From Ted Baker and UGG to ghd and Apple, multi-website online retailer The Hut Group sells a huge variety of well-known brands.

With three e-commerce divisions of lifestyle, prestige and consumer, and 15 individually branded websites across multiple product categories to manage, we decided to take a closer look at what impact performance marketing is having on the rapidly-expanding business.

We caught up with the head of affiliates and partnerships for The Hut Group, Lucinda Lamb, and affiliate and partnerships manager, Clare Potts, to discuss the importance of performance marketing and maintaining long tail relationships.

Q: How does performance marketing fit into your marketing mix?

LL: As an entirely online company, performance marketing is an integral part of our marketing mix and we have seen huge growth across our portfolio of sites since the launch of the programmes. Performance marketing is a key channel for us and one in which we have invested for all our sites and new site launches.

Q: How have the results compared to other digital channels?

CP: The Hut Group is still experiencing a huge upward growth period so the majority of channels are seeing great year-on-year results. With an extra focus on performance marketing in-house and within Affiliate Window, this year we have managed to achieve some of the best results to date and aim to increase this even further. With a keen focus on new customer acquisition the exposure and new reach performance marketing can bring us is crucial for us.

Q: What work goes into ensuring there is the same brand trust as traditional marketing?

LL: We work with publishers to understand their needs, their demands and their demographics. We therefore create bespoke solutions for key partners and ensure the end customer has a great experience with us. We monitor data meticulously to identify and understand any problems or feedback and encourage an open dialogue with publishers and customers.

Q: How important is it to the company to have healthy long tail relationships and what steps have you taken to ensure this happens?

CP: Again we treat each long tail publisher differently, ensuring that we’re working with them in a way that will achieve the best results for both of us. With targeted communications and bespoke offers, we work to ensure we’re working with the publishers in the most effective way. We appreciate the value long tail publishers can bring by offering insight into their audience and understanding of the market as they see it. We love a direct feedback loop and often the passion long tail publishers have for their area of focus.

Q: How have you changed your approach to long tail publishers since entering the performance marketing space? Are you making an extra to focus on long tail? How?

LL: We look to see the opportunity in every affiliate and tailor our approach for each one, there is a huge focus on relationship building and we love getting to know each affiliate as well as what works for them and understanding what doesn’t and why.

Recruitment has been a big focus this year and this will continue going forward, again this is tailored to each potential affiliate to increase the likelihood of them accepting the invitation. We have also created user friendly guides to the affiliate programme to send to first time publishers; they have been received really well by new publishers and have sped up the process greatly. We have seen a lot of first time publishers as performance marketing becomes accessible to all those with traffic to monetise and it has been an exciting time in the industry as new publishers bring new ideas and new technologies.

We also place huge importance on us all working really closely as a team. We have a dedicated in-house team that we believe sets us apart and we are always making introductions and suggesting publishers that may perform well on other programmes and highlighting areas that could be improved, with the sheer amount of products we promote, there’s always potential!

Q: Are other companies missing a trick if they do not focus more on the long tail game? Why?

CP: For all the reasons above, we believe long tail publishers have great potential for growth and it’s vital to work closely with these budding programmes to help cultivate them to achieve future success and reduce the risk of reliance of any key publishers alone, especially as we as a group continue to diversify and enter new markets and territories. The perfect mixture we are striving for is to have all levels of publishers contributing to site sales, from super publishers to content rich blogs.