Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball

Affiliate Marketing with Laura Sprinkle

May 25, 2020 Julie Ball Episode 27
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
Affiliate Marketing with Laura Sprinkle
Chapters
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
Affiliate Marketing with Laura Sprinkle
May 25, 2020 Episode 27
Julie Ball

#027 - In this episode, Julie chats with Laura Sprinkle to talk about affiliate marketing.

Laura Sprinkle teaches entrepreneurs how to grow their businesses using strategic, high-touch partnerships through her signature training, Rock Your Affiliate Program™. She’s helped industry leaders such as Amy Porterfield, Selena Soo, and Todd Herman build their partner programs, has seen over $10M in partner revenues come in through her methods, and supported thousands of partners across dozens of industries. Her motto is “Partnerships First, Fun Always,” and she sprinkles that message throughout everything she does. Laura’s been mentioned in Amy’s Online Marketing Made Easy podcast and has been a featured expert for Selena Soo’s year-long mastermind, at events, and on podcasts. She loves sharing about affiliate partnerships, thoughtful business connections, branding, and marketing. She lives in Portland, Maine, and you’ll usually find her sipping on a maple latte at her favorite coffee shop, or at the park chasing her daughter Cadlee. (You’ll recognize Laura by her infectious laugh.) You can learn more about Laura at LauraSprinkle.com and on Instagram at @imlaurasprinkle.

Links:

Sparkle Hustle Grow
LauraSprinkle.com/Julie
Laura's Facebook
Laura's Instagram
Laura's Pinterest
Laura's Twitter

Show Notes Transcript

#027 - In this episode, Julie chats with Laura Sprinkle to talk about affiliate marketing.

Laura Sprinkle teaches entrepreneurs how to grow their businesses using strategic, high-touch partnerships through her signature training, Rock Your Affiliate Program™. She’s helped industry leaders such as Amy Porterfield, Selena Soo, and Todd Herman build their partner programs, has seen over $10M in partner revenues come in through her methods, and supported thousands of partners across dozens of industries. Her motto is “Partnerships First, Fun Always,” and she sprinkles that message throughout everything she does. Laura’s been mentioned in Amy’s Online Marketing Made Easy podcast and has been a featured expert for Selena Soo’s year-long mastermind, at events, and on podcasts. She loves sharing about affiliate partnerships, thoughtful business connections, branding, and marketing. She lives in Portland, Maine, and you’ll usually find her sipping on a maple latte at her favorite coffee shop, or at the park chasing her daughter Cadlee. (You’ll recognize Laura by her infectious laugh.) You can learn more about Laura at LauraSprinkle.com and on Instagram at @imlaurasprinkle.

Links:

Sparkle Hustle Grow
LauraSprinkle.com/Julie
Laura's Facebook
Laura's Instagram
Laura's Pinterest
Laura's Twitter

Julie:

So you want to launch a subscription box and don't know where to start? Girl, you are in the right place. I'm Julie Ball, a subscription box coach and your host here at Subscription Box Basics, a podcast for new and aspiring subscription box entrepreneurs that want to avoid overwhelm. So grab a coffee, some pen and paper and let's have some fun! Hey everyone, I'm Julie Ball and you are listening to Subscription Box Basics. I'm so pumped when I read your reviews about how this podcast has been helping you in your subscription box journey. So keep them coming. I love them when you subscribe and review my podcast. It just helps more people see it and it makes me do a happy dance. So thank you. Today I have an amazing guest that's going to teach us about affiliate marketing. I'd like to welcome Laura Sprinkle to the podcast. Yay! Laura.

Laura:

Yay! Thank you so much for having me.

Julie:

Yeah, I'm so excited. Laura teaches entrepreneurs how to grow their business using strategic high touch partnerships through her signature training, Rock Your Affiliate Program. And my team and I have signed up for the scores and we are working our way through it now and she definitely has some street cred because she's been helping industry leaders like Amy Porterfield, Selena Soo and Todd Herman build their partner programs and has seen over $10 million in partner revenue coming in through her methods. Laura, that's crazy. I'm just, I'm so excited to have you on the podcast and we're fresh off a project together promoting Selena Soo's Impacting Millions program and I got to tell you, girl, you bring it, you are so much fun to work with.

Laura:

Oh, thank you so much. Right back at ya. I, I mean, yeah, I love the , the piñatas and the glasses and the dancing. It's all fun.

Julie:

It is so much fun. So why don't we just start with your background. Will you tell everyone a little bit about yourself?

