We’re excited about our CEO / Co-Founder Jesse Lakes’ new guest blog for AppClover.
In his latest piece, Jesse takes a look some of the more common issues people run into when getting up and running with the iTunes / App Store Affiliate Program. Additionally, he shares a couple of tips for making the most out of the program – and establishing a good rapport with Apple – once you’ve been accepted.
Should you have additional questions or concerns about anything covered (or not covered!); don’t hesitate to drop us a line and we’ll do our best to help make sure you’re getting maximum return from your affiliate linking efforts.
Jesse Pasichnyk (GeoRiot’s CTO) and I attended college at the University of Montana from approximately 1999 through 2004, where we started as freshmen roommates studying computer science. I quickly learned I couldn’t hack it in CS and shifted into studying business. Pasichnyk and I continued to be great friends and explored a few ventures together with a number of our other close friends, including Mario Schulzke and Chris Yates.
We collected some great memories together during those formative years, but it’s the memories I picked up inside the business school that stick with me today. Afternoon chess games with my entrepreneurship professor, classes with my favorite marketing professor… and the guest speakers who occasionally visited our lectures throughout the semester.
I always looked forward to hearing the stories of these visitors to campus. These guys were the ones who cut through the theoretical knowledge to share the dirt; the ups and downs of making things happen out in the real world. The lessons that were wrapped in a story always seemed to resonate more than the lessons laid out in textbooks.
As I write this, I’m headed back from Missoula to my “real world,” which happens to be GeoRiot’s Seattle HQ, after having the honor of presenting a couple of guest lectures in my old classrooms. I would be lying if I said it didn’t feel a little strange initially, being on the other side of the podium, but the energy and enthusiasm in each of the young crowds put me at ease and reminded me what the entrepreneurial spirit is all about.
In Jakki Mohr’s 200 level Principles of Marketing and Mario Schulzke’s graduate level Marketing Analytics class, I got to take my turn sharing my entrepreneurial story, with a few affiliate marketing tidbits sprinkled in.
While it was great sharing the story of GeoRiot and teaching something I’m passionate about, it was meeting the students, hearing about their entrepreneurial experiences, getting their emails, and connecting on LinkedIn to become a resource for them and their pursuits, that was ultimately the most gratifying part.
College life was good. I wasn’t an outstanding student, but I enjoyed the idea of academia and being surrounded people who shared a hunger for asking questions and learning. For that reason, I’m grateful for the opportunity to go back for a week live out a dream of mine, playing professor.
Hopefully, someday I can make it back to the university for a longer period and share even more about the industry I now eat, sleep and breathe.
The next installment in our ‘How To’ series takes a look at the role of the App Developerafter the coding is complete.
For many App Developers, the blood, sweat, and tears come during the development process. Once your masterpiece is up for sale in the App Store, it’s easy to wash your hands and shift your focus on to the next great idea. However, with a little TLC in the form of affiliate marketing, you can ensure that your products in the App Store will keep on giving long after you’ve begun laying the groundwork for your next project. After all, it’s only after you’ve set your apps up with universal affiliate links that ensure you’ll earn commissions on all international sales, that you can truly call yourself an App Store Monetization Ninja.
Being the savvy appreneur that you are, you’ve done your homework and understand the importance of driving downloads and monetizing them to their fullest extent by linking to the App Store through the iTunes / App Store Affiliate Program. You sign up for LinkShare’s US program to get started; after placing affiliate links to your apps on your site and inside the apps, you’re off!
Watching the numbers.
A few days later and things are starting to falling into place. Your press release generated a nice buzz about your product and your Launch Rock page provided a good initial list of interested parties to download the apps. You’re ecstatic to learn you’ve survived the App Review gauntlet and watch with excitement as your apps go live.
As the first set of numbers from your affiliate links begin to roll in, you’re pleased with a solid EPC, especially when compared to some of the other ads you’re serving. As a bonus, you’re stoked to learn that an affiliate link to your free app offers some additional payout: because the program provides commissions on everything that’s sold over 72 hours, you’ve also earned commissions from sales of some TV shows, movies and albums.
Encouraged by these results and your new secondary career as an online marketing guru, you dive a little deeper. After some exhausting outreach, guerilla marketing tactics and using up that free Google AdWords credit you’ve been sitting on, your app is picked up by a couple European app review sites and is getting some solid reviews (at least according to Google Translate)… you’ve almost gone viral!
A few weeks later, the snowball effect is in full force. Downloads are ramping up nicely and you’ve started to see a significant bump in conversions from your Lite to the Paid version. The clicks in LinkShare are also picking up. Where 1,000 clicks per day was your former baseline, you’re now seeing 5,000, 6,000 – and sometimes as many as 7,000 clicks per day. Life is good.
