Running an affiliate marketing program can be tricky, especially when selling digital goods. So is it worth it?
As online entrepreneurs, we are always on the lookout for ways to increase sales online. But what about affiliate marketing? Should it be in our marketing mix?
At Rainmaker Digital, affiliate marketing has been an important part of our online efforts. And we are lucky that we have the resources to devote to this important channel.
But what about you? Can it work for your needs or are you better off spending time elsewhere?
For this episode, we interview Brian Littleton – the founder and CEO of ShareASale – and ask him the important questions you need to know when considering affiliate marketing.
In this 35-minute episode, Sean Jackson and Jessica Frick debate and examine the benefits of affiliate marketing, including…
- The common complaints about affiliate marketing
- Why the costs of affiliate marketing may be worth it
- Why performance marketing – and affiliate marketing in particular – is a growing trend
- How to structure an affiliate program correctly
- And of course, our question for the week – is Amazon an online business’s best friend, or worse enemy?
Listen to The Digital Entrepreneur below ...
The Show Notes
- If you’re ready to see for yourself why over 201,344 website owners trust StudioPress — the industry standard for premium WordPress themes and plugins — swing by StudioPress.com for all the details
- Check out ShareASale
- Sean’s recommendations for the week, Search Engine News and EZ Texting
- Follow Sean on Twitter
- Follow Jessica on Twitter
What Online Entrepreneurs Need to Know about Affiliate Marketing
Voiceover: Rainmaker FM.
You’re listening to The Digital Entrepreneur, the show for folks who want to discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital goods and services. This podcast is a production of Digital Commerce Institute, the place to be for digital entrepreneurs. For more information go to Rainmaker.FM/DigitalCommerce, that’s Rainmaker.FM/DigitalCommerce.
Sean Jackson: Welcome to The Digital Entrepreneur, everyone. My name is Sean Jackson. I’m joined, as always, by the intelligent Jessica Frick. Jessica, how the frick are you?
Jessica Frick: I am great. How the jackson are you?
Sean Jackson: As always, I am well. And what was our question for the week that we left everyone hanging with from the last episode?
Jessica Frick: Last episode, we asked whether you think affiliate marketing is worth it for digital entrepreneurs. And you said it’s too hard for too little return. And I’ve been thinking all week about how wrong you are. But, before I detail all the reasons why it’s totally worth it, I really want to hear you expand on this.
The Common Complaints about Affiliate Marketing
Sean Jackson: You know, I’m becoming a curmudgeon on the show. I’ve realized that now ’cause I’m always in the negative. I’m gonna have a positive affirmation at some point. Let me be the negative guy for a second, okay?
So, here is the dilemma, all right? I think there are three things that make affiliate marketing just hard as hell. Okay, number one: You’re going to get a lot of affiliates that don’t do anything. I think if there’s an absolute example of The Pareto Principle in practice, it is the fact that a tiny minority of affiliates will generate the majority of sales, and the rest won’t do anything. And yet, you’re going to spend all your time with this universe of people that aren’t doing anything. And so if you’ve got limited time, why futz with it?
That’s number one. Number two: Too expensive, okay? Let’s face it. To get on people’s radar, you’re going to have to give a pretty generous commission on top of any fees you’re paying to an affiliate network on top of that. That’s a lot of money going out the door. So why should I be spending all this much money if it’s just going to be less profitable than if I do something, let’s say, like a Facebook ad or Google ad?
And then the third reason: Scammers, right? You know, there’s so many people out there, living on the fringes of trying to get a piece here, trying to get a piece there. They sign up for every affiliate network. And so instead of trying to focus my time and attention on people that are performing, I’m going to have to spend all my time trying to get rid of the scammers out of my network, those discount coupon-esque things that, you know, just don’t really do anything.
Jessica Frick: Oh yeah.
Sean Jackson: So those are my top three reasons why it’s just not worth the effort. You’re better off doing something else than affiliate network. Tell me why I’m right.
Why the Costs of Affiliate Marketing May be Worth it
Jessica Frick: Okay. Well now I hear why you’re so misguided.
Sean Jackson: Oh, okay.
