Mike talks with Karen Garcia of GTO Management. Mike met Karen at the New Media Expo and was so impressed with this years work of GTO Management he is going to the show this January 4-6 at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Here is a link to Save 20% on your NMX 2014
Karen discusses how affiliate marketing for events works, affiliate networks, coupon codes, promotions and much more.
Karen Garcia, CEO of the affiliate program management company, GTO Management, has fifteen years of experience in e-commerce and marketing. Since 1999, she has consulted on and profitably managed dozens of affiliate programs on many different network platforms ranging from large national brands to niche merchants. She was awarded the 2009 ShareASale “Pay It Forward” Award for Industry Advocate for her work, speaks often at conferences, and has several published industry articles. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Performance Marketing Association for three terms and as Secretary for the board since halfway through her first term.
If you want to connect with Karen to discuss affiliate marketing for your next event email her at karen at gtomanagement.com
Mike: Welcome back to the Meetings Podcast this is Mike McAllen from Grass Shack Events Media and today on the show we have Karen Garcia from GTO Management, hi Karen!
Mike: Thank you for speaking with me on this freezing cold morning.
Karen: Yeah it is fantastically cold here.
Mike: So, tell me since nobody, probably somebody knows you but I am sure not many people know who you are and what you do at the GTO Management.
Karen: Sure, well GTO Management is an outsourced affiliate program management company, so essentially we manage affiliate programs for companies who don’t want to do it in house or don’t have the resources or the knowledge to do it themselves. I have actually been managing affiliate programs since 1999 so I am going on 15 years at this point and it is exciting, I love what I do and we are incredibly selective about our clients because we like to develop long term relationships with them. Most of our clients have actually been in our roll for quite some time so that is essentially what we do in a nutshell.
Mike: That is great yeah and I came across you guys for the blog world org. I guess it is New Media Expo it changes its name constantly that must be something for you guys to constantly be doing new logos and things for them, do you do that?
Karen: It was only just a one change.
Mike: Was it just a one change?
Mike: I guess then they were like the podcast it was they came from that whole other I kind of came on Blog World from Affric going to the Podcast Expo years ago and stuff but anyway so you guys do a lot for them and can you explain a little bit about how it works because I don’t really understand affiliate marketing I am not from that area and I would love to hear how it kind of works and what you guys do for New Media Expo because I know that is your big client in the events space.
Karen: Right, so essentially what affiliate program marketing is, if you have a website like a blog or something like that you can get traditional advertisers to pay you a flat rate or something to put an Ad up on your site or you can also utilize affiliate programs to make additional revenue. So when you join an affiliate program either for an event or a retailer or business to business type of situation, and then you put up an Ad for that particular market and somebody comes to your site and clicks on that banner or that text link or that blog post and makes a purchase you get a percentage. So we help manage that whole process for our clients so from getting new affiliates and new websites and new blogs to actually join the affiliate program, helping them getting their links placed, basically walking them through the process, providing them with those banners, those graphics, content, tweets, all these social media bubbles in a way that they need and then also reporting back to the margin about how things are going and doing that weekly report in that type of situation, so that kind of all falls under our purview.
Mike: Wauh, and so the paying part of it, do you guys handle that, how does that work like if someone clicks I put a widget on the meetings podcast and then somebody clicks on it, how does it, how do you pay out, how does that work? How does someone make money doing this?
Karen: So, affiliate programs are traditionally tracked through third party networks so and there is a lot of different networks out there the big ones that we tend to like are Share Sale, Commission Junction, Avon Link and these are tried and through long term been around for a very long time aren’t going away type of networks. There is a lot of networks out there that are also much smaller or they focus more on CPC which is Cost Per Click and those ones are a little more flexible I suppose in terms of their stability. So if you are going to join an affiliate program do your research about your network tracking situation to make sure that you are actually going to get paid with the three networks I mentioned you are going to get paid because they have been around for a very long time and there is a lot of big fortune 500 companies that rely on them for their tracking purposes and their networks are the ones who actually provide that tracking, provide reports to the affiliate so that you can look at any given time how much traffic you send in, how much you earn in a particular click you earn in a particular link, how much money you have made through it, all that information is inside the network and that network actually handles that payment for you. So if for some reason you have joined five or six different affiliate programs all in one day and you have made a couple of bucks at this one, a couple of bucks at that one, they actually aggregate that all into a single payment for you so you don’t have to wait, in the past it has been you don’t get a check until you get 25 bucks necessarily or something like that there were a lot of limits to how much you wanted to deal with that pay out situation but with the network you will get it kind of all at once and so you hit that threshold much faster so you get paid faster.
Mike: Wauh, it is very, very interesting so if an event wanted to do the same what you are doing for New Media Expo, what exactly, how does that work for them like what are you doing for them?
