Affiliate and Referral eCom Marketing Strategies with Arlen Robinson, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Omnistar Interactive

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Arlen Robinson, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Omnistar Interactive (OSI) Affiliate Software, joins The eCom Ops Podcast to discuss the differences between affiliate and referral programs, what it takes to build a successful affiliate program, how to manage influencers for your eCom efficiently.

Key Facts

  • Arlen’s LinkedIn
  • Omnistar Interactive website 
  • Arlen graduated from Howard University in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Computer Software Engineering
  • For over twenty years, Arlen has been associated with the software development and technology industry
  • Arlen is the founder of and hosts The eCommerce Marketing Podcast, where he has interviewed over 300 marketing experts 
  • Arlen is the founder of a YouTube channel called The E-Com Brothers, which helps eCom businesses understand how to increase traffic and grow business
  • OSI Affiliate Software features the required tools that facilitate customers to conveniently promote their brand(s) across their preferred social networks 
  • OSI Affiliate Software allows users to easily create pre-written posts with graphics for customers to share on major social media networks
  • OSI’s primary customers are eCom stores selling their products or services on major eCom platforms such as  Shopify, Big Commerce, etc  


Key Takeaways

  • [04:29-07:02] Arlen and his partner conceived the idea of developing an Affiliate Software while they were working for a tech-based incubator, and the world of affiliate marketing was beginning to boom.
  • They realized that this tool would be very cost-effective for businesses since it is a performance-based model where you only pay when there is a referred sale
  • [07:15-14:10] Arlen explains that an affiliate program differs from a referral program. In a referral program, the existing customer base is used to refer/promote products/services, with typical incentives being discounts on future purchases or free products
  • An affiliate program taps into a whole new customer base with a strong media presence or the ability/resources to promote products/services to a greater network, such as influencers. The incentive here is typically a percentage of the total order (commission).
  • [15:02-18:15] Arlen advises eCom players who are focusing on affiliate programs to drive traffic to evaluate an influencer thoroughly. He further suggests that brands use extreme vetting strategies to eliminate any hints of fraud or scams.
  • One way to identify who’s the ‘real deal’ is to look at their level of engagement with their followers, e.g. their post-to-like/comment ratio. A high ratio aids to the authenticity of an influencer and means that employing such an influencer can be an asset to a brand.
  • [20:00-21:37] He further recommends that brands adopt a robust negotiation strategy while reaching out to a prospective affiliate. Research their market quote and cross-check it with your budget. Quote them the price that is lower than your identified budget to offer so that you can negotiate to reach a middle ground that would be your identified an ideal budget.
  • The biggest mistake an affiliate programmer can make is a). not promoting the software and b). leave everything to the affiliates, such as providing promotional material, managing content and social media etc., and giving them too much work. Instead, provide them with a repository of everything and make things extremely easy for them.
  • [28:28-29:10] Arlen believes that automation helps in streamlining  key eCom processes such as shipping accounts management and further helps in saving cost.




Key resources 

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