PartnerUp #094 - Rescuing “Affiliate” from the Jaws of Defeat - Lee-Ann Johnstone

What is up PartnerUp!?

I’m not sure there is more of a dirty word in B2B than…“affiliate.” After this episode of PartnerUp, be prepared to not only change your mind, but take full-on ownership of rescuing your company’s affiliate program.

Mark our words, the affiliate program play may be one of your top initiatives in 2023. Lee-Ann Johnstone of Affiliate Insider does not disappoint in helping set the record straight on influencer, ambassadors, and affiliates.

What does buying a bunch of pizzas for college students have to do with setting up an effective affiliate program? Marble floors at banks as a role-model? Yes, we make all the analogies in our effort to uncover the secrets of affiliate. This was a fun one.

AND, don’t miss where Lee-Ann will be talking more about leveraging affiliate in B2B!

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Full transcript:

Jared Fuller  0:00
Hey what is up partner up second week of 2023 I am excited. I'm sitting here mildly sick with my best dad in the universe mug which Isaac had to opine on the best mug in the universe for the best dad in the universe.

Isaac Morehouse  0:24
Well, I mean, I had to opine on it because you were rather conspicuously drinking out of it. Like, you know, conspicuously,

Jared Fuller  0:32
I think the opposite of conspicuously like

Isaac Morehouse  0:35
Michael Scott with his world's best boss mug. You know, like, oh, did you happen to notice?

Jared Fuller  0:40
Don't bring up Michael Scott. I think I had my team and my first marketing agency had posted on my door was a quote. Which was, Do I want people to fear me or love me? Easy. Both. I want people to fear how much they love me, Michael Scott.

Isaac Morehouse  1:02
Never gets old never gets old. Welcome. I'm super, I'm super excited to really jump into this year. And while this episode is being released, I guess the day of partner ecosystem kickoff event. And another event that our guest today is going to be talking about a little bit on something that something that I don't think gets a lot of love in the partner ecosystem. Jared, is that a fair assessment? I'd say it's,

Jared Fuller  1:31
it's not a four letter word, but it kind of has that connotation, and it might need to be rescued in 2023. So we're here talking with Leann Johnstone, about affiliates. Leanne. Hi, welcome to partner up. And thank you so much for having us on your show. Yes, because that was a blast to close out the year with you on your show. So we had to bring you back on over here, because I loved your point of view, on affiliate programs, and this word somehow got dirty. And maybe, actually, I would love to start there. Because you probably have as much experience with the affiliate industry as anyone I know. And talk to me a little bit about the heyday of affiliate, and then what went wrong? And then we'll kind of triangulate our way back into like, is there a renaissance? Can it be rescued? Should that be your priority? So let's start with maybe what was the heyday of affiliate like and set the record straight for everyone. And then we'll get into like, maybe what went wrong?

Lee-Ann Johnstone  2:26
So I guess I need to set the record straight by telling people just how long I've been in affiliate marketing. So I started way back before there was Google, before we had well, at the point when we just got our very first mobile phone, you know, kind of way back there in the 2000s. And it was a wild ride. I mean, you guys described it just perfectly, you know, we were on the edge of, you know, the forefront of cutting edge technology, you know, coding and just happened, the internet have just happened, everybody was excited. And we had to do a lot of learning. So you know, we were flying by the seat of our pants and building the plane at the same time. And through all of those learnings. We have created the ecosystem that you see today, I've reached partnerships and affiliates and influencers and content curators, and all of these wonderful people that make up this partnership economy that we're living through. And the future that's going to come in terms of Metaverse, web 3.0. And to me, it's just been one of the most exciting places to work in digital, and continues to be one of the exciting places to work in digital. The flip side of it is that during all of this time of learning, as we were kind of building our relationships, building our platforms, learning how to use the data that we now have access to, there was a lot of fraud, you know, affiliates, there was a bit of a land grab at the beginning when it was all exciting. You know, there were a little bit of underhanded tactics that used to happen. Everybody knows about cookie stuffing, and all of these wonderful things that took place. But that was part of the growing pains, the growing pains of learning a new channel of embracing new technology, and understanding how to use all of these systems and processes to actually help our businesses to grow and to build the partnerships that we see today. So I guess the phrase, we've come a long way baby is kind of true. And I've been very blessed to see that that journey from the beginning to where we are today. And I gotta tell you guys, it's been a wild ride. And I'm super excited for what's to come. Because if I think back to my youth, when we started looking at mobile phones and games, nobody's ever gonna use a mobile phone to go on the internet. And Wallah. Look at us today. We all walking around with iPhones and smartphones in our pocket, which are literally just many computers. If you told me that 15 years ago, or 18 years ago, I never would have believed you. So who knows what the next two decades are going to bring us as we get smarter in terms of how we use technology to you know, meet with clients at the point of sale, which is really what affiliates do. So that's kind of my two minute spiel, and then to now

