Meet Robert Glazer, author of the bestseller, Elevate: Push Beyond Your Limits and Unlock Success in Yourself and Others. Robert writes on performance marketing, entrepreneurship, company culture, capacity building, and related topics. His ideas reach a huge audience (100K is a conservative estimate) and have a huge impact on how brands and organizations can excel in the face of competition.
Hi Robert, we are very excited to have you with us. Let’s start with a traditional question: please tell us about yourself?
Robert Glazer: I’m the founder and CEO of Acceleration Partners, a global partner marketing agency. We’re a completely distributed company, so we don’t have a headquarters, but I live in the Boston area, where I grew up originally as well. Beyond the business, I am the author of two books, Elevate which came out in October and was named a WSJ and USA Today bestseller and Performance Partnerships, which is one of the premier books on partner marketing and affiliate industry. Personally, I’m married with three kids and love skiing, cycling and traveling with family.
What are three things performance marketers should do to get impressive results?
Robert Glazer: First, it’s key to build performance marketing around mutually beneficial partnerships. It’s important to partner with publishers that share the brand’s values and are committed to win-win partnerships, rather than focusing only on what they can get out of the relationship.
Second, all marketing partnerships depend on trust, transparency and consistent communication. Be upfront with brands and publishers about exactly what you will provide and follow through on that. Don’t overpromise and under-deliver. If you have an unexpected issue, don’t try to cover up the shortcoming—be clear about what went wrong and what you’ll do to fix it.
Third, use a variety of partners to reach as many possible audiences. Part of what’s great about working with publishers is, they have built-in credibility with a group of potential customers. Rather than relying on a large brand to build a connection with various demographics, a properly structured partner marketing program can connect a brand to several cultivated audiences.
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Publishers and retailers are concerned about attribution now. Multiple players contribute to a single sale. In your opinion, what would be the most transparent way of allocating commission against such a sale?
Robert Glazer: This is an area where technology is important, as are business model considerations. For example, attribution is likely to be very different for a daily deal site with impulse purchases, as opposed to a site with a long purchasing cycle and extensive personalization. There is also a lot of politics involved, as no one wants to give up a piece of the pie. I think we have all the technology we need today, what’s really needed is more internal leadership to use the data to make the right decisions based on customer intent.
In your book, Performance Partnerships, you mentioned, “real relationship” that has become a big challenge. In your opinion, how publishers can best tackle it?
Robert Glazer: A challenge the industry has faced in the past is that many brands’ viewpoint of affiliate marketing is negative, either based on their own experience or what they’ve heard from others. In the early days of affiliate marketing, it was common for publishers to hide their tactics, make empty promises and offer little in the form of transparency or accountability; the whole industry was opaque for all involved parties. There was no effort to build a real relationship.
Trust is crucial today—to succeed in partner marketing, publishers need to establish a trusting relationship with brands, and vice-versa. A great way to do this is by focusing on outcomes, rather than inputs, and by communicating clearly about what results they’ll deliver. Publishers can earn brands’ trust by being open about their tactics and supporting the brand’s overall positioning, rather than being overly transaction-focused.
Which training modules/ courses, you will suggest to Affiliate Managers for 2020?
Robert Glazer: Unfortunately there’s a general lack of resources and training courses available on the partner marketing industry. In fact, one of our goals at AP has been to improve the quality of information from affiliate managers and publishers. We offer guides and ebooks about the industry for free, our Affiliate Marketing 101 resource provides a lot of information as well, and Performance Partnerships digs into the history, current operations, and future of the industry as a whole.
All of us are very fond of your weekly Friday Forward Newsletter. How did you come up with the idea?
Robert Glazer: Friday Forward started after I completed a leadership training program several years ago and decided I wanted to create a morning routine around meditation, journaling and reading positive stories. I found many of the traditional inspirational readings were a little too rainbows and unicorns for me and I wished there were resources that were more challenging and thought-provoking. I started to write weekly notes in that style to my team at AP, which was around 40 people at the time.
While I thought those messages would be skimmed, or even ignored, to my surprise people told me they looked forward to the notes each week and forwarded them to friends and family. I decided to open it to the public and see what kind of impact it would make. Today, it’s read by over 100,000 people in over 60 countries worldwide each week.
The resources spent by Publishers on outreach campaigns do not correlate with the results. What are your suggestions for reaching the desired results?
Robert Glazer: Brands and publishers can work together to improve their outreach by collaborating to ensure publishers are sharing the most up to date information and offerings about a brand and that they have the right data. Staying current, offering new products to an audience and making customers believe they are getting special access to something valuable are a good way to keep affiliate programs current and growing.
