As we have been for weeks now, all of us are of course thinking about those affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and we are doing our very best to maintain some semblance of normality in this time.
It seems in some ways the entire world has come to a standstill, but as we’ve reported, now is actually a good time to be deploying digital marketing strategies – and in particular, working with the affiliate channel. I recently covered the CPA method of spending that Advertise Purple utilizes and how it can be more effective for one’s budget during times of uncertainty.
I’ve been meaning to talk with Demand.io (formerly ZipfWorks) Senior Manager of Revenue Operations Jimmy Doheny for a while now. Of course, the circumstances are tough, but I am still glad that we were able to connect for an interview covering the ins and outs of one of our top affiliates that you should certainly know about if you aren’t aware of them already.
Consumers and brands can benefit greatly from working with Demand.io. Beyond just that, I’ll let him get into it below, but essentially while some industries and verticals are affected more than others right now because of widespread quarantining, there are also glimmers of hope surrounding digital sales opportunities.
Jimmy does touch on COVID-19 and its impact. In essence, there still is hope for our economy and particularly in the affiliate space right now.
Hope you enjoy it!
1. Can you tell me a little bit about your background?
I’ve been working in the affiliate industry since graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison 7+ years ago. I got my start in business development at Pricegrabber & Connexity, two of the original price comparison engines and CPC networks. I established partnerships with content publishers, helping them monetize their shopping content using our various tools. After a few years, I wanted to join a startup and discovered Demand.io (formerly ZipfWorks).
I joined the team in 2017 and haven’t looked back! At Demand.io, we all juggle a bunch of responsibilities, but I mainly focus on our monetization and operations.
2. What’s the Demand.io origin story?
Demand.io was started in 2009 by our founder & CEO Michael Quoc. Michael previously led Yahoo’s internal innovation team, launching new products through rapid prototyping and development. He brought the same mindset when founding Demand.io, to create and scale digital products that help consumers find and acquire the things they’ll love.
Demand.io started with a small content site that grew into a vibrant writing community, eventually evolving into Knoji, a shopping knowledge-sharing community with millions of users. Over the years we’ve created other related websites and apps, all in the name of innovating in ecommerce and enabling new ways to shop.
3. Please describe the apps within Demand.io.
While we have a few projects in beta, the two apps we’re currently focused on are Knoji and Dealspotr. Knoji is a consumer information site where shoppers discover new brands, compare merchants & products, and find reviews. Users share feedback about a brand or product, such as the strength of Google Wifi’s coverage area, helping other shoppers make the right purchase decision. With a free account, brands can interact with the community and update their information.
We built Dealspotr because we were sick of fake and expired promo codes. As a shopper, it’s so frustrating to waste time searching for codes that aren’t likely to work. Dealspotr is powered by a community of shoppers, brands, and influencers who help us not only find new codes, but also check thousands of codes every day. This helps us maintain the most accurate database of promo codes for shoppers.
Shoppers get the most up-to-date deals for their favorite brands in a personalized feed and daily newsletter. Brands can join to promote exclusive codes to over 1.5M shoppers, in addition to partnering with influencers on branded campaigns.
4. How do you make things easier for customers in the e-commerce space?
Our sites are built to help consumers along their shopping path, from discovery to purchase. With new brands popping up every day, it can be overwhelming as a shopper. Knoji helps shoppers in the discovery phase, when they’re researching a product or brand but aren’t quite sure which to choose. Using Knoji, they can compare thousands of related brands and products to easily make the right choice.
5. How do you think influencer marketing and performance-based marketing will change in the future?
We’ve been working with influencers for nearly 3 years through our Influencer Marketplace on Dealspotr. It’s a free platform where influencers create branded content and get compensated through free product and/or a small fee. While the platform does not have a performance aspect, we have seen a shift in the industry towards performance-based influencer partnerships.
We’ve noticed that there is a bit of a disconnect between influencer and brand expectations when it comes to compensation. Brands want to see performance and pay little upfront, as many have been burned in the past by high influencer fees with low returns. Influencers, on the other hand, spend time and resources creating branded content, so they often need some form of upfront payment.
We believe the best way to align expectations is through a hybrid model. If brands pay a small upfront fee (or provide free product) and pair it with an affiliate program, influencers will be encouraged to continue creating content and promoting the brand over time. With the right partnerships, influencers convert really well. On our network, we’ve seen influencers drive an overall conversion rate of 31.69%.
6. How is it working alongside Advertise Purple?
I’ve loved working with Advertise Purple the past few years. As a publisher working with thousands of advertisers, Advertise Purple’s organized and efficient approach to affiliate marketing has made my job so much easier. The brand managers regularly share new opportunities, helping us grow our existing partnerships. Where we’ve seen the most growth is by working closely with the strategic team, namely RJ & Ginny. Whenever there is a new brand in the Advertise Purple network, they get us set up quickly and start each partnership on the right foot.
7. Can’t not ask this… how are you managing during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) spread?
It’s definitely a unique time in the affiliate space during the COVID-19 spread. With basically all non-essential physical businesses closing around the world, consumers are turning to ecommerce in different ways. Among the uncertainty of the virus, we’ve seen some brands pause their affiliate program while many others are growing. Certain categories like travel have basically frozen, for obvious reasons. But categories like grocery delivery and digital products have grown considerably. As we’ve seen shopper behaviors evolve, we’ve been creating content tailored to consumers’ new interests and priorities.
8. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about digital marketing in general?
I’d say the most important lesson I’ve learned is the power of partnerships in achieving long-term growth. Many of our largest brand partners started with just a few sales a month. As we worked closer with these partners over time, through content and exclusive promo code collaborations, they’ve grown to become some our our top revenue generating partners.
9. What’s been the hardest thing about building Demand.io?
Over the past 10 years, the ecommerce industry has evolved so much in how brands operate and sell and how consumers shop. As a publisher, the main challenge is to stay ahead of trends and adapt how we serve shoppers, brands, and influencers.
10. Conversely, what’s been the easiest part about working to build Demand.io?
We’re a lean team, which definitely has its challenges, but it also allows us to do things much quicker. If we see a new trend emerging in the industry, we’re able to quickly ideate and create a prototype. A few years ago, we saw how quickly influencer marketing was growing, but our brand partners struggled to efficiently work with influencers. One day during our daily standup meeting, we decided to create a platform to help ecommerce brands run influencer campaigns. We launched the Influencer Marketplace about a month later and, since launching, we have helped nearly 1,200 brands run successful influencer campaigns.
11. What’s next for Demand.io?
2020 is a year of growth for Demand.io. Over the past 6 months, we’ve seen a ton of growth on Knoji as more consumers are seeking factual, transparent information about brands and products. Our focus is to grow the community of reviewers, encouraging more shoppers to share their feedback, growing the Knoji knowledge-base.
In addition to growing our existing sites, we will be launching a new influencer platform this year. The platform will help brands create long-term, performance-focused partnerships with influencers across platforms like Instagram, Youtube, and TikTok.
Thank you, Jimmy, for your time and coordinating this interview. We look forward to continuing partnering with Demand.io and together, helping brands shine – even in trying times.