Isaac Morehouse  4:58
it's funny as you're sort of walking through through memory lane here, it just occurred to me I remember it all of a sudden, this would have been probably 2004 or five, six range. A buddy of mine was like, I'm going all in on affiliate marketing, I'm gonna I'm gonna be an affiliate, I'm gonna make all you can make all this money. And I'm like, what do you do? He's like you like put links all over other places online. And then I like they didn't make sense to me, it seemed real weird. It seemed like a multilevel marketing sort of, you know, scammy thing. Anyway, nothing ever came of it. Fast forward to today. That same friend, he is a, he's like a public speaker, a podcaster. He puts together education programs, and does a lot of like webinars and things like that makes phenomenal money is great. He's like, what you would consider an influencer, I suppose. And indirectly, his money is basically coming from the same budget that way back when he was like, I'm gonna do, I'm gonna do affiliate marketing, right? Like, at the time, the idea of some random person getting online and helping a company sell a product, and getting a kickback. For that it sounded just like, it was just kind of it felt just sort of stupid scammy some kind of multi level who knows what this is, you're What are you going to do? Like, just cram links down everybody's throat. Now there's this whole different world that's been created, where he's got influence. He's got trust, he's got a community. And it's, it's different. But it's like, it's interesting, because like, it's still there. It's like those same probably the same companies back in the day when he was trying to do whatever he was trying to do. It's just interesting to see how much that has changed how much the personalizing and humanizing it around like individuals who have built genuine trust the difference between that and let's go spam people with a bunch of links and try to get a kickback.

Jared Fuller  6:52
I have a question to follow that Isaac for Lian is, what you just described was an affiliate who became an influencer? Who, by technical definition still sounds to me like an affiliate Lian. What's the difference between an influencer and an affiliate? At this

Lee-Ann Johnstone  7:07
point? Not much, because an affiliate builds a brand of trust with or with an audience, whether they're using a website, whether they're using an Instagram channel, or any other social media channel or a podcast, I mean, we've even got clubhouse now. There are influencers and affiliates have broken clubhouse using audio to convert people. So if you strip it back to forget about what channel it's on, or in an affiliate is somebody who is knowledgeable about a certain content or topic, so there could be an SEO for the ad, for example, so they know how to drive traffic, and I had to create content, or there could be a really great influencer, who knows how to create video content that really connects and they're monetizing their content stream, whichever format it's in.

Jared Fuller  7:53
I've used this example on the podcast before because in my heart of hearts, I really want athletic greens to sponsor this podcast apparently, so whenever Tim Ferriss influenced me three years ago to buy athletic greens because Tim Ferriss is far more knowledgeable about biohacking than anyone I listened to. And then I had Dr. Andrew Huberman, you know, kind of double down on that. So I've been a customer monthly every month for years. I had my athletic greens this morning. Is Tim Ferriss and in the affiliate for athletic greens, he's an influencer. Is this the same definition? Like Tim Ferriss is a expert on biohacking. He's saying, hey, go out and buy athletic greens. Here's the promo code use Tim at checkout, is that an affiliate?

Isaac Morehouse  8:36
Doesn't matter if he's getting paid upfront, or if he's getting a kickback.

Lee-Ann Johnstone  8:41
It does at this point still, because brands see budgets differently. So anything that's performance based, so paid after delivery, so paid after a sale has made that would be still classed as affiliate, anything that's ambassador or influence based would actually be prepaid. But the lines are blurring, I'll have to be honest with you because a lot of ambassadors and influencers are wising up to the fact that they want the lifetime customer stream. So if you're a repeat purchaser, if I was Tim Ferriss, I'd be getting myself into a revenue share deal, because you're coming back and buying that product over and over and over again, for the rest of your life,

