Season 03 / Episode 028

Affiliate Marketing’s Tools, Trends, and Tactics with Parrish Essell

With Parrish Essell - Agency New Business Manager, AWIN/ShareASale

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In this episode, Jamie Birch sits down with Parrish Essell, the Agency New Business Manager at ShareASale, for a deeper look into the evolving landscape of affiliate marketing, how consumer awareness impacts brands and program management, and the significance of attribution and available tools. Exploring influencer marketing best practices and the vital role of relationship building, Jamie also asks Parrish about her insights on how agencies can streamline collaboration with platforms like ShareASale. Don’t miss out on this insightful conversation offering valuable perspectives on what’s current in the world of affiliate marketing.

About Our Guest


Parrish Essell


I started out as a Sales specialist at ShareASale not knowing much about the Affiliate industry. Over the past six years, I’ve grown into a role overseeing our US Agency New Business. My specialty really lies in generating strong and long lasting partnerships with people and our partners. I’m incredibly proud of how we’ve been able to grow and develop our agency team in just the past three years, now having deeper roots and further established relationships.



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[00:00:48] Jamie: Welcome to the Profitable Performance Marketing Podcast. I am Jamie Birch, your host of the podcast and former CEO and founder of your award winning affiliate management agency, JEB Commerce. Wrapping up some podcasts here at the end of my tenure.

[00:01:06] But before we talk about today’s guest, which is Parish Essel from ShareASale and AWIN, the Agency New Business Manager, I want you guys to head over to JEBCommerce, go to the blog, and you’re going to click on the link for the Mastering Incrementality and Boosting Profits.

[00:01:24] If you want to know what tools are available on all the affiliate networks and platforms, we recently updated an article that I wrote and published on internet retailer in 2017, we interviewed all the platforms and networks that we work with and asked them what tools they have available to tackle incrementality and profitability. And we list all of those here. So if you don’t think the channel can provide incremental and profitable sales, then go look at all the tools we have available.

[00:01:54] If you’re frustrated with what you consider last to cart or bottom feeder affiliates and don’t know what to do and think the channel is all like that, and there’s nothing you can do to protect yourself from that, you need to go over to the JEB blog and search for Mastering Incrementality, and you’ll get to the article about unleashing the power of affiliate marketing. And it runs down through every single network that we work with. You’re going to find a ton of data there. We’ll include this in the show notes as well. So go check that out.

[00:02:25] Now, my guest today is the Agency New Business Manager for ShareASale, one of my favorite networks, launched and founded by one of the best individuals I know I’ve ever had to work with Brian Littleton.

[00:02:37] But Parrish is running the agency side of that interfacing with agencies. That’s how we met just several years ago, and she brings a ton of information to the show today. We’re going to talk about some of the big changes in the industry and how consumers knowing about affiliate marketing and how that’s changed things and then what’s going on in the influencer world.

[00:03:00] So if you’re targeting influencers or want to work with influencers, it’s definitely a good conversation for you to listen to. And then we also talk about attribution, what that is, what it looks like, and what is available at ShareASale and Awin as well as Parrish giving us some news about what is going to happen with Awin and ShareASale.

[00:03:20] Awin bought ShareASale, I think six, seven years ago, and what are they going to do with it going forward, how those two are going to work together. So this is definitely an episode you want to listen to. So I’m going to get out of the way, like I always do, and let you guys listen to my conversation with Parrish.

[00:03:38] All right, Parrish Essel. Welcome to the Profitable Performance Marketing podcast. I’m so excited to have you on the show today.

[00:03:47] Parrish: Yes. Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

[00:03:49] Jamie: Yeah. Yeah. And I love the pantry in the back. I’m super hungry. I haven’t eaten yet. So I love it. Looks like a very similar pantry to ours.

[00:04:01] Parrish: We’re working on a renovation, so my desk is in like a funny part of the basement that it normally isn’t in. And so we just, there’s no Zoom backgrounds or anything on Playground. So you’re just getting it all raw and real.

[00:04:15] Jamie: Yeah we actually, there’s no Zencaster that we’re recording has nothing like that. So my apologies if you were hoping for that.

[00:04:21] But I did the same thing when COVID happened, I just set up my desk in our bedroom that lasted like a week. And my wife was like, you wake up way early. I don’t need to be on your calls. Get the hell out of here.

[00:04:34] So now introduce yourself to our audience. You and I met as when you are in the role you’re in now is the Agency New Business Manager for ShareASale but tell us, where did you start? What was your first work experience? And then let’s talk about the journey to where you are today.

[00:04:53] Parrish: Yeah, totally. I started I grew up in Minneapolis and both my parents were really involved heavily in the menswear industry. So my dad was a vendor, my mom was a buyer. Literally I can remember some of like, my first memories being at the Chicago Merchandise Mart, like taking my first steps.

[00:05:11] So it’s really, I was deeply rooted in the menswear industry, truly from birth. And so graduating from college, I got a job at a very large menswear company that you’ve probably never heard of, but makes all of the men’s belts and wallets and things in the world based in Chicago. I worked there for a while.

[00:05:32] And I liked what I did. I sold, men’s belts to a couple of major department stores and had a great time, learned a lot. But when we started to look at some open to buys, what sales revenue was, what numbers were, the writing was on the wall when I talked to my mom and dad.

[00:05:47] And I was like, I just don’t think that this is what it was 30 years ago. So I knew I wanted to make a switch, get into something different.

[00:05:55] Jamie: Did you think it was the apparel industry or the way that it went from a manufacturer to a consumer that was changing?

[00:06:03] Parrish: A little bit of both. I think D2C being so on the rise had a huge impact on the industry because a lot of what we did was like licensing and different things, right? Dockers, Levi’s, Columbia, Kirkland belts were literally what we sold and what we manufactured as a company. So we were the ones who went to the factories and said, Hey, this is what we need. This is what, the design that fits in with the brand and whatever it was.

[00:06:29] And then we’d take those to JCPenney, Macy’s, whoever, show them the belts and say, “Hey, this is what we think is going to sell. This is what’s going to do well.” And they’d say, “okay, great. We’ll take 10,000 units of X, Y, and Z.”

