This year the Performance Marketing Insights 2 day event took place at the ever glamorous Westminster Park Plaza in London, and I was one of the lucky few from the affiliate marketing team who attended. The event was filled with the top networks, advertisers, agencies and tech providers – with a supply of best-in-breed partner options to consider.

The schedule was packed with talks, some of which have left us hugely inspired and we thought it would be only fair to that we should share some of the best.

Coming in pretty high for most thought provoking, was a talk which I attended by Nick Cristal, Performance Business Director at Maxus Global titled ‘Long Live Performance Marketing’. The slides are available here and they are well worth checking out.

The growth of affiliate marketing and lead generation were discussed in detail by Nick, however discussion highlighted that it is what is happening in the wider performance mix – with paid social, paid search and programmatic, that we as marketers need to be aware of.

The analogy of Usain Bolt’s career as a runner (and love for chicken nuggets!) was compared to the performance journey that most brands experience. From this we came away with 3 key sentences that we as affiliate marketers should live by:
1. Eating Chicken nuggets isn’t good enough anymore, you must plan as a performance team
2. Dipping for the line won’t win you the race, use your technology to perform to your maximum potential
3. There’s no point in even running a race, unless you truly know what your performance means

The talk concluded that ‘All good things come in threes’. Essentially meaning; plan as a performance team, deliver as a performance team and understand the why as a performance team.

When we can do all of the above we should be able to carry out a successful unified performance strategy for our clients!

Next up was an inspiring round table talk: ‘How to measure success of your content strategy’, included insights from; Julius Duncan – Executive Director from Remarkable Content, Kevin Gibbons – Managing Director at Blueglass, Emma Geary – Digital Account Director at Factory Media, Stephen Kenwright – Director of Search at Branded3 and Clare Jonik – Director of Client Partnerships and Content Marketing at Future PLC.

With the greater focus surrounding content and related strategies for our clients, we were able to gather tips for building a content strategy, and getting it to prove its worth.

With ROI being a metric we are consistently asked for by our clients, it was interesting to hear one specific insight.

 “ROI – is a really bad way to measure a piece of content” –  Stephen Kenwright

It’s always great to hear the we aren’t alone standing for ROA.

The rest of the panel were also able to build upon this mention of KPI’s by adding interaction such as likes, comments, shares etc. are equally as important when reviewing how well a piece delivered for your client or a brand.

Recently the Charlotte Tilbury brand, with the US in particular, have turned their focus considerably to content and working with bloggers with a paid focus. In the US we are still growing the brand awareness for Charlotte Tilbury, due to them only being present in retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman and Nordstorm stores, as concessions.

Here we believe that it is about far more than sales and that it is more important to expand the program, getting people talking about them is the first step, sales will come after this – they are long tail affiliates after all!

Circling back to the talk, the focus moved to ‘Micro Influencers’ and the importance of not going for the ‘big dogs’ in terms of influencers. This is especially the case when looking at content, as these often do not resonate with customers.

It is the micro influencers with a decent social following that usually end up converting sales as they are more aspirational at the end of the day.

This discussion of ‘micro influencers’ was not the only time we heard this over the 2 day event, Tim Armoo, CEO of Fanbytes lead a talk, “Using Influencers to Supercharge Your Business”. He took a slightly different slant concluding that, in the right hands and with the right approach, influencers can drive highly measurable results for a brand.

Finally, my award for the most entertaining talk, most definitely goes to BJ Cunningham, who lead the Keynote on day 2 of the event – “Brand Leadership: Profiting from the Truth”.

Throughout his presentation, BJ used his own experiences to talk through the success he had ‘when he had it all’ then having to start from scratch again when, he established the Enlightened Tobacco Company PLC. The company launched his ‘DEATH’ cigarettes as ‘the honest smoke’. He used these experiences to highlight the importance of straightforward brand thinking while answering 2 key questions: what’s your point, and why should I care?

All of the above insights we took from the event, including many others are going to be very beneficial when reviewing campaigns and relevant strategies as we move into Q4 and into 2017, not just the affiliate channel, but also from a unified and agency wide perspective. The future of affiliate marketing is going to be exciting.