About Our Guest
Nancy is the president of MyRegistry.com, a universal gift registry platform that has two major divisions. The first is a consumer platform where people can create gift registries for any occasion and add items from any store in the world using the tools provided by MyRegistry.com. The second division involves building gift registries for third-party retailers. The two divisions interact with each other creating a circulation where the right side feeds into the left side and vice versa.
On Episode #1 of Performance Marketing Spotlight, Nancy Lee, President at MyRegistry.com, joins the podcast where we take a deep dive into the world of affiliate marketing with a focus on MyRegistry.com. Our guest speaker, who has been with the company for over 16 years, shares insights on the evolution of the industry and the role MyRegistry.com plays in it. From tracking and achieving attribution to the challenges brought on by increased competition in the pay-for-performance model, we discuss the ins and outs of affiliate marketing. We also cover how MyRegistry.com is growing its customer base through its expertise in alternative gift markets, its expansion into English-speaking countries, and its unique approach to partnering with retailers. Don’t miss our conversation about the early days of MyRegistry.com, including how the company was founded and its journey to becoming a major player in the affiliate marketing industry.”
Marshall Nyman [00:00:01]:
Hello and welcome to the performance marketing spotlight. I’m your host, Marshall Nyman, founder and CEO of NYMO and Co. Each episode I will be bringing you someone with deep experience in the performance marketing space where they will highlight their experiences within the industry. Today I have Nancy Lee, who is president at my registry. Welcome to the podcast, Nancy.
Hey, Marshall, great to see you. How are you doing?
Marshall Nyman [00:00:27]:
Well, good to see you, hopefully soon and in person while I know with the pandemic and everything, but really excited to have you on today Extra special, that you’re our very first guest. So excited to get the podcast live and launched with you. So let’s jump right into it. We’d love for you just to share a little bit about yourself to the audience.
Fantastic. Well, I’m president of MyRegistry.com, and My registry is a universal gift registry platform that basically is divided up into two big divisions. One is our consumer platform. People come to us and they create a gift registry for any gift giving occasion. So it could be your wedding, could be a baby shower, but it also could be Christmas, birthday, housewarming party, anything like that. And then they can add any item from any store in the world using the different tools that we give them. And then the other side of our business is that we actually build gift registries for third party retailers. So hundreds and hundreds of everything kind of circulates around itself. So the right side feeds into the left side and so on and so forth.
Marshall Nyman [00:01:41]:
Awesome. So what was the initial idea to get My registry started? How did it come to be?
So I’m the president but not the founder. Our founder basically is a Wall Street guy. His name is Oded Berkowitz. And he got really frustrated because he hated buying gifts for people. And he had cashed out of his last business, had sold an online trading platform, and then he was looking for his next new idea. And he had a friend who happens to be investor now in our company and it was their birthday. And he went from store to store to store and got really frustrated because he couldn’t find a gift. And he was like, why can’t I know what people want? And the next day he launched MyRegistry.com. It was originally a subscription service because you could add items from any store in the world and he had no idea how he was going to monetize this at all. So in the early stages, people paid at $9.99 for a universal gift registry. It was very primitive. We’ve been around for 17 years, which is in Internet world. We’re like the granddaddies of the gift registry business, right? And we were a bookmarking site. And early stages, you couldn’t just capture something directly. Your gift registry was filled with individual web pages that had the item that you wanted somebody to buy for you because you couldn’t bookmark like, specific images, you had to bookmark the whole page. So we’ve come a really long way in 17 years, and obviously we went into the affiliate marketing industry pretty early on. We’re there around 15 years now, which also kind of makes me like one of the grandmothers of the affiliate industry, although I’ve known you for a pretty long time, so you’ve been around as long as I have, or almost maybe even longer in affiliate marketing.
Marshall Nyman [00:03:45]:
Yeah, it’s been over a decade now. Started back in 2011.
Yes, we’ve known each other for a really long time, so I guess I was there a little bit before you were, but probably about 1415 years. And we really didn’t know how this was all going to work in the beginning, because the concept of affiliate marketing was to see something, to click on it, and then to buy it. But we had to reverse engineer everything because we wanted our customers to be able to add any item to their gift registry, and then somebody else was going to click on it. So we couldn’t have the cookie drop or any kind of pixel drop on the original person who was creating the gift list. It had to happen on the purchase. So that was a really interesting transition on how we figured out how to do that in the very early stages, and we kind of never fit into any bucket in the affiliate marketing industry. So the early stages were definitely an uphill battle for many, many years.
Marshall Nyman [00:04:48]:
Yeah, I would definitely say you’re a unique type of publisher, definitely nontraditional, but still a great way to drive traffic and get more brand awareness. So how did you end up getting involved with my registry?
How did you end up, by chance, how did I get involved with my registry? I had a career in broadcast before that, and I was traveling like crazy, and then I had kids and traveling like crazy, and babies don’t really match. But my last position, I was running a women’s television network in Japan, of all places, and I really understood women’s businesses. And to be honest with you, a gift registry is a woman’s business. So I was in very early, I came in in 2007, the business opened in 2005. So I’ve been with my registry for a very long time. From the early stages where we knew the name of every single one of our customers, if we added 20 gifts in a day to our platform, we were ecstatic. Now we add around a billion dollars a year of gifts to our platform. So things have certainly propelled and accelerated over the years. So, yeah, it’s been a really amazing and fun ride for the last 716, 17 years.
Marshall Nyman [00:06:14]:
So never what you intended for?