[00:06:42] And it just, I think part of it was D2C coming in, part of it was just honestly like fashion trends, like men weren’t getting, and even further now, aren’t getting dressed in suits, wearing ties, needing different belts, wallets, bow ties, pocket squares, whatever it was for different occasions.

[00:07:03] And I think that when I took a step back and looked after coming back to Chicago from a buying meeting in Dallas and saying they’re open to buys got cut 25%. And they’re telling us that we were the lucky ones out of all their vendors. This isn’t really like a long term. Growth plan of something that I think is going to be sustainable for me to do.

[00:07:25] Jamie: Right on. And so then you said, I got to get out of this.

[00:07:28] Parrish: Gotta get out, there’s obviously other factors there always are but So I got out and then as every 24 year old at the time does, it’s six and a half plus years ago, but you know looking…

[00:07:39] Jamie: Yeah. It’s around that much for me too.

[00:07:42] Parrish: Yeah But I know i’m feeling sometimes I’m one of the babies in the industry, but I’m like I’ve been here for a very …

[00:07:50] Jamie: A long time, yeah.

[00:07:52] Parrish: But yeah, I started looking for jobs online and saw ShareASale at the time and thought, I knew that getting into tech would probably be a long term smart career decision or at least a version of tech.

[00:08:04] My degree is in marketing and business marketing. So I said, “you know what? This sounds like something I could probably be good at. I know I can do sales. I can talk to a wall if I really have to. Let’s apply.” Long story short, I got the job and here I am.

[00:08:20] Jamie: That’s awesome. It’s so intriguing to me, I’m taking a similar stance of looking at the industry now. My daughter is going into something that I think at some point will be obsolete. I don’t know if that’s in her lifetime. She’s going into diesel mechanics.

[00:08:34] And at some point, they’re predicting that everything will be electric, and then what do you do? But it’s super interesting that you were looking at this industry as a whole and I was like, “look, I got to go do something else.”

[00:08:45] When you were making that decision, was it just it’s time to do something different. Or was there a process to this career shift?

[00:08:52] Parrish: There was some pretty awful bosses involved in the decision. A little bit more than…

[00:08:59] Jamie: That’ll make it real fast.

[00:09:01] Parrish: Yeah, it was, the industry and that definitely played a part into it, but it was also sitting there going day to day what am I doing here? And, at that time we’re in the office nine to five, five days a week.

[00:09:12] I’m like, I can’t keep doing this. This is not sustainable.

[00:09:16] Jamie: Half of my awake hours of my life and I hate it.

[00:09:20] Parrish: Exactly.

[00:09:21] Jamie: Before I left the company that I was at before, I had a physical for insurance and they’re like, “so we got to talk cause you have the blood pressure of 55 year old, out of shape male, and you’re twenty eight. And quit that job, started my company, and then just six months later had to have the same process all over again. And they’re like, “oh man, you must be working out. You must be eating right and doing all this stuff. Cause you’re healthy, as a horse.” And I’m like drinking a Pepsi, eating a Butterfinger.

[00:09:52] And I’m like, I don’t know what you’re talking about.

[00:09:54] Parrish: You’re like, this was six weeks ago was different. Yeah.

[00:09:58] Jamie: Yeah. Yeah. And so it sounds like you had some pretty suspect ishy bosses, and then you go to ShareASale, which was founded and run by probably one of the greatest leaders I’ve ever had the good fortune to work with in Brian Littleton and you’re in that organization.

[00:10:14] Was it a pretty dramatic change going from where you were to that organization?

[00:10:20] Parrish: It was pretty dramatic. I started at ShareASale actually right after the acquisition. So I was one of the very first hires after AWIN acquired ShareASale. So I came at a time where it’s still very much had startup energy. I can remember people would not wear shoes around the office and I thought that was really weird.

[00:10:43] I love those people still, but I just, I remember thinking like we’re at work, like you got to wear shoes. And so it was such a different culture and structure, but there started to be some more corporate support that I think in a tech startup, you need some more support and corporate structure. Different things that I think long term has been really beneficial for the company.

[00:11:05] And now working under, the AWIN umbrella, I would argue that we have some of the best benefits in the industry. So it’s definitely something that keeps me here. But also, I think our staff has some of the highest retention around, too.

[00:11:18] Jamie: That’s awesome, and hopefully we get to dive into some of the new things that ShareASale and AWIN have coming down the wire.

[00:11:26] So you started as a sales specialist that ShareASale, and then you saw an opportunity that wasn’t being fulfilled in the agency side, and you’re like, “Hey, we should do this. And I should do it.”

[00:11:37] One of the things I see as a host of this, a lot of our most successful people, like that’s a common thing of there was a need. I’m not going to be afraid to say something about it. And I think I should handle it.

[00:11:49] How do you process that kind of thing and where does that initiative come from?

[00:11:53] Parrish: I think it’s a couple of things. I think we both have had our experiences of not amazing leadership and different things, and I think that was one thing where I’ve had, I’ve been really fortunate during my time with AWIN ShareASale to have really incredible leadership and bosses where I’ve always been able to come to people and say, “Hey, this is a white space. Like I’m having a couple of these agencies come to me regularly and imagine if I have four agencies that are coming to me or five agencies that are regularly coming to me, but we’re not identifying outside of that real space. How can we grow this into something where we’re actually driving revenue, driving sales in a much more significant way?”

[00:12:34] And that was also right at the start of the pandemic when I had really started to, at that point, I’d been with the company for what, three, almost four years. And I was like, “okay, like we need to start doing something with this. I want to start seeing growth, start seeing progression.”

[00:12:50] And they really took a chance with me and built out a client services team for the agency side as well. Where now we have, gosh, almost 15 of us running agency side between AWIN ShareSSale just in the U. S. alone.

[00:13:04] Jamie: Wow. That’s fantastic. So are there any lessons you learned from bad leadership that you take into your own now that you’re leading a team?

[00:13:13] Parrish: I think and my team might tell you differently. I hope not, but one of the things that somebody said to me that really always stuck out was, as someone’s, Manager as someone’s coworker, you’re going to be the topic of conversation at the dinner table, whether that’s really amazing or really awful, and which side of the fence do you want to land on?