Laura:

Yeah, that'd be great. So I first got started in like the online launch space actually with a program of my own that taught people how to do their first five figure launch. From there, my first client launch was actually with Selena . And that very first launch we did did just under seven figures. Uh, and then since then I've been blessed to be part of people's first five, six, seven figure launches using partnerships. Uh, and as you said, I've had some amazing clients and they're just, I mean, they're just such rock stars and so many different industries. So I like to say that basically I make friends for a living which is fun.

Julie:

That is the best way to put it. I love that. Um , I want to put that on my resume too. Like, okay, so let's dive in for, there's going to be a lot of listeners that aren't really sure what affiliate marketing is. So can you explain to my listeners what that is?

Laura:

Yeah, for sure. So affiliate marketing, I mean, I like to say that it's like when you want to go to the movies or right now, you know, with everything going on at the time of recording, you know, if like, "Oh, I don't have anything to watch on Netflix". And so then you post on Facebook and you're like, "Hey, I need some movie recommendations". And then people, you know, comment there you're way more likely to watch something based on a recommendation that somebody puts in your comments. So affiliate marketing is the same thing. It is either you buying something based on a recommendation from somebody or somebody is recommending your subscription box and therefore you're paying them a commission when somebody purchases. So I just love it all around. I mean, I just said I make friends for a living and so it's about connection , um, and really paying people based on supporting you and referring you and having people buy based on trust.

Julie:

That's so awesome because it's such a win-win when you look at it. Everybody wins. And I love talking about the things that I love. I mean, it just comes natural . I think that's why I like affiliate marketing so much is um, it's one thing where you're just like blindly throwing out a product or a business coach or something here and there. But when you have a personal story that you're like, I love this because... It doesn't feel salesy or sleazy, it just feels like someone's making a recommendation.

Laura:

Exactly. For sure. Yeah, it feels really good and it's a better, it's a win for the customer because they are getting something that you know is trusted. It's a trusted product. I'd rather buy something based on our recommendation. It's a win for the affiliate because they get a commission for sharing and so on for you because obviously you're making revenue and then it's a win for your team because it takes the pressure off of them for marketing and so many things.

Julie:

Yeah, and one of the things I think about with affiliate marketing, so just to take a look back at the Selena Soo's impacting millions program, if you guys haven't heard that is a publicity training program that I went through and recently promoted and I can't teach publicity like I know what I know through her, but I'm not qualified to teach that. So it takes that off of my plate too . Like when my students come to me and they're like , uh , we need publicity, I need some logos for my STN and section. How do I do that? I'm like, Oh, I'm not the expert, but I know who is and this is where you could go. And then I don't have to start that training from scratch. I don't have to pull all the pieces together. I can just send them to Selena . So, so let's talk about how this translate to product-based business owners. So the people listening, we are subscription box business owners and so we're physically sending out a product. And so how , what do you, what are some of the best ways for product-based business owners to use affiliate marketing?

Laura:

Yeah. First of all, I mean I think you probably already know this and we talked about it a little bit before recording, but product-based businesses have a huge advantage when it comes to affiliate marketing because people can literally have your box in their hand and showcase it. So when you can show something, right ? Like, that's the whole thing about storytelling is that you're showing instead of telling, and you can literally show the product.

Julie:

Right and the excitement when you open it.

Laura:

Yes, exactly. Like, I mean, we've all seen, I mean, I actually just saw, I was scrolling through Facebook and saw , um, Oh my gosh, I'm gonna forget her name. Gina Rodriguez, I believe. So. She's Jane in Jane the Virgin. And she is a partner for a box. I don't even remember the box anyway, we don't need to name names, but she's a partner for a box and was like opening it and running an ad to that. So like she's making a commission every time somebody purchases that box through her link. I mean , we've all seen those things with like use my code and get this percent, et cetera . So I just think there's a huge advantage there. And the first thing to do, and you've probably already done this, especially if you're, you know , working with Julie and getting her help, growing your subscription boxes. Who are your ideal customers and who else is serving those customers? So I'd make a list of who are the vendors that you're buying things from for your box, who are influencers in your space, who is serving your customers in an adjacent or complimentary way? Like just make a list of those people and just start building relationships is all about relationships.