You give yourself a high five, crack a beer, and lean back in your swivel chair (á la Mark Zuckerberg in his dorm room the night he launched Facebook). You know that it takes a few days for revenue numbers to populate, so you make a mental note to check back in with LinkShare to see how much closer you are to an early retirement.
…Three days later…
Hrrm. That’s odd. Your clicks have gone up but your commissions and sales have flatlined, resulting in the demise of your beautiful EPC rate. You launch into investigative mode and Google “international iTunes affiliate commissions” to see if anyone else has had this problem. Much to your chagrin, you discover you’re not alone – most developers are missing out on commissions from international sales.
As it turns out, LinkShare’s US program is only one of many affiliate programs out there… Okay, good to know… You delve deeper into the world of affiliate marketing and discover LinkShare only supports iTunes / App Store affiliate programs in the US, Mexico, and Canada, while TradeDoubler, another network, lets you earn commissions from Brazil, the UK, and 28 other countries in Europe and nine more in Latin America.
The Aha! moment comes as you remember you’d only signed up for the US program. In other words, all of that great European traffic you nurtured as a result of your marketing tactics has not earned you a dime in affiliate revenue! The commissions from those conversions have been lost in the netherworlds of the Internet, never to be recovered… Oh man.
International traffic is real traffic.
As you continue your research, you’re surprised to discover that anywhere from 50 – 75% of your app traffic is international. Even at the low end of that estimate, you could be missing out on half of your affiliate revenue.
After another search and some forum trolling, you find GeoRiot, a service that provides a unified linking solution which allows developers like you to use all of the iTunes / App Store Affiliate Programs simultaneously, ensuring you don’t miss out on a single international commission.
Let’s give that GeoRiot thing a whirl…
Upon logging into your new GeoRiot dashboard, you’re greeted with a plethora of tools and resources, such as step-by-step HD video tutorials, for getting up and running with each of the iTunes / App Store Affiliate programs around the world.
In under an hour (including one coffee break and a bathroom break) you’ve set up accounts with the various affiliate networks, have applied to the majority of the iTunes / App Store Affiliate Programs, and updated your server side app links to with your brand new, universal GeoRiot.co links. Pleased with your marketing handy work, you head back to work creating the HD version of your internationally renowned app and wait for your applications to be approved.
A week later, you’ve retreated back into Dev mode and almost forgotten all about your international conversions, until an email from Team GeoRiot lands itself in your inbox. You take the opportunity to ask their Co-Founder Jesse Lakes some questions you’ve had about their payment model.
In his reply, Lakes, explains that within GeoRiot clicks are the currency. By taking a small percentage of the international traffic that the GeoRiot helps you monetize, you’ll never be billed or charged for using the service. It’s essentially free.
Curious about these clicks Jesse referred to, you log into your GeoRiot dashboard for the first time since you implemented and tested the links.
With the success of your experiment boosting your confidence in Affiliate Programs once more, you quickly head back to LinkShare and TradeDoubler to grab example links from Mexico, Canada, and Brazil, and add them into your GeoRiot dashboard. As a finishing touch, you select the option to copy the UK parameters into all 29 European countries supported by the affiliate program. Within 15 minutes you’re earning commissions in new 33 countries.
Optimizing with Performance Reports.
A few weeks later, as you’re getting ready to push the HD version of your app, you decide to check in on the performance of your initial app’s affiliate campaigns. Your baby has earned itself some nice reviews from other app discovery sites around the world, which has boosted its daily download and click totals. You remember Lakes telling you about Performance Reports, a central stats page for where you can easily check in on the status of any of your links, so you eagerly log into GeoRiot to see how your marketing success has impacted your commissions.
Within LinkShare, you discover that your MX sales were a higher EPC rate than the US. Your TradeDoubler stats show similar results for both the BR and UK accounts (which include sales from 29 European countries). Your commissions are finally growing in line with your clicks… phew.
Some quick mental calculations reveal that with the ability to use multiple affiliate programs simultaneously through GeoRiot, you’re already earning double the revenue you would have earned if you’d stuck with the US program in LinkShare as your sole affiliate source.
Seeing the potential: the sky’s the limit.
Now that you can add App Marketing Ninja to your LinkedIn profile, you decide to put GeoRiot to work to see what it can really do. Your Performance Reports tell you your next biggest source of clicks are Australia, Argentina, and Columbia, so you decide its time for another chat with your friends at GeoRiot.
In addition to sending you information for getting affiliate links set up in these additional countries, Jesse passes on some best practices resources to help you get the most out of GeoRiot.
It’s crazy to think back and realize that by just modifying your existing links you can now make a nice tidy profit. It’s going to be really exciting to see where this goes!