Dylan Baxendale, Managing Director at TheMad4Company joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
By offering affiliate-related services, from website and landing page building, to all marketing channels including PPC, Social, Native, email, display, pay per call, Dylan Baxendale & TheMad4Company hope to grow and succeed in any market ranging from Gaming, Entertainment, Retail and Finance.
How did your affiliate business take off?
I have been working in the affiliate industry for 14 years this year. I have worked across multiple verticals and sectors over that time period and developed a great passion and love for affiliate marketing.
Along with that passion, the experience I gained is massive and I wanted to make this my life and help other individuals and companies succeed and understand the importance of affiliate and digital marketing overall. I approached a very close business colleague and friend who has the same passion and dedication as I have and we agreed to start TheMad4Company. We also work with other carefully selected partners and colleagues to be able to provide a full online service.
With all this and building long term relationships throughout the industry, we have launched successfully into the affiliate and digital marketing startup world and growing.
How did you first get into the affiliate space? And, are you looking to get into the Gaming space?
I started back in 2006 as an Affiliate Manager for a ticketing company called TicketSwitch. At the time, as with loads of people within the industry that I know, I did not have much knowledge of the affiliate industry. I loved the job and applied as I thought my managerial experience, social nature and love of a new challenge was more than suitable for the role.
And now, as they say, the rest is history, and 14 years on we work across multiple verticals/sectors and the gaming space is definitely an area we are looking at getting into. We have a good few years of Gaming experience and I have launched an affiliate program with a high-profile gaming company too.
How is your company structured, and what aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
We currently have two people within the company and a further shareholder. The expertise across the three of us allows us to cover many aspects of affiliate and digital marketing, mostly done in-house but we also work with very trusted partners that allow us to provide the very best service we can.
What can operators do to increase support with affiliates?
Affiliate marketing can still be seen as either an extension or an outside of any marketing channel. Affiliate marketing is and should be treated as part of the whole marketing process as it compliments and grows other areas of the marketing channel.
By listening to and understanding affiliate marketers, operators are enabling them to grow their marketing channel and overall revenues. Affiliate marketing has withstood the test of time and operators are understanding this more and more.
How can affiliates be more unique in their approach?
Affiliates can offer so much more than just the standard email or blogging services that used to be the mainstay of any affiliate marketing program. Affiliates need to be experienced in all traffic sources and ensure that they are able to complement each channel accordingly.
Are you contemplating bringing in investors to scale or grow your business? Or, with such a big M&A market, have you ever contemplated selling the business?
As we are a start-up, we currently have no intention in selling the business, although in reality that would not happen so early on. We are always on the lookout to improve and grow what we have, so investment is always an option to look at, and if the right opportunity comes along, yes, we would seriously consider the investment.
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate team/business?
Understanding the operator/client’s requirements is essential. Building a relationship that can carry both parties through the long term is essential to the success of any affiliate campaign. You can have all the experience in the world, but without listening and understanding the operator or client’s requirements, things can end in disaster.
Being able to offer all traffic sources is very important.
What sets you apart from other affiliates?
We offer all services, from website and landing page building, to all marketing channels including PPC, Social, Native, email, display, pay per call etc.
We have added our bits to the success of the industry and also learnt so much from others. In an industry that can often be very secretive, we have been open and worked with and shared our experience and knowledge with other affiliate marketers and work well together, ensuring success across the board.
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
Automation is very important these days, and you need to be able to ensure that you are spending your time on pushing out the best marketing campaign for the operator or client. Technology can assist you in achieving these results, so we ensure we work with the best technology to help us achieve this.
Which emerging technologies like AI and big data will impact the affiliate industry in 2020 and beyond?
Backend systems are advancing so much at the moment, and AI is probably the biggest contribution to that. As mentioned earlier, automation is really important and possibly the biggest asset to the affiliate industry at the moment, across all digital marketing.
Which markets are you eyeing up as a priority in 2020, and why?
Gaming, Entertainment, Retail and Finance markets. We have experience that covers all these areas, so have a wealth of knowledge and sources to fall back on to succeed in each of these markets.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when starting out?
The pure scale of the industry. I luckily started with a company that had market-leading technology in the ticketing industry, and I have always built strong lasting relationships throughout my working life. But back then, I thought I was onto to something exciting, but if I knew the impact and size of it all, then I would have been pushing all marketing channels back then as one and not as individual campaigns.
What’s been your biggest nightmare to date?
Pixels and trust. Pixels are a pain in the butt and need to vanish.
Trust needs to be given across the board – when an affiliate or operator/client offer full reporting and logins, accept that and trust that they are true and accurate. I find it hard to believe that after so long, lots of companies and affiliates don’t trust each other enough to not run a campaign with pixels or callbacks placed. Come, everyone, trust is one of the biggest assets any relationship and in short, it is a nightmare succeeding without the trust element there.
What are the main challenges for the sector in 2020?
There is one obvious element that I could mention, but not going to. I think in reality, and in the long term, the main challenge is accepting and understanding the impact and benefits that technology can provide. Don’t get me wrong, the personal element and relationship building is essential, but getting that right and understanding the technology that can build success will go a long way in succeeding, but is going to be a challenge for years to come.
What are your predictions for the future of the sector?
People are still learning to trust the internet and lots of things online. The younger generations are there or thereabouts, but there is still a lot of trust to be earned. There are of course those out there that take chances, all the fake news and concerns over privacy etc. We all keep working on those, and over time the internet and online services area will be more trusted and that in turn will aid the sector in being more trusted to and assisting in the growth of the industry. Technology advancement is also essential is helping with the trust factor.
What are the benefits of attending large events, and what can they do better?
There are multiple reasons for attending large events, such as keeping up to date with industry advancements, new technology, new operators, new traffic sources, learning from sessions and of course, everyone’s favourite, the networking. I personally don’t think there is much more that can be done to make them better.
Maybe smaller, more targeted events, but working across all channels these days does not make it that important any more.
Have you ever been to SiGMA? Would you consider attending SiGMA Manila or SiGMA Malta at some point?
I have not personally been but it would be very interesting to attend in the future.
Tell us a bit about yourself - after all, business is done with people, not just companies!
Besides my love for affiliate/digital marketing, I am a passionate environmentalist and studying self-sustainability and permaculture and make this a huge part of my everyday living. I have a massive passion for live music and sports. Those who know me, also know that I am very sociable and love a good time and a drink, but a very dedicated and passionate friend. I may look big and rough, but I am the biggest loving, caring softy around.
What’s on your must-read list right now?
Sapiens is the most important book I have read. Most autobiographies are on my list to read, with Billy Connolly next.
Which quote do you live your life by?
I don’t really follow quotes, but if I had to make one up it would be ‘The future is not ours to destroy, we need to make the world the best it can be for everyone - today, tomorrow and forever’
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