Meet Zane McIntyre – One of Australia’s most experienced affiliate marketers and the CEO and Co-Founder of Commission Factory.
Zane and his co-founders started Commission Factory in 2011 after seeing a huge gap in the market for a simple, transparent and high-quality affiliate network in Australia.
At the time, the team were working as affiliates, so they had a lot of knowledge on what the market was missing and where the gaps were. They were uniquely positioned to start designing and programming a network of their own from the ground up, using lessons from their time as affiliates.
Zane believes that a successful marketing strategy in any business starts with the end in mind.
‘What do you want to achieve?’ he asks.
If it’s more sales, brand awareness or both then define these not only for yourself and the KPI’s you would like to achieve, but also for the affiliate network representative too, as sharing these expectations will ensure clear, focused and effective efforts all around.
Zane thinks that Performance marketing agencies like Gallantway are a rare breed because you’re putting your money where your mouth is. This is not something you will find, with most agencies who have a goal of simply spending the marketing budget as quickly as possible. Whilst they obviously have to get some level of returns there is a lot left to chance, market conditions and what cannot be tracked.
We wanted to find out more about Zane and Commission Factory, so let’s get into the interview.
Hi Zane, can you tell us who you are and what you are doing?
I’m the CEO of Commission Factory. Even though for a number of years myself and my co-founders were all on the same executive level there was a need to designate a CEO. After all, there can only be one captain of a ship, right?
Commission Factory is a performance marketing network. We act as a middleman between online retailers and publishers such as bloggers and social media influencers.
We connect the two and Advertisers (online retailers) pay those Publishers a percentage of all sales they generate. This is the performance aspect and what makes it beneficial to Advertisers is the fact we’re an “after sales marketing channel”. You’re not paying for clicks or impressions with the hope of increasing sales, you only pay when those conversions happen.
That’s pretty powerful. Can you tell us a little about your strategy?
We survey our members regularly to ask what “they want”.
This removes our market assumptions and releasing features that are not necessarily going to be used.
So our strategy is to continue on with the improvement of our UI and UX as it has been our biggest USP and also with tiering our levels of service with self-managed accounts and fully managed accounts.
The challenge we find with this is that those that are self-managed may still require a good amount of our time to get started so it’s about finding a balance between offering that support when needed before having to cut them off as they start to stray into the area of fully managed.
We want to help everyone to be successful and this can be our own internal challenge and conflict about how much we hold their hand.
Can you tell us about some of your challenges?
Where we have failed in the past was more to do with staffing the business correctly. In the beginning, we would hire people because we needed the help and we did this without ever determining the sort of return we should get from each new hire and what that role is adding to the business.
So we started becoming too top heavy, hiring without consideration of returns and simply burning time and money when those resources could have been better spent on continually developing and building on what we’re good at.
We have since changed our MO in this department and have an amazing team and great culture.
What does the future of performance networks like yours look like?
Performance networks such as ours will be around for a long time to come, especially as more and more companies want tangible returns on their marketing dollars and not just employing algorithms to market for them, but real people and real influencers.
Because our model is “after sales” more and more marketers are turning to us to bring more channels or disciplines into the fray by combining their paid search, cart abandonment etc as part of performance marketing.
“Networks should not be the company that also manages your attribution as it seems a conflict of interest.”
We are here to advise only in this area but attribution should be maintained by an unbiased third party.
Digital marketing continues to change, can you tell us what is needed to keep pace?
I can see from the latest news of ad tech fraud going on in the industry that as a whole, transparency is desperately needed but education too for marketing managers to determine ROI or ROAS.
Without being able to see or calculate what returns you’re getting how can you possibly know if your marketing dollars are being spent wisely?
For us, we have always felt that performance marketing is an obvious choice here because there’s no shotgun effect with your marketing. It’s measurable and it’s trackable and not just about getting eyes on the page but real, tangible sales and conversions.
For you, what elements does a successful digital marketing strategy have?
We have found great success with our clients who are open-minded enough to try new things and engage with their affiliates in a meaningful way, not treating the channel and the affiliates as second class citizens but as an extension of your sales team.
By working together on campaigns we have seen ourselves make up anywhere up to 25% of an online retailer’s total sales by working on strategies that are win/win for the retailers and the affiliate. Automation or autopilot in the affiliate industry doesn’t work. It needs engagement because the marketing behind your campaign is not being done by an algorithm but real people
Can you give us your opinion on Performance Marketing agencies like Gallantway?
Performance marketing agencies like Gallantway are a rare breed.
By aligning your marketing with the goals of a business you will gain a more mutually beneficial relationship that is long lasting and built on trust. When performance is the main driving force behind a campaign you’re both putting some skin in the game. There is, of course, an opportunity that this can be exploited in a way that serves your own purpose but because of the nature of performance marketing, transparency can negate this.
Do you have any advice for marketing teams?
Have your goals in mind first and understand what your CPA’s are. It’s amazing how often a marketing manager is not able to cite how much it costs them to acquire a new customer or retain one.
Doing this first ensures that every channel you adopt you can determine whether it aligns with those goals or not and can quickly cut it off the moment the CPA’s are too high or find ways to better the ROAS.
Thanks for your time Zane. If you would like to hear more from Zane and the team at Commission Factory you can follow their blog or drop them a line. You can also contact the team at Gallantway to learn more about performance marketing and how we can help your company.