It’s Friday, so that means it’s time for another affiliate marketing interview! This week we have Jonathan Smith who is the Vice President & Co-Founder of LeadSmack. Jonathan has been in the affiliate marketing space for over 5 years now and runs LeadSmack with two other people in the company. You will find that Jonathan is also very active on social networks and webmaster/affiliate forums and always looking to help new and established affiliates out.
With so much talk about ad networks these days and who you can trust with your payouts and earnings, we will get an insider look at running a network with Jonathan Smith.
1.) Right now you have your hands busy with your affiliate network at LeadSmack.com, but can you tell us a bit more about yourself, how you got started in the industry and why LeadSmack is a good network for affiliate marketers to work with?
I’ve always enjoyed helping people make money online with affiliate marketing, while also doing so for myself. After finding success over the past several years and being able to generate a full time income for myself, I wanted to start an ad network of my own and teach others how to make money online. That is how the LeadSmack ad network came together.
LeadSmack is a great network for affiliates to work with. We are a top tier affiliate network that puts all of our efforts towards providing excellent support for the affiliates as well as advertisers. We keep our network full of only offers that convert and are direct with the advertiser. We are also working on building our own offers so that we can offer the absolute highest payouts in these verticals. There are many reasons why publishers should want to work with us but the most important reason is that we pay and pay on time.
2.) Everyone says they have the highest payouts, best offers, yada yada yada… so what really makes your network different from the other guys?
We have high payouts on all our offers but not always the highest…yada yada yads…but we do have exclusive offers that you will only find with us unless another network has decided to broker it through us. We make a point to add on the offer title EXCLUSIVE when it is our offer or an offer that is exclusive to us. These separate us from the rest. For the higher payout offers we earn them. Advertisers tend to give us higher rates because of our quality. That is because of the types of publishers/affiliates we have working with us. If we have a higher payout it is not because we have smooth talkers working for us it is because we have great publishers sending quality leads resulting in the advertiser being extremely happy.
Also, we are different because we are 100% approachable. Give me a call or shoot me an email. I am always there for publishers. Most networks have a business approach to everything. We see it as we work for our publishers providing the offers and they work for the advertisers. We are all a team…and that is the atmosphere you get with LeadSmack Media.
Another great thing that separates us is the fact that we CAN help you scale. We were once affiliates too. My partner and I used to be top affiliates working with all the major networks in the industry. I know how to convert an offer…and I can honestly say that any offer on any network can convert to profit with proper tracking in place and data collection. It is down to how much you are willing to collect to make your campaign a success.
3.) What are the day to day operations of running your own ad network?
For starters I am going to say that I was very uncomfortable with it at first. I was overwhelmed with the amount of work that would go to it. I am getting used to it more and more everyday and able to handle a more heavier work load but it was definitely something to get used to.
The main thing I do is keep order. We have hired affiliate managers, business development team and designers but I still do all they do and more. I do it because I enjoy the work. Right now we are working on our own display network which is soon to launch and loads of our own “OWNED” offers for affiliates.
The day to day tasks are checking emails, responding to Skype chats, conducting quality checks, sending affiliate payments, and so much more. Email is probably the one thing I spend most of my time because I get a ton of it.
4.) How do you plan to scale and manage your network as it grows in size with more affiliates and the need to cater to all of their needs so they don’t go with another ad network?
As I mentioned above we are working on a display network as well as our own offers. I see that as our next move but for the affiliate network we will be working more and more toward getting higher payouts on offers, exclusive offers as well as new tools to help them succeed. We have lots of plans and actually we are about to launch a reward program to give back to our affiliates. We appreciate them so we are going to show it.
5.) Affiliate marketing has become a nastier business than it has been in previous years. What should affiliates be doing to make sure they aren’t skimmed on leads, stiffed on payments and that they don’t work with someone that goes out of business next week?
Always do your due diligence. That is most important. If you choose not to work with us be sure to look for a stable network with tons of good reviews with payment proofs etc. You don’t want to work with a newer network that no one has any experience with. I know we are fairly new but we are established and work with over 3k publishers with hundreds of thousands of dollars going through us monthly.
Also, it is always a good idea to split test on the same offer with two networks. If there is a small difference ok great if there is a huge difference I would call them out on it and see what they have to say about why your converting better with XYZ network. I have done this many times and several networks lost my business because of it. You have to be on your toes in this industry and watch for any signs like networks begging for your traffic etc. I see it all the time. That is a huge turn off for me so I would never do it to my publishers.
All I can really say now is to be careful. We are a legit network and do not scrub. Actually, if you ask our publishers they will say that at the end of the month some offers get extra conversions because of a few which missed tracking. We do our best to find out who the lead should be credited to when they are missed. This happens with every network on some offers depending on the type of pixel. We feel they should be paid for any conversion they get on any offer so we make sure to credit them.
6.) What is hot right now in the industry that you are seeing more affiliate marketers focusing their efforts on?
This is a tough question because there are quite of few things I think the industry is more keen on lately. In my opinion diet, mobile and skin are the top verticals as of late but that may change…who knows. We are seeing many download and dating offers getting huge volumes as well. Dating is always big.
7.) There are lots of people who are reading this interview and blog right now that are ready to start their first affiliate marketing campaign, but many of them don’t have the necessary funds to go big. What would you recommend is the best way to get started with a budget of only $100?
This is also a tough question to answer so I put myself in the shoes of these people. If I only had $100 to spend on getting started I would buy data. Data is the key to success in this industry. I am buying it daily when I run campaigns in Google or Facebook. $100 is tough to start with because when I first started I wasted about $5k before I broke even on my first campaign. I worked at it for weeks spending $100 or more per day buying data. I think with that low of a budget I would start a wordpress blog and post to it every day with content like games, dating or something popular. Posting quality content daily will eventually get traffic and if monetized right you will most likely see profits.
I have done this with several niche blogs. One of my favs was my gaming blog. I posted game offers everyday. I would use the game as the title and a link to view it which was my affiliate link. There are many ways to become successful with this type of marketing you just have to be creative and put in the work. Not doing anything and being lazy will make you no money.
A special thanks to Jonathan for taking the time to answer our affiliate marketing questions. If you’d like to get in touch with Jonathan, you can do so through Facebook . Also be sure to check out his affiliate network at LeadSmack.
Don’t forget to also check out our previous weekly interviews.