Jessica Frick: First, let’s go with the cost, okay? We’ll go for number two, and then we’ll go one, and then three. So for number two, you’re saying it’s too expensive, but it’s called performance marketing for a reason. You pay when they do something. So, when you’re paying out a commission, it’s because they made a sale. And, quite frankly, it’s probably worthwhile to give them money to market your product than to pay for it what other way you would be marketing your product. You can’t just throw a sign up on your window and have customers run through the door. You gotta do something to work for that business.
Basically, with an affiliate marketer, you are giving them the money to earn that business for you. But that would also bring you to the time thing. You’re saying that you’d spend all this time on people who don’t do anything, but my personal experience has been that people who don’t do anything don’t do anything. They don’t take up your time. And the people who do take up your time are probably trying. Very few people are gonna ask you a million questions if they don’t plan to do anything.
But, you know, you also have to make sure it’s a good fit. The way that we handle our affiliate programs here at Rainmaker Digital is we always offer the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes people will ask you questions, and you’re like, “Are they just wasting my time here?” That’s never how we think about it. We always think about it as an opportunity to educate somebody who just doesn’t know. And whether they use that for us, or whether they use that somewhere else, we know that we’ve established that relationship, and they now trust us. And, perhaps, even if they don’t promote our products, they’ll buy them and use them in the future because they like us.
Sean Jackson: Yeah, but hold on. Let’s go through that one for a second because we’ve seen this before, right? That a lot of people sign up for an affiliate program just so they can get the “discount,” right, because they buy your product, and-
Jessica Frick: Okay, that’s the scammer part.
Sean Jackson: Yeah. So why, again, open yourself to having to go dig through that and go back and cancel those sales or any of that stuff?
Jessica Frick: Well we have some programs that are big where we will welcome anybody who’s legit and has a legit above board way to promote us that they plan to use. But we also have some programs that are very small, they’re invitation only. You wouldn’t even know about them unless we invited you. The bigger programs, it’s because we have processes in place to watch for that. And, quite frankly, if somebody’s gonna jump through all the hoops to get a discount and pay you for your product, personally, for the most part, I say you let ’em.
Sean Jackson: Mmm. Wow.
Jessica Frick: They’re still givin’ ya money.
Sean Jackson: Wow. I guess I’m just cheap.
Jessica Frick: Well, you know what though? For the most part, people don’t do that. I think that people genuinely are good. And if you have it in your rules that you’re not allowed to do that, most people don’t do that. Some people might do it by accident. I can’t tell you how many people have written us and said, “Oh my gosh. I just noticed I got a commission on my own sale. It must have clicked my link and bought something. I’m sorry. Can you reverse it?”
Sean Jackson: Yeah.
Jessica Frick: Well, we probably saw it anyway, but you saying that kinda makes me wanna let you keep it. But, you know.
Sean Jackson: Well, folks, what do you think? Have you experimented with an affiliate program before? Have you tried it out for your products? Make sure you visit the comments section of the episode, and let us know what you’re doing with affiliate programs. What do you think? Are they worth the time and effort, like Jessica thinks they are? Or are they just too much for too little return? Let us know. And we’ll be right back after this short break.
Voiceover: The Digital Entrepreneur is brought to you by the all-new StudioPress Sites, a turnkey solution that combines the ease of an all-in-one website builder with the flexible power of WordPress. It’s perfect for bloggers, podcasters, and affiliate marketers, as well as those selling physical goods, digital downloads, and membership programs. If you’re ready to take your WordPress site to the next level, see for yourself why over 200,000 website owners trust StudioPress. Go to Rainmaker.FM/StudioPress right now. That’s Rainmaker.FM/StudioPress.
Sean Jackson: Welcome back from the break, everyone. And Jessica, let’s get into affiliate marketing with our very special guest.
Jessica Frick: Today we have Brian Littleton, who is president and CEO of ShareASale. Brian founded ShareASale in 2000, and since then his leadership and vision have helped shape the industry into what it is today. We are very excited to have Brian today, and not just because of his affiliate marketing skills and knowledge, but also because he is one of the best piano players I have ever heard after a show. So, Brian, we are super happy to have you.
Brian Littleton: Thank you very much. I’m happy to be here as well.
