Affiliate Marketing & Leadgen Lessons from Affiverse’s Lee-Ann Johnstone

5 minutes read
5 minutes read

Building a media empire is no small feat, especially within the dynamic landscape of affiliate marketing, but it’s one of the many remarkable accomplishments that reflect the storied career of Lee-Ann Johnstone.

As the Founder of Affiverse — an award-winning performance and affiliate marketing agency and media outlet — Johnstone is the driving force behind the agency’s mission to help publishers, suppliers, networks, agencies, and affiliate programme marketers connect and grow their businesses.

Affiverse helps people in the affiliate marketing ecosystem learn how to excel through agency services, content marketing, events, and training programmes.

However, Johnstone’s path to becoming a trailblazer in the affiliate marketing industry wasn’t an overnight success. She earned the distinction with over two decades of digital marketing and affiliate marketing experience within the e-commerce, retail, fintech, and iGaming industries.

Johnstone joined Phonexa CMO Talar Malakian on the latest episode of the Amplify webinar series to provide invaluable insights and practical advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and marketing professionals.

Let’s dive into the key takeaways and insights from the enlightening conversation.

Watch the webinar here.

Supporting and Empowering Affiliate Managers

Johnstone started the conversation by sharing her experience starting an agency and media company to help advertisers, affiliates, and networks improve their affiliate marketing.

“Very early on, I realised that people wanted the knowledge or for us to do the [work] for them, but that wasn’t ever really our focus,” said Johnstone. “So the agency is there for me to be in the weeds, actually understand what’s changing, and have that interface with publishers working in multiple industries.”

Affiverse’s mission is to help affiliate managers become more efficient in their roles. Johnstone clarified that although affiliate management has always been either a sales or customer support job, it’s actually skill-based since most affiliate managers work with different channels and platforms, and they have to know how to engage with their partners and support them in order to deliver great results and drive growth.

“With the advent of better data and better technology, affiliate management has become a very skillful role, and many C-level execs don’t understand that yet,” said Johnstone. “They’re not supporting affiliate account managers, so we see a lot of burnout and brain drain … all of that has fed that fast-fuelling growth we’ve had at Affiverse because we’re pretty much a one-stop place where people can get practical advice.”

The Future of Lead Generation and Affiliate Marketing

The conversation then shifted to a discussion on the future of lead generation and affiliate marketing, particularly as marketers prepare for cookie deprecation and the ensuing changes to tracking that will follow in the next three to five years.

Johnstone warns smaller advertisers that they will fall behind the competition when cookies are finally phased out and those traffic sources disappear.

“They’re going to need to learn very quickly how to do lead generation for themselves or work with lead generators who buy and sell leads,” said Johnstone.

To prepare, independent advertisers and smaller B2B brands must learn how to change their marketing when all of this occurs. Johnstone explained that while lead generation and performance management typically sit on opposite ends, they now need to collide as the marketing landscape changes.

“A lot of performance managers who haven’t had to work with lead generators are not going to understand how to incorporate that into their business,” said Johnstone.

Johnstone shared that one of the goals of Elevate, Affiverse’s virtual summit, is to help performance managers navigate the transition to life without third-party cookies.

“What we do at Elevate is bring people together to talk about the changes that are on the horizon, their impact, and how they can prepare for them,” said Johnstone.

Prepare for third-party cookie deprecation by tuning into our Amplify webinar, How Performance Marketers Can Thrive in the Post-Cookie Landscape, featuring Michael Jeter, Director for Google Cloud Enterprise.

Preparing for New Consent-capturing Requirements

Another key element of the convergence of lead generation and performance management revolves around new consent-capturing requirements that is being enforced by the FCC.

“We need to educate people on best practises before this comes into play because otherwise, we’re going to have another GDPR fiasco where everybody has a deadline to get up to date,” said Johnstone.

“When we look at the demand based on the changes in the market, you [address] that through transparency, visibility, authentication, validation, and compliance,” said Malakian. “All of those things are going to be really important because there’s going to be a surge in demand in that area but done differently than before.”

Evaluating the Types of Partners in Your Affiliate Mix

Johnstone also shared tips on how to evaluate and audit an affiliate programme when you’re looking to bolster your partner mix. It all depends on what industry you’re in.

“Certain industries are reliant on certain types of partners simply because of the way they’re regulated and how they can or can’t promote,” said Johnstone. “What you want to remember is the customer funnel … the start of the customer awareness journey is getting longer before they actually purchase.”

Johnstone emphasised the importance of reaching your customers by knowing where they are.

“If you’re not [reaching them] with your direct-to-consumer advertising channels, then that’s where you leverage your performance partners to come in and fill the gaps,” said Johnstone. “You need to have a good understanding of where your customers are coming from and where they’re bouncing off to, and then you can match that back to the types of partners you want in your programme.”

Why Continuous Learning Breeds Success

Continuous learning is essential for keeping pace with the latest trends.

“Because this industry moves so fast – from the Wild West era to the regulatory era to the future trends era – it became apparent to me that there is no one place where people can learn,” said Johnstone. “We have to gather pieces of information all over the place because performance works across multiple channels.”

Johnstone emphasises that today’s affiliate marketers must become a jack of all trades to ensure they’re up to speed with emerging developments. Regardless of their experience level, continuous learning is paramount for all marketers.

“I don’t believe anyone can be an expert in marketing since we’re constantly changing and learning as our consumers change and the channels we work in change as well,” said Johnstone. “Look outside of your own industry and what’s happening across multiple verticals because all of those things impact what’s happening in yours.”

Johnstone warns that narrow-minded marketers risk making continuous learning more complex than necessary.

“I’m a big believer in not only telling people how to do things but showing them too,” said Johnstone.

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