Partnerships with Impact: How Booktopia grew their affiliate channel by 200% | #081

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In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Impact Sales Director, Peter Bray and Booktopia Chief Marketing Manager, Steffen Daleng. In our conversation we discuss how retailers can […]

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Nathan Bush is a director at eCommerce talent agency, eSuite. He has led eCommerce for businesses with revenue $100m+ and has been recognised as one of Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce four years in a row. You can contact Nathan on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email.

Peter has over ten years’ experience working in marketing and advertising technology in Australia and has held leadership positions at Celtra, Forrester and InMobi. Currently he oversees the revenue expansion team at and is responsible for growing the Partnership Cloud customer footprint across Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia.

You can contact Peter on LinkedIn

Steffen serves as Chief Marketing Officer at Australia’s largest online bookstore; Booktopia and was named #15 Top People in Ecommerce in 2021. Arriving in Australia in 2014, after having sold and exited his last company in Indonesia he joined The Co-op to drive digital growth and in his latest role as General Manager Digital & Marketing was responsible for omnichannel growth across two websites and 120 stores before joining Booktopia in 2018. Prior to arriving in Australia Steffen founded an online electronics retailer in Denmark in 2006, and a digital agency helping more than 300 SMBs grow online through Conversion Rate Optimisation, Strategy, Design/Development and Digital Marketing.

You can contact Steffen on LinkedIn

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Impact Sales Director, Peter Bray and Booktopia Chief Marketing Manager, Steffen Daleng. In our conversation we discuss how retailers can set up sales partnerships with other brands, content creators, affiliates, publishers and influencers to scale and grow. Steffen shares how Booktopia approach partnerships to attract passionate communities at scale and how they do it profitably. Peter shares how Impact is making it easier than ever for brands to find new partnership opportunities and automate the process. 

You wanna work with people who are providing value to your business, you wanna reward them for providing the value for you. It’s a win win relationship, it has to be.

Questions answered in this episode include
  • What types of partnerships have been most effective for Booktopia? 
  • How has technology allowed Booktopia to scale and diversify their partnership program?
  • What tactics can businesses implement for the easiest wins in their partnership channels?

Booktopia’s partnership strategy

(Steffen) “For me, there’s nothing stronger than when a person that we trust, gives us their recommendation of what to buy and where to buy it.  There’s nothing stronger than that. 

That trust can be created in a lot of different things. It could be created through people that we admire, the people that we look to, people that we might follow on social media, or other businesses that we admire and would trust whatever comes out from them because we’ve had great experiences with them in the past or whatever they might be recommending we will trust on that trust build that’s already happened. 

So that’s kind of the foundation of a good partnership, it’s trust and leaning into that trust. And for me, it was important that we built a program where it was across both private individuals, across businesses that we trust them, we trust in their brand. And we feel that there is brand affinity,  that they live the Booktopia ethos as well. And these are people that we would want to deal with and we would want to work with. And as such, we can see great symbiosis in collaborating with them in multiple ways. 

There’s a lot of companies out there, like event companies, as an example, where they are creating events with high profile celebrities that have often also written a book.

But those companies aren’t into the business of selling books, they’re in the business of selling conferences and tickets to events and they might not want to do anything with books and here we could be a brilliant partner for them. It’s also brilliant for us to connect ourselves where, when we’re talking about the likes of Simon Senik and Jim Collins and all the very high profile celebrities that everybody knows and having our brand associated with those kinds of profiles.

So at its core, the strategy really is to figure out how can we lean on all the brands and all the people who have both great brand perception, brand affinity, and reach and how can we work with that?”

A different, more profitable wholesale relationship 

(Peter) “I’m really excited about this and I can’t say exactly who it is yet, but this company we’ve been working with for about a year to get this moving, and it’s actually a supplement company. So they sell everything from your pre-workout,  post-workout, protein bars all that type of thing. But they’ve got an entire team in their business dedicated to a wholesale relationship with gyms. So they’ll go to gyms and they’ll say, hey gym that’s GYM, Hey, gym, you should buy a thousand bucks worth of our supplements at a wholesale rate and then you can retail it at anything above X, for example. And so the benefit that is typically perceived in this channel is that the supplement company, they’ve got a new channel to customers and the gym is out there making a margin on that product.

But there’s some pains for that gym because they’re small businesses, right? And they have to worry about cash flow and they have to buy all this product and store all this product, they have to have a point of sale, they might have to have a float, they have to have security. What if it’s the wrong composition of product they order and they can’t sell it?  

So what we’ve been looking to do is say, hey, what if you turn these gyms into an affiliate model via partnership automation?  And so now what’s going to happen is that gyms anywhere around the country are now going to sign up to this supplement company like an affiliate, but it’s a B2B relationship. And so when that gym is promoting a unique promo code, they’re promoting via the EDM’s, they’re putting a QR code in the gym, they are pushing out in their socials and the members and followers go through to purchase on that supplement company’s core marketing engine, their website. 

What that means is that the gym is now getting remunerated with far greater reach, with typically more benefit for the gym, because when those customers are going to the site, the supplement company is putting these customers through a great experience.

And so the brand, they’re going to benefit with higher average order values, the brand are going to have that direct connection with the customer, so they’ve got the data and they’ve got them in their marketing funnels. And ultimately the brand’s going to see greater profitability because the discount that they’re providing and that commission they’re providing is typically less than that wholesale relationship that they had.

What you can do today!

(Steffen) “I would say that the easiest win is the cradle of partnerships in affiliate marketing, it really is to look at who’s talking about your brand today and your products today, and typically you will be able to reverse engineer that by looking at your referral traffic in Google Analytics…I’ll go nerdy here…you look at your referral traffic in Google Analytics and see what other websites are linking to you and where traffic is coming from.  And if you don’t have a conversation with those websites or webmasters, a lot of them are probably going to be bloggers that are talking about you.  If you don’t have a relationship with them now, then contact them.  

Use their contact form, figure out how you can get in dialogue with them and start the conversation there. The mechanics of affiliate and partnerships and the technologies that we’re talking about there are really just the vehicles of the partnership, iIt’s just the easy way to facilitate it in an easy way to get away from all the technical problems, but at its heart, it’s the relationship. 

So you need to pick up the phone or write that email, contact those people with those blogs and broker that relationship and help them make money from talking about you anyway, and then build up some programs that they can use as well.”

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