[00:13:33] And so it’s, how can I not be the awful, terrible boss at the end of the day? I’m going to try to support you. I might be tough in terms of “hey, we got to hit our numbers. We need to do certain things. We need to be organized, following up different things.” But at the end of the day, I don’t think anybody would tell you that they can’t come to me with anything that’s going on, professionally or personally for support.

[00:13:56] Jamie: I’ve never heard anyone say that, and I instantly had regret that I didn’t hear that 20 years ago. What a great way to look at it. You’re going to be the topic at dinner and it’s going to be good or bad. That’s, and that’s so true. Like the way you lead has such a vast, larger impact than just the people on your team.

[00:14:18] I appreciate you sharing that with me. I’ve never heard that before, but we’re going to definitely put that in the podcast show notes for sure.

[00:14:26] Parrish: Yeah, and I can’t remember where I heard it, so I can’t quote it for you, but I’ve heard it somewhere and I was like, man, that is, that just is so true.

[00:14:34] Jamie: A hundred percent. And most of the time when you’re a topic of conversation at the dinner table it’s not ” Oh man, it was so awesome today. It was more like that asshole boss.”

[00:14:44] Parrish: Yeah. When it’s, and I can even remember like I was little and I’m sure you can too, but if when I was little, like I can remember my mom or dad coming home and being like, man, so and so really stunk today. I think it goes further than just how somebody feels from, a nine to five, day to day.

[00:15:00] Jamie: Yeah. And I think, like you, my younger years were full of my parents talking about their work, and their business, and their careers, and how to advance and all those kinds of things. Our family had the good fortune that my dad had a phenomenal leader. I remember him and that really shaped how my dad led and then we got to see him and all the businesses lead. And Wherever you are, Harry Kubasik, thank you.

[00:15:27] But that really goes to show like the impact on the family. I remember him. I remember his name. I remember the lessons that, that he taught.

[00:15:35] Parrish: Oh yeah, I can remember the stark difference of my dad having a really terrible boss, and I can remember his name, and I can again, then his next boss, who is really incredible and really amazing, and Jim Jurgens, again, big shout out, he was amazing. I can remember the distinct parallel.

[00:15:52] Jamie: I do remember what I thought was my father’s worst boss, and I saw him in the supermarket and he came up and said, hi. And I’m like, “No, we’re not doing this. No. Bye bye. See you later.”

[00:16:06] Parrish: No, thanks. We’re good.

[00:16:08] Jamie: That’s awesome. Talk to me about the affiliate space. You’ve been in it for six years and you have a really unique perspective because you get to work with I’d say if you grab, the 20 best affiliate managers in the space, a good portion of those are going to be at agencies just by the general nature agencies for lack of a better phrase, eat what they kill.

[00:16:29] So there’s a lot of push for innovation and you get to work with all of those agencies. So tell me about the affiliate space. What has changed in the last six years? What’s the biggest thing we need to be looking for right now?

[00:16:41] Parrish: I think there’s a number of different things. So in terms of what is changed, a lot I think has changed in the last, six or so years. When I came in, I think it was just starting to be a little bit more regulated. It wasn’t quite so all over the place. And I really think that has changed in the last six years.

[00:17:01] I think that your average consumer knows what affiliate marketing is now. When I started at ShareASale, I had no idea what affiliate marketing was. And then once I figured out what affiliate marketing was, “I said, what do you mean? I’ve been clicking on affiliate links for years and had no idea.”

[00:17:16] So I think that just the average consumer knowing more. I think that’s a big thing. I also think that the social influencer side of things, I think that has changed a lot in the last six years. I think everybody wants influencers, but I think brands are starting to get smarter about how they’re working with influencers.

[00:17:36] I think agencies are really giving the best advice in terms of ” Hey, we’re not going to do $25,000 plus dollar placements for something that we don’t know that is going to generate results that we don’t know is going to actually lead to sales. Yeah, it’s great for a big influencer to post your brand, but wouldn’t it be great if that actually translated to sales?”

[00:17:57] Jamie: On the first point of like consumers knowing, I think probably for the first 15 years of my career, my parents and family were like, “I don’t have any idea what you do. And now they’re like, Hey, have you seen this affiliate Rakuten? I’m getting discounts. Is this what you do?”

[00:18:13] I’m like, yeah. I think you’re 100 percent right. Consumers now know about affiliate marketing and not from a data breach or a cookie issue. They just know what it is. They know that this happens.

[00:18:27] How do you think that impacts the advertisers? That now consumers know it’s, I don’t know, it was never hidden, but it was never like, “Hey, you’re shopping at Target through this affiliate link.” It was all on the backside. Does that have impact on how advertisers behave in the channel? What they do?

[00:18:45] Parrish: I think that it’s, I don’t know that it’s changed so much of how advertisers behave. I think it’s changed a lot of how publishers behave because I think that the publisher side of things, they’ve really had to create a more authentic brand of who they are, because now it can’t just be random products popped in here and there, so it really has to have more of a cohesive story.

[00:19:06] And then I think from an advertiser perspective, I don’t know that there’s, I think that it affects them in terms of it takes more touch points. There’s been some studies recently where instead of five to seven touch points before somebody makes a purchase, it’s actually somewhere closer to nine to 11 these days. And especially post pandemic.

[00:19:24] Yeah. It’s huge, and we can even see that too. So AWIN released at the end of last year our journey path report so you can actually go in and see every single transaction, and each touch point each click that took place Leading to the transaction and so you can even see yeah there was a lot of different clicks and even linking in email marketing, SEO, paid search anything is all falling into those touch points. So I think that the advertiser I think it’s becoming more expensive to acquire a customer I don’t know that the perception has really changed in terms of when a publisher is featuring them.

[00:19:58] Jamie: That’s seven to nine touches, it sounds like at first, it’s not a lot, but that’s huge. Another two touch points to manage and to optimize. Is it because information is so readily available that consumers are just… is it price because of where we are with inflation? Did AWIN see what was behind that?

