Performance marketers have a plethora of channels to choose from to leverage ad campaigns. When it comes to publishers, one particularly lucrative channel is blogs. As a platform, blogs offer a multitude of ways that ads and affiliate links can be placed so that readers encounter these campaigns almost natively. This contextual nature often leads to high performance for both the blogger and the advertiser.
I had a chance recently to sit down with Carolyn Tang Kmet, CMO of All Inclusive Marketing (a full-service digital marketing agency geared toward driving performance marketing) to talk about how her company works with bloggers who leverage performance marketing. At All Inclusive Marketing, they work with both advertisers and publishers. This enables them to work with bloggers of various backgrounds and skill sets, and provide high converting creatives, resources, education, and content ideas.
Kelly: Can you summarize the trend of bloggers that leverage performance marketing? Is this more of a hobby for these bloggers or does it lend more towards a full-time income?
Carolyn: A lot of the bloggers we work with definitely run their site or network as a business. They have media kits detailing placement opportunities, pricing and traffic; they have established networks where they can leverage placement across partner sites to increase visibility; and they have the means to track user engagement. Certainly not all bloggers are at this level, but it is absolutely wonderful seeing a blog, which is usually initiated out of a personal passion to share information, evolve into a profitable entity that still has heart.
K: Generally, how do you work with these bloggers?
C: Reaching out personally and tailoring the type of placement has worked best for both parties. Banner ads are great, but tend to be generic. We typically work with the blogger to develop something specific for their target audience, be it a sponsored tutorial, recipe or other such content. By producing these “advertorials,” we secure central real estate on their site, and longevity. Once the content is created, it’s unlikely that it’ll ever be removed so we’ll get long-lasting benefit as the post ages. We definitely try not to influence or detract from the blogger’s editorial independence though. That independence, that tone, that’s what built their audience in the first place. No way we want to dilute that.
K: What are the biggest mistakes these types of bloggers make? If at all, how do you help them get back on the right track so they’re making more money?
C: Not understanding how to move their audience from visitor to buyer. More about that below!
K: What types of best practices do you suggest for bloggers who want to make money from performance marketing?
C: It’s not enough to just feature a product. Bloggers with a business mindset need to convert their visitors into consumers, in such a way that doesn’t come across as overly “salesy.” The way to do this is not just through product reviews, but by putting products into context. How does the product make their life easier? What is it about the product that benefits the end-user? Lots of bloggers these days put up a photo and a quick comment, but in order to sell something, you need to share more than just an opinion.
K: What are some of the biggest challenges facing bloggers these days? How do you advise bloggers on these issues?
C: Editorial objectivity and independence. It’s great to get sponsored, but bloggers should be open to considering all opportunities that come their way. I think a lot of bloggers commit to one particular advertiser, and miss out on other opportunities due to some sort of loyalty. If there’s no contract in place, then they are free to speak with whomever they want, and explore any opportunities that come their way.
K: What are some of the biggest misconceptions around these types of bloggers?
C: Affiliate managers might believe that if they partner with a blogger, they’re going to see a windfall of sales. Not necessarily true. What you will see, is a steady stream of visitors who may not convert on that initial visit. The blogger merely introduced their visitors to you, it’s up to the retailer to continue the conversion process. However, when the blog-referred visitor finally does convert, you’ll likely see that they have a higher lifetime value than consumers you acquire through other channels. Blogs drive high quality traffic, they drive customers who aren’t necessarily discount driven, they drive customers who are interested in trying a product because one of their peers recommended it.
If you’re a blogger that profits from performance marketing, what advice do you have for others? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments.
Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.