This weekend I was watching the most recent Shark Tank because a couple who lives close to me was on their for their brownie baking pan company. Although that segment was cool, what really caught my attention was the pitch from the two women who founded the Foot Fairy App.
The premise of the app is that you can place your child’s food on your tablet and have it immediately tell you what size they are. You can then click through to Zappos to purchase shoes in that size. As soon as they said that, I suspected that they were monetizing the app via affiliate marketing. When asked by the Sharks how they were monetizing, they specifically said “affiliate marketing.”
Unfortunately for them, they apparently lost out on all of the revenue after they launched the app because their affiliate links were not tracking with Zappos. It sounded like they were directing customers to the Zappos app, which was not part of the Zappos affiliate program. Hopefully they now have that sorted out. I can’t understand how they sent potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales without realizing that it was not tracking.
Always test the tracking of your affiliate links! Even if you are not making a purchase yourself, you should be watching your EPC in the first few days and comparing it to the EPC listed in the network. If you are sending a lot of clicks and making no sales, assume something is wrong and start some testing or reach out to the merchant to have them help you figure it out.
This whole situation brings up a great point about one of the big benefits of affiliate marketing. Foot Fairy was able to lend credence to their product by saying essentially that they are “working with Zappos.” Often smaller or little known affiliates can use their affiliate relationship with a big brand name to their advantage to help gain some legitimacy.
I had a couple of questions about their business model. I hope that they will consider using shoe merchants besides Zappos. I would hate to be too tied to one particular merchant for my revenue because you never know what will happen with that merchant’s program (unless they are just aiming to have Zappos buy them out, which is a possibility). I also wonder if they are capturing user information to send a followup email to them after the sizing. I can imagine a lot of people getting the size but then not shopping on their tablet. Data suggests that customers are using multiple devices to browse before actually making a purchase.
Lastly, I am curious as to how they have gotten so far without doing any type of disclosure of their affiliate links. For example, their post about Wide Toddler Shoes specifically uses the words “We researched which brands offer wide shoe sizes for children. Here are our personal picks from each brand offering wide shoe sizes.” If that isn’t an endorsement, I don’t know what it is. It then goes on to list recommended products with direct links to Zappos and not a hint of disclosure to satisfy the FTC anywhere on the site. Maybe they need a copy of my “Affiliate Marketing and FTC” webinar? I’m surprised that Zappos didn’t catch this when they knew that their affiliates were going to be on national television talking about endorsing their products.
It was great to hear affiliate marketing mentioned in such a popular television show and as part of a legitimate business model. Maybe if Mark Cuban sees a great return on his investment in an affiliate company we will see him speaking at one of our conferences before too long! As an affiliate, does this get your mind spinning about what kind of app you could create that could be monetized through affiliate links?