Jared Fuller  9:18
to be to be an affiliate, not just a sponsor, not just to be a sponsor, not just to be a sponsor, and that I think that is where a line is drawn, where the partnerships remit. So if you're a partnerships person listening to this, and your marketing organization is thinking about, like how do we tap the influencer world, right? And I've seen this in b2b Shout out to Ryan riser from phone ready leads. I know he's an ambassador for you know, cognitivism. Right. So like, he's kind of an influencer there. And he's running a podcast and helping them out. We've done some work together. But I see this happening time and again, we had Morgan Ingram come for the pls Summit. Because doing a lot of that influencer work. There's this other trend that I've been seeing where the people that have the influence, they believe so much so that it's not just about the sponsor dollars. It's about monetizing the audience from the actual transaction, that they're even launching their own brands. So like, if you think about it, old world was like podcast advertising, stuff like that, okay, just pay me for a spot. It's just straight ad. But the performance component, if you really are good, if you're working with a really good person, they want that money. So I'll use another example. I'm not sure who in this audience is familiar with. I'm big on like the big podcasts and the big channels just to see how media is evolving. But if you look at Logan, Paul, and he has impulsive, which is one of the biggest podcasts in the world. He just launched this entire sports energy drink called prime, right, because he wanted the full revenue, right? So they went and over capitalized and launched their own thing. So instead of sponsoring someone else's even launched their own look at Kim Kardashian launching her own private equity firm, like if consumer is upstream of b2b. Right? So, if b2b is downstream of b2c, then it seems to me that we're really behind the boat and b2b of these influencers taking a component of the sale and that pay per for, for performance. And that's about to have a renaissance right now.

Lee-Ann Johnstone  11:18
Absolutely. It is.

Isaac Morehouse  11:19
Okay, well, so, as you're talking, I'm kind of thinking from my own experience on both sides of the table. So I have been paid to do, you know, sponsorship campaign stuff, you know, with my previous company had a lot of that, and then, and also affiliates. And I've also paid for it. And here's what I here's what I here's a pattern that I've sort of observed, obviously, the company, they're like, Oh, I affiliate, that's great, because I only pay you if you drive customers so great. I don't need to front a bunch of money. Yes, let's do that. So you go find somebody and you're like, Hey, how about you promote my thing, and I'll pay you if some people convert and buy it. From the other side of the table, you're like, Okay, fine. Sure, we'll try it, I'll throw your thing in my newsletter, my podcasts, and if somebody converts, I'll get some money. But not a lot happens, you don't get a lot of action, there's often a long delay in the buying cycle, you only get a few people to convert and somebody throws a couple 100 bucks, and you're like that not worth it. Here's what I've seen, the pattern that works well, is you start with a sponsorship, you start and say, hey, I want you to sponsor my product, I'm going to pay you to cover it, to talk about it, to try it to do ads to do to bring me on to talk about or let's do it, put it in the newsletter. And then after you've established a rapport with your audience, and you start to see it work, then we transition you to a rev share once we found it work, because otherwise as a as a content creator, I don't really care that much. If I try your thing, and my audience doesn't buy it a lot, I'm just done, I'm not gonna give you the time of the day anymore. But if you pay me upfront as a sponsor, I will invest the time to learn to get to know your product to figure out how to make it more effective. And then if I'm seeing that it's working, now both of us have an interest in in like, sort of. So I'm just wondering if that's a pattern, you've observed where it's like, because if you just start from affiliate and it doesn't work, you can walk away prematurely, I think where you could have a productive relationship.

Lee-Ann Johnstone  13:20
Correct. And a lot of mismanaged affiliate programs experienced that, because they don't have experienced account managers that are building relationships, because affiliate is still very much about building that connectivity with your partner. And figuring out how to leverage and pull the levers with what that partner has that you need and want, you don't necessarily have to be in position one on every single website that you're that you're working with. You don't necessarily have to be on every single influencers page, you just have to be connecting with the customers that you need and want through multiple different partners and segmenting that program. So there is a lot of stress. The misconception here is that affiliate is free and easy, because it's paid on performance. It's kind of like skiing and snowboarding, if anybody's ever done that, and I'm not an expert, because I'm from South Africa where there is no snow. But you can get up and snowboard within an hour's like you know less than you can do the same as skiing, but you can be a really, really bad skier after four years of having lessons. And you can be a really, really good snowboarder after just one lesson. So there's a there's a depth of skill that's required in running and managing a successful affiliate program. And I think that's where things get lost in translation. People think that if they just throw money at someone and get them to slap up an offer or promotion on their website, that that's going to work for their brand and it actually you have to go deeper you have to really understand and leverage what is that partner doing that you cannot to access those customers because those customers are following that partner. Whatever channel they're on website, social media, whatever it is because That person has invested in. And here's the magic word, brand affinity. People by people that don't buy promotions, sometimes will buy promotions, if we're looking at, you know, special offer, voucher codes, all of those wonderful things. But ultimately, those partners that succeed are investing in building trust and brand affinity with their community. And that is why their community buys whatever it is that their partner puts in front of them. So there's a length of time that a partner takes in order to build their community, and to build that trust, and your investment in that partner, whether it's a little bit upfront as you, as you really, you know, described it very, very well as part of your budget planning. So there is a lot of misconception that has led us to where we are right now, where affiliate is under utilized in businesses, as far as I'm concerned, misunderstood by a lot of CMOs and kind of cost into the, what I call the Shroom. Room to just sit along and trickle along. And there's a lot of stuff that can be done right now, especially with the level of data that we have to pull those levers and make them a bigger part of your digital mix.

