Digital marketing agency Single Grain drives clients’ sales through channels like Facebook advertising, Google AdWords, YouTube advertising, SEO, and more, all under the leadership of its chairman Eric Siu. In addition to his work with the agency, Eric is a serial entrepreneur, investor, and host of two podcasts: Marketing School with Neil Patel and Leveling Up, where he shares tips and tricks to ace the affiliate marketing world.
The all-rounder is here to share his insights with us!
Cloudways: Great to have you in our Cloudways Interview Series, Eric! So how did you begin your Serial Entrepreneur journey?
Eric: Hi, I started my entrepreneurial journey when I was 24 years old. I was working at a company, then I bought an eCommerce company to sell magic products. That business failed but failure made me more resilient while giving me an understanding of the business world.
I kept going and initiated an IT training website but that also didn’t work out. I was trying to figure out every new opportunity or initiative that popped in under the sun but the failures gave me a better exposure to the loopholes of the tactics I followed. Then, at the age of 25, I launched a marketing agency and dedicated myself to creating a full-blown consultancy.
Unfortunately, I got fired from my job when they got to know that I am starting something on my own as a side hustle. From that point on, I never turned back and paved my way towards learning SEO paid media, email, and every aspect of online marketing. I dived into the pool of digital marketing with an intent to come back with a successful fully-grown revenue model. I got some gigs that paid me 30 grand a month, which was the first stepping stone in my entrepreneurial career. Eventually, I got the opportunity to lead marketing in an educational startup.
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Cloudways: What’s the story behind Singlegrain and ClickFlow? How did they come into emergence?
Eric: Eight months into the journey of heading a startup, I had an opportunity to come and help to save an SEO agency which was a sinking ship back then. I identified the reason behind the failure as the use of obsolete tactics and marketing strategies that failed to give optimal results. By understanding the setback, I started revamping the overall vision of that agency with aligned directional sales, marketing, and operations to generate revenue most efficiently. That company is now called Single Grain and I had the opportunity of taking it over. I bought it out of pocket at $2 and started self-financing the rest.
Initially, I pretty much made the company go from bad to worst, with the worst turnover. We were left with only one employee. With the setbacks and bad experiences, I realized a company’s success depends on its culture and people. No matter how much you excel as a marketer, it really doesn’t if you are unable to make it people-centric. Team-building provides the most efficient results at the end of the day and can be considered a building block to success. Eventually, my whole bet with the company was to turn it around, take the cash flows, and invest in others as a venture capitalist, more towards an exponential source of revenue. That has always been the thesis.
ClickFlow, the content intelligence software that enhances your SEO traffic, came into place as I came from the SAAS industry. I believe SAAS is the doorway to income generation because it is a source of exponential income. ClickFlow was the idea I sent to the email list we had. Most of them were interested in ClickFlow. Let me share a few details with you about the startup globe. In the industry of startups, it takes 3 to 4 years to build a startup that could provide a break-even, and then it is sold out depending upon its potential. The same phenomenon happened with ClickFlow as it took 3 years to turn around and now we have an entire organization, LevelingUp, that helps gamify your life for success. Through that, we buy other businesses that have the potential to strive and thrive.
Cloudways: How did the idea of getting into affiliate marketing and affiliate program management come to you? Also, can you tell us about your podcast Marketing School with Neil Patel? Our affiliates would love to know how they can benefit from its insights!
Eric: Affiliate marketing has significant importance. Some of the leading agencies I know are categorically focused on affiliate marketing only. One of my friend’s affiliate marketing agencies generates $500 million in revenue on an annual basis with over 330+ employees.
Affiliate marketing is the most efficient business as they are operating on performance. The affiliates have to stand out in the market while bringing out-of-the-box ideas that could grab attention and bring the best results. As an affiliate, you are associated with your partner company for promoting their products. Our ClickFlow also has its affiliate program
Affiliate marketing is the most efficient business as they are operating on performance. The affiliates have to stand out in the market while bringing out-of-the-box ideas that could grab attention and bring the best results.
Cloudways: In episode #652 of your Marketing School Podcast with Neil, you discussed the guidelines of being a successful affiliate and performance marketer. Could you share some highlights of it with our affiliates?
