Erin Cigich now runs the company that hired her for her first job out of college. The CEO of Perform[cb] has served in multiple roles in the company since joining what was then called Clickbooth about 15 years ago. She began as an affiliate manager – a “boots on the ground account manager” in her words – and moved into overseeing the affiliate side of the business before becoming president and then CEO around the same time the company decided to build its own proprietary technology platform.
The company rebranded in 2020 as Perform[cb] after acquiring Adperio and Ignite OPM and then acquired the Direct Division of Digital Remedy, which expanded the company’s capabilities around pay-per-call traffic.
“I’ve been at this for 15 years at one company, but I feel like my job changes every six months,” Cigich said.
That’s true for others in the business, too, she said. As the affiliate industry grows, the job descriptions of account managers, for example, have expanded as well. The role has become more “professionalized,” Cigich said. Though relationships still matter in the business, account managers today also have to be more technical since there are so many more tracking and integration elements in the work. A person in that role must now be able to dig through the data, work with the platform and then communicate the reporting to the affiliate so they can optimize, Cigich said. Fifteen years ago, however, the job was more about playing matchmaker.
Perform[cb] has both an agency and a network portion of its business, offering both a service element and the acquisition/traffic element. The agency portion helps clients like Robinhood, CapitalOne and Tempur-Pedic manage their affiliate programs to help them scale, optimize and run compliance as their agency of record.
Perform[cb]’s network portion is thought of as an “omnichannel media execution arm,” Cigich said. Marketers work within the company’s technology platform and only pay when Perform[cb] helps get a customer. They are able to log on and purchase traffic from Perform[cb] on a cost-per basis.
When working with a marketer on the agency side, the company takes a “hive approach,” Cigich and is able to offer bespoke strategies. “The more brains you can get on a problem, the faster you can get that problem solved,” she said. “And you can ensure you’re kind of ahead of what the next thing may be.”
Perform[cb] takes a full-funnel approach to affiliate, which can include deals and coupons. That level of affiliate marketing can get a bad rep, Cigich said, but internal testing has shown that it does drive incremental business.
As she thinks about affiliate marketing and its future, Cigich believes those in branding need to better understand how to use and track affiliate strategies.
“The future is shifting more and more to outcome-based marketing,” she said. Still, there’s a standing reputation that affiliate is not as strategic as branding. Cigich doesn’t understand that argument.
“We’re getting you customers,” she said. “And at the end of the day, what is more important than that?”
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