Unlocking the Secrets of Affiliate Marketing: An Interview with Ann Hand

Unlocking the Secrets of Affiliate Marketing: An Interview with Ann Hand

Welcome to Marketer Interview, your go-to source for insights from industry experts!

Today, we have the pleasure of interviewing Ann Hand, a dedicated Affiliate Marketing Consultant with a passion for helping both large and small brands succeed in affiliate marketing.

With a knack for juggling family life and a thriving career, Ann brings a unique perspective to the table. Her journey is sure to inspire and educate aspiring marketers.

Let’s explore the affiliate marketing world and learn from Ann’s wealth of experience.

Can you share your journey into the marketing world and what inspired your interest in affiliate marketing specifically?

After graduating from college, I was uncertain about which direction to take in marketing. I tried out a couple of administrative marketing roles in the architecture and engineering industries, but deep down, I knew it wasn’t the right fit for me.

It wasn’t until I turned 28 that I stumbled upon a social media position at a local company. The company ran a coupon and deal website, focusing on affiliate marketing to earn revenue. The concept immediately caught my attention since, like most people, I enjoy saving money and shopping online.

As an Affiliate Marketing Consultant, what key strategies do you employ to drive success for your clients?

I’ve understood that success is subjective, varying from client to client. For some brands, the emphasis lies in attracting more affiliate partners, while others prioritize key performance indicators and the bottom line.

Overall, my goal is to develop strategies that help clients create value through their partnerships, bring in new customers, and increase sales. It is a continuous journey of testing, optimizing, and discovering what works best for a brand.

Managing affiliate programs can be complex. Could you walk us through your approach, from program creation to optimization?

If a brand is launching a new program, they want to ensure they are partnered with an effective tracking system to measure key performance indicators. Establishing accurate tracking is the basis for all subsequent optimization efforts. Some well-known companies that offer this are Impact, CJ, and Rakuten Advertising.

Once this step is taken, the foundation of the affiliate program can take life. That can range from program terms, commission rates, creative assets, etc. You can then recruit new affiliates and build relationships with existing ones. To keep both parties motivated, I always look for good promotions or incentives to encourage more sales and reward the affiliates accordingly.

Once we have a diversified mix of affiliates, I monitor their performance closely and adjust commission rates to ensure they are performing to their best ability. Additionally, I work with them directly to identify any areas that could be improved upon, such as better promoting our products or services within their audience. Finally, I also keep an eye out for any new opportunities that could benefit both my clients and the affiliates.

This is a continuous process that requires hard work and dedication, but it pays off in the end. By forming strong relationships with affiliates, you can ensure continued success and use their networks to reach more potential customers.

What unique challenges do you face when working with large and small brands, and how do you tailor your strategies accordingly?

When working with large brands, I often deal with longer approval times and stricter guidelines, which can be challenging.

For small brands, the issue is usually limited budgets. Regardless of the size of the brand, my approach is to ensure I am providing a clear ROI that fits with their goals and be agile enough to pivot when necessary.

Affiliate marketing is constantly evolving. How do you stay up-to-date with industry trends, and what resources or communities do you rely on?

Affiliate marketing blends into so many different marketing channels. In my opinion, it’s vital to understand those areas. For example, the rise of influencer platforms adapting the affiliate performance model is huge. Back in the day, a “content creator” in affiliate was just a blogger, but that has evolved into social influencers, Amazon creators, YouTube storefronts, and beyond.

I love keeping up with newsletters and content updates from FMTC and Martech Records. Affiliate networks often share amazing benchmark data too. Lastly, it’s important to stay active in Slack groups and have real conversations with friends in the industry. Trust me, there’s always some juicy tea to spill!

Balancing a career in affiliate marketing with family life can be challenging. What are your top tips for achieving this balance effectively?

I wish I had the perfect answer for this. The reality that many working parents face is that there is no balance. Certain weeks will align more closely with your family’s needs, while others will lean in favor of work-related tasks.

The positive to working in affiliate or digital marketing, in general, is that many of us are remote. So we have the flexibility in place to pick up our kids from school or run an errand during the day if need be.

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Could you share a standout success story from your career in affiliate marketing, highlighting the impact it had on a brand?

Back then, I had the incredible opportunity to manage the affiliate program for a major department store. While online sales were soaring, in-store revenue remained vital amidst a decline in foot traffic.

So, in collaboration with RetailMeNot, we launched exclusive omni coupon codes. These promotions could be redeemed online and in-store, giving deal-savvy shoppers the best of both worlds. It was a massive hit! We saw our in-store affiliate revenue skyrocketing to eight-figure sums, all the while achieving a remarkable $24 return on ad spend (ROAS).

In the realm of freelancing, what advice do you have for individuals looking to carve a niche in affiliate marketing as independent consultants?

I think if you have real affiliate management experience and understand the landscape as a whole, you’d transition well into freelancing.

I’ve also learned your connections and relationships are more important than ever. Reach out to them. Let them know what you can do and how you can help. The power of referrals is amazing.

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Are there specific tools or software that are indispensable to your role as an Affiliate Marketing Consultant?

I depend on my client’s software to excel at my job. This year, I’ve dedicated a significant amount of time to Shopify and Impact (affiliate software).

Additionally, I love leveraging Google’s suite of products and Slack for seamless collaboration. LinkedIn has been my go-to for networking and staying updated on industry insights.

Recently, I ventured into using Ahrefs for affiliate recruitment, and I’m genuinely impressed with its capabilities! While it may come with a higher price tag, I firmly believe it’s a worthwhile investment.

Affiliate marketing is often associated with e-commerce, but have you ventured into other industries, and what did you learn from these experiences?

Yes, search engine optimization. I took a course this year on the foundations of it, and loved it. Many websites that rank well on Google use affiliate marketing as a revenue stream. It motivated me to build my site and start writing content with those SEO best practices in mind.

Despite everyone saying SEO is dead with the rise of AI, I still think there is a way to succeed with organic search – you just need to know what you’re doing.

Lastly, what’s on the horizon for Ann Hand in the field of affiliate marketing, and do you have any exciting projects or goals to share with our audience?

While I still serve smaller direct-to-consumer (DTC) growth clients, I enjoy working on my website. I have a deep passion for creating and sharing valuable content on affiliate marketing.

My ultimate goal is to increase my website traffic and enlighten women, especially moms, about the benefits of affiliate marketing. I have noticed that many women seek family-friendly jobs or side hustles, and affiliate marketing can be a perfect fit for them.

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