Jared Fuller  16:10
Can I get an amen? Both of you just like I really, really, really loved how Isaac you teed that up, because that was my gut. But I hadn't articulated that, like, I was just sitting here nodding my head, I'm like, yes, because that's us. You know that the anecdotal evidence from partner hacker, I mean, we're a media company, all you listening, like, this is not some game or some sticker, some show, like we started a media business. And we're in the business of monetizing media. And in a lot of ways, you know, like, what's happening today, if you're listening to this, on the day it came out, we have partner, with partner stack, and partner stack wouldn't be doing business with us if we hadn't been able to show some results for them. And in fact, one of the things that's on our 23 To Do list was like we need to get in that monetization funnel, we're sending all this business to partner stack, we keep doing business with them, like we should be doing some stuff like that, and using the partner stack platform to do it. You know, so if you're thinking about doing this, I mean, I can't recommend partner stack enough, they didn't sponsor me to say that for the show. There's no sponsorship for me to say that. But we've worked with them enough. And we they've been a sponsor enough times where I'm like, you know, anecdotally I would be interested in next I know, it works. I know it's converted for them, we have this longer relationship. Here's where I think, Leanne, to your point about account managers earlier. And some of this management process where there has to be a program may be falling down in b2b I normally see affiliate programs live in the marketing department. And what I see by that is there isn't the long tail of management. I've never known a marketer to be a great account manager. But it's for some strange reason, the marketer is the account manager, account management needs to happen in one of three departments, sales, partnerships, or CS. So why is affiliate being managed by a marketing person that doesn't know how to deal with that relationship and sell the sponsorship, and then go look, if this works out, we want to convert all parties want to convert to paid, if, if that was the expectation upfront in the process, let's work together let's sponsor, and then we're gonna go pay for performance because it's in your best interest. And it's a long term partnership, and they had a case study, look at all of these impressive brands that have long term partnerships that are paid for performance now, because it worked for their audience. Man, that just seems like it'd be just a vapor way. Gladly, and

Lee-Ann Johnstone  18:44
I said, I built a career out of that I built a career out of building multimillion dollar affiliate programs and partnerships for brands over the last 20 years. So we know it works. There's no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I am where I am today, after 20 years of doing this job, 22 years of doing this job. It works. Every single brand I've ever worked at has made money out of this channel out of either, you know, some sort of partner influence ambassador, affiliate those that pull the levers properly and understand the strategy and go all in putting funds behind it putting teams behind a training those teams with sales skills, because you've hit the nail on the head now Jared, and affiliate manager has to have a multitude of different skills. It's a highly skilled job. And I think that's where sometimes brands fall down is that they think that their affiliate account managers should be a salesperson only, or a marketing person only. They actually need to be both to do it successfully.

Jared Fuller  19:39
And they have to be creative. I think that's the other thing too. So like Isaac to you, to you and me. Anytime that we have a partnership or a sponsorship. Who's driving the creative us right? Like we're driving the creative. Why? Because it matters that much to us. And if you have if you're Leaving the creative up to your partner, right up to the affiliate like, Hey, here's the rev share, figure it out. It's like, no, here's the best messaging. Here's, like, be collaborative with them. And I think that takes a, it does take everything, it takes a little bit of a marketing mindset, a little bit of sales mindset, a little bit of partner mindset in the long game. And gosh, the more I get into this conversation, the more I feel like the affiliate world better get pulled back, damn in and 23 into the partnerships remit. Like, go get this right now, Isaac, I'm gonna kick it to you.

Isaac Morehouse  20:30
So Jared, you and I both have a lot of experience in our previous life of organizing things on college campuses or, you know, events where, where you're dealing with, like, basically a bunch of volunteers or you might have some kind of a deal where it's like, Hey, everybody, you get to sign up, you'll get a couple dollars, or you'll get whatever.

Jared Fuller  20:50
By the way, as that was my favorite off topic, holiday break. Slack threads was US reminiscing on Hey, look at this event I pulled off look at this thing we did from like 12 years ago. And it's so funny that like, we were exchanging those threads, I was my favorite ops off topic, holiday thread in Slack.