Eric: Marketing School is my daily podcast with Neil Patel with approximately 50 million downloads. It’s a daily podcast in which we discuss trends and changes for five to ten minutes. That’s how Neil and I get to talk about different ideas and we catch up to explore the unexplored and unidentified spaces or blue oceans that we could take a step forward in. So, it is a mechanism for us to learn and to articulate our thoughts.
If you are an affiliate marketer, you think about building an audience. So, with Marketing School, we can do affiliate marketing all day but instead, we promote our own products, ultimately, we get better margins that way.
Cloudways: What are the dos and don’ts of being an affiliate? What mistakes impact the credibility of an affiliate that they should refrain from doing?
I always tell affiliates that if you don’t have your own product or you don’t know how to brand or promotional tactics for it, you can take a step forward and become an affiliate of any company, and then you can eventually create your own product. So, Cloudways would be a good example to promote managed hosting, as you get to learn promotional tactics through their affiliate managers which helps you stay updated about the digital marketing world
To become a successful affiliate performance marketer, you must know your customer (KYC) and the platform you use for promotion. Have a sense of humility and have a sense of long-term vision for a specified product or service.
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Cloudways: Considering the market competition, how can an aspiring affiliate marketer get started in this industry “before” having a large audience? What is the go-to Affiliate Marketing Model for 10x success?
Eric: Marketers who don’t have any audience can easily get started thinking about how they can leverage the partnerships and associations. Let’s say you don’t have any money, you will partner up with them and say, “Hey if you promote this thing, I will give 10 dollars for it.” Since you would be earning 30 dollars, you will be giving 33% profit to the guy who knows how to get the sale and you will also understand the tactics by observing him.
It’s all about relationship building with your stakeholders and once you earn money, you can start using paid channels like PPC, AdSense, and AdWords.
Let me share the step by step procedure:
Step 1: You start partnerships and have agreements.
Step 2: You learn from them and acquire money.
Step 3: You use tactics and a/b test via paid channels to get the best results.
Step 4: You start building your audience and keep looping the process until you get the success you want.
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Cloudways: You said in one of your podcasts that it’s really important to have an affiliate manager to accelerate your revenue stream. Could you share why you said that and why affiliate managers are important for aspiring affiliates?
Eric: Affiliate managers know the lay of the land. They know how to manage the affiliates and how to get the best results out of them with the latest trends and insights. They know how to provide the right resources based on the sales funnel the affiliate is on, and they know which resources are used for your audience.
A directional approach is pretty much needed to move forward as an affiliate and Cloudways affiliate managers are a pro at it. For example, if we don’t give your sales team the attention they deserve, or your dev-ops or design team does not get the assets they require, then the whole mechanism would just fall apart. The same goes for the affiliates if they think that the affiliate manager’s assistance isn’t required to get the best result. So, you can’t just say, “it’s selling to get things”. Signing up for an affiliate program doesn’t mean you are done; it means you just started and stepped into this industry.
Cloudways: So, we would be asking some rapid-fire questions from you to understand your perspective of life, happiness, and success
Here we go!
- Your Motto in Life: Just keep leveling up. Getting $1 better every single day is what it’s all about. That’s the entire game and I enjoy the game as it goes
- Your Favorite Book: The Hard Thing About The Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
- Source of Motivation: Reading and learning. As long as I am getting ideas from anywhere, it could be a book or documentary or a casual conversation. Learning is my source of motivation. Honestly speaking, Twitter gives me a window into a lot of smart people’s minds
- Ideal vacation spot: Anywhere there is water. I typically enjoy spending time at Four Seasons, Miami.
Cloudways: What do you enjoy doing when you’re away from work?
Eric: Work is a game for me. The feeling of waking up every day and doing something different that I need to work on makes me excited every time. For example, I can work on buying a company. I enjoy working on content creation but apart from that, I enjoy traveling. Meeting with amazing people and having a great conversation about what kind of impact we all can have on each other, with our ideas, plans, and innovations cheers me up.
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Cloudways: Eric, thank you for taking the time out for us. Before we go, who would you recommend that we should interview next?
Eric: Neil Patel
The social links of Eric Siu are given below:
Faiza Ismail is a Digital Marketer and handles affiliate partnerships at Cloudways - A Managed Cloud Hosting Platform. She has an extensive history of working in various facets of Digital Marketing, Community Management, and Corporate Communication. She loves to play chess. Get in touch with her at [email protected]