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An Interview with Hero Grigoraki of Webgains affiliate network. Hero is and had been one of the UK’s top affiliate managers for many years.

Tell me more about Webgains?

Webgains launched in 2005 determined to make a difference in the affiliate industry by offering pragmatic, cutting-edge technology and outstanding customer service to affiliates and merchants alike. These goals are still the focus of our platform and our operations. Our reputation in the industry is one of high dedication, responsiveness and reliability, as well as the assurance that we can be contacted 24/7.

We now have localized platforms and local offices in 8 countries: UK, USA, Ireland, France, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, and we can service all European countries from these offices. For example, we run Ireland from the UK office. We now have over 900 live programs across all countries.

Vote for Webgains! We have been nominated for the 3rd year in a row for Publisher’s Choice of Network – get cracking! And, while you’re at it, vote for me as well in the Choice of Account Manager

What is new at Webgains?

We constantly introduce new developments in response to affiliate and merchant feedback and industry needs, providing innovative solutions for our clients. As examples, we were the first network to provide cookieless tracking, PagePeel links, semantic contextual advertising, voucher tracking & reporting. Our most recent releases have centered on a major overhaul of our Reporting, giving powerful in-depth information to our merchants and affiliates so they can make informed decisions on their activity. We have also just introduced the iSense Site Seeker to help us match more closely our affiliates to specific merchants and verticals.

How did you get into affiliate marketing?

By complete accident! I was working for Boysstuff, a gift & gadgets etailer, on various online marketing tasks, when one day in 2003 I was called in the director’s office and assigned the existing affiliate programs we had. I had not even heard the word “affiliates” before, so I almost turned it down! Very glad I didn’t, obviously! I then moved on to Figleaves, a lingerie merchant, to run their affiliate program, and 3.5 years ago I joined Webgains as account manager for the fashion sector.

What was your biggest challenge getting into affiliate marketing?

Educational resources… back in 2003 there was just nothing to help me get to grips with anything about the task. I finally found 2 books (Neil Durrant’s and Shaun Collins’s) which were immensely helpful, but only after I devoured the manuals the networks were offering (which all had very contradictory advice, I’ll tell you that!)
Time is the biggest challenge to date – this is not a 9-5 job and there are just not enough hours in the day to do all the things one needs to be doing.

What are the main things merchants do that you wish they wouldn’t?

Unrealistic expectations: how soon they will see results, how huge the results will be, how little time & effort they need to put in from their end. My pet hates are merchants who don’t know their own business, can’t set targets for their channels and never bother to notify anyone when they change their sites!

What are the main things affiliates do that you wish they wouldn’t?

Thinking that network employees don’t care and they can get away with inappropriate activity.
Tarnishing every network with the same brush and blaming the networks for anything that goes wrong in this industry– we’re not the bad guys here!

Disloyalty – I understand they are businessmen and swapping links for more commission is a necessary evil, but please discuss it first with the person who put all that effort in helping you improve your campaigns.

Where do you see growth in the affiliate field?

Putting the focus on the customer. I would like to see affiliate sites with a more holistic approach to servicing the customers, by offering more and more services to them, whether they are mainstream or niche audiences.

For sectors, the fashion sector is very much on the rise at the moment and I anticipate that it will continue growing for some time.

What new ideas are advertisers coming up with to take advantage of new traffic sources?

Merchants who make it easy for affiliates to explore offline opportunities and merchants who are able to tie in well the offline with the online will greatly benefit. Merchants who understand their customers will sense their needs and the trends on how to engage them in new ways; by making these available to affiliates as well, they will reap the rewards.

What do you do to improve the world?

I’m really struggling with this question… I try to do the best I can in everything I get involved in, be it personal or business. I am a passionate person – does that improve the world? For others to judge.

What do you do that is green?

I refuse to drive – I use public transport. Partly down to the fact that I do not know how to drive! I am also very pedantic when it comes to recycling – now, if only I could get my council to stop spamming me with all their services…

What is one thing about you that not many people know?

Despite being a maths genius, I was painfully bad at physics for some reason (apparently, they go hand-in-hand). Not that it made any difference in my life, but still.
I’m also a huge fan of sports – watching them, not engaging, obviously…

What is on your iPod?

Depeche Mode’s latest album – not very impressed, I would add.

What’s your favorite book?

Anything by Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites if I had to chose one of his.

What are your contact details (email, company, blog, facebook, myspace, forums etc) ?
Email & msn: hero@webgains.com
blog.webgains.com
twitter.com/WebgainsUK

Who would you recommend and why?

My merchants! Cloggs, Insight, Maplin, Viking, Matches Fashion, Feel Unique, UKSoccershop, Rivet online – they are all fantastic programs and well worth promoting.
All the Webgains merchants actually, while we’re at it.

Who would you not recommend and why?

Merchants should try to see below the surface and bling on all occasions. Promises mean nothing if they do not reflect reality.

Thank you Hero Grigoraki of Webgains!

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