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Q&A with Matt Lawrence: Head of the Partner Relationship Department at XM

For this affiliate interview we sat down with the head of partner relationship, Matt Lawrence to discover what sets the XM affiliate program apart from its competition and how their team is staying ahead of the game to bring their affiliates and partners the best trading affiliate tools around.

Can you tell us about yourself (background, current position)?

I have worked for XM in the Partner Relationship Department for 11 years helping to build it up from its infancy to how it is today servicing partners from all corners of the globe. 

During the past 11 years I have leaned on my years of experience working within the Market Research industry which has given me a vast amount of knowledge helping to keep research in the forefront of our minds before launching into new markets.

During this time, I can also say that I am proud to have helped to build up many long-term business relationships with our partners that have been key to our continued growth and success as a department.  

2. In your opinion, how has the landscape of affiliate marketing changed over the last few years, and what emerging trends do you foresee in the near future?

During my 11 years working within XM’s Partner Relationship Department, I can clearly see the shift in direction by our partners from the traditional marketing methods and, using websites to refer their traffic. 

For quite some time our partners have been moving towards more face-to-face marketing methods where they have been building their own long-term relationships with their clients through telegram groups, educational training, and seminars. However, for the time being, websites are, and will continue to be the bread and butter of affiliate marketing. 

As the landscape is changing and affiliation is becoming more competitive, it is noticeable that affiliates are always trying to find new ways to diversify their portfolio and, with everything becoming more mobile in our lives, it is something that has not passed our partners by. 

The trends we are seeing are towards promoting our mobile app and trading on the go. Couple this with the huge uptrend in social media influencers during the past few years, I believe the trends will continue to keep evolving and social influencers will start to play a bigger part in the way in which affiliates work.  

3. What is your experience with creating and managing affiliate programs?

My experience has been built up over many years during which time I have had the opportunity to give a vast amount of input into the workings of our affiliate program. Along the way I have used the trust and long-term business relationships built up with our partners to gather vital information and feedback to be able to deliver a program and service that meets the needs of our affiliates which, in turn has helped them to be able to achieve their goals with XM.  

There is not one tool, product or marketing material that fits all as affiliates work in many ways. 

From my experience, I have learned that the key to managing an affiliate program successfully is being able to adapt and provide a service that supports all. This means being innovative and continuing to development and enhance your affiliate program to stay up to date with current trends while, at the same time, keeping your partners engaged.  

4. How do you build relationships with potential affiliates?

Building relationships with affiliates takes time and is built on trust.  The trust is based on many factors such as speed of response when giving assistance, not making promises that you cannot uphold and offering a service not only based on good payout amounts, but a secure, stable affiliate platform with tools available to make their job as easy as possible to convert their traffic.   

5. When approaching potential affiliates, how do you differentiate your company from others?

Working with affiliates makes you understand that their number one goal is to secure the highest payouts for referring their clients while, at the same time, making sure that both themselves and their clients will be well looked after. At XM we try to differentiate ourselves from our competition by offering some of the most competitive commission plans while giving a first-class service built on being big, fair, and human.

6. Could you share some insights on how AI technology is changing the world of affiliate marketing?

While AI is a new tool it is something that will shape the future of affiliate marketing with its ability to personalise and target, use predictive analytics and data-driven decision making, as well as automation and efficiency. This is beneficial for the affiliate as it takes away the need for affiliates to spend as much time as they currently do analysing data. This will free up time for affiliates to spend more time on marketing and being able to refer more traffic.

7. What is one secret to affiliate marketing success that no one talks about?

In my opinion, the key to success in affiliate marketing is making sure you are ahead of the game in terms of analysing data and trends within the industry to be able to make changes at the right time to still be relevant in the industry. 

8. How do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends in affiliate marketing?

To stay informed of latest trends I use my affiliates as their feedback is vital to help us keep abreast of what the competition and other affiliates are doing. In addition, I also believe it is vital to attend conferences, have face to face meetings, and to read industry specific publications to try and get a balanced outlook on the future. Furthermore, our own weekly research is also key for us to stay up to date with the latest trends and industry goings-on. 

9. Do you have any advice for people beginning their affiliate marketing journey?

My advice for someone starting their affiliate marketing journey is to start with a clear plan on how they will attract and find new clients, know, and understand the market and to be prepared to work slowly and methodically for the long term not expecting a big ROI on their investment during the first few months until their brand name is established within the industry, and they become more trusted.

Affiliation is a long-term business that can be rewarding if the right steps are followed. 

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