Is mobile still not 4u?

Affiliates at the a4uexpo 2007 were generally negative and unconvinced about marketing on mobile but with several now owning 3G iPhones will their perception change of this new sales channel?

I started planning running my own mobile version of ShopCodes a year ago but that project is on hold.

I do believe the site can work and be profitable but I’ve got to get my infrastructure in place first so that I am more efficient in how I manage my codes. As a tester of mobile Internet sites I know how technically challenging it can be to get the user experience right.

So that’s why I’ll be keen to listen to mobile expert Peter Glaeser, at the 2008 a4uexpo, at Excel London, 14-15 October 2008.

During his time as Associate Director for online marketing technology at Jamster, a joint venture of News Corporation and VeriSign, Peter launched a mobile tracking solution and one of the world’s first ringtone affiliate programmes for the mobile internet.

The mobile affiliate marketing pioneer willl be talking about how you can embrace mobile within the affiliate channel.

The session will cover business models, monetisation methods and traffic sources and will be aimed at both affiliates and merchants and concludes with a Q&A.

With over 40 other sessions including Landing Page Optimisation, Developing Profitable Websites with Mash-ups & APIs and successful Voucher Code Implementation, this year’s a4uexpo Conference will provide delegates with best management practises, complementary channel activity, useful tools as well as expert views on the market and its future potential.

Matthew Wood, organiser of a4uexpo, says:

a4uexpo is all about learning, not sitting through sales pitches. This year’s agenda has been driven by the delegates, debated by the 20,000 members of affiliates4u and responds to the real issues facing everyone working in this dynamic industry.

Hmm, ‘Successful Voucher Code Implementation’. Guess I should take a sneak peak at that session too.

210 Minutes Mobile Time

Mobile phone users spend 210 minutes per week using it for activities other than texting or ringing family and friends.

Orange have carried out research and it shows that people are using their mobiles more often to access the internet.

For those users with mobiles, the phone is now the most popular way to access media such as Internet, music, games and video between noon and 6pm.

People are using their phones to access mobile media for over three hours and 30 minutes a week with the average media session lasting for ten minutes or more. This compares to an average of two hours and 40 minutes spent reading print media, like newspapers and magazines.

Laura Chaibi, media research manager, Orange, said: “Mobile media is at a tipping point as more and more people take up the range of services available and the opportunities for operators, media companies and advertisers are growing rapidly.”

Just another reason we should be seeing more merchants and therefore affiliates operating in this space during 2008.

affiliate marketing here, there, everywhere …

Some of us affiliates have day jobs and have to spend a rotten 50 minutes waiting for and using public transport to get from home to work. Listening to people coughing, sneezing or frantically ringing bosses that they’re stuck in traffic is not the most efficient use of time.

So I use my travel time as an opportunity to read some of my emails on my Sony Ericsson K800i and catch up on the latest affiliate marketing news and gossip.

Using Opera Mini which is free to download, I can quickly see which of my favourite affiliate authors have updated content by looking in the RSS folder.

My favourite is the Affiliate Marketing Blog from UK Offer Media. This is Kieron’s blog, recognised as a ‘super affiliate’ at a4uexpo 2007 and he updates every other day on a wide range of affiliate subjects.

The posts are concise and appeal to seasoned and new affiliates alike. Reading the post via RSS, the website design is stripped out so that you can ignore all the navigation and banner advertising and get straight to the content.

Even in this most basic format the post is recognisable by its tone of voice.

The ‘Apple iPhone‘ post includes a crisp clean image that grabs your attention. The post includes emotion, fact and humour. With all his posts, Kieron signs off with ‘What I’m listening to right now’ which adds a very personal touch.

If I want to interact with the post or read some of the user generated comments I can click the headline. You then see the Affiliate Marketing Blog is optimised for small screen devices and takes up two pages, demonstrating that you don’t need a fancy new iPhone to browse the Internet.

A couple of scrolls takes you past the headline, strapline, RSS and most popular posts.

The text presents well and by the time you’ve read the post and comments, you’ve viewed approximately 60% of the 40k page.