Julie:

Yeah, I would agree with that. That it's all about relationships. Some of the, so we do a little bit of affiliate marketing as you know, I mean your program. So we want to grow that part of the business. We just see that there's so much opportunity there and we have a lot of relationships that we already have started to put on that list of who we want to reach out to, who are the movers and the shakers, who makes a natural fit for Sparkle Hustle Grow, for example. So that when they talk about it, they feel like they're just talking to a friend about something that they love. So that relationship marketing. Um, so I guess one of the questions that I think my listeners would have is where do you, where do you even start with creating the components? So, you know, you've talked about, you mentioned it could be a coupon code, you mentioned , um , it could be a unique link. So explain how those two things like from, from the start to finish, how you track that in the back end, regardless of whatever software you're using. Um, what does that look like?

Laura:

Yeah, for sure. So you have those two . I mean, there probably are more, but those are the two basic options. So you could either have a unique link and obviously you'd have to set up the tech on the back end . So , um , actually let me back up a step. What I would recommend that you have is a unique link. And this is something that most people aren't doing. By the way, I would have a unique link for your actual box, like for the sales page. So like if I had a box , um, you know, it's just called the Laura Sprinkle box, which I don't, but let's say that I had a Laura Sprinkle box and then I'm like, Hey, Julie, you want to promote the Laura Sprinkle box? And so you'd have, you know, like maybe LauraSprinkle . com/getthisboxfromJulie. I dunno . So then you would use that and it would go directly to my box sales page. But what I would also have is a unique link for any free like free download or free content prior to getting on the email list and tracking a lead, not just a buyer. So that is where I think a lot of product-based businesses specifically could do better with your affiliate marketing is also having um, like a free option and then having tracking. So like you would decide, okay, if somebody signs up for my email list through a partner, you know, maybe within 90 days they buy a box, I'm going to give them a commission. So that's, you have to make some decisions around timing there. Um, that's why I would do that. So then once somebody purchases within those 90 days, then you would pay out a commission. So that's how it would work with a link. You could also do a coupon code and you know anytime that somebody goes to your page. So they would just use the regular link, let's say. So they would just go to like LauraSprinkle .com buy my box and they're going to use the code Julie and then get a percentage off or a dollar amount off the box. And I would be able to track it back to, because they will be using your specific code. Now in that case, obviously you , you know, in either case you had to figure out how much you're discounting, how much you're paying and commission.

Julie:

Yeah, that's a scary conversation. Are there industry standards right now for like the product based business? Cause I've seen some standards across the board with digital courses being like 40% 50% as a product. It's a product based business that's like very overwhelming because we um , the profit margins are tight already on a subscription box. And when you have so much overhead with product itself, getting your custom boxes, postage, all that good stuff. So what are you seeing out there for product-based businesses?

Laura:

Yeah. So I would say first of all, to think about, obviously you need to know how much you're spending per unit, like what is your cost per unit? And then look at that profit margin. And from there I would say like how much were you already spending on advertising? Like if I were asking you the same question around Facebook ads, you know, how much are you willing to spend in an advertisement per customer? And obviously that's not exact science with ads. And the great thing about affiliate marketing is you don't pay until somebody buys.

Julie:

I love that . Yeah. It's pay for performance.

Laura:

Exactly. It's pay for performance and you're reaching people that you wouldn't have otherwise. So just like energetically too , I like to think about it like you're reaching more people so you're actually making more money, not losing a percentage on every sale. So just, I would think about it that way first. Um, but I would say that around 10% is probably a good spot to be at. Um, I would hope that , um, you know, and hope that your profit margins would allow for something like that. But at the same time, you know, you could have a percentage, let's say, I'm just going to throw in my brother, I'll see you had 5% you know, for the first X amount of units. But once you hit a certain number of units, then you'll be bumped up a percentage. You could also do it based on prices . I mean there's just so many ways. So I would really take a look at the numbers, how much you'd be willing to spend per new customer. Again, new customer you would not have reached otherwise and, and go from there and get creative.

Julie:

Yeah, I think that's a great place to start. One, you have to understand what you have to work with, like what your profit is and what you're willing to give to somebody else for acquiring that new customer. The other thing is that , um , with with subscription box businesses, they're recurring products. You also want to think about what is the average length of your subscribers. So, for example, does your subscribers stick around for six months and if you're only paying out on that first month or are you paying out on recurring months? So that's something that as a subscription box business owner, we need to think about long term. And like if we are only going to be paying off on that first, that first order. Now as from the affiliate side, they probably would love the recurring revenue because that's just going to be that bonus that's going to be that push for them to continue to, you know, share about your box and it rewards them more. But if the profit margin doesn't allow it, it's okay to just pay off that first order.