Karen: So, for New Media Expo we have actually managed their affiliate program for seven years, eight years something like that now and so quite some time and of course like I mentioned we manage the whole transactional process of making sure that the affiliates have what they need, that they have it in a timely manner, that they can get it up, the tracking is working all of that sort of thing, with anybody new it is essentially the same situation you know we need to decide on a network, who you would want to work with, what your budget is, deciding on how much you want to pay your affiliates because that is always a key thing, looking at your competitors, making sure that your are in line with competition or beating them and then reaching out to potential affiliates to say hey, here is this new program out there, we think that it will work really well with your audience because of whatever reason. Affiliate marketing is not necessarily one-to many relationships it is a one on one relationship just as any business relationship really should be. So you can’t just send out a blanket email to 3,000 of your closest friends and expect it to actually work. You have to actually cultivate those relationships for it to be successful.
Mike: Very interesting and I have to say that I wasn’t going to go to the New Media Expo this year but I got the black Friday thing from you guys and then I got something else from Rick Calvert saying ooh if you do this you get 20% more off and so I sat there and booked my whole thing to go and it is directly from, I mean I guess that is you guys right?
Karen: That is us right.
Mike: Yeah so I mean it was like you were directly made me go to this thing and I wasn’t going to go I was like I don’t need to go to this thing, I don’t have the money for it I should be going to one of my own industry things for the event meetings but instead I am going to that but it was because I couldn’t not go it was just you know and I have gone in the past I have really enjoyed it so that is where I met you and I just wanted to say that that it worked for me I actually went that was before even I was going to call you to do this interview, so this funny you know I just thought about it right now when we were talking about this I was like you know I am going to this because of this whole thing, but that is great.
Karen: Yeah that was a great feel we had a lot of fun putting that together so.
Mike: I beat yeah.
Karen: It was hard not to tell everyone they had their time too, so I am like ooh, ooh just wait till Friday it is going to be amazing.
Mike: Right and someone who bought it the day before that must have been like ooooh!
Karen: No they took care of everyone though that wasn’t like that so that wasn’t an issue at all but in terms of letting the affiliates know that this is coming I had to wait until the right time to tell affiliates pick a few people get excited about stuff and they want to post things earlier just same reason that you know Wall Mart doesn’t send out their black Friday list to affiliates until like two or three days before hand things like that.
Mike: Yeah, so do you have like a campaign for I mean like a plan for like them when you sit down with Rick Calvert is that who you work with there or?
Karen: We work with a whole bunch of people, so yeah.
Mike: So do they have a whole campaign then you talk about the whole right up to the event of what you are going to do and how does that work? So if someone is right now is listening in because most of the people that are watching the show are basically in event, they are event producers and planners, or organizers so I just kind of want to lay it out for them like how could they call you like hey Karen we want to do this, what should they expect if they were going to do something like this?
Karen: Right, essentially with any campaign whether it is affiliate or something else you need to make sure that you have a marketing plan in place just so you don’t want to forget about something and two you get everything done on time you know it would be horrible to end up sending your black Friday deal on Saturday this is the whole point and it is only 24 hours but that is a big deal. So you have to make sure that you have got a cohesive plan going into things. So with any of our clients we actually like to make you know it is kind of an entire calendar things are broken down by month but then we also have depending on which client it is because some clients are very focused on especially with blog world they know the event is in January so the month or two ahead of time is much more intense than say April. So making sure that the months leading up to any particular sales spike are actually well planned out at a much more granular level than just an overall right so this month you know on the second Saturday we are going to send this email or something like that, it is very okay so Tuesday the 2nd we are doing this or is guess Tuesday is the 3rd but you get my point.
Mike: Yeah, so when they do like I get the emails from them or from you I don’t know who is doing this, they are marketing emails and it is like they are doing these hangouts and then they have like a coupon code to go along with that hangout so that is all part of measuring if this stuff is working, right? I mean, are you part of them too?
Karen: That is part of the team that we work with, so they put together those hangouts and then those codes yeah you can track all those codes in your backend so if you have an event where you are putting out some sort of a discount or some sort of promotion that involves that sign up with you can give them a code, that is a really easy way to see because not all email systems track properly that is just across the board. Somebody might click on your link, somebody might read the email and then later go yeah I want to go look at that and just type it in, not all email is actually going to show up as hey I had I sent 500 emails and 300 people clicked through and you know 50 of them purchased. Well that is probably not quite the right metrics. So adding that coupon in allows you to see not only the people that for whatever reason the tracking system kind of missed but also if somebody has forwarded to a friend you can actually see that okay well I sent out these many codes and I have more people than I expected well you didn’t see where that came from. So there is a lot of fun things you can do with coupon codes and one of the essential things is to make sure that they are unique, you don’t want to have the same code over and over again because it does kind of mess up your metrics unless you really kind of don’t care though that is the other side of the coin you know we have had clients in the past that just want to make sure that anybody can use a code and it lives on for six months or something like that and that is fine as well it is just a different methodology.
Mike: Right, so then is that part of your month by month thing is saying you know we different codes for different stuff and then you follow up on it and the next year you know after doing this many years with the New Media Expo people that must be, you must really have been able to figure out how to do it the best way.
