You can’t really understate the salutary afterglow of attending an industry live event. I promise I don’t just say this because I work for PI LIVE, or even because we partly sponsored Partnerize’s Partnership Day.

It’s simply a truth that attending such events – especially when they are as excellent as the recent Partnership Day – provides tremendous value, in more ways than one. At least, I’ve never had a less-than-stellar experience at one.

Partnerize’s Partnership Day brought a well-needed shock of energy to the mid-year slump, as the team hosted a truly fantastic event buzzing with insights and enthusiasm.

From Flavilla Fongang’s captivating keynote to an enlightening brand panel to the various enclaves of problem-solving that took place during the afternoon’s roundtable sessions, a ton of knowledge was dropped into each attendee’s lap.

Interestingly enough, there were some stand-out epiphanies and themes that we picked up on.

Longer interviews with speakers and attendees will be referenced throughout this piece. Keep an eye out for our full conversations, which will be published on Hello Partner over the coming weeks. 

The element of surprise

Flavilla Fongang, Founder of BLACK RISE, kicked the day off with a humorous and human exploration of all things marketing and branding. 

She mapped out the four key ingredients to effective marketing, within any channel: innovation; delight; surprise; and partnership. If you can deliver these to your customers, according to Fongang, you’re on the right track to success.

It’s also important to exceed your customer’s expectations to keep them coming back; here, she used the example of Five Guys and the way they put extra fries in the bag.

It might be a little easier to imagine how these strategies relate to conventional advertising, but what does it look like in affiliate or performance marketing?

We caught up with Fongang after her keynote to ask her this question.

“On TikTok, you see a lot of affiliate marketing, but it’s very subtle. Affiliate marketing is really effective when you see the results for someone who’s used or experienced the product. You see a lot of girls selling tea or protein shakes (saying), “Look at how my belly’s flat.” (You think) I want this, I want this experience. This is a question of tapping into the envy and desire. Focus on the end result, rather than focusing on the actual affiliate marketing.”

The last point is particularly salient. During her keynote, Fongang emphasised the centrality of product and experience. Marketing is far from over once the sale has been made, or the commission has been received. If affiliates and advertisers ensure that the customer’s experience is still exceptional after they have bought the thing (be that an excellent product, a coupon that works, or the best possible deal), this might prove to be the most powerful marketing tool at their disposal.

It can generate brand loyalty, word-of-mouth recommendations, and a greater trust in the affiliate channel – invaluable resources to any publisher or advertiser.

Using partnerships for global expansion

THG’s CMO Adam Knappy sat down with Partnerize’s Co-Founder Sean Sewell for a sparky fireside chat.

During this session, Knappy dropped loads of nuggets of wisdom, but one notably resonant idea was to do with the use of partnerships to enter new markets.

“Many businesses overlook the value of partnerships when expanding globally,” he said. “If you invest in TV and paid media in new regions it can be so expensive. Affiliate is an affordable way to enter new markets.”

Why is this? Well, as we know, affiliate works on a performance basis, it’s a tried-and-true strategy when drilling down to the pennies. But it’s also harnessing the power of regional talent. Partnering with publishers specific to a locality is not only going to help with bottom-funnel sales, but it can actually drive some upper-funnel brand awareness, familiarising a brand with a new audience. 

“We owe a lot of our success to forming partnerships with the right audiences or audience-owners in multiple different markets, in the early days,” said Knappy

He added that the best way to approach partners is to help them solve problems. If you can spot a pain point for them and a way you can fulfil their needs, the partnership will naturally blossom for both parties and lead to bigger gains for you in the long run. “Give before you think about receiving,” he summed up. “It’s fundamental if you want to think about expanding internationally.”

A real refresh of the funnel

Similar themes were explored during the affiliate brand panel, featuring guest speakers from MandM Direct, Harvey Nichols, GoCity, and LoveHolidays. 

The speakers discussed how affiliates are now readily used by brands for upper funnel activities. For example, content partners can be used for acquisition – ROAS is not the sole priority.

Makeda Seaton, Affiliate Executive at LoveHolidays, described how the business used to be more performance-driven, but is now more brand-focused, yet is still finding a lot of value in the affiliate channel. She identifies closed user groups as being notably effective in this area. Phil Twigg, Head of Digital at MandM Direct, stated that the company uses cashback for retention. 

We’ve been hearing a lot about how affiliate is transcending up the funnel, but it was interesting to hear about it straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were; brands describing exactly how they use affiliate in alternative ways. It got me wondering if it’s possible, or recommendable, for a brand’s entire marketing efforts to be based in affiliate. For SMEs and start-ups, it seems like it could be a great option.

Tracking is still one of the most important issues in the industry

In the afternoon, TopCashback’s James Little led an excellent roundtable on affiliate tracking. I attended a similar roundtable towards the end of last year with many of the UK’s leading publishers, hosted by Moonpull. This one also included advertisers in the mix. It’s encouraging to see these kinds of meetings continuing. Tracking is a lesser-known, somewhat bewildering facet of affiliate marketing, it's outlined in dense, technical jargon and it can be easy to just hold your hands up and not want anything to do with it. But it is arguably the bedrock of this entire industry. 

As Little succinctly put it, an affiliate drives traffic or a sale to an advertiser and they get paid for it. The bit between the affiliate referral and the action is where tracking comes in. Without it, affiliates don’t receive commission and sometimes (such as in the case of cashback) the intended action won’t even work for the consumer.

Alongside the good people at Moonpull and the APMA’s Kevin Edwards, Little has been banging the drum of affiliate tracking for quite some time. Partnership Day was the perfect chance to grab Edwards, Little, and Moonpull’s Steven Brown to learn more about the development of this issue and what the future holds.

We had a long, insightful conversation, which will be arriving on Hello Partner soon. For now, you can watch Little and Brown talk about whose responsibility it is to sort out the problems with affiliate tracking.


All in all

We had a brilliant time at Partnerize’s Partnership Day, walking away with mountains of notes and ideas. We thank Partnerize for the invite and hope everyone who attended enjoyed our sponsored drinks reception. See you at the next event!

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