“Marketers came for the savings and stayed for the results” – Maura Smith
Maura Smith, Chief Marketing Officer of Partnerize, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
Maura Smith, CMO of Partnerize, speaks of their automation platform, of how they ensure that every interaction is mutually valuable and meaningful, and of how they empower marketers to drive profitable partnerships. She adds that they are customer driven from software to service and that they value the uniqueness of each marketer – follow her story below.
How did Partnerize take off? Tell us a bit more about your business model, concept, and culture.
Partnerize didn’t just take off. We have been in successful operation since 2011 under the Performance Horizon Group. Within the last two years, the now Partnerize brand acquired Pepperjam, a successful affiliate marketing provider in its own right, and online compliance leader, BrandVerity, making the company a complete and holistic one-stop-shop for marketers looking to manage their partnerships in an end-to-end single destination platform.
What sets you apart from other automation platforms?
Partnerize is the leader in partnership automation. The Partnerize platform is the only of its kind to deliver a fully integrated, comprehensive suite of discovery, recruitment, optimisation, payment, brand safety, and fraud prevention capabilities for marketers seeking a high transparency, scalable subsidy to alleviate pressure on their unit economics as a result of over dependence on primary sales and marketing channels. What really sets us apart is the fact that we’re the only platform supported with unrivaled service including the category’s only in-housing support program. With Partnerize, the marketer is in control of the entire partnership marketing lifecycle—all on a single platform.
What helps make your performance successful?
We are in the business of partnerships and our business performance is made successful by establishing strong relationships with our entire ecosystem. From our clients, our agencies, our publisher partners, and our integrated tech partners, we ensure that every interaction is mutually valuable and meaningful to everyone’s goals and objectives. We empower marketers to drive profitable partnerships through automation, scale and outcome-based pricing models. Our partnership life cycle platform maps directly to the phases of partner management, helping marketers to organise the facets and activities in a central destination.
Further, we help marketers reach, engage, and convert their target audiences at scale and workflow automations; AI powered insights also help marketers save time. An API-first approach and integrated partner ecosystem creates the flexibility marketers need to quickly activate partnership in their martech stack, plus we appreciate that service is important to those that don’t have dedicated resources or knowledge to handle execution themselves. Having said that, at the heart of our success lies in the fact that we are customer driven from software to service.
What can you tell us about the current environment for marketers?
The last year and a half presented unprecedented challenges for marketers, but it’s also presented some of the greatest opportunities for them by way of leveraging the partnership channel. We have seen many brands saved from potential shutdowns all because they shifted budgets around and were able to make channels like affiliate and influencer work for them in ways they never understood, largely because they were too busy pouring time and money into other primary sales channels pre-pandemic.
Enter Covid, and they get back some free time, sure, but a belt also quickly tightens around their marketing budgets. It wasn’t easy to survive in paid channels alone with rising costs and Amazon slashing their publisher commissions, for example. Marketers needed something to offset those costs but also create another revenue stream for themselves. The affiliate channel delivered on both needs. So, marketers came for the savings and they stayed for the results. Our platform saw some of the best performance over the last few years in 2020. If you’re interested, we created an affiliate marketing sales index to track performance for marketers who were in need of some real guidance and insight.
Marketers grapple with the need to be omnipresent across the consumer journey, yet are faced with rising costs in their primary sales and marketing channels. Tell us more about it and about Partnerize’s role.
Marketers are faced with more challenges than ever. CPCs and CPMs are continually on the rise, creating an environment where it is increasingly expensive to be present, but they simply can’t afford not to be there. They are hamstrung and need a means to create necessary operating leverage to stay present in the destination where their target audiences are, but they also need the ability to subsidise the high costs of said channels. That operating leverage is created through scale, automation, and outcome-based pricing models, and no other channel, other than partnership, can offer that unique value. However, not all partnership providers are created equal. Legacy affiliate networks have failed to innovate and deliver on the promise of this category, through technology innovation and investment. Those that are leading the path forward see that the opportunity manifests through technology enhancements that directly address the historical pitfalls of this channel – partner supply and discovery, audience targeting and segmentation, workflow automation and dynamic optimisations, all powered by data through machine learning and AI.
How can marketers make the most of their partnerships?
Making the most of your partnerships boils down to two main factors: diversifying your partners mix and working with the right platform. Ensuring you have a rich, diversified mix of publisher partners gives your brand broad audience reach and relieves over-reliance on just a few partners, minimising unnecessary risk for your program. Curating a partner community that taps each of the primary verticals in the partner ecosystem for a diversified mix of traditional and transformational partnerships. When it comes to providers, legacy networks historically failed to automate manual workflows, creating inefficiencies further exacerbating marketers’ hesitancy to the channel. Partnerize automates manual and tedious tasks—including partner discovery—so marketers can spend time on what matters most and what they do best: satisfying their customers.
Which emerging technologies like AI and big data will impact the affiliate industry in 2021 and beyond?
It’s already happening but in the early stages. We will start to see further advancements in these areas to improve both the marketer and partner experience and in channel optimisation, from things like partner and brand discovery, pricing automations, and dynamic creative.
How do you manage relationships with multiple marketers?
No marketer is created equal and we value that uniqueness. This is evidenced by our service model that gives marketers choices in how they partner with us, an agency, or decide to handle execution themselves in-house.
Tell us a bit about yourself – after all, business is done with people, not just companies! Your hobbies, favourite book, favourite quote, whether you are into Gaming yourself, etc.
I keep very busy as a professional balancing time between work and family. While I believe in the quote ‘a failure to plan, is a plan to fail’, I can procrastinate, creating my own internal conflict.
Join us for the next SiGMA iGathering networking event in Barcelona on the 21st of September at 19:30. Indulge in a delish dinner at the El Restaurant Barceloneta while interacting with like-minded individuals as well as the region’s top industry leaders