Firstly, we hope you and the team are keeping well. How are things over at Acceleration Partners?
Helen Southgate: It was great for the team to win the “Best Team in Performance Marketing” at the PMAs, that came at a good time after a challenging few months for everyone personally and professionally. Generally, we are good, it has been a testing time, but I feel lucky to be in an industry where although there are challenges, there are also many opportunities.
The last few weeks has seen the performance marketing industry shift and adapt in response to the COVID-19. What are your thoughts on the industry’s response during this period?
HS: The affiliate channel is unique in its ability to be flexible and adapt quickly to market changes. Brands have been able to rely on the affiliate channel to support them in these difficult times, either by pausing, reducing or increasing traffic based on certain products, services and sectors.
With the channel continuing to adapt, having a more versatile and diverse affiliate programme is essential now, more than ever before.
How can a diverse affiliate programme mitigate some of the common risks associated within the affiliate channel?
HS: Whatever business you are in, it’s risky to be reliant on income from just a handful of revenue streams. It is good business practice to spread your risk across multiple revenue sources, and it’s no different for affiliate marketing. Spreading your revenue across a large number of partners, and types of partners, ensures that you are protected against any downsides.
Particularly during this time, many affiliates and partners have adapted to the pandemic while supporting clients at the same time. What sort of strategies have you seen that stood out for you?
HS: One most noticeable change has been the adoption of new products and services or focus on products and services where demand has changed significantly. Take face masks for example, some of our clients started selling facemasks and our partners adapted to sell them quickly to their customer base.
Remote working has been a big emphasis in the last few months which has changed the dynamic of how some businesses and their teams’ function.
As an already entirely remote-working company, how do you think others have adapted to working from home and do you see this now as an essential requirement for employers and staff?
HS: COVID-19 has led to a fundamental change in how people work. Now many companies think like us – that a flexible working environment is better for many people and gets the best out of people. Most companies going forward will likely offer flexible working arrangements, where employees can choose how they work.
Let’s talk about Acceleration Partners. How has your business adapted to the pandemic and what sort of strategies have you implemented to support your clients to grow their non-traditional partnerships?
HS: Our stance from the beginning was always that we were all in this together and we wanted to support our clients and partners the best we could, whilst at the same time ensuring the security of our own business and employees. This, in some cases, led to allowing clients to pause their activity with us. For others, it meant adding additional resources, and in other cases changing our terms to adapt to the new situation. Flexibly, empathy and teamwork has been key.
With things returning to normality, what sort of opportunities and expectations can we expect in the coming months for the performance marketing industry?
HS: Q4 can be make or break time for a lot of brands, particularly in retail and travel, this year it may well be do or die. Brands will be focused on capitalising from increased levels of consumer confidence either looking to make up lost ground or continue to ride the online wave. The concern will be that further lockdowns may affect offline trading, so focus on online will be more important than ever.
Lastly, are there any updates from Acceleration Partners we should keep an eye out for?
HS: We’re adding some new people to the team over the coming months to support us in our expansion across EMEA, and in partner development. We’re growing our business out in Germany and expect to make some positive moves there into 2021.