Isaac Morehouse  21:05
Yeah, that's awesome. I told you, we should never do events. And here we are doing events all the time. So but but what's what's one thing you learned, if you've ever tried to do anything like this is if you just come to people and say, hey, here you go, go hand out these flyers or go get people to come to this event, and you'll get a you'll get $1 for everybody that shows up. And you treat it like you when you signal, hey, I'm doing the minimum work possible just to see if anything sticks, hey, I'm just gonna throw this against the wall. It's a sure we'll launch an affiliate program, why not? Maybe something will come out of it. If people get that impression, guess what, they don't want to work for you. They don't care. If you do something really small, the pizza, the pizza test, right? If you if you say Come meet me at room 301 I'm gonna have a bunch of free pizzas. everybody shows up, oh, use right and you spent money on pizza upfront what for? And then you're like, check it out, we're gonna do something amazing. We're gonna get hundreds of people that come to this event. And I'll give you a kickback. If you get every one of you signal that you care and that you sunk money in upfront, right this is we talk about signaling theory all the time. This is why banks have marble floors and gold in them because they wanted to signal we're not going to run away with your money. Like the bank, sometimes we do out in the west, right? Because we we've invested and we're stuck. We have a sunk cost here. If you signal our affiliate program is serious, we're willing to front a little money to get you on board and educate you and hype you sure we'll do a paid Gasser campaign to kick it off, then we transition to pay to play. That's so different from the affiliate standpoint than saying, Hey, here's a bunch of links, go sign up and do whatever you want to do. And your Word will send you money, you know,

Lee-Ann Johnstone  22:47
I have a very simple equation. So and this is from years and years of years of running multiple different affiliate programs across multiple different industries. If you don't go all in affiliates won't either. So all N equals a good affiliate program. Half cut means it's never really going to work. So before you decide to go and you know, leap into affiliate marketing, make sure you know why you're doing it. And make sure that your marketing team understands what the KPIs are that you need to achieve by bringing these partners on board into your program. Because ultimately, affiliates need to be an extension of your own marketing and sales team. They are your foot soldiers that are bringing clients to your brand prior to when your own marketing efforts are hitting those eyeballs. So segmentation is key. Which types of partners are you working with? And why are there partners that are complementing your own direct marketing strategies? Because if you're cross pollinating all of that stuff, you spending money, not wisely, you spending it all in the same places and get a very little like upward ROI. So strategy is key for me, you know, that's something that we spend a lot of time with clients on before we even take them on as a client in our agency, we will set into and define what is your plan for working in the affiliate space? What What kind of budgets are you going to be putting in place? What do you want these partners to deliver for you that you are not already delivering in your own marketing strategies. And if those things don't align, we turn clients away, we don't actually take like, they're gonna take every client that knocks on our door, we only take the clients that we know that we can help and that are going to have a beneficial ending and outcome from investing into this channel. Because it's not a pay and play type thing, which I think you said, it's a long term investment, like a minimum if you're looking to launch an affiliate program, you need to be investing a budget of at least a year's worth, to actually start to see ROI because you're going to be testing in the first three to six months to see what actually works for you to to check if your commercials are actually panning out and if it's bringing the right types of customers and be you're going to be investing in resources and tech. You know, we actually have clients that we can partner stack. It's a great platform and network actually a partner for SAS for the SAS industry, and the level that they go to in terms of their onboarding, and the way that they're actually helping clients to understand how to leverage and really get the most out of this channel is phenomenal to see. And if everybody in our community starts to have that kind of due diligence to clients, this, there is going to be a real renaissance in this space, I think, because we're starting to understand it better. We're starting to respect it a little bit more. And we're starting to see the fruits of the delivery that comes from when we have these relationships with these partners to it's more trackable now than what it was 20 years ago.

Jared Fuller  25:41
Definitely. And I think it all comes I mean, from the affiliate proper tools, or referral, proper tools, and kind of like the management infrastructure from like a partner stack to the very, very complex flows that like an ever flow can set up. Like I've been continuously impressed by their tech and what they can do in terms of trying to figure out this multi touch multi journey kind of like attribution not to assign points or a score, but just to really understand what happened against this crazy mix that we have out in the market. And I think somebody that you made me think of their Liane was one of my favorite economists is certainly a controversial one, his name is Murray Rothbard, an Austrian. He says a quote, that's one of my favorites around just like economic policy, which is, it's easy to be conspicuously compassionate, when others are forced to pay the cost. So you get these, you know, politicians, etc. It's like, Hey, I just I love people, I care, I care, I care. And it's like, but you're not really doing anything. You're just like, trying to get someone else to do something. And you can take that to any side of the political debate. On any issue really, like, I won't bring them up. But it's like, you vote that way. But if you've ever done anything, right, so like, volunteered, right? So like you're abdicating your responsibility to a politician, like, I believe in this, or I believe in that. It's like, did you volunteer at the homeless shelter? Did you help the mom who didn't have a way to pay for her child? Did you do the thing? No, you were being conspicuously compassionate by forcing others to pay that cost. What you just said, with affiliates, it's like, hey, partner, it's I'm going to be conspicuously efficient, you rump the costs. But guess what, you're never actually going to be effective. So you might think you're being conspicuously efficient, but you'll never actually be effective, because you're forcing the partner to bear the brunt of the cost. And that's when he said, half baked, right? Not being all in, that's what it is, is you have this error of like, I'm abdicating my responsibility, I don't have to front the money. And if it works in the market, great. Sure, you might think that's efficient, but it's never going to be effective