Sean Jackson: So, Brian, I would like you to kind of inform our audience a little about ShareASale. And, full disclaimer by the way, folks; at our company, we have used ShareASale since the founding of the company. So we’ve been obviously affiliate marketers, and we’ve used ShareASale, so wanted to fully disclose that. So, Brian, what is ShareASale for our audience so they know what you’re about?
Brian Littleton: So, ShareASale is an affiliate network, which means it’s a platform for both a online retailer and an online publisher, such as the blogger, to meet and interact and basically have publishers earning commissions from various retailers for referring traffic. So, we’re one of the largest here in the United States, and we were recently acquired by Affiliate Window out of the U.K. to become really what is the largest global affiliate network that there is.
Sean Jackson: Gotcha. And you have about how many active publishers and advertisers?
Brian Littleton: Active publishers, a little over 100,000. Advertisers is somewhere around 4,500 or so, depending on some of the decisions, whether you’re counting private programs or not, but it’s a very large network having been built over the last 17 years.
Sean Jackson: And basically if I have a product that I’m selling … it could be a digital good, right? I could sell a t-shirt or I could be selling an ebook, right? I would go to someone like ShareASale and say, “Here is my product. I’d like to pay a commission for people who refer traffic to me. And that could be for clicks, sales, et cetera.” Fairly flexible, right? But it’s essentially a transaction between someone who has something to sell and someone who’s referring traffic to you. Is that essentially correct?
Brian Littleton: Yes, I would say the important distinction there is that it’s based off performance. We very rarely get into a per-click model. I would call that more of a pure advertising model, but it’s really based on performance. So it’s the sale of products, whether that’s digital goods or retail goods like fashion or what not. It’s all about the performance, which makes it a kind of a win-win arrangement for the publisher and the retailer.
Sean Jackson: Got it.
Why Performance Marketing – and Affiliate Marketing in Particular – is a Growing Trend
Jessica Frick: Now, Brian, you are also heavily involved in The Performance Marketing Association. For those who are listening, that’s thepma.org. Brian, can you tell us a little bit about why you believe it’s important not only to run your business, but to be so heavily involved with this association in particular?
Brian Littleton: Sure. Yeah, the performance marketing industry in general is just so unique; we’re different than other advertising models, we have different concerns, and it really wasn’t being represented by some of the larger groups that were in existence, such as maybe even the IAB or what not. But, that’s not a critique on them. It just wasn’t represented to the way that we felt it needed to be. So, it’s the only way that we’re really represented.
So we formed it. As one of the founding members, this was several years ago, I’m not even sure how many years at this point, but I became more heavily involved several years after I became the president of that organization, on the board of directors, and really tried to drive that forward. I’m still a member. I’m not the president any longer, as Rachel Honoway, the CEO of FMTC, has taken over that role. But it’s a very important thing for the industry to have.
Sean Jackson: And let me go through that, because performance marketing, for clarification sake, is very different than traditional online advertising, which tends to be display networks, right? Would you consider the barometer of performance marketing is the fact that, if you’re doing this type of marketing, you should be seeing a revenue gain? Is that essentially … that there should be something that you can track back to that says, “This is revenue that we’re generating,” versus more of your traditional display or even content marketing for that matter?
Brian Littleton: Well, it’s … in it’s most simple form, one of the ways I describe it is … so a traditional advertising campaign would have a budget. You’d say, “Okay. I want to spend $10,000 here. That’s my budget on display advertising. That’s it.” And then the publisher would kind of decide what the rates are, and you’d figure out how many impressions or clicks or whatever that added up to, and as soon as you got to 10,000, then it would end.
In a performance marketing relationship, you really don’t have a budget. The idea is that every time you are paying out a commission, you’re also receiving revenue from the sale of a product. So, if you’re selling a digital good and it costs $100 and your commission is $10 out to a publisher, you don’t really have a budget to spend because every time this happens, you’re actually winning. So it becomes a very different relationship for both of those parties and, quite frankly, can be much more lucrative in the right situation when the publisher matches the retailer.
Jessica Frick: And I think that that’s a really awesome point to bring us to the next question that I have for you, Brian. We are seeing performance marketing grow in a lot of areas that it previously didn’t apply to. I think people previously considered affiliate marketing kind of a dirty word, but now more merchants and digital entrepreneurs are using performance marketing to help grow their business. Who would you say would be ideal for an affiliate program, and who would not be ideal?
