We’re back with another episode of ComplianceCast! Join us once again as we continue our conversation with Amanda Farris fromLinkUnite. This episode is part two of our series with Amanda because we just couldn’t include all the great content from our conversation in just one video! In part 2 we chat about the future of the affiliate marketing industry, with a deeper dive into the critical intersection of A.I. and data privacy.
Amanda discusses some anticipated changes to the industry through the remainder of 2023 and looking ahead into 2024, we hit on topics around upcoming legislation, shifts in mindsets, and future-forward industry trends.
It’s probably no surprise that we go over some of the ways AI is reshaping the industry, enhancing efficiency, spearheading creativity, and driving data analytics and modeling. We also touch on the topic of data privacy – which is a central issue when considering feeding data into AI platforms.
The episode also broadens the dialogue on AI’s potential to change the way we work, learn, and live – summarizing lengthy articles, breaking down complex tasks, and promoting various learning styles. Embracing change is the way forward as we navigate the next big waves in the upcoming year.
Don’t forget to check out ourVideo Libraryfor more subjects like a.i. and data privacy, along with a host of past ComplianceCast episodes and resources. As always, keep an eye out for more episodes to come on ComplianceCast!
Amanda sat down with OPTIZMO’s COO, Tom Wozniak during Contact.io in Denver this year for a wide-ranging discussion that we are breaking up into multiple ComplianceCast releases. In this first video, Amanda and Tom discuss the journey of LinkUnite from an idea in 2018 through conversations with Tom, Khris, and other founding partners during Affiliate Summit West, a kickoff event in 2022, to the lead-up to its third in-person event (the event took place recently inPark City, UT, September 24-27, 2023).
Amanda also talks about how LinkUnite has grown to a few hundred members in such a short time, recently launching into a corporate membership model, allowing for more women to join the group.
OPTIZMO is proud to be a founding partner in LinkUnite, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the success they’ve already had in their mission to empower women in the digital marketing industry. From fantastic networking and educational events, to most recently, a career-changing mentorship program, the industry is already experiencing a positive impact.
After checking out this great new episode, take a peek at our overflowingVideo Libraryfor all the previous ComplianceCast episodes and so much more. Stay tuned, there’s always more to come!
Sara Malo is the President/COO of LinkUnite, a community of executive women in digital marketing and the VP of Partnerships at Lead Generation World. She started LinkUnite in 2022 with Amanda Farris after realizing that there was a need for support and representation for executive women in the male-dominated digital marketing industry.
Malo and Farris both have over 30 years of experience in the industry and are dedicated to providing value to their members, partners, and ambassadors.
Malo has seen significant changes in the industry’s gender representation and equality over the years, from the days when the only women representation was booth babes at events to now having women owners, Presidents, and CEO’s at the forefront. “We often wondered why it was so male dominated and how there wasn’t any support out there for the executive women in the space,” Sara told us. She is excited about the progress that has been made but acknowledges that there is still a long way to go.
Sara is clear what her mission is: “We want to see more brilliant women delivering content at the industry events.”
As a single working mom, Malo believes in not seeing things as challenges or as negative but instead choosing to focus on the positive. She is a very busy person but manages to be a present mother by working from home full-time and being a master of multitasking.
She enjoys running, hiking, and blogging, believes it is essential to make time for hobbies and interests outside of work. “I start every day hiking my two dogs (Luna and London) in the woods and catching the morning sunrise,” she told ADOTAT. “This gives me time to get fresh air and figure out how to attack my day. I do my best thinking in the early morning hours. Oftentimes I am texting or skyping Amanda and Mike with new ideas that pop into my mind. I love that they get to wake up to this as they are both on different time zones.” Blogging is another hobby that she finds therapeutic, and she does it to get her thoughts out, “even if no one reads it.”
Aside from her hobbies, Sara is also passionate about community involvement. She chairs a local scholarship committee that has given out $500,000 to graduating seniors, and she enjoys writing letters of recommendation for young people heading off to college. Sara also serves as the President of her local athletic boosters association, which supports student-athletes and athletic programs. She believes that volunteering is essential and finds it to be one of the most rewarding experiences, second only to being a mother.