[00:20:18] Parrish: I think that it’s a lot of things. I think that some of it is really, there’s a lot of information out there. So you’re seeing more advertising now than we ever have in history’s past. So you can pick up your phone and if you’re playing a game, you go on Instagram, TikTok, whatever it is, you’re going to be seeing more ads than, any point in human history.

[00:20:37] So you’re just being inundated with more and more of it, I think is really the main cause of it. And I think after the pandemic, that’s really become even more true because we are just more attached to our screens than we have been.

[00:20:50] Jamie: Last night I was about to watch an old season of survivor with my family. We have been watching survivor constantly for some reason. I think my daughter wants me to go on the show and, but I told her no old guys ever win.

[00:21:05] But we were watching that and I pulled it up on Amazon. It was the first time they say ” Hey, you have to pay more without ads, you’re a prime member, but now you have to pay more.” So that advertising everywhere, it’s just going to continue to get worse now that all the connected TV stuff is happening and there’s a lot more opportunity, but there’s a lot more clutter and noise now as well.

[00:21:27] Parrish: Hundred percent.

[00:21:28] Jamie: On the influencer side, we’ve both been in the industry long enough to remember when that started to become an issue.

[00:21:36] And it’s gone through this weird ebb and flow of everyone wants them, and then a lot of money is spent and we had a huge thing with bot followers and things like that. And then it came back and everyone wanted, influencers wanted to be in affiliate programs, advertisers wanted influencers. It’s been a difficult thing to pinpoint.

[00:21:57] What do you see as far as the evolution? What’s working? Talk to me a little bit more about what you, the change that you’ve been seeing with how people work with influencers.

[00:22:06] Parrish: I think that it’s really in the last 6 to 12 months, budgets have just gotten tighter, right? I think you have probably felt that on the agency side more than anything where budgets just, they’ve gotten tighter. And I think that brands are looking at their social media budgets and they’re going, “we can’t just give $100,000 or $200,000 dollars depending on the size of the brand in influencer placements in six months, that is an insane amount of money that we can’t track back to how we’re seeing it or how we’re paying out on those, transactions in any other number.”

[00:22:41] Because that’s not to say that, we paid an influencer $25,000 for a placement and then maybe there’s also affiliate links that they’re clicking on or Google Ads, Facebook ads, anything that are going into that. So I think that the last 6 to 12 months we’ve really seen brands saying, no, we’ll do, $1,000 or a $500 paid fee for your time just for putting together the content, but after that we’re willing to give you a higher commission. We’ll give you 15, 20, 25%, but we’re not going to be doing these crazy big placement fees for just you posting about the brand.”

[00:23:16] And so I think that brands have really gotten smarter in that aspect, because I think that we’ve started to see where that’s really something that they want to prioritize and attribute against, which is great and understandable, right?

[00:23:27] Top of funnel. You always want, influencers to be talking about your brand more, but I think they’re getting smarter about how they’re paying for it and then also how it’s coming back to them.

[00:23:37] Jamie: Yeah. I think it’s an ebb and a flow due to economy. Like you said, it wraps into the consumers and how many touch points. I know in my own shopping, unless it’s a brand I have an incredible amount of brand loyalty to, and there are very few of those.

[00:23:54] In fact, only ones really are with all the product behind me as I’m from the tack room here, but saddles and stuff, like I don’t care what the price is, I go to one place. But so much, I find I will search two or three places. I’ll spend a week looking and then I’ll probably call someone that I know that has the thing or the category of things before I make that purchase.

[00:24:14] One thing I’ve noticed over, I don’t know, maybe three recessions that I’ve gone through since I’ve worked is the affiliate channel always gets bigger when the economy is uncertain because a lot of that money is still there, but it’s the method.

[00:24:31] If I could give you a hundred thousand dollars and hope that this works, or I could put that in my affiliate budget and give you a really good commission and pay you when it does. And for the advertiser, that just makes so much more sense.

[00:24:45] Parrish: 100%. And I think that there’s some influencers that are like, no, thank you. But the ones that are really picking up and taking advantage of it, they’re making, more than they probably would have from, a $10-15,000 post. And especially if they place it on a YouTube channel or in their Lincoln bio, anything like that, where they’re getting a lot more long tail than, they probably weren’t getting for the brand before. So I think that there’s a lot of benefit and value to how people are adjusting their mindset around influencers.

[00:25:15] Jamie: Yeah. I have this idea that when you pay influencers hundred thousand dollars, $20,000, they’re incentivized to make a really good ad to get your money again. They’re not necessarily as incentivized to make really good content. If I’m an influencer and I have 10 different offers running at me, and one is $20,000 or a hundred thousand and one is 25% commission or 50% commission. These are all available to me, I’m gonna take the one that pays me.

[00:25:51] Parrish: Totally.

[00:25:52] Jamie: Probably my commitment to my audience is gonna be overshadowed by like, ” I’ll work that ad into what my audience would want.” So I have this idea that shifting to more commission basis, it’s gonna align the goals and influencers are only going to take stuff that their consumers respond to. When they advertise things their audience responds to, they are definitely going to make a whole lot more money than if they took that a hundred thousand.

[00:26:18] Parrish: Yeah exactly.

[00:26:18] Jamie: Am I off base?

[00:26:20] Parrish: No, I think you’re right. And I think that Bloom Nutrition is a really good example of that. You can go on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and you can see these influencers doing, “Oh, here’s my day in the life,” which they’re going to be making anyway. But then you had a couple of shots of the bloom and it’s Oh that looks really delicious.

[00:26:39] Oh, they also sent you a really cute sweat set that now you’re wearing around and outside of different videos because of, it’s just really cute and comfortable. But now you’re giving the brand more advertising and paid placements that they didn’t actually really pay for, but you’re still advertising for Bloom’s.

[00:26:59] I think that it really fits in there and, the program’s been really successful.

[00:27:03] Jamie: That’s great to hear. Talk to me about attribution. We talked a little bit about it with the AWIN journeys report. If you’re working with someone and they’re doing attribution really well in regards to the affiliate channel, what’s that look like from your perspective?

