Interview with COO of Share Results

I had the distinct pleasure to interview Nicole Fortunaso, who is the COO of Share Results. She is a veteran in the affiliate industry and has a great deal of insight! Thanks for your time Nicole and we look forward to working with you and your firm in the future!

Q: Can you tell us more about yourself and your company?

A: My name is Nicole Fortunaso and I am the COO for Share Results.  I have been in the affiliate marketing industry for 12 years and am one of the first employees of Share Results.  What I love about this industry is the ability to combine technology, people, businesses and statistics to create an ecosystem of solutions for both affiliates and merchants.

Our company meets this mandate through our tracking software, personalized affiliate management services and boutique affiliate network that focuses on quality, not quantity.

Q. What value does your company provide versus the hundreds of others in the space?

A: We are based in Montreal, Canada, and as anyone who has ever been here knows that our market is a distinct mix of primarily French and English languages. In addition, Canada has a stable economy with good growth potential. We see our location as an advantage, because we have developed excellent insight into both the US and Canadian digital marketplace, and can help clients groom their businesses to be better positioned on both sides of the border.

I would also emphasize our belief in the value of transparency as the key to any relationship; it fosters trust and growth.  Affiliates and merchants alike can use the information provided in our tracking software to measure success and look for opportunities to create additional revenue.  On a day-to-day basis, Share Results as a network stands out from the pack by offering:

– In-depth tracking software to accommodate the needs of merchant and affiliate partners. A lot of our reporting features, such as our detailed transaction reports, have come from merchants and affiliates who needed more than just the basic details on their sales.

– Personalized support from a team of affiliate marketing experts. We take the time to foster long-term and profitable relationships with our clients and affiliates.

Q: What are the top items in terms of technology infrastructure that an affiliate network MUST have?

A: Some fundamental linchpins for technology infrastructure include:

– Ability to monitor individual transactions to know where your sales are coming from (affiliates, landing pages, IP addresses, and date and time stamps)

– Robust tracking: with the growth of tablet marketing, affiliate networks need to develop additional ways to track across different platforms.

– Transparent reporting: offering a variety of metrics and tools to sort, and collate data in those reports is a key consideration.

– Creative manager:  Providing affiliates with a variety of marketing tools to promote a merchant’s program is a key factor.  Furthermore, it is also important to ensure that there is an adequate assortment of banner types featuring all the products and services that a merchant has.

Not only does this assist merchants in protecting their brand and marketing messages, it cuts down the creative development time for affiliates.  Finally, the ability for the network or the affiliate software provider to sort and host these creative is a crucial step in maintaining and finding the right marketing tools for a affiliate placement.

Q. What current risks do you see in the industry for both affiliates and affiliate networks? Anything on the horizon that we should be aware of?

A: Affiliate marketing is becoming increasingly regulated in an effort to protect the end consumer from misleading advertising statements. Additionally, acquiring tax revenue is a focus for certain levels of government, so this is highly important for anyone operating an affiliate marketing business. Affiliates and networks will need to be more aware of discussions held by industry groups and government agencies for the industries that they promote.

From our stand point the most elementary part to protection and awareness is through building relationships and key software screening features in real-time to guard against fraud. We believe that long lasting relationships and providing dedicated customer support is a quality measure for knowing your partners and to communicate any changes needed to them without delay.

Q. What controls would you put in place to prevent these types of risks? 

A: I would emphasize the importance of open communication between affiliates and affiliate managers. I would also encourage industry members to expand to other markets, even foreign markets where a currency is strong. Being in Canada and having clients here, in the US, the UK and other locations, we can speak first hand about not placing all efforts into one market. Expanding and diversifying is a good strategy.

Q. Are there specific regulations occurring for certain types of offers? Not too long ago, free trials and even download offers were receiving a lot of scrutiny.

A: Specifically in the for-profit online education market, which is one of our specialties, affiliates, lead aggregators and universities are being forced to comply with new lead gen marketing guidelines when attracting students online. Affiliates promoting education should make sure that they are staying up to date on the latest government regulations. Affiliates and networks should also be using approved marketing tools and channels in their campaigns; otherwise they could risk valuable income or worse, be blacklisted.

Our experience in the online education lead gen industry has taught us that the US government and for-profit schools expect that leads be generated through the most honest and fair channels possible. Getting both merchants and affiliates on board to use the same language is fundamental for continued success.

Q. There seems to be a heavy saturation of similar affiliate networks starting up. What steps would you recommend an affiliate looking to sign up go through in finding out who is the most credible?

A: I would recommend that affiliates join community groups and threads, and watch reports about affiliate and CPA networks. This type of dialogue provides an indication of what offers and platforms are stable.

Affiliates should make certain the offers they are promoting are unique and not farmed offers from other networks. If there are problems due to the lack of reporting, you may not get paid for your efforts or the support you need to tailor your campaigns. Networks that have exclusive offers or good relationships with the merchant can offer stability.

Make sure you have a direct line to your affiliate manager. This is key for any affiliate, as you are able to get information about the offers and merchant campaigns.

Also, invest the time to check the tracking and reporting of a network by conducting your own tests. This way you can verify first hand the reliability of the tracking and the quality of the reporting.

Q. Part of running a successful affiliate network includes having top notch affiliate managers. What do you feel makes a great affiliate manager?

A: Communication: Quick response time and transparency.

Trust: Earning and keeping the trust of your affiliate partners is key.

Q. What tracking system do you use and why is it such a valuable resource to your company?

A: Share Results has its own in-house tracking software. The benefit of this is that we can license our platform to any business that needs to support their e-commerce operation, and we use the software in-house for our affiliate network so that merchants and affiliates in our network can easily track and measure their campaign performance.

What I love the most about our tracking software is that it quickly provides intuitive data, showing areas of change and growth.  These highlighted areas can be further investigated and data can be sliced from a number of different perspectives giving users all the control and information they need at their finger tips.

Other great features:

– Real-time reports to track, analyze and identify sales, trends, and performance daily, weekly, and monthly

– Custom tracking and commission setup for entire programs or individual products and affiliates.

– Flexible commission models: CPL, CPA, revenue share, hybrid and tiered structures

– Support for dynamic marketing tools: banner ads (flash & static) coupon and product feeds, text links, and widgets

– Set up of one or more languages, brands and products all on one platform

– Support for multiple payment methods: PayPal, wire transfer, and checks

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

A: We think that the current state of affiliate marketing is challenging merchants, affiliates, agencies and networks like Share Results to generate innovative ideas. We are really looking forward to new digital technology trends and businesses that will be emerging in the months ahead. This is an exciting industry to be in at the moment.

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