According to Sara, “I think my biggest pet peeve is when people say they don’t have time to volunteer. My response is to make time and give back.” She emphasizes the importance of being a role model and leading by example, especially for young people. By volunteering in her community, Sara feels that she is making a positive impact and contributing to a better society.
Malo’s latest project is the LinkUnite Mentor Program (L.I.N.K.), which she launched with Kathy Yang from Digital Moses and a young college student named Emma. The program aims to ensure that industry knowledge is passed on to the next generation, and Malo encourages anyone interested to reach out to her.
Malo approaches business development in the marketing events industry by listening to what her clients need and being a good person they want to talk to. She takes time to understand their business and how events can help them with growth and ROI, with the value being the number one component.
Her expertise in sales, client success, and business development has been instrumental in her current role as the President & COO of LinkUnite. She creates her approach, which focuses on building strong relationships and always making herself available to brainstorm a new idea with clients.
She has worked with many clients, some of whom have become close friends over time. As the Vice President of Partnerships at Lead Generation World, Malo is responsible for creating partnerships with industry players and finding the right sponsors for events. She has a vast network and works to bring in sponsors that are a good fit for the event and provide value to attendees. She is also responsible for creating and executing on-site sponsorship programs.
She sees that performance marketing is a rapidly growing industry with endless possibilities for innovation and development. She says, “Performance Marketing is very unique and rapidly growing. I am still learning something new daily and I only see digital marketing growing from here on out.”
When it comes to her personal brand, Sara says it has been the “key to her success.” She used to work behind the scenes, but she wanted to be known and give back some goodness. She believes that every post, picture, video, podcast, etc. that she puts out into the world comes from a genuine place, and she takes pride in that. “
Sara also emphasizes the importance of networking in the marketing events industry. She believes that it is essential to be visible and have in-person conversations, particularly when it comes to business development. As she puts it, “I am in the part of my career where I only surround myself with good people.” She believes that good people can make a significant impact in the industry, and she only surrounds herself with those kinds of people.
“At our most recent LinkUnite II Event we asked our members to meet us on the beach,” remembered Malo, “We sat in a large circle and we asked our members to share their story. Tell us how they got here both personally and professionally. We had tears, laughter and so many emotions. Giving these women the opportunity to speak and share was life changing. Definitely my most cherished accomplishment thus far.”
Malo is a sought-after speaker and has spoken at many industry events over the years. Malo is passionate about giving back to the industry and has served as a mentor to many young professionals over the years. You can link up with her here.
Amanda Farris, a stunning and charismatic business woman, is the CEO and Founder of LinkUnite, a movement aimed at supporting women in the performance marketing space. With years of experience working in the industry, Amanda has gained valuable knowledge and relationships that have fueled her growth as a leader. She is also a proud Member of CHIEF, a group of accomplished and successful women who support each other’s careers. Throughout her career, Amanda has held various high-level positions, including Director, VP, and CSO. Her passion for the performance marketing industry and her drive to make a positive impact have made her a rising star in the field.
Amanda Farris, CEO and Founder of LinkUnite, is a rising star in the performance marketing industry who is leaving her mark on the business world. Her stunning presence and engaging personality make people take notice when she speaks, and her passion for her work shines through in everything she does.
“LinkUnite is a movement, born out of necessity and driven by myself and Sara Malo,” Amanda reflects on the inception of the women’s organization. “We sat at the hotel bar with some of our favorite industry people and started a list of all the women in the industry we knew were juggernauts in this space and that could help us build something like this.” LinkUnite’s mission is to create a supportive community of women in the industry, and Amanda has dedicated herself to making that goal a reality.
Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, Amanda took her first job in Nashville, TN, during the height of the 2008 financial crisis. Despite the challenges of the job market at the time, Amanda’s determination and passion for her field led her to pursue graduate studies in Nashville, where she completed her MS in Mass Communications.
From an early age, Amanda was exposed to the fast-paced lifestyle of the music industry, as her father worked in the industry and frequently took her on the road with him. This nomad lifestyle has stayed with Amanda throughout her life and she continues to travel and meet new people, enjoying every moment of her adventures.
