Affiliates & Partnerships at Wise – Building our mission force of Wise promoters
Hey! I’m Vivien and I currently lead our Affiliates & Partnerships team at Wise in London. Hopefully by the end of this post you’ll have a bit more flavour on what our team do, how we’re structured and hey, you may even want to join our mission!
First a bit of background. I discovered Wise in 2017 while looking for a better way to move my savings from Hong Kong to the UK. During my research I came across a BBC article about Wise and the culture they had created. It seemed like an awesome place to work – you had smart, driven people building a product that was challenging the status quo on how to move money around the world. Everything from the language used on the site through to ‘life at Wise’ employee videos oozed friendliness and a passion for the mission. I had to apply. The office sauna, table tennis, office dogs and Friday lunches were just the cherry on top. Luckily for me, they had the perfect role opening as an Affiliates Manager. 4 years later, I’m still here facing new challenges each day!
So what is affiliate marketing?
In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is a cost effective online marketing channel which involves 2 main parties:
- The brand (in this case Wise)
- The affiliate (an individual or business who wishes to promote the brand)
Affiliates will use unique referral links to drive traffic from their website, business or platform to the brand. For each successful action that the affiliate drives to the brand, they get paid a commission. This ‘successful action’ is defined by the brand and is based on whatever desired outcome they wish to achieve. This could be clicks to their website, successful registrations, or actual sales.
What does Affiliates & Partnerships mean at Wise?
Our team’s goal is to find and support any business or individual who wishes to make money from promoting Wise.
Our vision is to build a best-in-class partner programme that is: easy for partners to understand, rewards partners fairly and gives them all the tools, information, creative and reporting they need to successfully promote Wise.
Affiliate programmes are all about creating win-win relationships for both the brand and the affiliate. Each party needs to be super clear on expectations on both sides and what success looks like. It also requires a fair amount of ‘hustle’ as each partner has differing goals. Some are purely revenue focused. Others are looking for value-add services to help with their own customer retention. Figuring out what makes a partner ‘tick’, what problems their customers have and how Wise can help provide a solution is super important in honing our pitch for different partner categories.
Our team partners with websites and businesses that can help us reach relevant audiences at the right time in the user’s consideration journey. We focus on ‘light touch’ referral partnerships. Our partners will promote Wise to their audience/ client base and direct traffic to our website using their unique affiliate tracking link. For every new customer who goes on to exchange currency with Wise, we pay the partner a commission. It’s different to what our Business Development team or Banking team does, which is focused on embedding our service and onboarding flow into a partners’ website and requires more engineering and development work to get up and running.
We work with partners from global media conglomerates with thousands of employees and offices around the world, through to one person teams blogging from their bedroom. This diversity adds variety and new challenges each day.
The “Wise” way of working with affiliates
Whilst the fundamentals of how we do affiliate marketing at Wise are the same – we pay commission to partners who help refer new customers – we do things a little differently here at Wise.
On a typical affiliate programme usually the top 10 partners drive 90% of the revenue, resulting in teams having a laser focus on the top tier of partners. Smaller sites in the mid to long tail often get overlooked. At Wise we aim to provide opportunities to all our partners and invest a lot of time into constantly onboarding and finding new partners to sign up to our programme. We work alongside ‘rising star’ partners to help them grow from just a handful of referrals each month to driving hundreds. It’s always super satisfying to see this development in our partners and share successes together.
We currently have over 8000 partners on our network and so have to figure out ways to manage partners at scale. Whether that’s from building a self-serve help centre through to testing guided onboarding flows to increase and support partner activation. As a result of our recruitment drive, there is greater variance in the types of affiliate partners we work with compared to an average programme that may be mostly made up of a few aggregators, voucher code, cashback and loyalty sites. At Wise our partners range from your usual comparison sites and global media companies through to YouTube content creators and hen party agencies in Marbella!
Our team is data obsessed. We use it to develop a deep understanding of what makes a campaign or partner successful. I have to admit at previous companies I’ve worked at, we didn’t always have a full understanding of where traffic was coming from on partner pages and so could end up wasting money on promotional packages that didn’t end up driving incremental value. At Wise we’ve used our own data and insights to build an in-house tool that helps us to easily evaluate the potential value and performance of content partners. This has been super useful from a recruitment and value assessment of newly signed up partners and helps us spot potential high value partners more quickly.
One of the biggest challenges we have within the team is ensuring we set up partnerships that acquire users at sustainable costs. For some affiliates or partnerships teams, it may be more about the brand; and media spend could be huge for these types of deals. At Wise, we need to spend our money efficiently and effectively, to keep our costs down for consumers and businesses and is what sets us apart from competitors. So we have the added challenge of not just working with partners that are able to reach the right customers, but are willing to do so at costs and commission spend that we can sustainably keep paying for.
This also means that sometimes we have to turn away from large scale partnerships. For example we’ve had to dial down partnerships with some high traffic comparison partners since we’re not aligned on how we believe comparison tables should work. Transparency is one of our product pillars and not all sites will rank providers based on who is the cheapest and best option; instead opting to promote those that earn the highest revenue.
We don’t believe this helps the end customer and is not aligned with our values and we’re not afraid to forego those partnerships or campaigns for greater transparency in the market.
What it takes to succeed in an Affiliates & Partnerships role
These are some of the key attributes to succeed in the role:
- A problem solver: You enjoy finding solutions and new ways of working with partners. Whether that’s identifying new partnership verticals that could help tap into new audiences or figuring out ways to scale globally
- Resilient: You don’t take no for an answer and remain positive even when a partnership fails
- A hustler: You know who to target as the ‘champion’ within a company and can win partners and internal stakeholders to your cause
- A people person: It’s all about building honest relationships with our partners, making sure that both parties are clear on the expectations
- Data obsessed: You make data-informed decisions in everything you do. Whether that’s assessing the market opportunity through to setting clear success metrics for test partnerships, you use data to extract learnings that can be applied to future partnerships