Laura:

Yeah. And you could go either way, like if you are paying off just the first order, potentially, you'd have to figure it out. And I wouldn't do this at the start of your subscription box, but if you figured out that most people stay for six months, potentially you lose money on the first box to acquire a new customer, but you know, you're going to make it back. Um, and more in those six months.

Julie:

Yeah, absolutely. That's a great point. And that's something unique about subscription box or just any recurring type , um, commerce versus, you know, a one time eCommerce shop order. So I kind of feel like that's an advantage for us. So , um, let's talk about the big no-nos. So in any type of marketing there's always going to be these big red flags like ah , don't do this. The affiliate won't want to work with you or don't do this, that influencer won't want to work with you. So when it comes to affiliate marketing, what are some of the like no-nos, some of the things that we should definitely not do?

Laura:

Yeah, I would say that anything, and this is like the thing I get the most questions about, I would say from my team and from the students in the program is anything that would break a relationship because this is relationship marketing. So if anything feels sketchy and I don't mean if anything feels scary because you're making a big ask, like you're going to have to make big asks to get the partners. I just did one yesterday and luckily it turned out very well and I'm very excited to share it with the world later. Uh , however , um, so I don't want you to confuse sketchy and scary. However, like anything that you wouldn't want done to a friend, like please don't be that person, that friends people and then starts DMing them. Like that's a big no-no. I would say cold pitching is not, not, not, not, not, not a good idea ever. Um, anything that's going to break a relationship, I would make sure you're paying out commissions correctly and on time I would be up front about it. So I would have in your terms or like on your partner page right away. Like we pay out on the first box. I mean, not in a scary way. Like you can make it sound really exciting, like you're going to get up to this amount, but like make sure they know it's one time. If it's one time, make sure they know it's for the first three months, if that's the case. And so just be very clear with communications. That's always good relationships. Right? And then , uh, well I guess I'm saying it in the yes, yes. Rather than the no no, but a yes, yes. Is to make it super easy to promote. Like this is the number one thing I would say that people quote unquote fail at or could improve when it comes to their affiliate programs is they just give folks links and hope that they share them.

Julie:

So instead they should probably be providing assets like swipe copy for social media, swipe copy for emails, imagery that's pre-approved. Um, and what I love about preapproved imagery is one, it makes it easy for them and two, you know, that your brand is going to be repped well.

Laura:

Exactly. That's the thing I always love to say about assets too is it's a, it does dual , it's dual purpose: one, it obviously makes it easier to promote cause people can copy paste or download and upload. Um, and then also it really, like you just said, it represents your brand because otherwise someone could go pee spreading false information about your product. Not maliciously, but you know, I could say like, Oh, like Julie's box always comes with a blanket and you're like, that's not true. And then you have angry customers.

Julie:

yeah , so we call those talking points. We have, when we work with anyone, we do give them a couple of bullet points with talking points because when we didn't, the first few times we didn't, they were misquoting like prices and they were misquoting like what's inside? And I'm like, Oh gosh, so poorly. So we put, we put together those talking points.

Laura:

Right. It helps you, it helps. And beyond assets too , like this. So I think that, you know, a lot of people do have assets in place and then you also need to have communication with your partners, which we call activation and amplification in Rock Your Affiliate Program. But those are extremely important as well. And I would, I would venture to say actually even more important than assets but , but still have assets.

Julie:

Yeah, for sure. And one of the things that , um, I wanted to talk about too, is on top of all that, you like to make things really, really fun. And you, I noticed, and I'm talking through experience through working with you on as an affiliate in the Impacting Millions program where like randomly you guys dropped like prizes or you'd drop like new opportunities. Um, we like at the beginning of, so this is a little different with subscription boxes. That was a program that had a start date and an end date. Um, but we got a lot of us got a mug in the mail that was like, we're so excited to be your partner. And as people were hitting different milestones of sales, I saw them getting rewards with surprises in the mail and I love that. Um , on top of that you guys had a leaderboard, so you know, get that competitive nature in there. You had, what did you call them? Ladder prizes.

Laura:

Exactly. Yeah. I love ladder presses. Yes . Ladder prizes are, so, yeah. So the ladder prize is different from a leaderboard. So obviously in a leaderboard you're ranking people from like who has the most leads or who has the most sales and people win based on rank. Whereas a ladder prize anybody can win if you just have to hit a certain level and I like that because it incentivizes people all across the board no matter how big your audience is. Uh , and it's really great for those people that like you said, like maybe beating somebody isn't going to be the thing that motivates you but for you to hit a certain prize and get a community prize, like that's really exciting.