Amanda’s life on the road has shaped her into the person she is today and her passion for her work is evident in the dedication she brings to every project she takes on. With her background in intercultural communications, Amanda has a unique perspective and is able to bring a fresh and innovative approach to her work.
As a Member of Chief, Amanda is inspired by the powerful women around her who are pushing each other forward. “Seeing so many accomplished and successful women coming together to support one another and push each other forward gives me the courage we all sometimes need to do new things,” she says.
Amanda’s career journey has been a series of exciting roles, from Director to VP to CSO. Her experiences working in the field have been invaluable, giving her the opportunity to work with some of the most brilliant people she’s ever met. “I learned how true partnerships are formed and how to work collaboratively with multiple organizations at once to drive forward new growth opportunities,” she explains.
One of Amanda’s most rewarding experiences was working as VP of Business Development & Sales at LeadsPedia, where she learned about the inner workings of the industry. “I learned how to properly brand at shows, how to make technology work, and understanding numerous verticals and their business models,” she says.
Amanda stumbled into the performance marketing industry by chance when she was looking for a change in her career. “I had no idea what SaaS stood for or what an affiliate even was,” she recalls. “One of my closest friends was interviewing with LeadsPedia and was considering an offer to work there. I came to see her at lunch the day she was getting a verbal offer over the phone. I happened to be there listening in. At the time, I was looking for something new to tackle and needed a change. She muted the call mid way, looked at me and asked if I would ever consider working in tech. I responded ‘I’ll jump, if you jump.’”
The trend towards more calls in the marketing industry is a significant shift that has taken place over the last few years also, according to Farris. At one point, leads were the primary focus in the market, but now calls have emerged as the dominant form of engagement. This is because calls have proven to be highly effective in converting prospects into customers.
Farris explains, “The last four to five years, [the trend towards calls] has really taken off. Call convert. It’s simple. So it makes sense that they are of higher value to marketers.” The increase in the use of calls is largely due to the development of new marketing strategies that have enabled marketers to get more value out of each interaction with a potential customer. For example, workflows such as drip messaging, SMS engagement, and identity graphs have allowed marketers to get a better understanding of their target audience, leading to more targeted and effective marketing campaigns.
Another factor contributing to the rise in the value of calls is the increased availability of fraud protection tools like Anura. These tools help to identify and remove bad actors from the market, which not only improves the quality of the data being used for marketing purposes but also helps to protect consumers from potential scams or fraudulent activity.
Over the years, Amanda has seen the pay-per-call market, lead economy, and text messaging marketing evolve significantly. “The most noticeable change in the last few years is the compliance and regulatory involvement in the space,” she explains. “The rules around engagement and consumer consent are the most notable changes over the last ten years.”
Farris notes, “It’s much more than just a banner on a site. There are quite a few insights we now have into consumers that can be used to help narrow down offers and really engage the proper network of people.” This shift towards a more data-driven and targeted approach to marketing is a key factor in the increased value of calls and the resurgence of the marketing industry in recent years.
Amanda Farris is a true business leader, and her journey to success is an inspiration to women everywhere. Her work with LinkUnite and her commitment to supporting women in the industry demonstrate her passion and dedication to creating change in the business world.
Josh Sebo, COO of OfferVault, Adam Young, CEO of Ringba, industry legend Harrison Gevirtz, and special guest Amanda Farris, CEO & Founder of LinkUnite, discuss:
-Affiliate Summit West 2023 Recap – Adam’s Mastermind Dinner & Amanda’s LinkUnite Event – AffiliateBall and the LinkUnite Affy Award Winners – Marketing Partners and the FCC’s new requirements for displaying them – Publicity Rights and the importance of getting them all cleared for anyone who appears in your advertising.
“Dedicated to lifting up female founders in the digital industry.”
Founder and CEO, Amanda Farris and President and COO Sara Malo will be joining Lee-Ann to talk about empowering women in the digital marketing industry. Amanda has worked in tech, real estate, finance, architecture, and design industries and is now sharing her skills in marketing and global communications with the wider world. Sara has been in the marketing industry for 22 years, a topic she regularly talks about in her blog as well as on respected podcasts.