As affiliate programs expand globally, Publishers find it difficult to find out the fraudulent practices by Retailers. According to you, what key points publishers should focus upon?
Robert Glazer: This is actually a good note for both sides of a marketing partnership—fraudulent or unethical practices do happen from both parties. A good starting point is to have clear alignment on terms, conditions and goals when entering into a partnership with a brand. Publishers should know what’s expected of them as part of an affiliate program—if a retailer is either unclear about their expectations or unwilling to pin down the exact terms of the partnership, that’s a warning about a potentially hazardous relationship.
What is the future of coupon sites in affiliate marketing? Would coupon marketing remain relevant or they need to reinvent themselves?
Robert Glazer: Like most facets of partner marketing, publishers need to prove that they actually drive income for brands in order to be effective. Extending this to coupon sites, it isn’t enough to just share expired or made up coupons and expect to get a commission. Instead, coupon sites need to be responsible for driving incremental demand and converting into sales for those companies in order to stay viable. The best sites have been making these changes.
What would be your advice to bloggers around content distribution strategies and how they can route quality and targeted traffic to the blog?
Robert Glazer: This is another instance where knowing your audience and having goals about who you want to reach as a publisher are key. If you cater to a smaller audience with a specific passion—say, a site that makes recommendations about camping equipment—then the key is to keep your content focused on what that audience wants. If you do good work creating content that appeals to a specific audience, they will find you eventually.
For publishers who are trying to reach a much broader audience, that is more difficult. But there are strategies you can use to expand your reach. SEO is key here—bloggers can write headlines that are more likely to grab potential readers and use SEO keywords that match popular search topics. Another way is to write about notable events or topical people and find a way to tie those topics organically to their content. There’s a difference between creating clickbait and offering a thoughtful, original take on a topic that is dominating the news cycle—doing the latter is a good way to catch traffic from a popular issue.
In your view, what are the key essentials of affiliate program creatives?
Robert Glazer: The creative content of an affiliate program is less crucial than having proven credibility with an audience that a brand wants to reach. How to build that credibility depends on the publisher and the brands they are partnering with. Some publishers excel by using a highly personal approach that makes them seem authentic and relatable to a valuable audience. Others do it by establishing themselves as a trustworthy expert on a category of products. What matters in these varied cases is identifying your audience and consistently appealing to that crowd as a trustworthy, informative source. The creatives should support the strategy.
How can Retailers create high-performing sales funnels? What about email lists? Are the two related?
Robert Glazer: This is another good example of where partner marketing can move people through the sales funnel without the brand needing to invest additional resources beyond a commission to a partner. An email list is more of a starting point—what a good affiliate program can do is provide touchpoints to keep a brand’s products or services in front of customers, moving buyers from awareness to considering buying, to actually making a purchase.
In your opinion, how Merchants can best capitalize upon affiliate marketing events and conferences?
Robert Glazer: As a starting point, it helps to have a clear idea in mind of what audiences you’re trying to reach with your affiliate program, and what exactly you need from a partnership. If you know what you’re looking for going into a conference, you can spend all your time connecting with people who can help you reach the goals you’re pursuing.
From there, just as is the case for publishers, relationship building is really key. Don’t just try to gauge what affiliates can do for you, be clear about what you need from potential partners, why your brand is a good one for publishers to remote, and how you will help make the relationship as mutually beneficial as possible. This will build a good foundation for a future partnership.
Industry conferences such as PI Live and Affiliate Summit can be a great opportunity, but I would suggest you go to those conferences with meetings arranged in advance. That is where most of the business gets done.
Let’s step away from work, you like to ski. What are your favorite ski runs? Our audience would love to see you skiing, so do share pictures with us? (high resolution picture required)
Robert Glazer: Though we’re based on the East Coast and do plenty of skiing in the Northeast, one of my absolute favorites is actually out West: Jordanelle at Deer Valley. It’s a steep, groomed run and the views of the Jordanelle Reservoir are amazing.
Our readers would like to see how your workspace looks like?
Who would you recommend we interview next in our affiliate marketing expert series?
Robert Glazer: I highly recommend AP’s Managing Director of EMEA and APAC, Helen Southgate. Helen is one of the leading experts in the affiliate industry and can speak in more depth about the nuances of affiliate marketing in those regions and how they differ from the US.
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Usman is a Digital Marketer at Cloudways- A Managed Cloud Hosting Platform, where he looks after affiliate partnerships and helps digital nomads in generating passive income. He is a foodie by heart, who loves to explore new eateries around his vicinity.