AWA 2017 Interview Series: Kyle Hitchcox
He’s a super cool online marketing pro and we had to get an interview with him.
Are you prepared to check this Affiliate World Asia Interview and get some juicy info?
Check the video, bro!
Go for it, then!
Kyle Hitchcox Interview at AWA 2017
1. Tell Us About Yourself
I’m Kyle Hitchcox.
I’m a Co-Founder of Helmkin Digital, which is a 12-person media buying shop.
We don’t say affiliates but we’re affiliates.
When selling it, we’re a performance marketing agency.
We also own IntegrityAds which is a Boutique Network, focused mostly on email traffic.
We’ve had a pretty good run.
We started that this year.
It’s been quite good.
More recently, we partnered with some developers on another project, called UpSwing, which is programmatic signaling of trades for stocks, cryptos, commodities.
It was built by guys who are much smarter than I am.
It’s in its infancy but it’s launching BETA soon.
I’ve been in the industry for about 8 years.
I started at NeverBlue which is now GlobalWide media.
I came up as an Account Manager and then Sales and then moved into mobile content overseas.
Then, I moved home and started working.
2. What is the Best Strategy for a Newbie?
It’s a very large landscape to navigate and to know where to go.
I would say that my best advice is for you to start where nobody else is.
But to get in and have no experience and know what that is?
You’re not gonna do it.
You’re probably gonna look for something in the forms.
You’re gonna look for a way which is accessible, with your cash flow in mind.
Are you coming in with money or not?
That makes a big difference on where you spend.
Going from the beginning stages of media buying or being an affiliate, it really is about information.
I would say that there isn’t just one place:
There are a thousand places.
Go and find as much information about one place or the other.
I would say that pops are a good place.
Pops and mobile display are good places with the right platforms such as Go2Mobi, where you can actually optimize.
You may not make money straight away but you’ll actually learn how media buying works at a low cost because you’ll get the data very fast.
From there, you can scale up your campaigns with the right partners and the right products.
Then, you can take that methodology that you’ve learned and apply it to other more expensive, bigger traffic platforms.
That would be my advice.
As opposed to saying one specific thing.
You very much need to hit up all your account managers, find out what works.
There isn’t just one thing that you know will work on every traffic spot.
But I think pops is a great place to cut your teeth and learn how to look at the data and your ROI.
3. Biggest Challenge for an Affiliate Marketer
There’s a bunch of challenges.
Challenges have always been there.
I’d say that the biggest opportunity is that there’s never been so much information available.
I’d say the biggest challenge is the fact that traffic costs are quite high.
The amount of money that you need to test a campaign – again, depending on your cash flow – would be a barrier to entry, for sure.
Those are the two.
I would say that cash flow is your primary challenge because you might not make money straight away.
It’s gonna take some effort.
It is good when you get there.
4. What Skills are Needed to Become a Super Affiliate?
I would say patience, grit.
I like the word “grit”.
When I interview people, I’m concerned with their grit.
Because you have to be able to take some punches in the face.
And you’ve gotta be smart.
Be consistent, be patient, and show determination.
5. How to Deal With Changes?
I worked for a mobile company for about four years.
When I was at NeverBlue, that was my first vertical.
I’ve seen the shift over 8 years.
It’s not going away.
The carrier billing companies that work on behalf of the carriers.
The carriers make a lot of money on this themselves.
It always changes.
Three years ago I thought it was dead.
And then it came back with a vengeance.
Three years before that, everyone thought it was dead.
And three years before that.
It appeared in newspapers.
It was in the backs of magazines.
It was on billboards.
Mobile billing or the ability to charge someone is always gonna create an avenue for the future.
Carrier billing or mobile billing will always have a form.
It’s just about how you apply it.
I think it’ll be around.
It’ll just go down for a year or two and then it’ll come back in a different form.
Look at all the big money, too.
The big credit card companies are looking for ways to charge people through their phone.
It will come back in a different form.
6. What Would You Tell Affiliates who are Experiencing Difficulties?
I think it goes back to that persistence thing.
Everyone’s trying to make money on the way.
When it gets competitive, they push the pricing up.
I would say that – if you’re doing the same thing that everyone else is doing – you’re not being creative.
On pops, I know that prices have recently increased and it affected us also.
If you’re doing the same thing that everyone else is doing, and you’re not innovating in any way, not doing anything different, it’s not gonna work because you’re not doing anything special.
If prices are higher, that means someone else is still making it work because the traffic source’s revenue or gross profit is still higher than it was.
Someone’s making it work.
They’re just doing a better job at it than you are.
As an example, I would also say that Facebook is a good example of a company that rewards people.
You get lower CPMs with a positive feedback.
If you work on amazing funnels and an amazing creative, the whole thing, and you’re putting five weeks into a project as opposed to just smashing it up on one source, Facebook rewards you.
Just go ahead and innovate.
7. Tools & Resources
That’s the easiest one.
Facebook Search and Google.
You can pretty much find out about a lot of things.
AdPlexity is a great tool for purely spying and ripping and doing that stuff.
Those tools are great, especially in the early stages of your career as an affiliate.
But you’ve gotta remember that everyone is piling into those.
You may steal something that’s working.
Smash it up!
But in two-weeks’ time there’s gonna be ten guys on it doing the exact same thing.
I would say:
Look at all your competition, look at what’s trending.
Go above and beyond and build a good product, and do good research, and do good market testing, it’s just like…
We don’t use a lot of spy tools.