With such a women-centred podcast, we’re asking, how can women excel in the affiliate marketing industry? Are there any ways that women can help each other excel in the affiliate industry? And why would more women in affiliate marketing be beneficial to the industry as a whole?
What can women do to help each other in the affiliate marketing industry?
Well, if we’re to take LinkUnite as an example, that concept came about with a simple question between two women, Amanda and Sara: are there any events that cater to women in affiliate marketing?
Amanda said of her career history, and contribution to women in the industry, “I have basically just meandered my way into really driving home the female initiatives in our industry and uplifting the women in the digital marketing space.”
And that starts with simply having the courage to speak up and team up. LinkUnite started as a partnership, and so can a lot of other endeavours. We definitely have a side effect of women in the workplace trying to prove themselves coming to the conclusion that they have to do it alone. Not true.
And this podcast gets into the need for partnerships across the genders.
Sara says: “Our events that we have that right now, like our event in December, it’s women only, but our biggest partners are actually, uh, men.”
Amanda adds: “The one-day events that we want to do next year, we want those to be co-ed. We want there to be collaboration, you know, any way that they want to participate and be involved.”
Partnerships and teamwork are definitely the key to driving inclusivity, and women aren’t the only ones that can support each other – but events like LinkUnite certainly go a long way to promoting the comradery in the industry.
How can women excel in the affiliate marketing industry?
If we were to take gender stereotypes and run with them, women have a lot of strength in the affiliate marketing management industry. It takes almost a parent’s touch. You have to have the assertiveness of the nuclear family father to ask for what you want, but the mother’s ability to nurture a relationship and compromise where you need to.
This is clear in Amanda, who tells aspiring affiliate managers: “You don’t have to have the education, all the certifications or anything to really hop in. You just have to have creativity and a hard work ethic and you can really get anywhere you want to go. And I think that the story sharing aspect is shared experiences is the quickest way for people to learn, grow, and evolve.”
How can more women in affiliate marketing management help the industry as a whole?
In asking about the industry as a whole, Lee-Ann said: “I deal with affiliate account managers in our training course that are burnt out, they don’t know how to progress, they don’t know where their careers are going, they feel like they’ve landed a job that is constantly asking more and more of them, but they have new ideas to.”
And Amanda had a great insight, saying: “We want to bring in that next generation, that next group of people, and set them up for success so they don’t have to really, I wouldn’t say like work as hard as we do, but they don’t have to experience the same burnout.”
Strengthening the people around us and the people arriving in the next generation will aid the industry as a whole, which is why it’s important to approach the establishment of any marketing firm, and indeed a business, with inclusivity at the forefront.
Listen to find out more about:
The history of LinkUnite and its progress
What LinkUnite can offer women in the digital marketing industry
How women can help each other to develop in the industry
The inclusivity of the affiliate marketing industry
Key segments of this podcast and where you can tune into go direct
[05:00] – The educational power of “story sharing” at LinkUnite
[10:00] – What you can learn as a newcomer to LinkUnite
[15:00] – The benefit of the “hive mind” of affiliate global partnerships
[20:00] – The confidence to speak up as a woman in the digital industry
[23:00] – Getting involve with LinkUnite as a student or mentor
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Episode 3 with Amanda Farris out! We discuss what its like being a woman within Performance Marketing, better together LinkUnite in person events and why Amanda sees herself as a nerd at heart. #OneLiners
Meet LinkUnite.LinkUniteis an invite-only women’s retreat and digital marketing forum that connects women leaders in executive roles to ignite impact-driven camaraderie and forge empowering connections within the industry. We had the opportunity to speak with their Founder/CEO, Amanda Farris and their President/CSO, Sara Malo to learn more about their journey, their passions and why Amanda’s LinkedIn profile includes a chess set. Would you like to be considered for their invite only event?Fill out this form now, you don’t want to miss this networking event.
How did you get here? What’s your story?
Amanda: I have been in MarTech (Marketing Technology) for about 10 years. I’ve been in almost every role from VP of Business Development to Chief Strategy Officer. LinkUnite was born out of an absolute need in the performance marketing space for representation for women. Since then, we’ve expanded to include general marketing, targeting women at the director level and higher.