[00:27:20] Parrish: I think it varies from client to client what goals are. First of all, I think attribution right now is somewhat of a buzzword. I think when I talk to a lot of clients about what they want their attribution to be like, when I get on client calls with clients plus the agency, and I’m ” asking the client, what does attribution look like to you? What are you really trying to do?” And they’re like, “Oh we just want to be able to commission different partners differently.”

[00:27:44] “Okay, great. We can all do that. That’s, not a problem. We’re happy to help with that, but what does that really look like in terms of prioritizing? So in terms of, I think that there’s some really smart different agencies and brands that will really attribute for, okay, what’s our type of funnel? How can we prioritize them?”

[00:28:02] But then how can we do commission splitting on top of that? I know that people like to say that Honey doesn’t contribute to sales. I see reports. I think more often than not, they probably contribute more to sales than people are willing to give them credit for.

[00:28:14] And

[00:28:15] Jamie: Regardless of what they’ve… I’ve done it with a RetailMeNot, pulled reports and the client wanted to like, “get rid of these guys. They’re quote unquote, bottom feeders.” They’ve done it with Honey, with insert affiliate.

[00:28:28] Parrish: Totally.

[00:28:28] Jamie: And when you look ” what’s your goal? I want 30 percent new customers and a 10 percent higher average order.”

[00:28:35] And then you pull the report from the affiliate they want you to kick out, and it’s 80 percent new to file there because consumers are spending twice as often and twice as much each time. You’re like, you can hate on…

[00:28:48] Parrish: Like, no, you had to give them free shipping or 10 percent off and they’re coming back to you three times. Yeah, so I think that people really want to prioritize their top of funnel as well, but then really being able to still commission split and doing some lower funnels, so Honey prioritizing commissions there as well.

[00:29:06] So I think that there’s really smart ways to do it, and I think that another thing when I see attribution right now, what has me… I think something that kind of stuck out to me from my time at ASW talking with clients and partners is really under attributing some of the affiliate channel and over attributing other areas of their business because it’s expensive when you’re running Google Ads and paid search, and you’re running social media ads and it gets expensive per cost acquisition, but all of that’s coming into one. So then, we’ve had brands come to us and say the Google Ad click was the last click, even though there was five affiliate clicks previous.

[00:29:45] Jamie: Along the way.

[00:29:46] Parrish: Yeah, along the way, but Google Ads was the last click. So we’re going to attribute this to Google Ads and we’re actually not going to pay the affiliates because of this, right? And I think that is one of the things that does concern me more just because I think people are under attributing and I don’t think… short sighted sure, I see the budget concern. Long sighted, your publishers aren’t going to want to work with you. So I think that’s one of the things, you can’t just not pay Google Ads. You can’t not pay Meta, right? So it’s, I think that there needs to be somewhat of a… you can try.

[00:30:23] Jamie: Try. Ain’t going to work. Do you… so, we’ve encountered this, I honestly, I remember my first discussion about attribution was in 99, 2000, and it is the same discussion. And it was while I was in-house at Coldwater Creek and for that entire time, the way that I felt advertisers and affiliates have worked together is this mutually agreed upon adversarial relationship.

[00:30:53] And really the advertiser is driving that. I want traffic you’re getting, you have it at the moment, so I’ll work with you.

[00:31:01] Parrish: Right.

[00:31:01] Jamie: Instead of like, all right. And I think one of the biggest changes I think in the last 10 years has been the advertisers. When I started advertisers ruled everything. Advertisers paid the bills, so they told the network what they wanted to do. They told the affiliates what they were going to pay. And it was, that’s the way it was. Now, 20 years later, the affiliates have a ton more power because they have the traffic. Consumers know they’re going through an affiliate and they’re glad to do it. And they have loyalty now is shifted to where I go get my rewards or whatever influencer I’m working with and not necessarily the brand.

[00:31:44] And so I think that has shifted how the advertisers look at it. I’m wondering if that’s going to bring them around more and say, this is who I want to work with and judge them a little differently in that attribution, because if you do need nine points of contact to make that sale, don’t you want to control nine of them?

[00:32:07] Don’t you want to make sure those are things you’re doing on purpose. Am I off? Do you think that’s some of what’s going on?

[00:32:14] Parrish: I think that’s part of what’s going on too. I think you said something funny where it’s the control piece of it. You want to control more of it where I think control has been something that has really popped up in the industry in the last couple of years as well as PR has made a huge shift into the affiliate space where PR teams will come to us and say, “Okay, great. We have these clients. We’re going to get them live. We need approval of the stories, access to the stories, like everything.”

[00:32:44] Jamie: Before it goes out.

[00:32:46] Parrish: Yeah, it’s let’s work it out. And it really doesn’t help the affiliate to say anything derogatory about you and really having the conversations of every single mass media article that you want to get your clients in is 100 percent affiliate links.

[00:33:02] We’re being told by this publisher that 95 percent plus of their links from their president, from their board as being required to be affiliate links. You’re not getting the pure play, and I think that the lack of control and how the tug for that side of the business too has been really interesting cause I think that they’ve sold in almost a control aspect to a lot of these clients.

[00:33:26] Jamie: Yeah. And that’s probably when we worked with PR agencies or, when JEB, when I was still there, worked at with PR agencies that was probably the biggest thing is ” I understand you want these things. This is not how that channel works.” And we can ask them, but they may just move your offer aside and not answer, let alone this you, it may sound like a negotiation, but a lot of times it is not.

[00:33:51] And if you want to be placed, you have to make your offer as attractive and having full control and approval. One, our industry has never really worked that way. We move pretty fast, right?

[00:34:02] Parrish: Yes. And I saw something from, one of the top tier publishers post ASW and he made this, tongue in cheek post where I love reading them, but it was ” Hey, if I haven’t responded to your email, it’s because I have a thousand emails. This isn’t uncommon and it’s not because I don’t think some of your offers or some of your proposals are incredible. “I just am getting literally a thousand emails like yours a week. Please don’t make me, have to go back and negotiate and do the tug and pull with you just come to me with your best offer, with your best story.”

