March 26, 2020

Affiliate Spotlight: A Conversation With Marni Gusman, Director of Partnerships at Honey

Greetings, wonderful people! Hope you are all staying safe and staying home right now, making the most of a situation none of us could have predicted.

A new segment we at Advertise Purple have decided to put together over the course of the next few months is our newly coined ‘Affiliate Spotlight’. 

Recently, we published a list of some of our top affiliates to look out for in the new year. We received an overwhelmingly positive response and thought it might make sense to continue in the same vein with deeper dives into additional top affiliate partners.

We’ll be taking affiliates that stand out to us as some of the best and most utilized within our network, telling their story and giving them the opportunity to advocate for themselves in a way that feels personal and direct from the horse’s mouth so to speak.

I’ve asked Senior Partnerships Manager R.J. Kashare to help me in hand-selecting affiliates and serving them to you in a cadence we haven’t yet nailed down, but it should be done with some consistency. Hope you’ll stay tuned as we keep these conversations coming for you.

So, let’s begin!

We thought it made perfect sense to start by tapping Honey, a prominent and illustrious player in the affiliate space, recently acquired by PayPal for a whopping $4 billion a few months ago in a major move by the global payments firm in further developing its e-commerce strategy.

I was able to ask Director of Partnerships, Marni Gusman, a few questions about her background in affiliate marketing, her time at Honey, the firm itself, and plans for the future. 

So, let’s dive right in.

Please tell me a little bit about yourself.

I have been working in the affiliate industry for 10+ years and love what I do! I first got my start in the affiliate industry when I worked for an electronics accessories startup based in Santa Barbara, CA. There, I oversaw all of the digital marketing channels including email, search, and affiliate. Prior to joining Honey in September 2018, I spent six years at CJ Affiliate working on the client side of business managing a variety of verticals such as fashion and financial services. My work on each the Client, Network, and now Publisher side of the industry has provided me with a great amount of experience and perspective in the digital marketing space. I love building new relationships and learning about what is important to each of my clients.

Outside of work, you can find me playing volleyball, drinking a lot of Matcha, attending spin classes or talking about the latest vegan restaurant or zero-waste grocery store to pop up in NYC.

How did you end up at Honey?

Honey was on my radar since it was founded in 2012! My good friend Stephanie Crim, whom I worked with at CJ Affiliate, was one of Honey’s first employees. I had been keeping up with the goings-on of the company and watching her spearhead partnerships from the start. I remained super impressed with the Honey Team’s ability to come up with out-of-the-box products to save people money and their user-first philosophy, so when the opportunity presented itself, I knew I had to jump on it! Honey is where I wanted to be. 

What are some common misconceptions about Honey that you often find yourself addressing?

I think the biggest misconception is that we sell customer data, or do other shady things with it. In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. We work with affiliate agencies like Advertise Purple and earn commissions from merchants on sales that we facilitate. We don’t want to — or need to, do anything with customer data that doesn’t benefit the customer directly. 

How do you go about adding value for your partners?

Over the past few years, we have expanded our platform to reach additional users throughout their shopping journeys. From search and discovery on (16M visits a month), to increased AOV and conversion rates with codes and Honey Gold via the extension, and finally to re-engagement with features like Droplist, Honey is leading the space with a personalized end-to-end shopping experience.

Honey has an affiliate relationship with 13,000+ partners and we have a commitment to our 17M+ million members to convey the value of brands wherever they shop, while also providing our partners with opportunities to reach them. Some ways we work with our partners to reach our growing user base are through brand exposure, personalized targeting, codes/offers, our loyalty component, mobile app, and supporting an overall positive user experience. 

What’s changed since the PayPal acquisition?

The dust is still settling from the acquisition, so for merchants and for members, it’s still been business as usual. Behind the scenes, we’ve been working to leverage PayPal’s resources to expand our capabilities. Ultimately we’ll be able to take the tools we’ve built to the next level and create even more exciting and rewarding shopping experiences for members – with more merchants and payment options to choose from.

How do you see the affiliate space changing or developing in the near or distant future?

Before the acquisition of Honey, affiliate marketing spend was ~$6B in 2019. Now in 2020 we’re comfortably projected above $11B. That pales in comparison to e-commerce 2020 projections ($668B) or even Digital Ads ($233B). Considering affiliate is one of the 4 largest sources of e-commerce orders (and we outperform display & social) we must find a way to evolve our industry in order to foster greater channel investment. 

