In 2020, are regularly posting a lot of video and blog content on our website where we interact with our great clients and partners in the industry. Today, we’re excited to release our latest Q&A partner interview post with Michael Cole, VP of Marketing at Everflow!
Tell us a little about Everflow and your role with the company.
Everflow is a Partner Marketing Platform for managing all performance-driving partnerships: Affiliate, Influencer, Emailer, In-App, and Media Buying Channels. I’m the VP of Marketing at Everflow and lead the marketing initiatives from our side.
How long have you worked or partnered with OPTIZMO and what do you find most valuable about the partnership?
Our integration with OPTIZMO was completed way back in May 2017 and the relationship remains strong!
Our platform is used by brands, agencies, and ad networks for managing their performance relationships. If you’re working with third-party emailers, then you absolutely need a compliance solution in place; there is no question about this. I’d say being able to offer an integrated best-in-class solution for an essential need of our clients is a pretty valuable partnership.
Why is Email and/or SMS Marketing Compliance important to Everflow and your clients?
Email is considered the most important strategic channel to marketers and delivers an ROI of $42 dollars for every dollar spent on it (DMA, 2019). It’s an essential performance channel for our clients to track and manage. Once they’ve proven out the channel and their conversion funnels, the best way to scale up this success is to expand their reach further by managing affiliate emailers to reach out to their own lists on the client’s behalf. Email is heavily regulated, so adding these emailers requires having compliance in place before you can even consider starting.
For SMS Marketing, it’s a major up-and-coming channel for driving performance results. I’d say most of our clients aren’t doing this, but several of our savviest ad network clients have said that this has been the channel that has recently driven their best results. Few industries have as much regulation as email and texting, which further cements the need to start with compliance before you even consider testing them.
With Everflow’s background in Mobile Marketing, how have you seen the mobile channel impact Affiliate Marketing to date?
Traditionally, app marketing and digital marketing have been completely separate ecosystems with their own unique challenges. One of the most interesting parts of starting with a mobile focus and then evolving to address the needs of digital marketing is that we’ve been seeing our mobile clients similarly merging into the digital world. I talked a bit about this on OPTIZMO’s recorded interview during ASW20.
The early days of affiliate marketing were rife with media buying affiliates driving performance via Google Search and other ad buying channels. Eventually, nearly all of those affiliates dried up as the cost for buying ads grew more expensive, while consistently having their credit for delivered conversions poached by coupon website affiliates.
A new wave of media buyers grew massive by driving app-based performance. The in-app space is now highly competitive with fewer major advertiser dollars available, so now those media buyers are moving back into the affiliate space. It’s been a long time since affiliate marketing had a significant amount of media buyers, and these specialists brought their massive war chests from driving app revenues with them.
The competition involved with media buying in mobile has also created movement in the opposite direction. Direct brands are finding it harder to drive app performance through their own media buying, and have started focusing more and more on leveraging the effectiveness of email to drive installs and engagement. We’re seeing two separate ecosystems merge into each other, and this will open up massive opportunities for the performance driving specialists on both sides.
2020 has brought new challenges to all of us. What are some of the bigger challenges you have seen in the Affiliate and/or Email Marketing industry over the past few months?
Did something happen in 2020? (Pause for comedic / tear-filled timing)
Honestly, we’ve been in an incredibly blessed situation during the entire pandemic. We were already a remote company (outside of engineering), and we’ve seen no noticeable impact on our own business.
I got my start at an affiliate marketing agency back in the recession of 2008, and like with the current downturn, performance and affiliate channels prove to be the brightest channels during tough times. Pay-for-performance marketing is the last channel to be cut from budgets, and for affiliate marketers, they have less competition than normal as the major brands’ advertising budgets are slashed.
What are some of the big trends you are seeing in the Affiliate Marketing industry right now?
The most interesting for us is watching the massive consolidation of the affiliate marketing and tracking platform spaces. Between 2019 and 2020, we’ve seen the following major players acquired from this space: CAKE, TUNE, Pepperjam, and Refersion.
In all of these cases, the acquirer was either a Private Equity firm or had raised a large amount of money from Private Equity. Their interest makes sense; affiliate marketing is a massive cash flow generating industry, slated to drive $8.2B in affiliate driven sales for the US alone in 2022 (according to the Partnerize Press Release on acquiring Pepperjam).
It will be fascinating to see how the industry evolves next year, but there has definitely never been more outside money and interest flowing into the space than right now.
What do you expect from the Affiliate Marketing Industry through the rest of 2020?
It depends. Most of the affiliate marketing platforms haven’t really changed in the last decade, so probably not much for them. For our more innovative competitors and us, we’re all moving towards opening up the full value of partnerships. This starts with breaking down the artificial barriers between affiliates, influencers, emailers, strategic partners, and media buying.
One of the persistent problems with affiliate marketing has always been around attribution and who deserves credit for driving each sale. Affiliate managers for brands need to keep justifying the value of the affiliate channel vs. the paid media walled gardens like Facebook and Google that are managed by other teammates. When a user has touched multiple marketing channel points, which channel deserves credit for driving that sale? Paid media is often the default for getting all of the credit as it’s usually the most expensive channel, and therefore needs the internal justification from the brand’s stakeholders.
Partner Marketing Platforms need to be able to collect and consolidate data from every performance channel in a single location. This consolidation allows brands and agencies to truly compare their performance channels apples-to-apples to see which sources and placements are driving the best results and engagement. This requires platforms to offer the right tracking methods for addressing the needs of each channel, and the ability to break down the performance data across each channel.
What is on the horizon for Everflow in 2020?
Two of our features that I’m most excited about in 2020 are: ‘Email Attribution’ and our Facebook integration.
We released our ‘Email Attribution’ feature this month (July 2020) and I’m looking forward to how we polish and evolve this capability over the rest of 2020. What Email Attribution does is associate a partner to a customer’s email address when they convert on a purchase or subscription. Whenever another event happens with that email address (like the user pays their monthly subscription) we can automatically track it back to the partner and credit them for that additional event.
Email Attribution opens up a lot of doors for us to integrate with – and our clients to connect to – 3rd party products (like subscription solutions) that weren’t designed to handle the methodologies used for tracking performance results.
Our Facebook Integration is in beta, but it also supports our goals of bringing all of the disparate performance channels together. The integration app allows Everflow clients to push their conversion and event data from Everflow into Facebook. This allows our clients to collect all of their performance data in Everflow, push that data into Facebook for optimization, and create ad campaigns around that data. Rather than affiliate and media buying being competing silos inside of brands, they can instead utilize their data for better optimization and decisions on both sides.
Michael Cole Bio
Michael leads marketing efforts at Everflow as the VP of Marketing. Prior, he built up from scratch the mobile user acquisition division at Bold Screen and managed brand affiliate programs at the boutique agency RevUpNet. He is known for his love of corgis, but sadly not for actually owning any corgis.