ShelfJoy: Clever use of messaging and affiliate marketing

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We are the place for book lovers to discover amazing books from a wide variety of topics. All lovingly hand-curated by people who know and love reading.

Source: ShelfJoy

Interesting messaging bot for Facebook Messenger that was just released today. Once you add Shelfjoy to Messenger, you “chat” with it to discover books in various categories (or “shelves” as they call them). If you find something you like, you click “Buy” and you’re handed off to Amazon to complete the purchase with the Shelfjoy affiliate code.

Clever.

We’ve been doing this sort of thing for a while with affiliate marketing and niche recommendations. I had a friend who developed a chat bot for AIM (remember that?) back in 2003 that gave you suggestions about products based on your chats. What we haven’t had is the ability to do so in format like Facebook Messenger that already has all of your social graph data (friends, likes, credit card etc) already tied in.

I expect to see more of these and more intelligent versions of these as Messenger and Google’s upcoming Allo and Siri / iMessage continue to become more “intelligent” and tied into our existing data profiles.

Pretty soon, you’ll be paying your bills and ordering your pizza via voice with your messaging platform of choice (while forgetting how to type on a physical keyboard).

Google’s Affiliate Program for Play Store

Google is working on launching an affiliate program for Google Play similar to the one Apple runs for its own digital content stores, a source briefed on the matter has told 9to5Google. The affiliate program, which is said to still be in its early stages of development and could get called off or change significantly between now and its time of launch, is said to be powered by Performance Horizon Group, the same company which in 2013 began supporting Apple’s affiliate program.

Source: Exclusive: Google planning an affiliate program for Google Play, starting with Movies & Music | 9to5Google

Apple’s affiliate program for iTunes content has had some success for larger publishers I’ve talked to (who deal in media and music categories). However, they weren’t blown away by the results. I wonder how much Apple is seeing from the program?

It will be interesting to see if Google can make a significant push by leveraging the affiliate space. There’s so much competition now with Apple, Amazon, Spotify etc that partnerships via an affiliate program might be the way to go to increase market share.

Google has been doing lots of hiring for their physical products category on the Play Store, so maybe this is in conjunction with that effort as well.

Undervaluing The Click and Mobile’s Importance in Conversions

Mobile advertising is worth ten times the amount marketers think because it drives more offline sales than marketers are able to measure, according to Google’s Matt Bush.

Source: Google: mobile is ten times more valuable than marketers think

Part of me (the marketing consultant part) wants to jump up and down and say “YES! SEE! READ THIS, SKEPTICAL CLIENT!”

Another part of me (the cynical online marketing veteran part) looks at this relatively cynically since it is coming from Google. Google is making intentional moves to distance its majority of revenue from cost per click actions on desktops and laptops and focus on transitioning its largest advertisers to mobile, contextual, and video (YouTube) ads. The average Cost Per Click revenue is down 11% this past quarter from a year ago and will continue to plummet as advertisers continue to realize that clicks aren’t a scarce commodity. That would fall in line with this statement from last week:

According to Bush, marketers are underestimating the value of clicks on desktop by about four times and clicks on mobile by as much as ten times. “You can see if someone had clicked on an ad or visited store, we need to start thinking about the creative we put in place.”

So which part of me is right? As with most things (especially in advertising / marketing), it’s not a black-and-white issue. Yes, Google is right to encourage advertisers and marketers to realize that clicks are undervalued when it comes to the conversion process. However, that realization would serve Google well.

For over 10 years, I’ve been arguing that marketers need to get beyond the old metrics we were and have been using for evaluating click effectiveness (whether in a CPC mode or in actually clicking on a link).

We’ll see if mobile finally delivers on that promise.

 

You Won’t Make Money with Your Website

“The future for most publishers is likely that of pure content production only, save for the few — like Gruber — who are destination sites capable of selling native advertising in stream (or selling subscriptions, like this site). What is very much in question is exactly how users will feel when they finally get what they claim they wish for.”

Source: Why Web Pages Suck – Stratechery by Ben Thompson

Ben is mostly right with his analysis here – the only point I’d include is that there are possibilities (still) for small and niche sites to utilize affiliate marketing for profits. Even better are sites that are shaped around podcasts (*cough* Thinking.FM *cough*) or video etc.

If you’re looking to start a site, grow a large readership, and make money from advertising… that ship has sailed.

As I told a client this morning, websites and podcasts and YouTube channels aren’t direct money makers… they are marketing channels.

Google Affiliate Network 3.0

google-affiliate-arabe

“To be clear, the merchants will still handle the actual product fulfillment, although the pages will be hosted by Google. The company emphasized that it’s trying to reduce the friction in mobile purchases without interfering in the relationship between merchants and consumers. That’s why the purchase page will carry the merchant’s branding, and if the product isn’t exactly what the shopper is looking for, they’ll even be able to search for other products.”

Source: Google Unveils “Purchases On Google,” Which Are Basically Buy Buttons In Mobile Ads

Sounds a lot like affiliate marketing to me.

Ah, the good ole days.

Affiliate marketing always was a good system in theory, but I’m always a little sad its promise of a democratized marketing industry never really materialized. Like our social interactions, I guess it’s up to the large silos to run the show.

Nice rundown of “Purchases on Google” over at Marketing Land.

How is GMail’s Promotion Tab Affecting Your Email Marketing?

How are things going with your email newsletter as we head into the all-important holiday season?

Trends don’t look good if you’re doing your email marketing the same way you did things in 2004…

Before the tabbed layout, open rates to Gmail had been above 13% for 15 weeks. They never dipped below that threshold unless there was a specific holiday. For instance, weekday opens for Gmail fell to 12.5% on the week of Valentine’s day. Open rates between Christmas and New Years are an abysmal 10.5%. Something about spending time with loved ones just isn’t conducive to combing through your inbox. Weird, right?

What bothers me in this case is that open rates stayed down for 3 consecutive weeks. From looking at a year and half’s worth of data, I can say that kind of behavior isn’t normal. I’m not willing to declare an emergency just yet. After all, I don’t even know what the adoption rate is on Gmail’s side. However, I would say this is an early indicator, and we’re definitely keeping our eye on it.

via How Gmail’s New Inbox Is Affecting Open Rates | MailChimp Email Marketing Blog.

Of course, GMail isn’t the only email provider but you’d be downright ignorant if you chose to ignore the new tabbed interface of the service. Since the changes started rolling out earlier this summer there have been handy “how to survive” guides that you should read (such as this one). Whether this is anti-competitive or helpful to users (or somewhere in the middle), the reality now exists and marketers must deal with it.

While it may only be Labor Day, you should be in full swing of planning out your holiday season promotions. There’s a very specific calendar mindset that successful email marketers use (you should read that), so it’s time to dive into your email marketing provider analytics (we love MailChimp but affiliates and marketers should be careful when using the service and look to others like AWeber) and see what kinds of trends you can spot from the data over the summer.

One of the most helpful things you can do for your own lists and subscribers is education. Even outlets such as No Agenda, one of my favorite podcasts, is relying on user education to make sure their email newsletter (via MailChimp) gets delivered to listeners’ inboxes after seeing a dismal drop in user contributions (they don’t run ads) since the GMail changes.

Email marketing is just as important, if not more so, than ever as we enter into the 2013 holiday season. Make sure you’re doing your homework before things really heat up and plan for success.