The best aspect of this blog via mobile is that you can still interact with it on the move. Many other blogs and forums make it difficult if not impossible to interact via mobile, as they struggle to handle the forms or use captcha images that do not display.

At here.org.uk you can simply add a comment by entering your name, email and website address and if you’re a previous poster it will be added immediately.

Kieron’s blog is perfect reading to start or end the working day. His well written content can be absorbed before you have to leave that busy public transport.

top secret 5 point post-a4uexpo plan

Between my massage on the first day of the a4uexpo and the bar closing at the post-party, I’d already made my five point plan to keep me busy and profitable over the next six months.

It wasn’t a hard decision to come to, as I’d already started talking to a few people close to home about my future plans. It was just that the sessions at the Excel and the subsequent chats at the Fox and Novotel hotel bar, confirmed my ideas.

So this is what I’m doing in the coming weeks and months to enhance my business, which is currently focussed on Shop Codes UK.

BRAND

Shop Codes is 18 months old and is now known around the affiliate industry by my presence on the Affiliates4u site. It was clear to me though that some people at some networks didn’t know much about me or my site.

At the moment I have three brands. There is “Ray Theakston”, the cheeky little Northern chap. There’s “Befuddle” which is my company name, pseudonym and name of my celebrity site that made its first affiliate sale on 25th October 2000.

Then there’s “Shop Codes”. You wouldn’t think that would be a difficult brand to master but in this post already I’ve used both “Shop Codes” and “Shop Codes UK”. Did you spot that? I have recently experimented with targeting non-UK merchants and so the brand will be important to tie down. Especially for where I want to drive the site in 2008 and 2009.

DESIGN

I’ve a designer working on redesigning my site to make it more professional whilst keeping the flavour of it’s ‘back-bedroom’ roots. Only last week he showed me a printout of a potential new home page. I liked what I saw. The design is not too different to where the site is today.

I didn’t want it to look too corporate but importantly I didn’t want to lose its good conversation rate. It was only the first draft too and so I look forward to further iterations.

CMS

I manually edit my site by hand and whilst it’s built using php, I still have to manually edit the files when the voucher codes expire. With the growing number of codes, I’ve found this is too time consuming, particularly at the end of the month, when typically 10% of existing codes expire.

So, I’ve had a meeting with a developer and talked through my requirements for a content management system. The plan is to have a simple solution in place for the first pass so that we can see what content is delivered by automated processes. As a part time affiliate, a CMS system will provide a lot of ease and will move me forward to my fourth and fifth plans.

MOBILE

If only I knew session 10 existed I wouldn’t have had to chew so many ears for the first two nights and day about lack of mobile advancement by the merchants and networks.

I was amazed by some of the negativity about mobile but PriceRunner seem to be doing well out of it, according to Gary Goodman, MD of ValueClick.

Many are clearly not thinking about mobile in 2007 and I bet when I see them at a4uexpo in 2008 they won’t be thinking about mobile for 2009. However, in those ‘lost’ years consumers are spending millions on mobile phone content and services.

I’m staking my claim for a bit of the plot as I type. I’ve a company working on developing my Shop Codes website for mobile. I took the opportunity to speak to several networks on how I can monetise the platform and extract revenue from my exclusive codes. These talks will obviously progress more seriously, rather than over a beer, once I’ve launched on that platform.

UGC

I’ve currently no interactivity on my Shop Codes site and so I shall be expanding on User Generated Content. I don’t just want methods for users to submit codes that I can then approve but I want it for B2B purposes. I often get sent emails from merchants to promote codes. However, they don’t have affiliate schemes and so sometimes I don’t promote them.

With mobile there will be plenty of opportunity for user-generated content too with text messaging of codes.

BRAND (20%), DESIGN (20%), CMS (20%), MOBILE (20%), UGC (20%)

There’s a lot of work to be done. Isn’t it the case that If i make a start or improve on each of those by 20%, I’ll see an 80% benefit?

There’s no timetable for the work to start and end but if I can have them all in place by Spring 2008, that will give me 6 months to assess what improvements they’ve brought me in terms of traffic, loyalty, revenue, exclusive content and industry respect.

I’ll then go into a4uexpo 2008 with a pad ready to draw up my next five-point plan. See you there!

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