Affiliate Spotlight: Q+A with Wickfire’s Chelseah Murphy on Resiliency of the Affiliate Channel

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At Advertise Purple, we have many partnerships with great digital marketing experts across the country and even the globe.

More recently, we’ve highlighted our relationships with a few of those different like minded partners. Today, with Wickfire, we plan to serve up a direct conversation with one of our partners we feel is truly impactful and necessary to have by our side, especially right now.

With a familiar company culture and a lot of experience in the space, we’re happy to be working closely with Wickfire and continuing to do so for years to come.

That said, I was able to ask a few questions to Chelseah Murphy, the Business Development Manager representing Wickfire who’s in charge of working closely with Advertise Purple.

I asked her a bit about Wickfire, COVID-19 (how could I not?), her awesome experience working with AdPurp, the future of affiliate marketing, and much, much more.

We’re so grateful to be in an industry that is thriving, even amongst worldwide chaos. Brands are actually doubling down on affiliate strategies, at the moment.

Read on to learn why!

Q: What’s the Wickfire origin story? How did it all begin?

A:  Wickfire’s two founders, Chet Hall and Jon Brown, were responsible for technology development at an online marketing platform focused on advertising to consumers in local markets. They saw the scale and growth that was possible through search marketing, but wanted to work with larger, e-commerce-focused businesses. After the prior company went public, they founded Wickfire to build new and better search marketing technology and leverage that technology to better help consumers with their online purchase decision-making.

Q: How long have you been at Wickfire? What about the affiliate space initially attracted you?

A: I have been working at Wickfire for a little over two years. I started on the SEM Team building, maintaining, and optimizing campaigns. About a year into my role, I joined the Business Development Team and was able to combine my SEM knowledge with previous client-facing experience.

This is actually my first job in the world of affiliate marketing! I used to work in Media Planning for luxury automotive clients. I was interested in moving into affiliate marketing because of how direct the ROAS is. We are able to directly tie our efforts to sales.

Q: The elephant in the room is COVID-19. How has it impacted business and also personally how are you managing?

A: Since we only work with eCommerce clients, we have not seen as large of a negative impact from COVID-19. With brick and mortar stores closing on and off, we have seen increases in search volume and sales.

At Wickfire we have always worked remotely so there wasn’t any change there. The biggest change has been finding ways to fill our weekends – we have quite the laundry list of projects around our house and our Friday nights now consist of Zoom game nights with friends.

Q: Please explain what it is about the affiliate industry that you think makes it easier to weather a big storm like that.

A: For our clients, we are safer than many other marketing channels because we only get paid on sales/leads. As mentioned before, we only work with eCommerce clients (or the eCommerce portion of their business), so we have not been as negatively impacted by stay-at-home orders or brick and mortar stores closing. Especially with TheCoupon.Co, we have seen great performance because consumers have tighter budgets right now and are looking for a deal.

Q: Are there any trends or verticals in particular that your team has seen perform well, even in this chaotic time period?

A: In the beginning wine, beer, and spirits! We have also seen notable increases in meal delivery, mattresses, emergency food kits and workout equipment. Overall, the majority of our clients have seen increases since March.

Q: What is the next big initiative for Wickfire? Maybe after the dust settles with COVID-19 but even possibly before then?

A: We are rolling out e-blast placements this quarter (Q3) on both TheCoupon.Co and BuyersGuide.org. For TheCoupon.Co specifically we have over one million email subscribers and are able to target consumers based on where they signed up on our site, whether it was the homepage or a specific advertiser’s page. This allows us to segment our traffic and target consumers who signed up on a specific advertiser page, for a specific category, or even the advertiser’s competitors! There are also rumors of a blog coming to TheCoupon.Co this quarter – I will share the details as things are solidified!

Q: What are some misconceptions you hear about the affiliate marketing industry that you would like to clarify?

A: We definitely face a lot of reluctance in granting TM+ bidding rights. A lot of advertisers are very protective over their trademark name and we fully support that – definitely don’t let the entire world bid on your trademark! However, partnering with a trusted affiliate partner to bid on your TM+ terms has a number of positive results including:

  • Ensuring competitors aren’t showing up in the top paid search positions – stealing customers searching for your brand
  • Pushing down organically ranked coupon sites who might drive traffic to pages with flashy banner ads, invalid coupons, or competitor cross promotion because they have other revenue sources outside of CPAs for you/your client
  • We are only paid when consumers make a purchase or submit a lead, so we are motivated to have the highest conversion rates possible – which means optimized ads and landing pages, and competitive CPC budgets and bidding

Q: How has it been working with Advertise Purple?

A: AMAZING! I took over managing Advertise Purple in April of last year, and we have been able to grow this partnership beyond expectation. The Account Managers and I have a fantastic relationship with a consistent flow of new opportunities and growth for existing campaigns.

Q: What do you miss most about pre-Covid life?

A: I think we all took for granted the small joys of getting brunch with friends, going to the movies, traveling, the list goes on…

Q: You all have won some great awards over the years. Can you explain what those were and how much they mean to the firm?

A: We have been recognized as a finalist in the International Performance Marketing Awards for three consecutive years. Our first year, we were a finalist for Best Performance Marketing Technology, and in the past two years we’ve been recognized for Best Automation or AI and for Best Machine Learning and AI. Technology is our team’s passion and the core of our business, and it’s a great honor to be recognized for what we’ve accomplished.

We’ve also been recognized by many of our partners as being part of an elite group of publishers that are their top partners.  We’ve been a Google Premier Partner and Bing Select Partner for many years, as well as a CJ Performer and Rakuten Linkshare Platinum Publisher.

Q: What’s your day-to-day like at Wickfire?

A: I am lucky to say no two days look the same. I usually start my day fairly early because most of my team is either on Central or Eastern time, while I am in California. My day is full of emails, digging into campaign performance and optimization opportunities, putting together proposals, virtual coworking, and so much more!

Q: Where do you see affiliate marketing going in the near future? (Of course, it’s hard to see much further than a day at a time right now)

A: I think affiliate marketing is going to be more widespread and a larger portion of advertiser’s marketing budgets. Traditional media and even digital marketing are difficult to tie directly back to sales, while affiliate marketing’s success is based on sales driven.

Q: What advice would you give someone trying to start an affiliate program right now for their brand?

A: Advertise Purple does an amazing job of managing their clients and ensuring they are working with the top affiliate partners in the space. I would recommend reaching out to them and they will handle the rest!

Thanks so much Chelseah! We’re so happy to be partnered with Wickfire and are looking forward to continuing our work together for years to come.

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