We build stuff that lasts.
That’s my advice.
8. Affiliate Marketing Mistakes
I think the industry shifted quite a bit.
When I first got into it, there were a lot more people wasting their money and making a ton of bank.
However, in a year, the industry shifts and they didn’t move with the trend.
I think people are moving with the trends.
Everything doesn’t always last.
That’s a common affiliate mistake where you don’t move with the trends of the industry.
You don’t keep up and you focus only on one thing.
Just don’t party too hard.
That’s the gist of it.
9. Favorite Traffic Sources
There’s three parts to our media buying shop:
There’s the agency side, which does everything – search, display, video, Facebook, Insta, Twitter.
It’s cross channel.
We explore everything over there.
The strategies are a lot bigger and more complex.
10. Affiliate Fraud
I would just do a really good job.
There’s fraud on the other side, too.
We talked about our traffic costs and things like that.
Use tools to cut out bots on the placements that you’re buying…even though your traffic sources are increasing your CPC, figure how to cut out all the fraud from the traffic that you’re buying and select only the good placements that are making you money.
On the product, in terms of advertiser’s complaints or industry shifts on compliance, just do a good job and be compliant.
We work very closely with Facebook to make sure all of our stuff is compliant.
Because then I can scale it.
Do a good job, you make money.
It takes an extra week or two but you make money.
It’s really easy.
11. How to Develop Your Skills?
I don’t read as much as I should but I do listen to a fair amount of podcasts.
I like RebelHead Entrepreneurs.
He’s in the U.K.
Those are two good podcasts that I enjoy and listen to frequently.
Tim Bird’s Facebook Group.
If you’re into Facebook buying, get in there.
It’s really insightful.
That’s another Facebook Group.
Get into Facebook Groups but get into the right ones.
They’re very insightful.
I’ll sign up for yours soon.
12. Should Affiliates Read a Specific Book to Succeed?
Read or listen to as many business books as possible from as many different perspectives as possible.
Even beyond affiliate marketing, because the industry does shift so much.
Learn about the general concepts of business like “buyer” and “seller”.
That will never change.
It’s just about how you see it in your world, in your vertical, in your media buys.
We actually have a book club at work.
Everyone kind of reads the same books.
That’s one of my favorites.
Just start reading management books.
Look at “New York Times” best sellers and go from there.
13. Affiliate Marketing Trends
E-Commerce is obviously a hot topic.
Mobile is a hot topic.
I think that mobile is going to grow forever.
It’s just gonna be about how advertisers build products that work, now that there’s saturation.
On the mobile side, especially in video, I believe that video will blow up.
We’re looking at video and video arbitrage as well.
We’ll focus on mobile and credit card submits.
I believe E-Commerce will obviously grow but it’s gonna get more difficult for people unless they’re building good products because it’s getting saturated pretty fast.
I also think there’ll be a vertical in alignment in terms of…normally, right now things are separated between product owners and media buyers.
I think there’ll be a bridge where the product owners are the media buyers.
The landscape will change.
14. Surprises in 2017
We’re pretty good when it comes to staying ahead of the trends.
It has become a part of our business.
Knowing where and what’s going on.
To be honest, I’m not that surprised.
We’ve planned everything pretty well.
Shockers in the industry?
On the mobile side.
Changes in compliance and rules.
Mobile content and the mobile app space.
The landscape is shifting quite a bit.
The rate at which that shifted was pretty surprising.
The next big thing?
It’s a big question.
It’s a really big question.
Nutra is never going away in its form.
It will change.
But it’s tough to know what the next big opportunity is.
I’ve spent a lot of money trying to figure that out.
It’s hard right now.
We’re so spread out across a bunch of different things and we’re mining right now.
I don’t know what the next big thing is.
I wish I had just hit lucky on some product on Facebook.
I don’t know.
15. How Do You See Mobidea?
I think you guys are a fantastic brand.
I’ve enjoyed working with you.
I think your marketing is excellent.
The market has shifted so much and I can only make assumptions of where you guys are at in that.
We did work with you guys with some good brands.
I assume that your branding and reputation is still intact, which is a big part of that industry, for sure.
I would interpret that you guys are doing well.
Things are still great.
I assume they are.
I think you’re not like some others who will shake out.
That’s a very high level, executive-to-executive response but there’s gonna be a lot of shake out.
In my opinion, you guys will be fine.
16. Why Did You Decide to Speak About “Automation in the Affiliate Space”?
My friends happened to be working in my office.
I was lucky enough to be invited.
We picked automation because – internally, with a lot of the tools and the systems that we’ve done – we automated a bunch of our work flow so that it gets easier.
So we can focus on the things we’re good at.
Small things like connecting our zero account to our bank receivables so that we don’t have to hire a full-time accountant.
When the receivables comes into the bank, it fires into the system automatically and it reconciles.
It saves us hours every week.
We’ve done that in dozens and dozens of situations.
They just wanted me to give some examples and talk about it.
17. Future Plans
On the client’s side, we have some big plans.
It’s not all performance.
We’ve progressed in terms of building sales teams and adding offices in different major cities like L.A.
We’ve been making a big headway into video.
We’ve kind of talked about building products.
Doing that vertical integration.
Trying to hit it.
Those are my plans.
I think those are the plans of everyone here.
It’s all good!
What a terrific interview!
As for you, our readers, stay tuned!
We’ve got some more Affiliate World Asia Interviews for you to check!