Partner market has huge growth at the moment. It has really taken off and still, it seems quite complex for people.
MEDIA 7: Could you please tell us a little bit about your role at Affise and your overall professional journey?
SAM O’BRIEN: As Chief Marketing Officer, I have been here now for nine months. I am responsible for driving revenue, and growth for the business. This includes positioning the company ensuring the brand is representing Affise externally as well as internally. One challenging but exciting aspect about Affise is that we operate globally, with offices and staff in China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Lituania, Germany, UK, Brazil and USA. Managing such global brand that is still a start-up is extremely challenging, especially when you add in the fact that we operate in 5 different languages.
As a CMO, I'm very analytical, but I've got a background in design and in product management which I like to lean on and leverage in this role. My professional journey has been an interesting one. I started out as a graphic designer while I was at school, 15 years old. I have just had my way through design into performance design, got involved in testing and optimization, then started running Google campaigns, paid media campaigns. I spent a long time working with small, very early-stage startups and E-commerce companies to build them up and run their advertisement, their marketing, and really driving revenue for them. And over the years, I just migrated into this sort of marketer, that is very analytical looks at everything, and can focus on the long-term, big picture while managing the day to day world of demand generation.
M7: That’s really inspiring. Affise offers a number of simple yet powerful business intelligence tools. Could you please tell us more about them?
SO: So, at the core of what we do at Affise, we simplify partnerships. Partner market has huge growth at the moment. It's really taken off and still, it seems quite complex for people. Since joining Affise I've had many senior, experienced CMOs, head of marketing, demand generation leads reaching out to me asking how they can learn more about partner marketing. We want to solve that and make it easy. We want to make it simple. Marketers are under so much stress right now. They're really feeling the pressure to grow their business and continue performing. Marketing is now focused more on revenue than ever before. Back in the day, you'd get away with running a campaign and delivering 1000, 2000 leads or trials, whatever the metric, without ever looking at the business goals.
Now marketers are looking full-funnel, as a result, the pressure has just grown and grown and grown, but the big crux at the moment is the cost.
Google, Facebook, Amazon, take 60% of our ad spend a year. These guys are increasing their prices. Google went up by 187% from 2020 to 2021. Okay, one year 187% in their CPC and CPM. Unless you can increase the price of your product by 187% a lot of campaigns will now be ineffective. Affise is offering an alternative or complementary solution for you to come in and find a way to go to market. We're working with some huge brands at the moment, we're giving companies a faster way to start Partner Marketing. Find the partners you want to work with, or the publishers or creators or affiliates, to promote your business. Actually, the best part. Affise offers a payment term - CPA model, cost per acquisition, what we call outcome-based marketing. Unlike your Facebook and Google where you're paying a CPL or CPM, here, you're paying for outcomes. You only pay for what actually works. This is a huge time saver, cost saver and overall makes a very compelling go-to marketing strategy.
Personalization can work after the user has identified themselves. Let them come to your website, read your content, once you build that understanding on them, then start personalizing their experience.
M7: What is your strategy behind helping your sales team present your products and services in an engaging manner to your potential customers?
SO: Working with sales is crucial. This is why marketers now align to revenue right? There's no point in marketing targeting MQLs and sales aren't closing. You have to think full funnel. When I joined Affise I came in with a clear vision to be full-funnel, by that I mean aligning with sales, customer success, support and the onboarding team. The way we work is we sell globally. We have got offices in China, India Russia and Berlin. Everybody markets differently but they also take on information differently. We work closely with the sales team, what and how they are doing, watch what's natural, what words are working, we arre analyzing their scripts, checking chat transcripts and seeing what works, what doesn't work. And from there, we are trying to combine what we are hearing, the pain points, we are creating the ideal persona that we are going to solve the problems for. And a lot of the time we find that at the core of it what people, what personas want to know. It is the same across each department.
I think the key is taking the time to think about what you're doing and think about what people care about. It's all well and good showing a product. But if you're showing a product to a CMO and he's never going to step foot in the product again and you're showing him all the nuts and bolts of how it works, you're going to lose interest. CMO cares about what revenue we're going to see, how am I going to get an ROI? How many more people do I need to be on the team, whereas when we are working directly like a partner manager, they want they want to know what integrations we've got and how quickly they can start a campaign and how quickly they can turn it off. What fraud protection do we have built in all things like this? So, you need to know personas and then you need to help sales with identifying who's on the call more parts are going to be important.
