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With the right data, there are no limits: a chat with Deputy Head Alfaleads

We sat down with Constantine Guberkan, Deputy Head at Alfaleads, to explore how steering substantial affiliate networks transforms business operations and what it ultimately brings to affiliate marketers.

In this insightful interview (a must-read for managers!), he delved into the following key areas:

  • The birth of money-making ideas
  • Is it tougher to bring an idea to life or get the team on board?
  • Why Constantine is always crunching the numbers
Interview with Constantine Guberkan, Deputy Head at Alfaleads

Constantine, hi! We came across your recent social media post about your team’s purposeful changes in the company’s business processes, and we thought it was a fresh and intriguing topic for the affiliate market. Would you be up for discussing it further?

Hey there! Change management is not only interesting but also a vast field in management. I’d love to share some recent practical experiences, and I believe it could be valuable for media buying team managers and companies in our industry. 

Before we dive into that, could you give us a bit of background about yourself? You recently transitioned from being the Head of Marketing to Deputy Head at Alfaleads. What’s your role now?

That’s correct! I shifted from the marketing department to operational management. My current focus revolves around the financial aspects of the company, including budget planning, revenue, affiliate payments, and managing the profit and loss ratio. Our company is part of a larger holding group, and I represent Alfaleads concerning financial management. In a nutshell, I’m the go-to for everything that’s connected to the economics of the affiliate network. I also keep an eye on analytics and the technical side of things.

Together with Alexandra, the Head of Alfaleads, we take charge of our unit’s goals, team motivation, and efficiency. And, of course, we’re actively implementing the changes I mentioned in my post. 

Let’s dive deeper into that! You mentioned a major leap in our business analytics. Can you tell us more about the changes in your company?

Over the last six months, we’ve really stepped up our game in business analytics. We’ve been all about crunching the numbers. That means sifting through the vast data in our tracking platform, extracting the crucial figures, and drawing some smart conclusions. 

One of the most intriguing discoveries was cracking the code for calculating LTV (Lifetime Value). I’m sure fellow managers and business owners in our industry would agree that it’s no walk in the park. It’s a whole different ball game compared to straightforward digital marketing, where you can easily tally what you spent to acquire a customer and what they eventually brought in. But in the CPA arena, things get more complex. Imagine we set up a booth at a conference, an affiliate drops by, a year later they stop driving traffic, and then they rejoin us later. Calculating their LTV seems like a puzzle. But guess what? We cracked it! Now, we’re actively using this metric to steer our affiliate network.

Now, here’s something that really makes me beam with pride — working with marketers in cohorts. We took our entire database and split them into groups based on their journey with us: 30, 60, 90, 120, 180 days, and beyond. This has been a game-changer. We can spot patterns and figure out when our partners kick it into high gear during these periods or when they start taking it easy. For each cohort, we’ve crafted a tailored plan. We know when a partner is ready to scale up, and that’s when we roll up our sleeves for some one-on-one attention. When a partner starts to lose steam, we kickstart a revival plan and explore new opportunities for them.

To sum it up, we haven’t just embraced deep analytics; we’ve also mastered the art of metrics. It’s a big deal, not only for us but also for our partners. Thanks to these robust analytics, we can evaluate the traffic quality on our site and confidently approach advertisers with proof of top-notch traffic at competitive rates.

Since you cover the finances of the affiliate network, can you tell us if you have managed to implement anything new in this regard?

Absolutely, we’ve made some significant changes in how we handle payments to our affiliates. In fact, we’ve become quite adept at predicting future affiliate earnings for the upcoming month, with a remarkable accuracy rate of up to 10%. Now, we’re steering the financial ship based on these predictions. 

You might wonder, why the big deal? After all, we’ve always been on the ball with affiliate payments. Well, this shift has taken our financial model to the next level. We now have a clear view of our upcoming month’s expenses, our working margins, our net profit, and how much we can set aside for investments. Money should never sit idly by; it should always be in motion, and now it’s not just sitting there, it’s actively generating additional income. Besides, if unexpected expenses crop up, we can confidently allocate funds to cover them.