Lee-Ann Johnstone  27:42
10 years ago, might have been effective when the market was less complex and competitive as what it is now. I mean, how many millions of brands are out there in the world trying to, you know, sell their products to the same set of humans that are on this planet. So really understanding where the niche fits into your marketing strategies, the key thing first, because if you're a brand out there, and you think you don't need an affiliate program, let me tell you, you're sorely mistaken.

Isaac Morehouse  28:09
So I'm really curious to see how this attribution stuff unfold. So we're big fans, I'm sure most a lot of our listeners have come across this guy, Chris Walker, by now we're big fans of his stuff from refined labs. And I've seen him posting in these different things that they've done for their own company and their clients. Were the last customers at some point in the journey, you know, how did you hear about us, and it's just a free form that they fill out. And then they'll compare that to the marketing attribution software. And the attribution software is like, you know, 40% comes from paid or from, you know, organic, or blah, blah, blah. It doesn't have anything from like podcasts social, when people are filling it out. It's like 40% comes from podcasts or from things that are it's totally getting, because it can't be measured that well with the software. So we've seen examples like that. I know, Jared, we have seen with people that we've worked with on events or campaigns, where if you look at like, let's just say a tracking link, a UTM. It looks like yeah, that was okay. But then we've had them very wonderfully, that they thought to do this on their own, because we didn't think of it, ask people look, they went through their Gong, and said, How many people mentioned that event in the last month, and it was like huge, what percentage of our pipeline came to us through that event? None of it was measured in the like, typical tracking measurement, but it was measured with this kind of qualitative type stuff. So here's what I'm wondering if I'm thinking from the point of view of a media company and influence or an affiliate. I want to make a deal where I say, Okay, I'll have a tracking link, but I don't want my commissions to be 100% Based on the tracking link. I also want you to put a free forum question in your flow because I'm thinking about like you said, athletic greens, Jared, I've gone and gotten products from I used to get like when I'd order like flowers for somebody. I would be like, what was that place that that one guy always talks about on that podcast, you know, when he 100 Flowers whatever, I would never go to slash their name, I would go directly. But I only knew about it because of this person this, you know this influencer. So if I were an influencer affiliate in that position, I would say, give me give me a tracking link. Sure. But I also want you to put in a free forum question, how did you hear and I want you to to analyze on your sales calls, I want, I want you to show me a report every month of how many times my name was mentioned in your gong recordings. And then I want to take I want to somehow come up with a commission that's based on the three of those things because I know we're not capturing it all with just the utn.

Jared Fuller  30:36
I said big what if moment, I want your reaction to this. Julianne, what if that freeform? Like what if we acknowledged like straight in the face? Not like how did you hear about us like an open format text, but almost like leaning into it more? Like? Who should we think for bringing you to us? Who are who influenced your decision to make this decision? Right to where to where you could actually name a couple people? And I bet that would get really weird. I bet you would find it was like, Oh, actually, that was you know, Scott Barker over at GTM fund, it was just Jesse Shipman over a partner flew in. And then I talked to this account manager at Marketo. Like, like, whoa, so of all the data that we have, here's three people that we've never talked to that actually, from my point of view influenced me to make this decision. And if we framed it the right way, it's like, wow, and then you can almost data, like collect those. And, you know, hit enter to where it's like you dropped three names, you can almost use that as a collection mechanism to like, leaning into that even further. Leanne, what do you think about Isaac suggestion there and that proposition and kind of maybe even leaning into it further of as part of the BI process, just asking people to like, who deserves a shout outs?