We’ve spent a lot of time networking, building our tribe. As a result, there has been a natural evolution of LinkUnite. From phone calls and trade shows, to relationships with brands, and all types of activities, you naturally start to develop friendships and relationships with these people. You care about them more than just an industry professional and you want to see them thrive. So that’s the backstory of how we got into what we’re doing with LinkUnite. Sara and I met 10 years ago in the performance marketing space when I was a customer of hers, buying sponsorships for shows that she was running. Over time we got to know each other and together we found new avenues for us to explore.
Sara: I am a veteran marketer with 22 years experience in digital marketing and the marketing events industry. Through this time, I have been the secret sauce at many of our Industry Events (Affiliate Summit, AGS and MailCon, currently Lead Generation World, Contact.io and the AFFY Expo.)
I believe in self branding and staying true to yourself. Amanda and I are who we are – which is loyal, genuine and country women who would rather be in flip-flops or slippers over heels any day of the week. We are master networkers and consider the Digital Marketing Industry our second family.
What is Your favorite beverage?
Amanda: Old Fashioned
Sara: Ice cold Corona with lime
What problem are you trying to solve?
Amanda: When we started in the industry it was not only the time of booth babes, but when account executives and managers would man the booth and work the shows. Our industry has such a small percentage of women in it – I believe it is only 6%. Our idea was that we are better as a tribe vs siloed. The collective mind accelerates everyone’s careers. What if we band together, bring together people at the director level and up, people who already have networks and have been in the industry for years? What if we could bring these established networks together to grow quickly? Similar to how men have done it for years. The answer was clear, we have to do this.
At the end of the event we made a Rolodex of everyone’s photo, cell phone numbers, emails, favorite quotes and then sent them to all of the women. Here is your new network. Anytime you have a question, family related or business related or work life balance related, whatever it is, this is your new tribe, and we’re just going to grow it from there.
Sara: We may refer to each other as sisters but we’re not hard core feminists. We’re not anti-men. As a matter of fact, some of the men in the space were the first people to support LinkUnite and actually partner with us. We are trying to bring women together.
Amanda: Men in our space can be funny. Their egos can be so large they can’t grasp we aren’t sitting around talking about them during the event. Instead, at the event, women are on their laptops setting up campaigns by the pool with a margarita at their side. That is the kind of business we are in and you can tell why they have succeeded in business as they are a bunch of type A extroverts. You just put them together and let them run with it and make it happen. We set the threshold for a certain career level because these women are typically in similar personal situations like going through IVF, trying to figure out how to get their kids back in school after COVID, etc. We empower them to network amongst themselves, find the support they need with other women in a similar career path that really understand where you are in your life and help you grow and sustain. We also have a mentorship side to support women getting out of college and learn more about the industry.
Did you look for outside investors for funding?
Amanda: No. We have partners that provide us with the funding we need. We invite any companies that want to support our initiative and understand what we are trying to do to be involved. They can contribute funds that pay for activities, food and everything that surrounds the Event itself. This allows us to make it free to attend and participate.
What is your vision?
Sara: We’re all different. We have different challenges. We all are juggling what is expected or required of us on a daily basis. That could include being a mom, being a single mom, traveling for work, pursuing a full time career, etc.
It is important and cool to pull together these women and see them relate. You could be standing with them discussing their kids. For example, one woman shares “I have two teenagers, my oldest daughter is actually finishing driver’s ed class today.” Then another woman replies, “Oh my God, you gotta get this tracking app for when she starts driving.” The event is so laid back and welcoming. I never thought I’d be at an event where I would be in a bathing suit and not feel uncomfortable.
Amanda: The feedback we received from attendees after the event was really powerful. We were tearing up from their meaningful words. They said it was the reset they needed, that there is nothing like this for them in our space.
There are Masters clubs, retreats, professional development sessions, golf tournaments – women don’t have anything like that in our space. We knew we deserved something like this and we knew we had to make it happen.
How did you learn to embrace risk-taking?
Sara: I would say Amanda is more of a risk-taker than I am. She has taught me to let things evolve. Four years ago we started compiling a list of incredible women we met, women who were doing great things in the industry and it evolved naturally.