Brian Littleton: Well I’ve definitely been surprised over the years that the number of people who have come in and made this work when I would have said, “Ooh, I don’t know if that’s going to work here.” But, quite honestly, it’s anybody that’s selling a product, from a retailer perspective, anybody that’s selling a product or really even has any kind of measurable action, such as a lead generation or a form fill out, or whatever.
Anything can work with affiliate marketing. We’re talking about kind of the oldest tactic in the book, from a sales perspective, is to pay someone else a commission to refer business to you. Now that’s been going on since the Stone Age, so it’s just automated with the Internet and computers nowadays, but it’s a very old method. So anybody selling a product definitely can get involved.
From a publisher perspective, anyone with an audience of any kind. And that can be a small audience or a large audience. With both, you can be successful. One of the benefits of the performance model is an advertiser retailer can still work with very small publishers because everything is on that win-win basis that I was talking about earlier. So, even if a publisher is only sending five customers per month, that’s still another five that they get to add to their bucket for the affiliate channel, and it adds up in that manner.
It takes them no more resources to manage that group of people because they have platforms to work on, such as ShareASale, that allows them to manage 100 or 1,000 publishers all referring these five customers, and that adds up to a pretty good result at the end of the day. So we have seen a lot of media companies getting into that that have an audience, whether it’s a social media, Instagrammer, whether it’s an old-media publication, anybody that has that kind of audience can really get involved.
How to Structure an Affiliate Program Correctly
Sean Jackson: All right. So, Brian, I’m going to play the devil’s advocate, which is what I always do on the show. All right. So, I have a product. Let’s say it is again a real product that people are buying, and I decide to run an affiliate program with ShareASale, okay? And, I go out there … well, first off, I want to be very cautious about this. So the first thing I want to do is try to set a really low commission.
And, afterwards, I’m probably going to be really, really frustrated with the lack of results that I’m getting, and so I’m just going to abandon the damn thing. So, help me, the idiot guy who’s doing that, figure out a better way to do it. Talk to me as someone who owns a product. What are some of the best tactics that I can be using with something like ShareASale to really start driving that performance mark.
Brian Littleton: Well, you really have to consider the commission, quite frankly, and where you started. You were cautious in your approach, and you decided you wanted to set a low commission. And your cautious approach there probably cost you the ability to even get the thing started and going in that hypothetical example.
If you look at it from your own perspective, you are a publisher of media, and if someone approached you with your own offer, is that something where you could see an income stream that would make it worthwhile of your time spent? And, when you don’t, it’s obviously going to be very difficult to grow that program.
I always argue that a retailer or anybody selling a product is much better off to offer a very, very high commission. Don’t think of this as a cost-control/budget-control channel. It’s more of a new customer growth and acquisition channel, which typically gets a little more funding or interest. When you think of it that way, when you offer someone a very high commission, but do so for a very short period of time, say if I were to tell you, “Okay, I’ll give you a very high commission for the first 30 days of this program being launched,” there’s only a couple things that can happen.
One: I could blow it completely out of the water, and you’d end up spending a little bit more money than you wanted to. Or, the other option is I would not do that. I would not generate the results. It wouldn’t make any difference. It would be a zero. In both cases, you’ve actually earned way more than you thought you did because you now have the information you need to set the appropriate commission going forward. You know that this person either can send you a whole bunch of traffic and a whole bunch of sales, or they can’t. And that information is far more valuable than the difference in commission that you would have paid during that time period. So, in your example, you’ve basically shorted yourself and not allowed yourself to figure out even whether or not the channel was going to work for you, because you were too cautious at the start.
Sean Jackson: All right. So I want to go on this one more time because I know Jessica has a ton of questions, but I have the next part. Okay, so I follow your advice. I get crazy with my commission structure. I’m starting to see some results from it, but I’m also starting to see everybody and their brother-in-law signing up for my affiliate program. And I know some of these are doing it just so they can get a discount, if you will, off the purchase for my product.
Talk to me about the fact that there are so many people that may sign up for a program, but yet so few are actually performing. How does a product guy like me manage that, because that’s going to drive me crazy; I’ve got a thousand affiliates but only 10 are doing anything? Talk to me about that.