On top of all this, it’s a fantastic service for our partners. They can rest easy, knowing they’ll be paid promptly and in the exact amount we’ve agreed upon.

You also mentioned a reorganization within the company. How’s the situation now?

We’re in a growth phase, and as we expanded, some of our managers found themselves a bit confined in their team leader roles. We realized the need to immerse them more in the core business processes. As a result, we’ve brought in new leaders: Head of Sales, Head of Affiliates, and Head of Growth. They hold more sway in management, significantly influence the company’s strategy, and bring in their valuable practical experience.

Additionally, we’ve set up separate financial and legal support for affiliates. We’ve also introduced a new system — now, instead of just one affiliate manager, we’ve formed a whole “unit” of several specialists dedicated to working with big partners.

Sounds like you’ve made quite a few changes! Can you clarify the role of the Head of Growth for us?

The Head of Growth is a brand-new addition to our team, introduced around two months ago. This unit’s primary mission is to engage with promising affiliates and nurture them into super affiliates. What sets this team apart is its expertise in dealing with both affiliates and advertisers. They assist marketers in optimizing their traffic while simultaneously maintaining high-quality standards for advertisers and securing better conditions.

This innovation is already yielding results. For instance, our Head of Growth, Sasha, recently spotted a rising star — a partner who was new to the iGaming scene but had a strong background in SEO promotion. He helped this partner go from making nothing to pulling in $50,000 a month in iGaming!

Tell me more about these new “units” that work with big marketers.

We refer to a “unit” as a working group assigned to a specific affiliate. Each cell comprises several affiliate managers, a CCT employee, and a BizDev manager. Rather than having one affiliate manager overseeing an affiliate, they are now supported by multiple managers, each with their own expertise — one might excel in negotiations, while another specializes in a particular traffic source. BizDev focuses on the affiliate’s needs, actively searching for products and offers in demand. Meanwhile, the CCT team addresses urgent issues virtually around the clock. In essence, it’s a fully functional department within a larger one. This system offers not only manager flexibility but also a multi-perspective view of a partner’s activities.

Konstantin Guberkan, Deputy Head at Alfaleads

You mentioned having both financial and legal support teams. How do they differ from Alfa Defense legal service?

These are entirely separate units. Affiliate managers no longer handle accounting or legal matters — those responsibilities now belong to dedicated experts. The services encompass tasks such as ad labeling, document exchanges, financial reporting, and more. 

Here’s how it operates: members from our financial support team join conversations with affiliates. For instance, when a marketer requests something like a closing agreement, they tag the appropriate specialist, ensuring a swift response. As expected, this innovation has proven to be incredibly convenient for affiliates and has also freed up resources for affiliate managers.

How do you determine when a specific business process needs to change?

Well, it all boils down to the numbers. When you’ve got the right data, you can pretty much do anything. You can even start with a hunch that sparks a brand-new project.

Here’s a real-life example of how we got the idea for our separate financial and legal support service. We began by crunching the numbers on what our affiliate managers were up to. We found out that around 25% of their time was eaten up by operational tasks. Then, we dug deeper to see what those tasks actually were. It was mostly about finance and accounting. And when our managers were tied up with these chores, this means both the partner and the company are missing out on earnings.

So, we decided to create a new unit based on these findings.

Introducing change in large organizations can be quite a challenge. Can you tell us exactly how it’s done?

