PartnerStack provides more than just affiliate tracking, with features like in-app messaging, resource center and automated onboarding. We need to empower our partners to sell, and PartnerStack helps make it happen.
Jungle Scout is an all-in-one solution for anyone that wants to make money selling on Amazon, designed to help third-party sellers find the best products to stock, launch products of their own and get more positive reviews.
Products on Amazon aren’t just sold by Amazon itself. Millions of products on Amazon are sold by third-party sellers, either using Amazon for fulfillment or shipping orders directly to customers themselves. Some of those sellers are small businesses, and many of them are just individual people.
Joe Cardillo was one of those individuals — but selling on Amazon wasn’t originally part of his plan. “After graduating with a degree in marketing and business in 2016, I moved onto a job that just honestly wasn’t the right fit for me,” Joe told us. “I was looking for something else to do. And a buddy of mine recommended I get into selling on Amazon. And I got really into selling on Amazon.”
Joe ended up turning his Amazon side-hustle into his main gig, importing thousands of units of product and generating 6 figures in revenue. His passion for ecommerce and brand-building eventually led him to encounter Jungle Scout’s CEO Greg Mercer at an event.
“Greg mentioned to me that there was an open position for Affiliate Marketing Manager. I didn’t really know much about affiliate marketing — it never even came up in university. But I felt my marketing background and first-hand experience in ecommerce gave me the skills needed to adapt to the role.”
Joe was right — he was the perfect fit. He applied and got the job, taking over partnerships as a team of one at Jungle Scout. Since then, he’s lifted program revenue to over $4 million in 2019, and created a much more engaging program for partners.
We spoke with Joe to learn how he did it. As he tells it, his very first step was moving away from an out-of-date partner relationship management (PRM) platform to a more modern tool that could scale with Jungle Scout’s partnership ambitions.
“When I joined Jungle Scout in 2018, the affiliate program was very basic. You’d sign up. You’d get a link. And that was pretty much it.”
Despite being fairly hands off, Jungle Scout’s program was generating meaningful revenue, with over $1 million brought in from partners in 2017.
But there was a bit of a problem — 98% of that revenue was coming from just 2% of partners. If any of those partners ever left the program or the industry itself (both normal things that happen), they would take a huge chunk of program revenue with them. And new partners that joined the program just weren’t sticking with it, meaning there’d be nobody to replace any lost partners.
“The PRM platform we were using at the time was very antiquated. It was so hard to do basic things like see a partner’s sales and commissions. It was hard for the partners, too. And there was nothing built-in to help us engage partners with the program.”
Joe spoke to sales representatives at 8 different PRM providers, including PartnerStack. And when he saw PartnerStack in action in a demo with our team, there was something that stood out that other PRM platforms were missing.
“PartnerStack provides way more than just affiliate tracking. There are a ton of features built in to help empower partners, like the in-app messaging, resource center and automated onboarding.
“This was critical because acquiring partners wasn’t the problem for us — plenty of partners were joining every week organically. But they barely made any sales. We needed to empower them to do it. And PartnerStack has helped make it happen.”
Most partner relationship management software is designed to do just that — manage partners, not empower them. Yet the most successful partner programs are built around educating and engaging partners, and giving them the resources they need to succeed.
That’s why PartnerStack has a dedicated dashboard built specifically for partners. When partners login to PartnerStack, they get access to a dedicated space where they can:
Partner managers succeed when their partners succeed. PartnerStack is built with the needs of program managers and partners in mind because that’s what drives revenue.
To help more incoming partners find success with the program — and drive more qualified customers to Jungle Scout — Joe knew he had to think beyond the initial stage of acquiring partners.
Jungle Scout’s new partner journey focuses on getting partners to their first sale, and then giving them the resources to repeat and scale that success.
“The application process is key. It’s the first touch point with a partner, and the best opportunity to get information and insights from them.” That’s why Jungle Scout’s partner program application asks questions like:
Asking partners what they need up-front has proven especially valuable. “Many of the resources I’ve created for our partners have been pulled from answers to that question. There are a ton of great content requests and suggestions, and those answers give me insight into who has the potential to become our next high-performing partner.”
Once a partner’s approved and joins Jungle Scout’s program, the Engage stage begins. Joe guides partners through the onboarding process through a series of automated emails that guide them towards valuable resources, and adapt to their activity as an affiliate.
The first email a new partner receives after being approved to the program gives them their custom referral link and lets them know that PartnerStack is, in Joe’s words, their “affiliate headquarters” where they can access helpful resources, track their success and communicate directly with Jungle Scout.
From there, Joe’s onboarding emails continue to emphasize the educational resources, assets and templates available to partners, and adapts to their level of activity. “If a partner is inactive for 30 days, we can automatically reach out to ask if they need help, or if they’d like a demo of the product. Before, they’d just hear nothing from us, and then reach out to our support team to ask questions. This onboarding process alone reduced tickets into support by 40%, and has helped many more partners stay engaged with the program.”
Of course, empowerment doesn’t end with email. Joe has found ways to keep partners engaged even later into the partner lifecycle, like setting up unique Challenges that give partners extra rewards in exchange for completing specific goals.
“Because we update our product so frequently, it’s easy for partner content to become outdated, and just asking them to update it isn’t always enough. With PartnerStack challenges, we can set deadlines for partners to update their content with the new assets and resources we provide, and provide them with some extra incentive for doing so.”
The most critical step in getting partners to commit to your program is to help them find success as soon as possible. PartnerStack automates the partner acquisition and onboarding process with:
With smart use of automation, a single partnerships manager using PartnerStack can run a successful program with thousands of partners.
Joe’s ultimate goal in rebooting Jungle Scout’s partner program with PartnerStack was to increase the number of partners that were driving meaningful revenue through the program.
“It’s normal for most of a program’s revenue to come from a minority of dedicated partners. But you want something closer to an 80/20 split; we previously had just 2% of partners driving 98% of program revenue before.”
What does it look like today? “Since migrating our program to PartnerStack and changing our approach to partner onboarding, we’ve tripled the number of active partners and grown annual program revenue over 230% to over $4 million. Now 15% of partners now drive 80% of revenue. These are much healthier numbers for us, and they mean that way more partners are finding success in selling Jungle Scout. PartnerStack enabled that.”
Joe has experimented with several different commission structures, but was surprised to find that adjusting commission rates didn’t do much to move the needle on partner performance for this particular program.
“You need to reward your partners fairly. After all, they’re driving real revenue for the business that you wouldn’t get without them. But raising commissions alone doesn’t lead to better, higher-performing partners. If the partners don’t believe in the product or if it’s not an organic fit for their audience, everything they do will fall flat.
“Our best sales people — and I mean our partners — are passionate about our industry. They’ve used our product. They want to be at the forefront of thought leadership and training on how to sell on Amazon, just like we do. Our affiliates are so valuable because that’s our mission too, and succeeding in it together benefits us all.”
“Our affiliate program’s success has come from making it easier for our partners to succeed in what they already want to do. And PartnerStack has helped us succeed in what we want to do.”