Julie:

I love that and I don't feel like these conversations are being had in the subscription box world right now. I feel like we are so focused on referral programs and influencers like referral programs being like refer new friends and earn a free box, whereas affiliate is we're paying out a commission based off of the sales and then influencers is just to help more people hear about it. It's not necessarily based off of you're an influencer, you're trying to get a sale. No , as an influencer you're just trying to share information. And you know that thing where they say you have to hear something X amount of times it's , it used to be seven, now it's probably like 7 million

Laura:

[inaudible] Right, so much information going .

Julie:

Yeah. And so I feel like we need to look at referral programs, influencers and affiliate marketing as three different things and three different opportunities to get your brand in front of people and affiliate marketing being the whole pay for performance where they're really driven by the number of they're going to get.

Laura:

Exactly. And I've had this conversation with somebody actually in Raqqa affiliate program who kept thinking of her and she's a service resistance so it's a little different. But she kept thinking of her partner program. I use partner program as the umbrella term if you will , but she kept thinking of it like a referral and I would really encourage you to, even if you do have a referral program in place instead of pay for performance. So think about it with the phases around how do I attract people to this? How do I activate them with assets and training? How do I amplify using prizes and contest? And then how do I appreciate them? Which of those are my four phases? But I just think if you can follow the steps, even if your program is small or even if it's based on referrals, like you're going to just do so much better and you're going to be able to control, not control but like decide when you want more leads and sales and pop people about it.

Julie:

Right, right. And I think too, we can have, even though we're recurring, like our boxes come month after month, we could still create campaigns, we can create an affiliate campaign with a start and an end date for mother's day or for the holiday season, that type of thing. So , um, if you don't have the manpower , uh, to make this happen all year long, you could still create affiliate pushes during key times during your, you know, your , um, like what's important to your audience. So

Laura:

yeah, I love that. Yeah. I was suggesting to actually , uh , Amy Porterfield's , uh , full time, she's a full time partnerships manager now and she was in Rock Your Affiliate program and she's doing like a quarterly thing. But you have, like you just said, built into the product-based business and industry, like you've got the holidays, like it's just brilliant .

Julie:

Yeah. And as our , we're the business owners so we get some call that shot . So the one thing I wanted to mention to you before we wrap up here is there are softwares out there. Um, I'm not sure if you have an affinity to anyone. We've used Affiliately in the past. We are taking a look at some other ones , um, that have some really great user interfaces. I kind of geek out a little bit on software. So , um , we're researching that. We may have another episode when we kind of break it down. What we've found about the different um , software. Do you have any particular software that you like?

Laura:

So for product based businesses, I hesitate to give a recommendation for anything else. I personally love Access Ally because it can, you know, you can collect emails, you can have a really beautiful portal because it's also a membership and I run my course through there as well. Uh, but it's not great for products.

Julie:

Gotcha . Well, we'll try to do a followup on that one after my team and I go through the rest of the program and then we evaluate some of the , the software's out there and maybe we'll even be able to bring on a partner and, and be able to offer our listeners a good deal on one of the software . So anyhow , um, so where can everyone learn more about the industry and about what you do? Um, I think you've got something that you wanted to share, like a free gift or something. So

Laura:

I do, we created a kit for you. So if you go to LauraSprinkle . com/Julie, see what I did there everybody? It's so easy.

Julie:

[inaudible] it's like an affiliate link, right?

Laura:

So, but it's totally free. Uh , so it has an eight part video series on creating a partner program, a guide on decisions to make before you get going. And a handy checklist of 11 places to find partners.

Julie:

Hot dang girl. That's a lot of good stuff. Thank you so, so much. I really appreciate that. This has been so fun to chat with you about affiliate marketing. Um , I will keep everyone updated on the Rock Your Affiliate Program and what we find out about the software. But Laura, thank you so much for sharing that free gift and for sharing your knowledge on the podcast today. Thank you

Laura:

Thank you so much for having me. It's so great to be in everybody's ears today.

Julie:

Awesome. All right, let's nurse . So check the show notes for those links. We'll make sure that we put all those in there. And um, we again, we'll follow up with some more information on affiliate marketing cause this is like hot topic right now. This is something that my team and I are really interested in. So thanks so much for listening and we'll see you in the next episode.

Speaker 3:

[inaudible] .