Affiliate Summit West in Las Vegas, one of the biggest annual events in our industry, has come and gone for 2020. Clearly this was the most heavily attended (~6,000+ attendees!) with more hot button topics bubbling up than ever before. As always, it was incredible to see so much passion, intellect, camaraderie, and collaboration on display within our industry.
I’ve been attending ASW since about 2005, and this year, I was downright awestruck by these five observations.
1. CLEARLY Not a Sidebar Anymore
Holly Brim, Marketing Director at Partnerize, moderated a panel called “The Good, The Bad, And The Loyal: Strategies For Customer Acquisition In Ecommerce.” She asked her panelists, who came from a variety of retailers, how the perception of partnership at their companies has changed with the great performance that they drive. The general consensus was that there was no longer a hill to climb with respect to convincing leadership of the value and efficacy of affiliate/partnership and that partnership was generally not just accepted but embraced. Partnership and affiliate now sit as mainstream components of marketing plans and part of a broader consumer experience.
2. 21 and Over
In prior years, when you asked people what percentage of their total business they were getting from the partnership and affiliate channels, the number was often in the in 15-19% range. It was impressive this year to hear many people talking about partnership driving over 20% of sales for their brand.
3. Coal Miner's Daughters (and Sons)
I spoke with a lot of marketers about their affiliate and partnership programs and the amount of detail each knew about performance was, as always, remarkable. People could effortlessly detail how their programs were performing against secondary KPIs such as the ability to customer acquisition or gross margin. Which brings me to the “coal miner” analogy. As always, partnerships people are right there at the coal face, demonstrating the depth and breadth of knowledge about their programs, and actively seeking out new recruitment and commissioning strategies to ensure full alignment with the needs of their businesses. The true gift of affiliate and partner marketers is that combination of strategy and outstanding execution.
4. Partnership, Like Marriage, Takes Work
Continuing on the theme of growth, it’s becoming more and more clear that collaboration – especially with the biggest partners – has become a major focus. Brands are seeing the value in d really fostering those individual partner relationships through communication, creativity, and transparency. It’s all about the recognition that sometimes the best way to grow is to go deep with the people that are already driving business for you!
5. Money, Money, Money, Money
Point of fact: our industry is showcasing its outstanding business value to more and more people. This is evidenced by the big number of financial people attending the event this year. Finance goes where the money is. CFOs were in the house. Companies that had invested in new channels were looking for ideas on how to leverage the partnership space to disrupt new industries and tackle specific their marketing challenges. And after all, it should be like that. After house emails, partnership is frequently the highest ROI and ROAS channel companies have. And that matters to the finance team of leading brands just as much as it does to the folks at the coal face.
ASW is yet another indication that technology and innovation are propelling partnership into a new era of prominence. Buckle in, 2020 is shaping up to be an exciting year for partnership.