Whew -- I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Seattle, where I met with some folks at Microsoft and gave the keynote at Digital River's semi-annual Summit. Here are some of the lessons I picked up along the way.
#1. Online ad creative for consumer software: "The less it looks like advertising, the better it will perform." Direct quote from Gordon Penza, Online Partner Manager for Uniblue (a marketer I admire tremendously).
#2. Co-registration to gather house email names: Although buying co-regs is *huge* in practically every other consumer market I know of, including travel, apparel and consumer packaged goods, practically no one in consumer software is buying co-regs. I expected at least half the marketers I met to be psyched about co-regs, and no one (underscore no one) I talked to had even tested buying them.
#3. Affiliate marketing: Only half the software marketers I met at the show had an active affiliate program. Of those, a handful ran highly sophisticated campaigns with a dedicated manager. Bear in mind the typical online sales for these software and reseller firms was $100 million a year, and you'll see how different (behind?) this space is compared to other ecommerce.
#4. Rev Share vs. CPA: Software marketers tend to like to structure marketing partnerships on a rev share basis. However, although most online media (including affiliates) like CPA deals, rev share confuses them. Can you say culture clash? Joe Raffetto, a top affiliate I met at the show, recommends that both sides modify their stances.
Software marketers should pay flat CPC or CPA for upfront traffic and then perhaps offer an additional minimal (albeit enticing) bounty for each ecommerce conversion on the back end. That way, partners are eventually trained to begin sending you the clicks that convert better.
Of course, don't try this with Google. ;-)
By the way – no, I can't share Joe's contact info with you. Like most top independent affiliates he stays in the shadows, without a Web site or other marketing to get his name out. There are hundreds, if not thousands, more marketers out there than there are pros like Joe. It's definitely a don't-call-him, he'll-call-you type situation.
#5. International: Just as with their b-to-b software counterparts, consumer software marketers are *extremely* eager to advance outside the US. I heard folks talking about Japan, India, China and Germany, along with other countries. First, of course, you have to accept forms of payment beyond classic US credit cards.
#6. Dress code: The closer you work to Microsoft's campus, the more likely you are to be wearing a clean, pressed pair of khakis. If you're from the Midwest but in Seattle on business, you're in a formal suit. If you're from the East Coast, it's a navy or black suit.
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