Lee-Ann Johnstone  31:55
Ultimately, that's what's led to Ambassador Program. Because an ambassador is not not quite an influence. It's somebody with a personal network, not a network of people that they don't know. And what you'll find is that I think, you know, there's always there's all these stats on the internet, and I read a lot of stuff, I can never remember where I read it. But I'm pretty sure that if you google this, you'll be able to find these stats. But there used to be a marketing mindset that there were like six degrees of separation, in terms of people. But there's currently now upwards of 26 to 28 touch points that a consumer will pass through, across multiple channels all over the interweb, before they actually make a purchase. There is no one technology in the world that can track all of that, including what my friend told me last week, when I asked about what flowers I needed to send. So I may have seen into Flora a million times in my life. But the only reason why I took action is because my friend sent a bunch of flowers to me. And I wanted to know, where did they where those flowers come from, because I wanted to send them on to somebody else. So my whole world exists around affiliate marketing, I believe affiliate marketing is everywhere. And in everything, how efficient we are tracking absolutely every single touch point. We are nowhere near to that. But I think this is part of what web 3.0 And the blockchain and crypto is trying to actually uncover is, if there's a company that does this, it's called chain analysis, they look at all the crypto wallets in the world and where the money is flowing in from and to, not on a on a personal level. But just as, like, there's no GDPR that gets, you know, conflicted. But it's a very, very interesting set of stats that you can purchase and look at in terms of how the flow of money and ecommerce is happening amongst a group of people that share crypto. And I think it's very, very important that we get this right, because I think a lot of our marketing spenders misspent in the wrong channels on the wrong influences with the incorrect partners. Because we just don't have that depth of data right now. Some platforms are moving closer to that there are there are, you know, like technology stacks that are moving to close to that. But it's going to be impossible to track absolutely everything offline and online in one place, which is what you would need to do in order to get 100% Correct attribution. So I think starting with having a form that's telling you some stuff and collecting that data over time, is still the best place to go. Because it gives you just that little bit more accurate information. And if I if you remember what I said at the beginning of this podcast, you know, 18 years ago, we thought that we'd ever get mobile tracking to the point where it is today, and actually know exactly what apps in the App Store are sending your customers like that was unheard of back then. So we're moving in that direction with big data with artificial intelligence with AI with you know, web three with the next iteration of the internet, which is blockchain, which hopefully opens up new ways to track sources in real time, which then allows us to attribute our budgets properly, but we're not there yet. And I reckon that's another kind of deck head away. Before we get, we get too close to that point, by listening to what your partners are telling you about what your customers need and want that you can do right now.

Jared Fuller  35:11
100% you can, it makes me think to have like, I'm not sure to what degree Liana Isaac, you've paid attention to things like growth marketing. And when I say growth marketing, I want to try and define that as like this obsessive way of doing things like A B testing. And, you know, driving conversion from the margins, right. So different copy different buttons, different placement, different CTA is you know how many CTA is above the fold as an email only how many form fields in the form like kind of taking a science to kind of the conversion process. It actually amazes me that I've never heard anyone talk about this, this topic that we were just talking, talking about, of like, you know, imagine, you know, a podcast ad that instead of saying like, hey, go to the checkout, and then use this code, blah, blah, blah, during checkout, which Isaac has pointed out very clearly that you're gonna forget, if you make that purchasing decision later, that's not at the benefit of the company, you might think it is, you might think it's at the benefit of the company, oh, we don't have to pay out on it. But the reality is, is you don't know what's working, right. So like if the person doesn't use the code, and that's where they heard it, you don't know what's actually working. So like, what if the ad went something like this, it was like, hey, you know, next time you or whenever you decide to get healthy, and you want to get on the Athletic Greens kick, just drop partner up in the thank you checkout box, right. And one of that checkout box had something to the effect of something very simple. That was like, anyone you want to give credit for influencing, you know, your decision to be ERP or customer, you can a B test that and see what is getting the most unique responses on that checkout, or sign up or demo page, or whatever it is. If I'm a growth marketer, man, that's got to be the most valuable thing to a B test. Who the heck is actually coming to us from where? who's influencing our customers? Who do we need to give more love to? Who do we need to wrap ourselves around more as a partner? That would be one of the things I want to go fix right now in my funnel is I want to AB test the heck out of that open format text box. And not just, you know, why did you come to us today? No, I want 20 different versions. Which one's converting the best? Which ones providing me the most names? Not just single names, right? Because there might be two or three people? Man, that seems like, that seems like one of the best hacks partner hacker in 2023, to be going after that to help your affiliate programs do because you might be able to Liana, this discount me right here? Would that not be an amazing affiliate discovery engine as well. We have a number of phenomenal people, you had no idea we're sending people to you as an all of a sudden you reach out to right.

Lee-Ann Johnstone  37:51
But I mean, look, you've got things like Google Analytics, you've got you know, some some companies have their own, you know, really intelligent analytics tools that give you the flow and the down flow of before and after their website. So I mean, people are doing this, but not to the extent that you guys are talking about now. And I think if you take anything away from this podcast today, don't even

Jared Fuller  38:11
doing anything or close to the hole. I do want to interject there because you can't compare Google Analytics to user input text like, No, I don't see a situation where you're going to get Google Analytics to tell you that an audio sponsorship on a podcast converted someone. There's just nothing about that journey that GA would ever pick up.