[00:34:35] And honestly, some of my PR agencies have come to me and said, “yeah, you were so right. When we just pitched them our best commission, our best story, and we gave them bullet points, we didn’t even hear back from them. They just posted the story.” And I’m “like, Yes, because that’s, to your point, they move fast.” Yes.

[00:34:51] Jamie: Yep, yep and one of our continual every single year, I think I ran JEB for almost 20 years. I think I wrote several thousand blog posts in that time. The one that is always 100 percent of the time is the perfect recruitment email blog posts, and we have to update it every year, but it’s very, we don’t update it a whole lot.

[00:35:13] Cause that’s what it is. Give them everything they need to make a decision when they read that email, cause you may never get them to read that email again, and honor them. They like, they are busy. They are getting thousands a day. So don’t like I’m doing some I built a publisher site, so I’m doing some things on the other side.

[00:35:32] And the amount of emails that I get that have none of that. And I have to go back and are you sure you meant me? Oh, I don’t actually mean you. Thank you for wasting my time. And then having to go back and “what network is it on? What’s the commission rate? Do you have any offers? Why would I work with you?” Like none of that is there. I can see what affiliates do now. Just no, I don’t even have time to finish reading this email.

[00:35:56] Parrish: Exactly. And I think that there’s a lot of smaller brands that will come into this space, and we see this a lot, especially on the ShareASale side where people aren’t responding to my, emails. I’m like ” what are you sending them? We can’t control if people open their emails or not.” We hear that it’s across all networks. What is your email really saying to them? And are you catching their attention from jump so that you can make the best proposal, the best introduction possible?

[00:36:21] Jamie: Yeah. I got an email today and it was from a vitamin company. My publisher site is on the horse side, all equine stuff. Absolutely unrelated. No reason to send me it. And it really felt okay, you didn’t even look. You’re wasting my time, and I feel like it’s personal now.

[00:36:39] And so I definitely, it’s been helpful for me. And I teach all the affiliate managers I’ve ever trained, you have to be an affiliate. You have to see what they go through to see how you can be better and how you stand out of a thousand emails a day. And so it’s really like honoring the person on the other side and going, okay, “I’m not going to include them in this mailer because they’re not really a fit,” but you can tell when people just grabbed an email and sent it out as opposed to someone thoughtfully looking and going “I think you’ll actually want to read this. This is for you. I think you will want to read this,” and then sending that.

[00:37:14] Parrish: Yes. And really tailoring it. Yeah. And I think mass sends for 2024, I think that’s really, if you’re not researching, you might have to put together three or four different newsletters, but ultimately it’s going to benefit you because you’re actually sending out better quality and better return response rates.

[00:37:30] Is it annoying to write the three extras? Maybe, but is it going to turn out better in the long run? Yeah, it is.

[00:37:36] Jamie: Well I’ve seen affiliates use AI to scour the emails and pull coupon and deals and product info out. They never respond. It doesn’t really look like they opened it, but it’s there. They got what they needed. They moved on. When it comes to attribution, you talked about top of funnel and some of the things ShareASale has always been the leader in tools for us to handle not only carving an order up between affiliates, but also some of the tools to protect, like this affiliate coming through, they get credit if they brought that consumer, no matter who’s in that line.

[00:38:12] Do you find that if an advertiser wants a top of funnel program, do you find that they’re running it differently than a last click, no consideration, no filters, no tools program.

[00:38:26] Parrish: Not necessarily. I think some brands will. Some brands won’t. I think that they’ll prioritize, higher commission rates for top of funnel. And they’ll, I think after years and years of education, we’ve really gotten into everybody where it’s you still need to have the bottom of funnel.

[00:38:39] You can offer them 5%, you don’t need to offer them 15 if you really aren’t going to work with them if you won’t offer them five. But, I don’t know that they’re running super different programs. I think that they’re just focused more on content, mass media, social influencers is really what they’re focusing on instead of maybe running more of a holistic program if they’re running a first click versus a last click program.

[00:39:00] Jamie: What I’d done a couple of times while at JEB was I always felt if you’re going to focus on top of funnel, your cookie day needs to be different. Because if you have a either day, cookie day, whatever, if it’s 24 hours and then you want people to send you the consumer at the top of their journey, the beginning of their journey that needs to be wildly different.

[00:39:24] How long does it take from intent to purchase? If that’s a year and a half, that should be your cookie for all those top of funnel. If you have a big ticket item or something. We found that has worked along with one of my favorite tools at ShareASale has always been conversion lines. I think that’s the tool it’s been a while since I set one of those up, but that’s the tool where you can say this affiliate, this category of affiliate, their commissions are protected.

[00:39:50] What type of tools does AWIN have coming out? You mentioned before we hit record that there were a bunch of new product announcements. What do you guys have cooking that’s now we’re able to use?

[00:40:01] Parrish: Yeah, absolutely. So there’s a number of different things that have come out. We just did a huge product release last week, I guess two weeks ago. But we have put in a ton of different times. So one of the things that AWIN did acquire Single View a few years ago, and so one of the things that we’ve really focused on is investing and putting that functionality into the platform.

[00:40:21] I mentioned the journey path report. So really being able to see the different touch points, different attribution. Jamie, to your point, the top of funnel report. So being able to link in that funnel report and really seeing how your affiliates are flowing down, what percentage is dropping off from tier to tier. Those are some of the things in terms of the reporting.

[00:40:38] We also have, released a number of different technical product features. So really some enhancements to our conversion API. So creating more user friendly solutions for server to server tracking, which is a big one, especially from decreasing launch time, which everybody is always happy with. But then also authenticates transactions. So really enhancing the reliability and preventing fraud as well. So that’s one of the ones that I know a lot of developers are really happy with.

[00:41:04] And then also opening up an API ground for developers to go in and work with. So you don’t necessarily have to come directly to an AWIN tech team member to find answers. Later this year we’re also going to be releasing real time support in that as well.

[00:41:17] So really excited about, just the developer planner of that, but then from an agency perspective we also have an exposure planner where you can negotiate, manage, operate all of those different offers inside the platform. You can also see them directly in the platform on a calendar as well.

