An Interview with Nadeem Azam of Azam Marketing a Affiliate Management Agency and Affiliates4u 2009 Awards Finalist. I have known Nadeem Azam virtually as long as I have been in affiliate marketing; he is the Yoda of affiliate marketing. He has been a keen contributor to the Affiliates4 A4uforum since the beginning of time. If you want to know anything about affiliate marketing he is your man.
Tell me more about Azam Marketing?
Azam Marketing is a full-services online marketing and design agency and affiliate. A pioneer in the digital arena, our team have 86 combined years of experience and know-how in affiliate, email and search marketing. We also specialise in public relations, website design and development, online business consulting, and corporate training.
Tell me more about how you feel about being nominated for the a4u affiliate forum awards as Affiliate Management Agency of the Year?
I feel proud that our team has been recognised for the hard work they put in. I have honestly never worked with such a bunch of talented and knowledgeable people.
Why should I vote for you to win?
While I would obviously like people to vote for Azam Marketing as Affiliate Management Agency of the Year, I know the other three shortlisted agencies very well and would be equally happy if you voted for them. To give you an example of how special the other agencies are to me, Equator sent us a humongous Christmas hamper last year and I recently wrote a testimonial to say how fabulous they are; one of my colleagues will actually be sitting on the Existem Affiliate Management table at the a4u awards as she was kindly invited by them; and just the week before last I spent more time chatting to the wonderful people at RO Eye than anybody else at the exhibition.
How did you get into affiliate marketing?
In the 1990s I was a writer for various community newspapers, magazines and academic journals. Much of the work was voluntary and the rest of it paid next to nothing. I was dirt broke and, one day when I couldn’t even afford a £1.99 meal, it dawned upon me that I needed to start earning some money.
I wanted to start my own business because I had been working for others since the age of nine and had generally been treated unfairly by my bosses. At the supermarket I worked at, for instance, I was paid 90p an hour even though I was responsible for the entire frozen food department (this was the days before the minimum wage).
It was 1997 and I did not have the internet at home, so while working for a magazine, I would go into the office at 8am, before anybody was in the office, and stay there until late at night after everybody else had left (sometimes I even slept in the office) to surf the internet, learn HTML, and see what potential there was to earn an income.
I discovered this new-fangled thing called affiliate marketing and started raving about its potential to all and sundry. Everybody thought it was a fad that would die out in a year or two!
What was your biggest challenge getting into affiliate marketing?
Having no internet connection! I couldn’t afford an internet connection, so I would go to the internet room of my local college and started running my business from there. I would be there from about 9am until 8pm every day, when they would close down and kick me out. It wasn’t easy trying to do your work from there with the teenagers around you constantly chatting, fighting, and flicking pieces of paper at each other past your nose
Also, of course, in those days there weren’t many affiliate programs in the UK, so I had to focus on the US market. I therefore set-up book review websites which had affiliate links to Amazon.com and Books.com. To this day Azam Marketing has a strong presence in the American market.
What are the main things merchants do that you wish they wouldn’t?
I am speaking with my affiliate hat now. It infuriates me when a merchant closes down their affiliate program, switches networks, restructures their website or changes their Terms and Conditions without giving their affiliates notice. This happens all the time and is the bane of my life. For instance, three advertisers in the last three weeks have closed down their affiliate programs or are switching networks, one for which our design team spent over 100 unpaid hours building a state-of-the-art affiliate website and another for whom we spent over 15+ unpaid hours negotiating and setting up a PPC campaign, and not one of them gave any notice when changing their T&Cs, meaning all our time was wasted. It would never happen in any other line of business in the Western world, but affiliates are shown little respect in this industry.
Our websites have a lot of deeplinks to specific pages and products on merchants’ websites and it is a horrendous task for us to maintain those links because merchants don’t co-operate with us. Affiliate Managers are constantly telling affiliates to create content rich websites which deeplink to specific merchant pages, but if the merchants don’t even bother to let affiliates know when they change their site architecture and therefore the pages that affiliates deeplink to become dead, then I can understand why most affiliates don’t put in the effort to do that.
To give one example, we have been an affiliate of WHSmith Online (and the previous incarnation of their website, the Internet Bookshop) for 12 years and sold thousands of products for them. They have changed their site architecture several times, but never once, not once, bothered to inform us. It takes five minutes to write an email.
What are the main things affiliates do that you wish they wouldn’t?
Affiliates are generally the ones being kicked around like footballs, so my sympathies generally lie we them/us, but there are many, mainly newer affiliates who have no concern for how their dubious actions will reflect detrimentally on affiliate marketing as an industry. They have told me to my face that their one and sole aim is to make money and they don’t care how they do it. It’s sad when the love of money leads people to throw morals and ethics out of the window.
Where do you see growth in the affiliate field?
Next year will be the year of mobile marketing…. LOL. I’m glad that almost every speaker at every internet exhibition has been saying that every year since about 1999, and proven to be wrong every single time because, while so many companies have devoted countless man hours and money into mobile marketing and made zilch in net profit from it, Azam Marketing has been focusing on what does make a profit. We do not run our business based on soundbite economics or what we think is ‘sexy’.
What do you do to improve the world?
Just yesterday one of my best friends spent half an hour giving me a rollicking saying I spend too much of my time doing stuff for others, but whatever I do and do not do is between me and God so I’d rather not go into it.
One of the people I dislike the most is Margaret Thatcher who famously said “there is no such thing as society” and spent 11 years destroying the fabric of British society. Britain is one of the greatest countries in the world and I would like to play a part in building the sense of community and togetherness that we have lost since the 1970s.
What do you do that is green?
I have never had a car in my life and always use public transport. I haven’t sat on an airplane for over five years.
What is one thing about you that not many people know?
Not many people know that I have $2.72 credit in my Searchfeed PPC account.
What is on your iPod?
I’m not cool enough to have an iPod, but on my computer I listen to Geekcast.fm in which some of my favourite people in America talk about all aspects of internet marketing. Shawn Collins is one of the most extraordinary people in the industry and his ‘Affiliate Thing’ podcasts are engrossing.
What’s your favorite book?
The Koran and the Bible are a well of knowledge: each and every sentence is packed so many layers of meaning and there is so much to learn. I wanted to study Theology at university, but my father thought it would be a waste of time!
Jane Austen’s Persuasion is my favourite non-religious book.
What are your contact details (email, company, blog, facebook, myspace, forums etc) ?
Facebook Group: www.azam.net/facebook
My email address is nadeem [at] azam.net
Who would recommend you and why?
Marilyn has been loyal to me through thick and thin in all my years in online marketing and would always recommend me. She is lovely and would never walk out of the door, no matter how many 14 hour days I spend on the net.
Who would you recommend and why?
There are so many tremendous people in this industry that I would indeed be writing something as long as the Bible if I listed everybody who I thought were a delight to enjoy the company of and work with.
There are so many people out there in online marketing land who have supported me over the years and made each and every day I have worked in this industry a thorough pleasure – to each and every one of them, a massive thank you.
It goes without saying that I would recommend all the terrific staff that I am honoured to work with at Azam Marketing. I count myself so lucky to have such an amazing bunch around me.
As Jonathan Erwin, the Publisher Account Manager at Online Media Goup (OMG), recommended me in his recent interview with you, I will publically ‘name and shame’ him in return and say he is somebody who I think is amazing. I am so impressed with the skill and fortitude with which he carries out his Account Management that, when training Account Managers, I single him out and encourage them to be like him!
Thank you Nadeem Azam of Azam Marketing
See also super affiliate guru