Karen: Right, well and the other thing that we do is we actually provide all of the speakers and media partners with their own personal codes and it is for the same percentage off so it is a 20% code but they are customized specifically for them so that means that they have their own code that is just theirs that they can promote. So if somebody comes with those say and reads a blog post or whatever, but decides not to click on the link and then just goes to Animex life dotcom and does all their stuff and puts in the code for say CC Chapman then he is still going to get, you know it ends up in his pocket because he technically drove that sale so it allows us to see that exposure of alright well you are getting your affiliate commission and then these speakers are also driving additional revenue that it isn’t necessarily coming through a link so making sure that all that tracking is in place is important just to see who is doing great.
Mike: Yeah that is fantastic okay so I think after it is over then do you have a meeting with them?
Karen: Ooh yeah.
Mike: And then you just break it down, how does that meeting go?
Karen: Well it always goes great, any after the fact reporting is always important whether it is for an event like this or whether it is for you know a click and mortar type of retailer that is actually selling physical goods doing some sort of post holiday or post event reporting is key to not only making sure that you know everything went well and there wasn’t any mistakes or any problems or something that needs to be fixed but it also helps you plan for the next time. So it is that alright here is the you know 93 things that went well and here is a couple of things that we tried but didn’t quite work out and here is some stuff that was a real problem and doing that post mortem allows you to do a better job the next time.
Mike: That is fantastic.
Karen: Because not everything is going to work out every time.
Mike: Sure but it is a great I mean it is a little, it is better than, but I guess you could use all these in you know like the codes and stuff you could use them everywhere like print things you could do it everywhere right?
Karen: Sure, absolutely.
Mike: It sounds amazing so tell me a little bit about like your other clients like you said click and mortar which I thought is pretty funny I have never heard that before, so click and mortar is like basically an online store right?
Karen: Right so you have got your real stores that are only in the real world and then you have got the ones that are just online and then you get the ones that have both a physical location as well as e-commerce and so that is kind of a different BSL together so it is actually kind of fine so a couple of other clients we actual manage the affiliate program for is a company called weebly they are out of San Francisco and it is actually a drag and drop website builder they have more than 15 million users it is a fantastic fun middle product it is great for small businesses to get online for the first time because they do offer a full shopping cart, it is really an incredible product. Now I have always been a coder so when we first looked at them I was always a little bit wary you know uuh what is a weeb but it is phenomenal absolutely stellar and so we do theirs we also do affiliate management for a company called Fox Creek Leather and they are out of Virginia and they have a store as well as e-commerce and they sell motorcycle leather goods which is a lot of fun and a company called Bolin Shirt. Now Bolin Shirt are concreters in St. Louis and they sell Bolin shirts and fifties products, customs printed shirts they don’t just do Bolin shirts they also do T-shirts and polo’s and fleeces things for corporate events and they do a tone of that it is all kind of custom so you can do not only something for like a Bolin tournament for a charity or something like that but you can also do just plain old regular shirts as well and they are tones of fun we have been with them since 2007.
Mike: So how does that work like a weebly event what is the difference between like doing because in an event you have a date, you have a date you are working towards like a weebly theirs is constantly going so how is that different?
Karen: Well a company like that they are always going but there is also a sales cycle for any company in terms of you are going to have that kind of baseline every month you are going to get X number of new accounts, X number of new domain sales things like that but at the same point in time there are definite sales spikes you know January is a big month for a lot of different industries so you look at you know the health stuff, all the gyms, weight loss, but also a new business is huge in January so there are a lot of businesses that are finally that is their New Year’s resolution is to finally get online or to redo their website or to fix something that has really bothered them in the past year with their business and so January is huge for Weebly so that is kind of what we have been building towards is making sure that all of our tasks are in a row for a January spike rather than you know black Friday or something like that.
Mike: Very, very interesting so and you guys have been doing this for a long time right?
Mike: For your company has been in business for?
Karen: So our company has been in business since 2007 I actually started out in the industry working for story company and I did marketing for them for about six years or so and that was very involving since it was an in house position it wasn’t just affiliate marketing it was catalogue and all the other online marketing that was outside of the affiliate channel, a lot of different things. All the email marketing that fell on my desk and the beginning of social media back then it was a lot of my space stuff like that, back in the day and I feel so old.
Mike: Yeah I know how it feels, so let’s say somebody wanted to, had more questions or was interested in doing this, how will they get hold of you guys?
Karen: They could just go ahead and drop me email my email is Karen (at) gtomanagement.com and or they can just give us a call my number is 5305541369, you can also find me on twitter, on linked in since I am an early adapter all my stuff is basically Karen Garcia so anything you will find me. Except for the Google+ because Google+ instead of Karen Garcia is too common of a name and it won’t let me have it but I am there too so you can find me there.
Mike: Fine so do you guys both drive GTO’s around or is that your?
Karen: No that was kind of our goal when we were first trying to build the company so the last name of course is Garcia so the official name of the company is Garcia Total Outsource Management.
Mike: Ooh, I see.
Karen: One of these days my husband is going to breakdown and find a 1968 or 69 GTO.
Mike: That is great and you wrap it with your logo and stuff and have a code on the back?
Karen: No, no.
Mike: Alright Karen well thank you so much for speaking with me I really appreciate it and best of luck to you and I guess I will see you at the New Media Expo coming up at January 6th right?
Karen: Absolutely down in Vegas.
Mike: Yep, okay thank you so much say hi to Joe and stay warm.