[00:41:32] So it can help you see where everything is falling, where everything’s landing, targeting budget spend, and then also really enhancing the partner discovery tools as well. So searching for publishers and now you can also filter by goals so you can say, Hey, I really want to increase my conversion rate.

[00:41:47] “Hey, I want my basket value to be higher. What publishers have proven that they can do that.” Okay, now we’re going to show you exactly who those are so when you’re searching for those affiliates, you can target specific publishers to reach as well.

[00:41:59] Jamie: That’s a lot of new stuff.

[00:42:02] Parrish: It is. And I think, this is going to be a really big product year. The last two years have been very behind the scenes working to get everything really where it is now. And if you haven’t seen the new a win UI platform, it’s really had a massive facelift. It really feels very like a SaaS technology.

[00:42:20] And in-coming, to your point, Jamie, of things people love about ShareASale, so that enhanced commission flexibility. So that’s launching later this year as well. Enterprise single sign on. So further security and then next generation tracking. So really in terms of enhancing setup time, but then also really being able to secure programs and making sure that fraud is, going away as much as we can as well.

[00:42:41] Jamie: And I can’t remember what it was, but it seemed like the cookie is going away. Like this tracking with the cookie is that’s going to sunset at some point with, I think it was Google. What they posted some stuff. So AWIN ShareASale. They have solutions to counter that.

[00:42:58] Parrish: Yeah. So with the master tag from AWIN, really being able, and it is available on ShareASale as well, but the master tag on AWIN, it is the tracking to end all trackings where once it’s installed, you never have to install it again. So any tracking changes that come from Chrome, Safari, Firefox, what have you, we’re going to make those changes on the back end so that there’s no disruption to tracking.

[00:43:18] It’s going to track first party as well as third party cookies. But then also on the AWIN side, we do also set up server to server tracking as well for that enhanced tracking, making sure that everything is really tracking smoothly and seamlessly from a client perspective as well.

[00:43:34] Jamie: Yeah, definitely be an interesting time over the next couple of years. See how that all works out. It reminds me back in the day of a conversation on an old affiliate forum of the value of cookie versus database or API tracking. And it’s just sometimes interesting that we are having similar conversations that we did 20 years ago about the same thing with a whole lot more tools available.

[00:43:58] So my last question to you and feel free not to answer it, but most of the agencies are going to listen to this podcast. What do they need to be doing to make your job easier and working with them and allow you to help them be more successful?

[00:44:14] Parrish: Oh my goodness.

[00:44:15] Jamie: I can totally edit this out too. I put you on the spot. This was not a prepared question in any way.

[00:44:23] Parrish: No, it’s okay. No, it’s okay. I think one thing…

[00:44:25] Jamie: You don’t have to name them by names either. Just generally.

[00:44:29] Parrish: Yes, no, JEB, they’re amazing. No, but I really think a couple of things is, managing expectations with clients because sometimes I think realistic setup times is really important. I know that sometimes agencies come to us and want clients to launch in a day where sometimes that’s feasible, especially on the ShareASale side, but when you want all of the other bells and whistles you have any number of different red lines or anything that comes into play, setting expectations for launch times is really helpful.

[00:44:59] But then I also think really just. Having a strong recruitment strategy. I think some newer agencies come to us and this is, definitely newer agencies our more established agencies I don’t see this with, but they’ll come to us and say we don’t know how to recruit publishers. And I’m like that feels like a you problem.

[00:45:16] Jamie: Yeah in my role, I have no capability to help you with this right now.

[00:45:21] Parrish: Yeah, I’m like, I actually I can send you some best practices. We can get you put up on some email distros, but other than that, this is really going to not be something that I can help you with. I think really just making sure that as newer agencies are coming into this space that they’re really prepared.

[00:45:37] There’s not really anything that I can think of in terms of… I think, yeah, just really setting client expectations is…

[00:45:44] Jamie: Huge. I worked at another agency a long time ago and the frustration, it didn’t happen often, but when the sales team promised or set expectations, and then they got to the operations team and we were like, “There is… where did you think we could do this? I have no path forward.” That was the most frustrating. Cause once you sell them on a million dollars a day, anything below that is a failure.

[00:46:12] Parrish: A hundred percent, and even if they’re making a hundred thousand dollars a day and they go to another agency and they’re like, but they promised me a million. The other agency is going to look at them and be like, we would have told you $75,000. Like you should stick with the hundred.

[00:46:24] Yeah, I think that’s one thing that I really try to emphasize with my team in terms of new business where it’s don’t oversell. We quote three to four weeks. Sometimes it’s faster. Sometimes it’s slower. But yeah.

[00:46:36] Jamie: I’ve done ShareASale integrations in hours and I’ve had one that lasted for three months, neither of, or any issues were ever related to the network, whether it was ShareASale anyone else, the bottleneck was always the client and their tech team.

[00:46:51] Parrish: Yeah. And that’s …

[00:46:52] Jamie: How simple integration is…

[00:46:54] Parrish: Yeah maybe I change my answer. Maybe in terms of setting expectations, really making sure the dev team has the time and resources available to set up your program before you get the ball rolling on everything. Because I think that the dev teams everybody’s like, “Oh, yeah, dev can do it. No problem.” I’m guilty of doing that with our own dev teams, right?

[00:47:12] Jamie: I’ve said it too.

[00:47:14] Parrish: They’re very busy, and so I think that is one where really setting expectations with your dev team and making sure that they have time and it fits into sprints and whatever it is that is. That’s the big piece.

[00:47:27] Jamie: Yeah. Whenever at JEB, we had a new launch it was part of our SOP that we met your tech team before everything was signed, because I’m a marketing guy and I think our dev guys can do miracles and oftentimes things that aren’t possible, and will tell people that they can do this and they can’t.

[00:47:49] So those are awesome answers. Thank you so much. This has been fantastic, a real deep dive into so many things. If people want to get ahold of you or there’s another agency that wants to work with you, what’s the best way to engage with you?

[00:48:01] Parrish: Yeah. You can always find me on LinkedIn or you can shoot me an email to Parrish,

[00:48:13] Jamie: Awesome. We will include both of those in the show notes.