M7: Every marketer is chasing the golden combo of personalization and privacy. How do you strike a balance between both?
SO: There is a golden balance between personalization and privacy. I would say it's based on starting your marketing with good quality content, things which are educational and people want to read. If they want to read it, and you provide them with that content for free, they're willing to identify who they are and they're willing to share their information with you for more quality content. Building trust with them on a purely organic you know, content-led approach, it’s a great way to start. When you start personalizing content to them, they won't even notice it's personalized. I do go against what Gartner said, they predicted 80% of marketers would abandon their personalization efforts by 2025. I disagree. Personalization is extremely scalable. Personalization can work after the user has identified themselves. Let them come to your website, read your content, once you build that understanding on them, then start personalizing their experience. I think we got away with a lot around tracking people and away we're tracking them the way we're using their data. And you know, When GDPR first came in overnight, I lost access to a lot of my data and it was very stressful. But actually, at that time we launched ABM and lightly personalized to the masses based on their country, vertical or other “grouping date”. Now, obviously, ABM technically is done too few, maybe 100 people maybe 20 people, maybe as one on one, but you can use these tactics to create a better experience for your users without encroaching on their privacy. It doesn't feel intrusive, and I think that's the golden balance.
Invest in creativity and the long-term brand that will help you stand out.
M7: That’s indeed a very insightful take. What do you think is essential to stay competitive in a market that is going through constant digitalization?
SO: Look, it's a challenging time to be competitive. Everybody's trying same tactics. I'm not trying to have this interview being all about the negativities of Google and Facebook because every marketer uses Google and Facebook, but it's hard to stand out. And because more people are using them it becomes hard to compete. It becomes hard to make a positive ROI from these channels. So, we do think it is a sales push, but I do think looking at partner marketing, looking at content creators, finding people who can get your point across for you without you having to do it is hugely valuable. And it does make you stay competitive. I think the other thing here is creativity. A lot of brands try a campaign, they turn it on, they turn off and run it again for a few days, they turn it off again, then they try something else.
Consistency and creativity. Spending the time to think of a creative campaign, thinking through some who's going to stand out, differentiate yourself, like take the time to do it, and run it longer. Don't think campaigns got a shelf life for three months? If it's good, and you took the time to think about it, run it for a year run. If 18 months it, it will last? And I think that's like one thing that's missing and when companies have a competitive advantage I don't think that there. They are finding their way to differentiate themselves creativity.
M7: What is your marketing mantra to stand out in an overly saturated MarTech space?
SO: There are a few things I think, going back to the basics. Trust is key, spending the time, building a community will pay off in the long term. And I think that gets left behind because it takes a long time. A lot of marketers are very top of the funnel – pre-purchase focused, they're focused on getting people to the purchase stage and not thinking past that. Community building is a very beneficial tactic and will help you stand out in the long run. I think to add to that, the golden nugget that every marketer especially in something like Mar tech wants to do is create a category. Category creation is brilliant, but it's hard. Not only do you have to think of a new position but if you create a category and it doesn't resonate with people nobody's going to come because they don't understand your business yet. The best example that I always reference is drift. Drift created the category of conversational marketing. It was a chat tool not very different to any other chat tool. But they owned conversational marketing, and that's what people then knew them for. So actually, as a mantra, invest in creativity and the long-term brand that will help you stand out.
One of the big challenges we have at Affise is we're not just competing against other people in MarTech. I'm competing against Neil Patel, for instance. He writes loads of content about affiliate marketing. So, I'm competing against him, and Pat Flynn, who also writes loads of content, again about affiliate marketing. So, it's a different kind of competition. You're competing against them for keywords, but not necessarily for the same product. Partnerships is a good way to approach this. It's a good way to get your brand out there and approach a new audience. If you can find something which is mutually beneficial, it's a good way to stand out and again, helps you helps build credibility to your brand that you're working with these people.