Exclusive Interview with Lee-Ann Johnstone just ahead of this year’s AffiliateFEST
We had the opportunity to catch up with Lee-Ann Johnstone who took time from her busy schedule to answer our questions on a wide range of topics related to affiliate marketing. Lee-Ann is the co-founder of Affiliate Insider and has been in the affiliate marketing industry for over two decades.
In the interview she talks about her career, the growth of Affiliate Insider and what is in store in the upcoming affiliate conference AffiliateFEST. She advises affiliate marketers to “invest in your skills development” and describes how to go about it.
While she admits that she has “no crystal ball that can predict the future”, she is quite confident that “commercial acumen and personal touch” will remain the secret of success in this industry even amidst the advent of artificial intelligence, machine learning, smart analytics and all that.
Over to Lee-Ann now.
GAV: Let’s start with a few words about yourself. Our audience love to hear top-class professionals saying a few words about themselves.
Lee-Ann: I like long walks on the beach and sunsets? … Just kidding, I’ve been in the iGaming space for almost two decades and seen a lot of affiliates build businesses which is incredibly difficult to do alone. Having spent a lot of time building affiliate programmes and relationships I saw the gap to break out of the corporate world and make a difference helping others to grow their businesses with mentoring support, which isn’t readily available in the affiliate sector. This is why I’ve built Affiliate Insider – a company that can help support best practice, strategic growth, and skills development for affiliates and operators alike. I’m passionate about this Chanel and about what we do and I think it shows in the quality of the services we deliver to our clients, sponsors and delegates alike.
GAV: How did you choose affiliate marketing as a career? Is it deliberate or is there an interesting story behind that. About 20 years ago, it might not have been a popular choice.
Lee-Ann: It wasn’t a conscious choice back then as it was still an industry evolving. I learned everything I know today – on the job (as digital marketing was being created still, I was learning it as we went along) I just really loved it! I moved into online from a traditional offline marketing background and had a in depth online media buying background before moving over to affiliate relationship management and I guess it was the people aspect I loved the most. Finding ways to meet the end goal and revenue objective innovatively is what spurred me on to specialise in this channel and here we are almost two decades later and I’m still learning so much each day.
GAV: It’s been under 6 months since affiliateinsider.com was launched. The website offers all-round coverage of the affiliate industry. Is the growth so far in anticipated lines?
Lee-Ann: As we are still a new brand to market our growth rate has been well above expectations and this is due to the fact that our content team know this industry inside out, we live, breathe and consume everything about the affiliate marketing sector in the iGaming space each day. We manage clients affiliate programme, we create content that supports affiliate growth and we teach others the skills our team has amassed over two decades of being in the iGaming sector. Through this FREE for all knowledge share Affiliate Insider has built a solid reputation in a very short time as a thought leader and developer of best practice, strategies that impact revenue growth and events that deliver a depth of content found nowhere else. The combination of mentoring, training, content lead events and insight is what makes this business invaluable to the industry both affiliate and operator facing. Suppliers need to engage with our site too as it is here that they will engage new business leads for the products and services they deliver in this market place. We have a steady and loyal repeat readership growing on the site and in our newsletters who spend time on the site, and take time to read the content we are delivering which is offered with no paywall restrictions.
GAV: What about AffiliateFEST? What is special in this year’s event on September 19th? Who will benefit from attending the event?
Lee-Ann: All our Affiliate Bootcamps are special – but AffiliateFEST really is about helping affiliates growth hack their marketing and digital activities on site to increase their revenue. Today we just announced the Keynote for September’s event who is trailblazing influencer marketing as a new digital medium : Ben Jeffries (CEO of Influencer along with YouTube sensation Caspar Lee). This is the kind of content we focus on bringing to affiliates and operators in order to share the latest tangible insights and marketing techniques. This really is the core of what this conferences offer. Digital Marketing Insights that help affiliates get ahead of digital disruption within the iGaming industry offering them a competitive advantage to implement strategies and tactics to really row their revenue.
Each Bootcamp we run is unique and has a very specific subject or vertical focus – for example we have the Affiliate Insider America Track coming in April 2019 at Betting On sports America, and an exclusive African Business Retreat for those affiliates who want to expand their business and localise into the African Market as well as have a but of a retreat in South Africa alongside to take time out from working in their business to work ON it.
GAV: You have been in this industry for two decades. What’s your advice to people who are starting out on the affiliate industry? What does it take to become successful in the industry?
Lee-Ann: It’s a lot of hard work. You learn every day and you need to keep your knowledge base fresh. I consume an incredible amount of media around the subject of affiliate marketing, I also write a lot about it too from my own experiences which helps to upskill others. It takes determination and grit to be a good affiliate manager, as the skills set required to be a real good one is vast. My advise to anyone coming in to the industry is to invest in your skills development by finding experts you can learn from. This generally means finding people who have hands on experience for a few years longer than you in doing the job successfully.
There is no accredited School of Affiliate Marketing for the iGaming space. Therefore we have created The Affiliate Insider Training academy which offers a range of training options for both corporates and individuals to gain access to expert lead affiliate marketing strategies and for affiliates – a source of iGaming business mentoring that can help them advance their skills and work with like minded individuals to knowledge share and grow revenue in the affiliate space. Everything we do is about offering a high end in depth service with tactical content that can be implemented in any iGaming business for success.
GAV: Final question now. Could you provide your take on the evolution of affiliate marketing industry over the years? We have been hearing a lot about machine learning and all that. Will there be a time when robots take over affiliate marketing scene?
Lee-Ann: I think we are in for a big evolution in terms of how the affiliate model sits within the digital marketing mix. As one of the largest and most cost effective drivers of traffic the channel continues to evolve year on year and grow. AI is a big part of the reason why this is happening as we get smarter analytics and more regulated the opportunity for innovation continues to expand in this channel as well. The entire ecosystem will need to overhaul the value chain and how relationships interact in the affiliate model. We could see a move to differential pricing from traditional CPA and Revenue Share or Hybrid models based on tracking omni channels more accurately. There is no crystal ball that can predict the future but I can say that relationships will always require a commercial acumen and personal touch to really succeed and this is what we excel at delivering at Affiliate Insider as well.
Thanks for your time Lee-Ann, we really appreciate it, and all the best for the AffiliateFEST!!!