[00:48:16] Thank you so much, Parrish, really have enjoyed exactly an hour today. Thank you so much. I kept it nice and in line for you. I appreciate you spending the time. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you, and I always learn so much when we’re able to sit down.

[00:48:29] So thanks for joining us today.

[00:48:31] Parrish: Absolutely. Thanks for having me. I really enjoyed it.

[00:48:34] Jamie: Awesome. We’ll see you at the next Summit.

[00:48:36] Parrish: Okay, we’ll see you soon. Bye.

[00:48:38] Jamie: That was chock full of so much good stuff. Parrish, thank you so much. Like right out of the gate. Thank you so much for spending time with me on this podcast. Really appreciate you spending an hour out of your busy and talk about busy home remodel. Nine month old new baby on the way. Congratulations on all of those amazing things. Just saying that I’m tired and I really am grateful that you carved some time for me and our listeners today, thank you so much.

[00:49:09] Now, listeners, what can you pull from that? I hope in these three seasons of the podcast you’ve seen… I’ve tried to pull some commonalities between the most successful affiliate marketers and really some of the most successful people that I’ve been able to meet in this space.

[00:49:27] One of those key successful things is initiative. Parrish saw a need, what she called a white space. There was nothing there. No one was doing anything, but there was an opportunity and she went out and “how can we fill this? I want to fill it, put me in coach.”

[00:49:44] And time again if you’re a recent college grad or a high school grad, you’re listening to this, you’re getting ready to graduate and you ask what makes people successful? And that is one of the biggest things, whether it’s something as simple as taking the garbage out or ” Hey, we need this new service. People are going to go elsewhere, but they need it from us. Let’s put this together.” Like that sort of initiative.

[00:50:07] And the reason I bring up the garbage is because, what we do in small things we do with big things. And one of my favorite employees, he would always take out the garbage and he knew that we had a cleaning service, but he also looked at that garbage and was like, “it’s full. I need to go clean that up. Someone needs to take care of it. Why not me?” And that initiative, that responsibility, that’s a huge key factor in so many people that I’ve had the good fortune to interview in their success is that initiative. And it was really cool to hear Parrish’s story of that as well.

[00:50:40] And now she’s not only built a thing that the company needed and not only did she build a role for herself, but now the team is 15 strong. So they definitely had a need and now she’s able to step into that. And really Parrish is fantastic. We love working with her. Enjoyed every interaction while I was running JEB. It was great.

[00:51:00] But some of the things that she brought outside of that and I love this, this should be a t-shirt or every leader should really get this: you’re going to be the topic of conversation as their leader at dinner. Around that dinner table, what are they going to say? What kind of leader do you want to be? Man, that actually that hit the warm and fuzzies for me. That hit my feelers a little bit when Parrish said that, cause it’s so true. So when you’re looking at leading, have that in mind, that’s going to be a really big part.

[00:51:28] We talked a lot about consumers knowing that there’s affiliate marketing and what that does. I think frankly it gives advertisers a little more compulsion to do this and do it well cause the consumers already know what’s going on. And we talked about the journey report from AWIN, totally encourage you to go back. We’ll try to include a link to that.

[00:51:49] And the simple fact that it’s taking two more touch points for a buyer to make a decision and buy something. And sometimes the affiliates are five in there and how hard it is for attribution. We’ve done a lot a blog content and a lot of podcast content on attribution.

[00:52:05] And there’s attribution within the channel and there’s attribution within all channels outside of the affiliate, how those all fit. If you’re an advertiser listening to this and you don’t really know where the affiliates fit, what you need to understand is one thing Parrish and I talked about is that power and control, you can complain that you don’t have it anymore. You can be upset, pissed off. You have any feelings you want, or you can just accept that it’s different than it used to be. ” I have these partners who have a lot of audiences. How do I work with them?” So you can be short sighted and say, “I wish it was different.”

[00:52:40] Or you can say, “this is the new reality. And how do we maximize what our company’s returns are?” And that’s the way to do that. So you start working with those affiliates instead of from an adversarial position to more of a we’re on the same side, trying to do great things together position. And seeing how many orders are coming through with nine touch points before they make a purchase, that’s pretty considerable. They didn’t just stumble on all those.

[00:53:05] So that’s where we’re at right now. Thank you Parrish for joining me. Such a great conversation. There’s an hour of really great topics.

[00:53:14] So, before you go, go over to and check out the article that we put together. We interviewed all the networks and platforms and asked them what tools do they have to target incrementality, to target profitability, and even target some of the cart sniping and things like that. So we actually lay that out. Just go to and you will see it there.

[00:53:38] Now you may have not heard the news. You may have heard the news. But I sold the company to three of our longest tenured employees. So now Jake, Nicole, and Gabe are the proud owners of JEBCommerce. I’m wrapping up some of the marketing, so you’ll hear me for a few more episodes, but if you want to hear a little more about the sale and the new owners, then head over to and you can listen to season three, episode 15. That’s about the acquisition. You can just listen to this podcast right where you are. Go to episode 15 from this season, learn a whole lot more about that transition.

[00:54:20] Now Jake and the team will be putting together season four of the podcast. I wouldn’t be surprised if you hear from me every once in a while, but if you’d like to be on season four of the podcast, reach out at

[00:54:33] And if you need help growing your affiliate program and dealing with all these topics that Parrish and I talked about, then go to elements. You’ll see the four different service tiers that JEBcommerce provides, and you get to choose the one that you want.

[00:54:49] There’s full transparency. You’ll see prices and you’ll see service level. So you get to choose what’s going to work right for you. And then the outstanding award winning team at JEB will do a great job with your program. So go check those out.

[00:55:02] Now, if you know someone who needs to hear about some of the things Parrish and I talked about today, send this episode over to them, but we’d love it if you share it on Facebook, and LinkedIn. If you found this valuable, share it over there and even leave us a five star review at Apple Podcast, Spotify, or the podcast player of your choice.

[00:55:19] Thank you for making it this far today. Appreciate you spending the time with us. Have a great day and we’ll see you in the next episode.

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