Using Affiliate Marketing to Break New Global Ground
Luggage is not something many people spend a lot of time pondering. You can afford Louis Vuitton or not, and the rest is plenty: flimsy suitcases that command a premium price and are replaced every few years, depending on how much you travel.
AustraliaThe July luggage brand seeks to change all this. July exists as an opportunity to fix a broken industry. Frequent fliers and founders Athan Didaskalou and Richard Li saw a category that was selling poorly designed products at extreme overprices and wanted to fix it.
In its early days, the company wondered: Why were the consumer’s only choices cheap handbags or expensive luxury items?
After speaking with hundreds of regular travelers to uncover key luggage pain points and needs, they launched their first product, the carry-on, in late July 2018. This was followed by Checked and Checked Plus in July 2019.
July’s ambition is to bring better design and thinking to the way people travel, raising the bar from buying the product to a more thoughtful design and service experience. As its general manager, Zhoe Low, points out, all Julio’s luggage has a lifetime guarantee. The bags could initially be personalized with names or emojis and, from October, also with pets.
Now in its fourth year of operation, the company ships primarily to Australia and New Zealand. As part of growth plans, July decided to launch in the US last year. However, as a brand that doesn’t discount or go on sale, let alone launch at a time when travel was restricted, July needed a different strategy for this market. The plan was set: July would rely heavily on public relations and affiliate marketing to break into the US market.
July was no stranger to affiliate marketing. During its initial operations, it was using a Shopify plugin. While this was fine at first, it was clear that July needed a different affiliate platform for true international expansion.
“When you launch into the US, and for us anyway, you need a great PR strategy,” Low said. “Our US PR agency said we had to have a pretty strong affiliate program to support their efforts. We tried a platform before launching it, but it just didn’t work and it was incredibly stressful.”
At that time, Julio also only had a team of 15 people. Low needed to send individual emails to key affiliates to grow his base, which was time consuming and frustrating. Several issues arose when first testing a third-party platform around technical integration and customer service. The marketing and technology team conducted further research and decided that the partnership management platform, Impact, could meet their needs.
“We took a look and saw that Impact was the right type of implementation for the code, would work with our stack, and fit all of our requirements. We communicated directly with Impact,” Low explained. “Impact provided us with a consultant who could help us onboard and helped us with a technical implementation, which is great since we were such a small team.
“It was pretty seamless with Impact. Maybe it’s because he already knew what could go wrong. I made sure to ask, do you have this? Do you have that? Also, having a consultant helped me a lot to make sure everything went perfectly.”
make a difference
July launched into the US market with Impact and moved all existing affiliates from the previous platforms. Its main affiliates are large publications, mostly lifestyle outlets, such as Cosmopolitan, GQ, wedding publications, Vogue, Forbes, and Fortune. Affiliate marketing is backed by public relations.
July also draws from premium bloggers, creators and influencers, focusing on those with smaller but loyal followings who exude authenticity and third-party endorsement. It is these creators, Low said, that generate the greatest return.
“Creators have a higher conversion rate in my experience. A TikTok creator who may not have a huge community, but a very engaged one, actually, at certain times, we’ve done better than anything else,” he said.
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Impact met the needs for July in terms of affiliates and other key criteria. “We don’t do coupon sites. I am also strict about which affiliates we accept because we are more of a premium brand. And we never go on sale, so we don’t have discount codes,” Low said.
Impact.com is a global association management platform for managing an ecosystem of associations, from traditional rewards affiliates to influencers, commercial content publishers and B2B partners.
“The impact has many characteristics. So, for example, you have an influencer partner and partnerships arm, which is much more comprehensive than just your basic loyalty platform or discount content affiliate type. So that’s probably the first thing I liked about him,” Low continued. “The platform itself is much nicer and easier to use. Really I liked this. The third thing is that the team has been incredibly responsive.”
A 3000 percent revenue increase
Since the implementation of the Impact platform 12 months ago, July has seen a notable improvement in several aspects. You are working with many more affiliates and onboarding these partners more efficiently.
“Our affiliate program plays a huge role within our marketing stack and is growing rapidly now that travel is back. It was an integral part of our entry into the US market and continues to be a very effective marketing channel for us,” Low said. “Impact was instrumental in this, with an intuitive platform and easy technical integration that helped us quickly and quickly move on board those US affiliates.”
And the results are impressive. In 2022, July added 27 partners through the Impact.com platform in the Australian and US markets. Outside of content sites, July has also diversified its programs by partnering with top loyalty sites in these respective markets. .
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As a result, the number of active sales partners doubled in August-September 2022 compared to the beginning of this year. Both programs are growing rapidly compared to 2021 (comparing the period from January 1 to September 15 year-over-year) and revenue increased 3,896 percent over the same period.
This 2022 growth continues, and the Australian program is skyrocketing in the second half. Compared to June, revenue in July increased 65% and then continued to increase 21% in August month-over-month.
“There is a huge network of affiliates at Impact, from publishers to influencers. And the Impact team is really in the know; our account manager regularly follows up and offers new affiliates who he thinks we should talk to because they are developing other brands. That’s been huge for us,” Low said.
“We launched pet customization in October. So I can go into the platform and enter the assets and the terms and then send it out to as many people as we want in our network. We can offer customization for a limited time, or I can offer a higher affiliate percentage. Affiliates get all the assets in one place and the details they need, like all banners, banner sizes, hours, and everything else.”
A pleasant surprise for Low was the number of people who reached out to write and comment on the July product.
“Many of the networks that are part of the Impact platform have given us publishers and individuals greater reach than we ever imagined,” he added.