Brian Littleton: Yeah, it’s fairly common. I think that even in your own situation, if you think about the affiliate programs that you’ve joined over the years, you’ve probably joined a whole bunch of them that you’ve never actually done anything with. So, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it just takes us time to get around to things we all wish we could do everyday.
But, from a management perspective, it’s not near as difficult as I think as what you’ve laid out there. The platforms that are out there, such as mine in terms of ShareASale, allow you to manage large groups of people with small amounts of time. You can sort them, you can tag them, organize them, communicate with them differently depending on whether or not they’re sending traffic to you or not sending traffic to you. It becomes … that’s what companies like I do. So it’s not as big of a problem as maybe has been laid out.
Activating those people is the same type of strategy that I’d just laid out with your earlier question, which is to say, “Hey, if it’s not working with this 10% commission or this 20% commission,” and I find somebody in my program that I really, really want to activate, then you have to make them an offer. You have to get them moving in some way, shape, or form. And it might not be an offer that lasts forever, but it is something that you can try to get them off of the mat with, so to speak. And once you do that, it becomes … again, the information you learn from that becomes the most important piece.
Sean Jackson: Yeah. And I’m going to close this particular section because I will tell you from our own experience, not only working with your team but just in general, there is, I think, a fallacy that when you think of an affiliate program, you’re thinking that all of your sales are going to be coming from that. And the reality … it doesn’t.
And, even in our own business, I see the mix, right? And there are cases where we will spend a lot for certain affiliates, but the overall mix of revenue that comes both from performance marketing as well as organic marketing as well as display marketing, it’s the mix that you look at. And so I think, when you are thinking about those commission rates, realize that not every sale is going to have that extremely high commission rate tied to it. So, it’s something to consider that when you say yes or no to an affiliate program as a product producer, realize that it is just one facet of the revenue stream, but not 100% of it. Jess, what do you have?
Do You Really Need an Affiliate Manager?
Jessica Frick: One of my big questions for you, Brian, and you know that I already know the answer, but this is more to hear you tell the answer to everybody else, do you really need an affiliate manager or can you do it yourself?
Brian Littleton: Well, that really depends on the company and the situation. I think that for most entrepreneurs, and especially those in small companies, you can do it yourself. You can use the tools that are available to your on the platforms. There’s so much information out there to read about, blogs, and conferences to attend to get the information that you need to do it yourself.
Once it gets to a certain point, you gotta think it’s probably a better case that you have someone who has experience in those areas to grow it to the next level, whether that’s an internal resource, such as an affiliate manager or an external resource such as an agency, those are things that are definitely possibilities down the road. But, it’s not a super scary place to be. Like I was saying earlier, it’s the oldest trick in the book. You’re paying someone commission to send you traffic and send you sales. So as long as you just keep thinking about it that way, it’s not too terribly complicated.
The other really important tool to have, and I guess this makes the decision for you, if you have this or don’t have it, but you need a lot of common sense in the affiliate channel. You need to be able to look at an affiliate and say, “All right. The things that they’re doing, the traffic that they’re sending to me, I’m looking at their site, I’m looking at who they are, and this doesn’t make any sense to me.” If it doesn’t make any sense to you, it’s probably a case where you need to look at it a little bit deeper. So if you have that, I think you can definitely manage that on your own.
Sean Jackson: When you say an affiliate network, though, manage an affiliate network, it’s really like managing an independent sales force, right? I mean, I’m old, Brian, so I remember independent sales reps, and oftentimes there would be specific promotions for them, there would be people that you’d kick off for lack of performance or other reasons. But you are managing an independent sales group that really didn’t get a paycheck from you, but they did get a financial benefit from you. So would you say that mentality helps us think of them as, what would you need to inspire an outside sales force, knowing they’re not employed by the company? Is that the right mentality to have in looking at affiliate management overall?
Brian Littleton: Yes, and I think that you need to add in the fact that they’re also not only involved in this relationship with you, but that they have another 10 or 20 or 50 companies that they’re working with on this arrangement. So you need to be able to get their attention in that way as well. They’re very independent, they don’t work for you, they’re not just going to just do what you tell them to do. But you need to make your product and your offer look attractive.