Lee-Ann Johnstone  38:31
Yeah, there's nothing about audio, but other websites. Yes, it would. So you can look at where are people coming from from other websites that create a similar look alike audience because these customers are converting, and they're actually, you know, bringing us a lot of lifetime revenue. So you can map it back to niches, or different types of sites that are bringing you these types of audiences. But you can't interject with, you know, apps or unless you've got other sophisticated tracking technology, and then go into audio as well, which is fast growing. I mean, audio search is like it's on the cusp of new stuff. So how are you building to actually integrate all of those because when you search online, using your voice is very different to how you search online when you're typing into a search engine. So even that is becoming fragmented. And I think that's the problem that we sit in right now is that the Internet has become too diverse and too big. And how do we find ways to engage customers in all of these places? There is no one size fits all program anymore, which is why partner segmentation is so important in your affiliate strategy. And why I think you're going to see this renaissance of affiliate programs becoming more popular because we need to use those partners more to leverage the niche clients that we're trying to reach with at mass markets. And because we know that doesn't work anymore. It's not as effective as what it used to be 1518 years ago.

Isaac Morehouse  39:59
So Liana I'm curious, I would love to hear from you. What can be to be learn from b2c when it comes to affiliates that b2c is kind of ahead of the curve on and does well. And then as like a secondary question, what can't they learn what's different, like I kind of imagined and I could be wrong about this just thinking back of the envelope economics, I imagine that the quantity versus quality trade off is going to look different for b2b because the the average sale price is going to be so much higher. So there may be more of a hey, we don't want some massive affiliate program with hundreds affiliates. We just want a handful of really good ones. But maybe not like I don't know how those differ. So I'd love to know what what can be learned from b2c, for the for those b2b people out there, who are the majority of our listeners, and then what's, what's different, what can't be copied.

Lee-Ann Johnstone  40:46
So I think what can't be copied on b2b is the level of segmentation that affiliate programs have in terms of finding customers at different points in the purchase journey, and leveraging those partners on a pan performance basis to tweak that sales process, that decision making process because of the way that b2b works, but what I think is happening, and I think you guys, if you listened to the affiliate Insider PodCast, or affiliate marketing podcast, you guys spoke about it on the flip side of my podcast, which was there is this movement, that partnerships are becoming more relevant brand to brand partnerships on a performance basis on either side, is also another way to leverage and level up that affiliate experience. But on the b2b side, and I think partnerships are probably one of the hottest things that are going to happen this year were companies that have similar audience types are going to actually come together and increase their margins. Look, we're heading into a recession, cost of living crisis, everything else that's happening. Marketers that aren't thinking about things like this are not being responsible with how they should be spending their budget to leverage and grow sales during a recessionary period. So partnerships, brand brand are going to become very, very important. And I think understanding exactly where your affiliate programs should fit in your marketing mix. And focusing on value not volume are two of the simplest things that you need to be doing as we face this new year.

Jared Fuller  42:14
Leann, this was one of the funnest podcasts I've done in a long time. Thank you. I think there's a lot of meat to unpack on this on the affiliate influencer, Ambassador, whatever the heck you want to call it. The reality is there are people out there, whether you did it intentionally or not, that are influencing your customers purchasing decision to buy. And if you really want to lean into those and they are a business then lead with a sponsorship converted to a pay for performance. And if they're not, turn them into that Ambassador and get them in some sort of influencer program that's under the wider bucket of an affiliate. put someone on it that can actually manage a marketing and a sales process that's going for the long game, not just siloed, you know, content manager that's having to manage external relationships, lots, lots of things to sum up. And we're stoked to have you at partner And we'll announce it here. So if you're listening on Tuesday, Jan 17. When this comes out, Leanne is going to be talking at ours to a partner And then she also has the amplify Summit. If you want to go deep, deep, deep into the world of affiliate, and really understand this. That's January 17, and 18th. So you can do pre ours Lian on the AMPLIFi, summit post hours with us. And then you can go Wednesday to the AMPLIFi Summit. So we'll see you all at partner Leanne, thank you so much for coming in today and helping us demystify and rescue affiliate from, I want to say the jaws of defeat because it's always been there. But I think it's going to have a big Renaissance this year. More to come. Yeah,

Lee-Ann Johnstone  43:45
absolutely. I agree with you. And thank you so much for having me on the podcast. I can't wait to meet everybody at your event on the 17th of January to

Jared Fuller  43:51
absolutely all right partner up peace out. We will see you all at Parker Go get the recordings on demand. If you're downloading this after the fact it's still going to be great. We got five JAM PACKED hours for you. We will see you all next time. Peace.

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