Amanda: I am definitely more of a risk-taker. I don’t focus on the risk. I know if I’ve done my best work and haven’t cut corners, then I don’t even question if it is going to work. It is going to work!
What are your passions outside of work?
Sara: I’m a big fan of this question. I wrote an article for Feedfront, a magazine Affiliate Summit used to publish about the importance of work life balance. Even though I am a single mom and work full time, I love to travel with my kids to show them new cultures, run and hike. I get up at 4:30am in the morning and go with my dogs to see the sunrise before my kids get out of bed. I also volunteer for several non-profits in my small town that provide scholarships to graduating students and funding to the athletic programs.
What advice would you give to women in business?
Amanda: I think it is important to be involved and be willing to support each other. Even if it is simply lending a friendly ear. I’m always willing to listen, offer feedback if it is desired or bounce ideas off each other. I think that is a big piece of what is missing in the marketing and total community. It is always good to have people who think like you that you can feed ideas off of and understand you. As a company, even though we aren’t seeking funding, we’re always open to partners who have the same kind of ideology and altruistic vision. We want the best people involved. I think when you follow your passion, do the right thing, the money will follow.
I know that sounds very altruistic, but it has always been the case, at least in my career, that when you love what you do, and you love the people you work with, and you look out for one another that money follows and so does success.
I’d also say to women in business not to fear their competition. There’s enough pie for everybody to go around. There’s no reason to be in competition. If my platform doesn’t fit something that you’re doing, I’m more than happy to recommend my competition. Collective success is success in the future for everyone. Then it comes full circle, you are forming relationships, supporting each other.
Do you have pets?
Sara: Yes, I have two dogs, London and Luna.
Amanda: Yes, I have two dogs, Pixel and Widget, if you can’t tell I’ve worked in tech long enough.
Have you had to pivot since your initial idea?
Amanda: The idea for LinkUnite was the event. We were literally about to put the deposit down on the venue the week before COVID shut the world down. This was obviously a big issue. We had already started doing outreach. We had to stay in touch with people while we tried to navigate 2020. We finally saw trade shows returning and attendance going back up and we followed up with everyone we had engaged. We knew people were hungry to get out and this was the time to strike. The interest was astronomical. Everyone showed up. We may have to cap the second event to keep it intimate as there is still a lot of interest. Women heard the call and they wanted to be a part of it.
TCPAWORLD AFTER DARK: Incredible Group of Women Business Leaders Gather in the Desert to Plot World Conquest (And Drink Margaritas)
So a ton of folks have been talking about this and I think it is really cool so I figured I’d report on it.
Amanda Farris dreamed up this incredibly neat ladies-only conference called “LinkUnite.” This thing is invite only so not everyone gets a pass. But if you’re lucky enough to make the list you’ll get to spend a few days at a five-star resort in the desert hobnobbing with some of the most powerful women business leaders in the marketing/digital technology world. They climbed Camelback, hit the spa, laid poolside but—mostly—they talked shop and connected.
Some of my all-time best friends were there and I’ve heard nothing but remarkable feedback. Apparently a bunch of business deals got done in addition to critical connections being made. And as I understand it, Amanda—who was already one of the most remarkable folks I know—created this entire thing herself. Just unreal.
Here’s what she had to say about it: “In our line of work, partnerships make all the difference,” said Amanda Farris, Founder of LinkUnite and Chief Strategy Officer of Phonexa. “I work to unite women who get things done. At LinkUnite, there are no egos, no drama, only collaboration. It was encouraging to witness how our fantastic ladies created personal and professional partnerships through our forum. LinkUnite is tapping into a pool of connections and collectively contributing to the evolution of alliances.”
You can see from the pic that this year’s event was HUGE and—again—I have heard so many incredibly positive things about the event that I just had to make mention of it on TCPAWorld.
Great going Amanda! I love to see the initiative, the execution and the success. As Angela would say, I’m glad you’re part of my village.
If any of you POWERFUL ladies out there in TCPAWorld want an invite to next year’s LINKUNITE feel free to reach out to the Czar and I’ll connect you with Amanda.