The Future of Affiliate Marketing
Jessica Frick: Now, for the last question, because I know that we’re nearing the end of our time with you, where do you see the industry going? I know that there was a lot of concern about Nexus laws and Internet sale tax reform. What do you see the next five years looking like for those who employee affiliate marketing to grow their business?
Brian Littleton: It’s a very bright future, I can tell you that. It’s so exciting everyday, to be honest. To be in this space is to take advantage of every single innovation in terms of publishing, in terms of apps, retailer innovations, all those kinds of things. You get to take advantage of it because of where you sit in the affiliate marketing industry.
There’s never going to be a time when telling somebody that you’ll pay them a commission to refer you a customer is not going to be a popular option in the retailer world, right? It’s always going to be a very popular option. And so, in that case you’re sitting in the best possible seat you can when you’re in the middle of this channel. So, the exciting times for me are to watch publishers, both new and old, realize that they can make quite a significant sum of money in this industry, and for retailers to realize that, “Hey, all this money that I’m spending on display ads …” or “All this money I’m spending on all this stuff … I could probably focus on my partners in the affiliate channel and get a much better return for that.” As we continue to see that grow every single year, it’s really exciting, and a great place to be.
I think the future there is extremely bright. The issues that revolve around Nexus and some of the tax issues that you touched on are things that are definitely going to happen and things that we have to work through as an industry, which is why we have things like The PMA. But they’re nowhere near things that are going to be causing a really big problem for us.
Sean Jackson: And I think there’s a trend, to kind of finalize on your point. One of the trends that I’m seeing is how more mainstream publishers, Business Insider, which is owned the parent company that acquired your company, Business Insider is doing a lot more with affiliate marketing on their site, specifically around digital goods. I mean, I’ve seen you-to-me affiliate programs that they’re pushing to their audience, et cetera. So wouldn’t you say, to kinda conclude on this idea of trends, that it’s not just the independent bloggers that are part of affiliates, you’re starting to see that mainstream media traffic moving there. What do you think?
Brian Littleton: Absolutely. Mainstream media is starting to figure out this channel a little bit. I mean, you’ve seen them experiment with all kinds of different things over the years to try to monetize large volumes of traffic, and they’re looking at this as well. New media is looking at this. There’s a trend in media in general, where you no longer have to be a mass-media producer to have a large audience. That’s kind of the social media phenomenon or whatnot.
All kinds of media companies are looking at this, and it’s because of all the benefits that we’ve laid out over the last 20 minutes or so: the entry to a single program, the barrier is very, very low. You no longer have to call up a PR department and say, “Hey, I’m interested in doing this. Can you provide the rate sheet?” All that kind of stuff is irrelevant. A publisher simply goes to the affiliate program and says, “Okay, great. They’re paying a 20% commission. I can work with that. I want to see if I can send some traffic over here and how much money I can make from it.” The low barrier to entry is what’s made this really popular for all kinds of media companies.
Sean Jackson: Brian Littleton, founder and CEO of ShareASale. Thank you so much for being on the show, and sharing the insight with our audience. Truly appreciate it.
Brian Littleton: Thanks for having me. I really loved it.
Sean Jackson: And we’ll be right back after this short break.
Hey, everyone. This is Sean Jackson, the host of The Digital Entrepreneur, and I want to ask you a simple question. What is your business framework for selling digital goods online? Now, if the question perplexes you, don’t worry — you’re not alone. Most people don’t realize that the most successful digital entrepreneurs have a framework or general process for creating and selling their digital goods in the online space. One of the best free resources is Digital Commerce Academy. Digital Commerce Academy combines online learning with case studies and webinars created by people who make a living selling digital goods online. The best part is that this material is free when you register.
Are you interested in joining? Well, I’ll make it easy for you. If you are listening to the show on your phone and are in the continental United States, I want you to send a text message to 313131 with the keyword ‘DIGITS.’ When you send that text message, we will send you a link to the registration form right to your phone.
Are you outside the United States? Don’t worry. Just send us an email to Digits@Rainmaker.FM. Either way, we’ll send you a link to the registration form so that you can sign up for free for Digital Commerce Academy, and as a special bonus, we will also subscribe you to our newsletter when you text or email us, so that you can stay informed with the latest insights from the show.
