught up in the 70’s 80’s and 90’s. You’ll find an array of AC/DC, Kiss, Mettalica, Cure, Smiths, Depeche Mode, U2 (old U2, not the new stuff) and similar on my iPod.
What’s your favorite book?
I don’t think I have a favorite. I read constantly and my taste ranges from business books to crime (true and fiction). But, I do have a favorite book to read my kids, and that’s “I Love You More” by Laura Duksta.
What are your contact details (email, company, blog, facebook, myspace, forums etc) ?
Weekly Podcast: TheSpew.fm
Who would you recommend and why?
Julie Vazquez http://www.JuliesJournal.com and Heather Smith http://www.Boatinginbeautifulbritishcolumbia.com. Over the last year, I’ve seen these women really beef up their blogging and marketing efforts and come into their own. Newbies can really pick up some good tips watching these women.
Brian Clark http://www.Copyblogger.com as he gives a ton of great copywriting and marketing advice away for free through his blog.
Thanks you Missy Ward – Murray Newlands