When it comes to ecommerce, Arlen Robinson is a seasoned veteran, with more than 20 years of experience managing his company Omnistar Affiliate Software. Omnistar is a name well known to business owners looking to increase their traffic and sales through effective affiliate and customer referral programs. As founder and Chief Operating Officer, Arlen has been leading Omnistar’s stellar business development activities.
We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to talk with Arlen, and discuss his journey, his thoughts on affiliate marketing, what he feels is the biggest challenge facing the ecommerce industry, and more. Strap in!
Cloudways: Thanks for being with us, Arlen! Can you begin by telling us a little bit about your journey through the world of ecommerce?
Arlen: My journey started when we launched our first SAAS solutions over 20 years ago. Our software tools were sold on a subscription basis via a monthly fee. We quickly saw that our bestselling solution was our OSI Affiliate software so we decided to closet our other solutions and simply focus on the affiliate software, which we have been doing ever since. As an ecommerce SAAS company we have adapted to various marketing channels over the years through the early ppc search engines and to now optimizing for organic listings in Google.
Cloudways: With Omnistar Affiliate Software, you help your clients setup and manage their own affiliate and customer referral programs. What would you say is the role that affiliate marketing plays when it comes to generating traffic for new businesses?
Arlen: Affiliate marketing allows businesses to tap into a new audience that they may not otherwise have access to. Affiliates and influencers typically have an existing following and audience that trust the recommendations they make.
Cloudways: In your experience, what is it that ecommerce businesses get most commonly wrong when running an affiliate marketing program?
Arlen: What I often see is that many businesses look past some affiliates and influencers that do not have a huge following. However there are many micro influencers and affiliates with several thousand followers that they have high engagement with, that will trust recommendations they make.
Cloudways: What strategies do you think work best for ecommerce businesses trying to get more affiliate users? And what metrics do you recommend they use to measure their performance?
Arlen: The first strategy that I recommend is to try looking for affiliates on niche forums and Facebook groups that are specific to affiliate marketers and engage with them there.
Secondly, I recommend searching social networks for phrases and hashtags that would be commonly used by influencers and affiliates in their niche. Then do a traditional outreach and follow up.
The main metric to measure performance is referred sales and click throughs. These numbers should start at a certain level and then increase every month.
Cloudways: What are some easily implementable steps ecommerce store owners can take to improve their customer referral program for maximum growth?
Arlen: Firstly the business can alert all new customers of their referral program on post checkout and order confirmation pages. Secondly, they can create a viral loop where they alert all customers of their referral programs through their order transaction emails such as the order and shipping notification emails.
Cloudways: You’ve spoken about the necessity and value of influencer marketing for ecommerce businesses. What is a major factor an online store should take into consideration before deciding what influencers to partner with?
Arlen: They want to make sure the target influencers that have the same values that mesh with their brand. For example, if your brand is environmentally conscious and you utilize sustainable materials, you want to look for influencers that have that same mission and support those same things.
Cloudways: The ecommerce landscape changed for good in 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. What do you think are the top challenges facing the ecommerce industry in 2021? And how can ecommerce businesses rise to those challenges and overcome them?
Arlen: The top challenge now is the glut of competition, with all these new businesses entering the ecommerce space. Due to this, it is more important than ever for a business to identify what sets them apart from the competition and highlight those things in their messaging.
Cloudways: 2021 is poised to be a time for some breakthrough disruptive technologies. As an ecommerce industry veteran, are there any such technologies or platforms you’re keeping track of?
Arlen: There are many new social channels, such as Clubhouse which seems to be the latest platform that can give businesses and individuals high visibility since it is new and fresh. The concept of audio-only conversation is unlike any other social platform so it is poised to be a disruptor in the crowded social network space.
Cloudways: And finally, what ecommerce gurus do you follow?
Arlen: Neil Patel, Eric Tsui, Brian Dean, Rand Fishkin, Amy Porterfield, Austin Brawner
Cloudways: Can you please send us a pic of your workspace?
Thanks for your time and insights, Arlen!