Owen Hancock, Marketing Director, EMEA, for Impact, recently met up with Clare Grist, Head of Client Services at affiliate management agency, SYYCO. Below they talk about recent changes in the partnerships space and how technology is helping to turbocharge growth for SMEs across a range of sectors…

OH: For you, what’s changed most in terms of partnership marketing in the past decade since SYYCO was founded, Clare?

CG: To me there are three big things that have changed the most in the past decade. Firstly, the type of partnerships that we can now track. This has given us a greater understanding of the value of these partners which in turn has allowed us to reward more effectively. 

Secondly, the amount of data available to us. There has been a huge shift in the granularity of the data and the accessible formats have allowed us to analyse clients programmes in more depth and apply changes. 

Finally, In terms of partnerships, clients come to us when they are seeking increased sophistication in their programmes – they have access to all this data and they need us to help interpret and build out a strategy to optimise their programmes. 

As you know, we’ve been working with Impact Partnership Cloud for about three years now. Originally, it was for a fixed term, 12-month contract. There has been a big uplift in interest from clients in technologies like Impact’s partnership management platform and we will be working with it more and more in the future. 

OH: What do you find most useful about Impact’s technology?

CG: Automation is always great – it frees up time, allowing us to focus on the most important stuff. The granularity of the reporting is also incredibly useful. It’s game-changing to be able to pay publishers different amounts, for instance, according to the value they add. Mediarails, in particular, is a great asset for many client programmes. Amongst a whole host of great features, it’s a superb recruitment tool – perfect for identifying and onboarding new influencer and content partners.

OH: What’s most valuable about Impact’s partnerships platform, for you?

CG: Again it’s the data we have access to and how easy it is to pull and apply, enabling us to add value for our clients. Impact’s technology, and the level of detail you can glean from the Partnership Cloud, adds to and complements our consultative approach. More and more SME clients are expressing interest in Impact’s solution. Impact’s flexibility and excellent technical support go far beyond what we’ve come to expect from most affiliate networks, especially for our SME clients.

OH: What’s a focus for you currently?

CG: For our clients the focus is very much on diversifying the publisher mix and building new partnerships so we understand where and how they fit into the path to conversion. 

Increasingly, there are sophisticated tools to measure efforts in the partnerships space. With influencer marketing, for instance, we’ve found it helps to look at measurement over time. An influencer might re-share content some six to 12 months later for example and, in this way, the value can be greater than it may first appear.

For us as an agency, we are focussed on growing our client base (and our team to support that). We partner with Affluent for reporting – a recent acquisition by Impact, as you may know. We’re pleased that Affluent also does competitor analysis – enabling comparisons, and benchmarking which helps us grow our business more strategically. 

Whilst English-speaking markets are our core, we work internationally and take care to be authentic, to service those clients with locally relevant offerings given that some clients’ programmes are truly global. This is also something Impact can help with.

OH: How was business affected by the pandemic?

CG: Our business has seen some significant changes off the back of the pandemic. We’ve seen the highs and the lows – losing and winning, staff and clients. 

We’ve found that partnerships have exploded over the last 18 months to two years. As a marketing channel, it’s really grown. It was kept alive during the pandemic for many clients, as it’s an effective performance channel. We’ve seen many retailers want direct sales now, too. In a way, the pandemic and the associated move to online has opened a whole new market.

OH: How has the past year or two affected the way your team works?

SYYCO has always been a remote business – not just in 2021; we were doing this ten years ago! The pandemic hasn’t affected our setup. Our team all have 10-15 years of experience and the flexibility SYYCO offers enables them to have a great  work life balance which has allowed us to attract industry experts. We have a lean, efficient, highly flexible model and a really authentic offering.

Over the last two years we have had to quickly adapt to our clients ever changing needs – many of which were in the travel sector so we are still addressing the challenges now.

We continue to diversify our client mix and have found that SMEs have appreciated the focus on growth that we’re able to deliver.

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