Here’s our playbook on how we usually go about it:

  1. Define the purpose: first, we nail down the goal of the changes
  2. Identify the stakeholders: we figure out who’s interested in the project (think of them as our customers) or those directly involved in it
  3. Gauge stakeholder influence: we determine how much sway these stakeholders hold over the project, which ones need close coordination, while others are more about giving advice or just keeping an eye on things
  4. Design the innovation: we get down to the minor details of how our idea should actually work
  5. Plan the rollout: next, we map out the steps for implementation, what needs to be done, and when it should happen
  6. Test the waters: we kick things off with the first test iteration of changes
  7. Review and revise: after the initial run, we scrutinize what we’ve built so far. Does the model work, or does it need some fine-tuning? We use this to figure out what adjustments are needed for the next leg.
  8. Repeat and refine: then, it’s onto the next iteration, and the cycle continues until we reach the grand finale

And how do you know if an innovation is ultimately useful?

Every change is essentially an experiment. Therefore, it’s crucial to scrutinize an idea after putting it into practice. We keep it straightforward with A/B testing. Let’s take the example of introducing financial support; here’s how the evaluation unfolds: we compare two periods — before and after the change. We gauge the manager’s workload and crunch the numbers to see if we’ve increased our earnings. If we witness positive outcomes, the idea gets the green light, and we move on to the next stage. There’s no getting around this step.

But have you ever had a hypothesis that didn’t quite pan out?
Certainly, it’s all part of the game. 

For instance, one day we had this brilliant idea for one tricky metric. We thought, “Let’s count this thing — it seems essential.” So, we rolled it out, created a fancy dashboard, and all. But as time went on, it turned out that this metric was superfluous, and nobody really used it. It happens, and it’s all part of the learning curve.

What experiences have equipped you to drive these changes? 

I’ve been a part of Alfaleads for over four years now, and during this time, I’ve worn three different hats — first as a marketer, then a marketing manager, and now the Deputy Head. This transition, coupled with my natural curiosity, has given me insights not only into my designated area but also into how the entire business functions and the interplay among different units. This enables me to seamlessly interact with any department in the company, understanding their roles and objectives. 

My proficiency in crunching numbers and handling data has been invaluable. While I used to calculate conversions, ROI, ROE, and ROMI, I now deal with P&L, cash flow, revenues, expenses, and margins, with just some new additions like figuring out tax calculations. But at its core, it’s still about interpreting and visualizing numbers, and that’s something I excel at.

So, what’s the trickiest part of implementing these new ideas?

In a big organization like ours, you’re bound to encounter some pushback when it comes to making changes, and it’s not limited to the department where the change is happening; it can extend to related departments as well. It’s a natural law — people generally don’t welcome change without a clear reason. 

The real challenge lies not in conceiving innovation but in effectively “selling” it to the team. If, as a manager, you simply dictate changes from the top down with statements like, “This is the new way we’re doing things,” you’re likely to face difficulties. People might misunderstand your intentions, not follow the new procedures correctly, develop negative attitudes, or view the innovation as a futile effort. To avoid these issues, it’s crucial to clearly communicate the value of the innovation. After all, when the company benefits from the change, so do the employees. This process of conveying value can sometimes take more time than the actual implementation itself. 

It’s important to keep in mind that managers often have a unique perspective, and what seems obvious to them may not be so clear to others. For example, a manager might say, “We’ve really mastered this metric, and everyone should adopt it immediately.” But not everyone may understand why it’s crucial or what makes it special. So, it’s essential to simplify and, if needed, reiterate, like saying, “We’ve become experts in this particular metric, and by using it, we can boost our earnings like this…” 

What else is on the horizon for improvements and changes?

We’ve got an intriguing hypothesis to test. We’re thinking about taking some media buying teams that have been excelling in different fields like nutra, e-commerce, finance, or other verticals and helping them expand into the iGaming niche. To assess this idea, we’re going to leverage our new Growth Team infrastructure by placing these teams in our “iGaming incubator.” 

This is more or less a trial run, so we’re thinking about starting with just 1–2 big teams every three months that already have their own affiliate marketing businesses. If any of our readers happen to fall into this category, feel free to shoot me a message, and we can chat about the specifics of working together. 

Constantine, thanks a lot for the interview — it’s been incredibly insightful!

You’re welcome, and let’s keep in touch!


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