Can you offer some tips to those looking to get into performance marketing for the first time?
Don't see it as quick and easy money because it isn't. Even though you're not directly selling 'products' yourself, you still need to be providing a unique or differentiated service or content that's of real value to your visitors. When we launched TheRankTank.com we spent over a year working through how exactly we wanted to add value, even though the concept is extremely simple. Don't get caught up on the income. Get caught up on creating a great site that's got great content and the rest will follow.
Why is it so important to educate those new to the performance marketing industry?
For two primary reasons: Firstly, we need to be super-clear that we've got value to add to any merchant if we create great sites that don't just rehash content that already exists on other sites. If we get our sites right then we can send highly qualified traffic to merchant site which will have a very high propensity to convert. For example, we receive traffic to TheRankTank.com through terms such as 'what's the best selling camcorder'. We can then answer this question using sophisticated data and then send that visitor to the site in the UK that sells that camera for the best price. That's a fantastic lead that is very likely to purchase.
Secondly, we need to ensure that consumers and search engines see what we can bring to the table. A lot of people seem to create 'average' sites that probably don't add much value, whereas it's really important to treat your site like any other business: What's your product/service? Does your business plan stack up? How will you promote yourself? Spend a lot of time thinking not doing in the early stages.
Do conferences offer an effective form of education for all levels of performance marketer?
Absolutely. I went to my first conference last year, having spent 10 years in Marketing for British Airways and the BBC but being green-behind-the-ears when it came to Performance Marketing. By the end of it my thumb was aching from the amount of notes that I was writing, be it from speakers representing agencies, clients or search engines!
Why did you decide to apply for the a4uexpo bursary scheme?
I really wanted to go but we had no money at all! I wouldn't have been able to go had it not been for the bursary. I wanted to immerse in this world of experts for a few days so as soon as I heard about the bursary scheme I grabbed it as quickly as I could and off I went!
How has the a4uexpo helped you in your job since you attended?
Where do I start? I've had meetings with people that I met at the conference, I've created graphics that have helped TheRankTank.com fly (something I wasn't aware of how to do beforehand), and I found out about suppliers whose costs are about half of some of the ones I was using before the conference.
What pointers would you give to a bursar winner who's attending a4uexpo for the first time?
Get involved in everything, speak to everyone and go to talks that on the face of it may appear less relevant than others, but once there you'll probably be pleasantly surprised. Make sure you keep people's contact details and make sure you follow up with them when it's all over. It's an incredible supportive and friendly world, so don't be intimidated by the fact that there are so many knowledgeable people there. They knew nothing about Performance Marketing at some stage too!