At Honey, we are big proponents of moving the market forward. Performance marketing can be a powerful multi-touch marketing channel that prioritizes user privacy, publisher innovation, and merchant levers. Performance marketing & multi-touch attribution should reward publishers of all types and bring innovation and new tech into our industry. 

To achieve this, we need everyone in the industry to band together towards these goals to make this vision a reality.

Collectively, we have the opportunity to redefine the scope of what affiliate means and reset the trajectory of the industry for decades to come, which is a very exciting position to be in.

What’s some advice you have for merchants looking to grow their brand?

Partner with Honey of course! There is opportunity to expose your brand to the 16M unique visitors who are searching and discovering brands on our site monthly! Specifically, some great ways to get started with us are to formulate a coupon strategy based on your goals (ie. increase AOV, new customers, increase CR). Secondly, I would recommend activating Honey Gold. The majority of our partners leverage Honey Gold to increase sales. Partners with Honey Gold activated see an increase in overall performance. Those are two quick levers you can pull. We have various additional products that we can leverage: Honey Mobile App, Honey Search, Droplist, Smart Coupons to name a few. Each brand gets a dedicated account team, so we would be happy to chat with anyone on ways to leverage our platform to grow their brand.

Can you talk a little bit about your expansion and growing as a major brand in today’s society?

We currently operate in over 20 countries globally and are actively working to expand into a global brand.

How do you think Honey fits into the landscape of Silicon Beach, being based in LA?

We’re extremely proud of our LA roots and we’re big fans of the unique, entrepreneurial culture that exists in LA. There’s a lower capital cost here than in other high-tech hubs, yet you’re in a world-class city with access to top talent and premier universities: all key ingredients for growing a successful business. 

For all of these reasons and more, Honey has grown into not only one of the most successful tech companies in LA history, but one of the city’s fastest-growing companies, period. Like LA-born tech companies before us, we’re choosing to stay firmly planted in LA, and contribute to the city’s growing tech ecosystem. In fact, we’ve doubled down on our commitment to the city of Los Angeles with the recent opening of our new HQ in the LA Arts District. 

How do you plan to further educate those not familiar with affiliate marketing about its benefits?

Our strategy is two fold. We continue to build products that make using Honey a better way to buy for our users. Honey’s large and diverse user base is hard for any merchant to ignore. We continue to focus on new user acquisition and have rolled out a robust marketing campaign via various channels including TV, Social and Podcasts. You may have also seen our work with the Clippers and Kawhi Leonard. Our audience, coupled with the fact that affiliate is the most cost efficient channel, puts us in a great position to acquire new partners that might not have previously had an affiliate channel or thought they needed one. We also attend a lot of industry conferences and participate as speakers at various marketing events, such as eTail, NRF, ShopTalk, Women in Retail and more!

What goals do you have for 2020? Are you looking to strike while the iron is hot or play for the long term?

In 2020, we’ll be combining PayPal’s assets and reach with our patented technology to simplify and personalize shopping experiences for consumers, while driving conversion and increasing consumer engagement and sales for merchants. With PayPal’s 300M users globally and a network of 24M merchants across more than 200 markets, their backing will accelerate our growth and what we can offer both merchants and consumers around the globe. 

How has it been working with Advertise Purple?

We love working with Advertise Purple! They truly believe in Honey’s vision to help people save time and money when shopping online and it makes working with them seamless and fun! Our constant communication and thorough on-boarding system have allowed us to more than double our active partnerships in the last year. Advertise Purple is a wonderful partner, and we look forward to continuing to grow our relationship even further in 2020!

How does Honey put the consumer first while also providing the best possible offering for the brands you partner with?

Doing right by our members is at the heart of everything we do – from the tools we build, to how we protect their privacy and data. Our ultimate goal is to help Honey users save time and money and our members know this. They trust us to either help them find a deal or reassure them that the deal they’re getting is fair. 

It’s in the best interest of our members that we partner with the brands they love, and provide tools and features that help them purchase the things they want and need from our partners, at prices they can feel good about. On the merchant side, this means everything we offer is designed with conversion in mind and enables you to meet consumers wherever they already are.

Part of what makes Honey so great is that we’re able to develop mutually beneficial deals and cash back values that benefit both merchants and consumers. 

So, clearly, that was a great start to this segment. Stay tuned for more from us on our top affiliates and the wonderful things they’re all up to this year. We’re happy to have great partners, and Honey is surely at the top of that list. 

We look forward to working with them into the future and hopefully collaborating to provide additional revenue opportunities for brands like yours! Best of luck out there.


Are you getting started in affiliate marketing or looking to improve your current program?

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