Using affiliate marketing to break new global ground

Australian luggage brand, July, shares how its investment into a partnerships management platform has helped it to realise its international ambitions

Luggage is not something many people spend a lot of time pondering. You can either afford Louis Vuitton or you can’t, and the rest is much of a muchness – flimsy suitcases sold at a premium and replaced every few years depending on how much you travel.

Australian luggage brand, July, is looking to change all this. July exists as an opportunity to fix a broken industry. Frequent travellers and founders, Athan Didaskalou and Richard Li, saw a category selling poorly designed products at extreme premiums and wanted to fix it.

At its inception, the business asked: Why were the consumer’s only choices cheap bags, or expensive luxury items?

After speaking with hundreds of regular travellers to find out the key pain points and desires in luggage, they launched July in late 2018 with their first product, the Carry-On. This was followed by Checked and Checked Plus in July 2019.

July’s ambition is to bring better design and thinking around how people travel, elevating the standard from buying the product to a more considered experience of design and service. As its general manager, Zhoe Low, highlighted, all July’s luggage has a lifetime warranty. The suitcases could initially be personalised with names or emojis and from October, personalised with pets as well.

Now in its fourth year of operation, the company primarily ships to Australia and New Zealand. As part of growth plans, July decided last year to launch in the US. However, as a brand which neither discounts nor goes on sale, not to mention launching at a time when travel was restricted, July needed a different strategy for this market. The plan was set: July would rely heavily on PR and affiliate marketing to break into the US market.

July was no stranger to affiliate marketing. During its initial operations, it was using a Shopify plug-in. While this was okay when starting up, it was clear July needed a different affiliate platform for true international expansion.

“When you launch into the US – and for us anyway – you need a big PR strategy,” Low said. “Our US PR agency said we had to have quite a strong affiliate program to support their efforts. We tried a platform before we launched, but it just didn’t work and it was incredibly stressful.”

At the time, July also only had a team of 15 people. Low needed to individually email key affiliates to grow its base, which was time consuming and frustrating. Several issues arose when first trying a third-party platform around technical integration and customer service. The marketing and tech team conducted further research and decided partnership management platform, Impact, might meet its needs.

“We took a look and saw Impact was the right kind of implementation for the code, would work with our stack and fit all our requirements. We reached out to Impact directly,” Low explained. “Impact gave us a consultant that could help us onboard and assisted with a technical implementation, which is really nice as we were such a small team.

“It was practically seamless with Impact. Maybe it’s because I already knew what could go wrong. I made sure to ask, do you have this? Do you have that? Also, having a consultant helped a lot to make sure everything was seamless.”

Making the difference

July launched into the US market with Impact and moved all existing affiliates from the old platforms. Its main affiliates are big publications, mostly lifestyle media, such as Cosmopolitan, GQ, wedding publications, Vogue, Forbes and Fortune. Affiliate marketing is backed by the PR.

July is also reliant on premium bloggers, creators and influencers, homing in on those with smaller but loyal followings who exude authenticity and third-party endorsement. It is these creators, Low said, generating the highest return.

“Creators have a higher conversion rate from my experience. A TikTok creator with maybe not a huge community, but a very engaged one, has actually at certain times done better for us than anything else,” she said.

Impact met July’s needs in terms of affiliates and other key criteria. “We don’t do coupon sites. I’m also strict about the affiliates we accept because we are more of a premium brand. And we never go on sale, therefore we don’t have discount codes,” Low said. is a global partnership management platform for managing an ecosystem of partnerships, from traditional rewards affiliates to influencers, commerce content publishers and B2B partners.

“Impact has a lot of features. So for example, it has an influencer partner and a partnerships arm, which is a lot more comprehensive than just your basic loyalty platform, or discount content kind of affiliates. So that’s probably the first thing I liked about it,” Low continued. “The platform itself is a lot prettier and more user-friendly. I really liked this. The third thing is, the team has been incredibly responsive.”

A 3000 per cent revenue increase

Since implementing Impact’s platform 12 months ago, July has seen a marked improvement in several aspects. It is working with far more affiliates and onboards these partners with greater efficiency.

“Our affiliate program plays a very important part within our marketing stack and is growing quickly now that travel is back. It was integral to our US market entry and continues to be a very effective marketing channel for us,” Low said. “Impact was instrumental in this, with an intuitive platform and easy technical integration that helped us move fast and onboard those US affiliates quickly.”

And the results are stunning. In 2022, July onboarded 27 partners via the platform in the Australian and US markets. Outside of content sites, July also diversified its programs by partnering with the top loyalty sites in these respective markets.

As a result, the number of sales active partners doubled in August-September 2022 compared to the start of this year. Both programs are growing rapidly compared to 2021 (comparing period 1 January – 15 September year-on-year) and revenue is up 3896 per cent over the same timeframe.

This 2022 growth continues, and the Australian program is spiking in the second half. Compared to June, revenue in July increased by 65 per cent, then continued rising 21 per cent in August month-on-month.

“There’s a great network of affiliates on Impact, from publishers to influences. And Impact’s team is really on top of it; our account manager regularly follows up and offers new affiliates they think we should talk to because they’re growing other brands. So that’s been huge for us,” Low said.

“We launched pet personalisation in October. So I can go into the platform and put in the assets and the timeframes then send it out to however many people on our network we want. We can put in a limited time personalisation, or I might offer a higher affiliate percentage. Affiliates get all the assets in one spot and the details they need such as all the banners, banner sizes, timing and everything else.”

A pleasant surprise for Low was how many people reached out wanting to write about July’s product and review it.

“A lot of the networks that are a part of the Impact platform have given us more reach to publishers and people we never would have guessed,” she added. 

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