And don’t worry — we respect your privacy, and we will not share your email or phone number, and you can easily unsubscribe at any time. If you want to start building or improving your framework for selling digital goods online, then please send a text to 313131 with the keyword ‘DIGITS,’ or send us an email at Digits@Rainmaker.FM. You won’t be disappointed.
Some Helpful Resources for the Audience
Sean Jackson: Welcome back from the break, everyone. And, Jessica, it’s now that time of the show where we throw out some resources that our audience may find helpful. Do you have any?
Jessica Frick: Well, can I just say real quick to the audience who doesn’t know you on a personal level, one of the things that I love about being friends with you and not just working with you is that you always find the coolest stuff. You do! And you love to talk about it, which makes me super happy. So, you know what, Sean, normally you’ll do one and I’ll do one, but I know that you’ve got a huge pile, so let’s hear two of yours this week.
Sean Jackson: Oh, okay.
Jessica Frick: Can we do that?
Sean Jackson: Yes, yes. We’ll make it easy. All right, so my first site to recommend, and this one is a fee-based site. It’s a membership site, but I will tell you, I have been with them since 2007/2006. It’s called SearchEngineNews.com. Now, let me tell you, as an SEO type, it was the primary resource that I went to to understand what’s happening in the search and social marketing world, primarily search. Over the years it has morphed; they’ve gotten more features, more tools, et cetera.
But, as someone who also has a life and is very busy running a business, I don’t always have time to kind of peruse through the numerous free sources. I sometimes need a digestible content of what’s happening in search marketing. And as our interview with Eric Inge showed, there’s a lot going on. I go to Search Engine News. Yes, it’s expensive, but it gives me a quick digest, and if I need to get something quick, I can go into their archives and find in-depth analysis. So, if you’re wanting to stay on search-engine information, absolutely recommend Search Engine News.
The second tool, though, that I want to recommend is a tool we actually use on the show, Jess. It’s EZTexting.com. So, I gave a presentation recently about the importance of mobile, how mobile is really defining the landscape and how we need to have a mobile-first approach. And to that, I have been a huge advocate for text messaging, because I know people will read it, I know that it works, I know it has it’s own rules, but the best way to start out is just putting it on your site. And EZTexting.com is something that, again, we use, we don’t get paid for this. I use it, one, because it’s free.
So I started using it for my cub scout troop that I happen to lead. And then I expanded to use it on the show, primarily because it’s free, allows me to move up in the pricing structure based on my needs, and is very simple to use. So, if you want to try text messaging as a functional part of your site or your online marketing, go ahead and take a look at EZTexting.com, that’s my first recommendation. And, of course, if you want to stay with search engine information and really want a quality digest of what’s happening, check out Search Engine News. Those are my two recommendations for the week, Jess.
Jessica Frick: Quick question for you, Sean: Are both of those appropriate for beginners?
Sean Jackson: Oh, good question. I think EZTexting, if you want to play around with text messaging, absolutely. EZTexting is very simple, very good, and it can allow you to grow and start free. Search Engine News, though, it really is … that’s for people that are serious about search engine optimization, hence you’re going to pay for it. If you just want the free stuff out there, you’ll see it. But, the reason I like Search Engine News is because it’s a lot of curated content, a lot of writers out there that are known for their expertise and have been vetted by the staff over there. So, one, Search Engine News, not necessarily for beginners but certainly for people who care about it. And EZTexting, absolutely for beginners.
Jessica Frick: Very cool. Thanks, Sean!
Sean Jackson: Of course, of course. So, Jess, we’re at the end of the show. What is the question for the week we want to leave our audience hanging with?
Jessica Frick: Oh this one’s gonna get controversial, Sean.
Sean Jackson: Mmmm. Yum yum.
Jessica Frick: Which I know you like! Amazon: Digital business’ best friend or worst enemy?
Sean Jackson: Best friend!
Jessica Frick: Really? You’re going pro on this one?
Sean Jackson: I know. And you will not say it is their best friend?
Jessica Frick: No, Amazon is not a digital business’ best friend.
Sean Jackson: Well, we’ll explore this topic in more depth in the next episode of The Digital Entrepreneur. Have a great week everyone!
Jessica Frick: Thanks for listening.