Oct 18, 2021

Stephanie Harris, Owner & CEO of Partnercentric, on the Future of the Partner Marketing Industry

Bethany Cowan

PartnerCentric is more than just another marketing agency - it's the largest woman-owned agency of its type in the United States. Owner and CEO Stephanie Harris was hired by the original founders all the way back in 2006, at which time she was the company's only employee. Fast forward to today and she's personally managing some of the largest programs that the organization has to offer.

In a recent interview, she gave her thoughts on not only how far affiliate marketing has come over the last decade in particular, but where she thinks it might be headed moving forward.

A Future of Innovation Awaits

During the discussion, she indicated that one of her major priorities for the future of at least PartnerCentric is transparency. This is true in a few different ways.

For starters, she acknowledges the challenge of managing a channel with a myriad of different partners spread out all over the Internet. The very idea can make certain customers uneasy, particularly when it comes to managing things like content creation and distribution.

But she and the team at PartnerCentric have regularly been leveraging their own in-house technology to help make this easier - a trend she expects to continue in the future. She also acknowledged the importance of making attribution as visible as possible. Simply making sure that clients have the confidence that they're paying for content that aligns with their brand and values goes a long way towards cementing those relationships that serve all parties well.

She also spoke to the importance of making sure that a single offer or commission doesn't cannibalize other sales channels. It's a balancing act, to be sure - but it's one that can be successful if everyone involved is on the same page and moving in the same direction.

Indeed, attribution was a major theme of the discussion - specifically when it comes to making sure that all affiliate partners are compensated correctly and fairly for their activities. Harris spoke to some fairly negative activities that had been cropping up on the strategy and account management sides of the industry. Commission rates were being cut for affiliates to next to nothing. Sometimes commissions weren't being paid out at all - all of which created a lot of tension-filled behaviors in various channels.

Harris said that she and her team developed and began using a proprietary tool called Fuse a few years ago to help address a lot of these issues. Among other features, Fuse allows channel partners to use their own internal analytics - something that gives them the confidence to know that they're being paid out fairly and accurately.

Finally, she talked about the importance of remote work - something especially relevant given everything going on in the world. PartnerCentric has always been a fully remote business and she'd regularly spoken to clients at length about how this was actually a strength. If you're attempting to create virtual relationships in the first place, why would you not embrace the idea wholeheartedly?

She indicated that the rest of the industry seemed to be finally coming around to this idea and looked forward to this trend continuing over the next few years and beyond.