No, definitely not. And the funny thing is that in the beginning, nobody understood what we were doing. And I love to recount this story. I went to my first affiliate marketing event, which was Commission Junction University, known as Cju. It’s like the premier event as we all know, and anybody in the industry loves to go to that event. So I went to my first one. We’re located in New Jersey. I flew all the way to Santa Barbara by myself, hoping to meet some companies who would agree to work with us because nobody really understood what we did. And on the first afternoon they had these tents all over the field outside of the Fest Parker Hotel across from the beach. And each one of these tents was supposed to be for a different type of affiliate marketing model. So there was a tent for the content sites and there was a tent for the coupon and a tent for the loyalty. And I stood in the middle of that field and I’m looking at all these tents and I’m like, oh my gosh, what am I going to do? I don’t fit anywhere. So I kind of stood there in the middle with this panicked look on my face. Unfortunately, somebody from CJ Commission Junction grabbed me by the arm and led me over to the content tent and said, well, I guess you guys are kind of like a content site, so why don’t you go over here. But we were really like one of the first of these kind of new media or just new type of affiliate models. Obviously after us, bookmarking became a big deal, of course with Pinterest, and Pinterest started to try to monetize through the affiliate industry. But I think we probably were the first bookmarking site out there to go into affiliate marketing.
Marshall Nyman [00:08:00]:
That’s one thing I love about affiliate is there’s no real set rules. Like anybody could really find a way to work within affiliate marketing. It’s not like a set channel per se. So really anybody could be a publisher. It’s not like you have to be a content site or a coupon site or something of that nature to be an affiliate. And I think that’s one thing that’s changed a lot in the last few years is like with influencers and stuff like that now you see there’s just so many more affiliates than there were in the past. It’s a growing space for sure.
Absolutely. And what’s so wonderful about this business is that if you don’t know about it, you have no idea that it exists. Because it’s a behind the scenes industry that’s thriving and growing every single year. But unless you’re in it or you’ve got know somebody who’s in it, it’s kind of like, I don’t want to say a shadow world because that sounds a little nefarious, but because the links and everything is happening behind the scenes. So it’s a fascinating industry. I often talk about it to people who are in completely different fields and they are just aghast that this is actually how everybody’s monetizing the internet. But it makes such great sense, right? Because in the end, we all care about is there any revenue, right? So the retailers only want to pay if there’s revenue. And gee, that makes perfect sense, right? Doesn’t matter how many clicks, doesn’t matter how much exposure they get. Did they get sales and other benefits? One of the great things that I love about our business is that we fit all those kind of affiliate marketing buzzwords. So we are absolutely incremental sales, right? Because everybody wants incremental sales because if you don’t use our technology, nobody can get that purchase, right? Because it’s a gift registry. So if Susan Johnson, who’s having a baby, goes to a website that doesn’t have a gift registry, adds that item to her My Registry account and somebody else comes and buys it, well, that company would never have gotten that sale without our technology. So it’s definitely incremental. And then everybody loves the concept of new to file customers, right? And that’s like a big part of our business because the person who adds the item to their gift registry, they’re the customer. But we don’t put affiliate tracking on, let’s say again, babysore.com, we don’t put affiliate tracking when their customer creates the registry or their customer adds the item to the registry. Only when somebody, their friend or family member comes to buy that item are we putting affiliate tracking. So most of the time, like 80, 90% of the time, the person who is buying through a My registry account is new to file to that advertiser. So those are like the kinds of things that everybody loves new to file incremental. Our customers generally don’t buy on sale because it’s kind of in poor taste to look for something on sale to give somebody as a wedding gift. So it’s like full price sales and also really low returns. So those are like the kind of buzzwords of how we’ve been able to grow in the industry because we kind of hit on all these check marks of things that advertisers really care about. And in the beginning, nobody wanted to work with us because they didn’t understand what we were doing until they started to work with us and they were like, wow, this is great.
Marshall Nyman [00:11:26]:
Yeah. And I think there’s also a brand awareness piece that probably just from people going to the registries, like, hey, somebody sent me their registry. I’m looking at the products. Maybe I didn’t know about that brand before. Maybe I’m now interested in buying it for myself, not just for my friends. I think there’s like a whole probably halo effect just from people seeing these products that maybe they wouldn’t even have been exposed to.
Yes, I love that word halo effect because that’s actually the crux of the gift registry business. It’s a very viral entity because if you create, let’s say, a Christmas wish list on our website and we had hundreds of thousands of people doing that over the last quarter, the fourth quarter of the year. If you don’t share it with your family or you don’t let people know that you’ve got that Christmas gift list, then nobody’s going to know what to buy for you. So when you create these gift lists, you’re doing people a favor, but you’re also doing the retailers a favor, right? So you’re happy because you’re going to get what you want. But the stores are really happy because they’re being exposed to new customers. And then an item that comes off a gift list is not coming back in returns, which for advertisers for retailers is really online. It’s like the devil of the industry, right? Online returns are just the worst.
Marshall Nyman [00:12:42]:
For sure. So what do you look for in a brand? Like, what is an ideal partner look like for your site?
So we kind of, again, look at things backwards, right? We don’t always look at things as well, this is a company I want to promote. We’re always looking for things like what are hot new baby products that have launched that we know that our baby registry customers are going to want or what kind. We always work with all the big department stores, but we’re always looking for things. And the baby business is very narrow because if you have a baby, you need certain things. But the wedding industry has gone berserk, right? People register for absolutely anything and everything from a Kayak and Skydiving Experience gift cards to crystal China and other old fashioned traditional things, to a flat screen TV and I don’t know, an Xbox. So it’s all over the place. So for our wedding customers, we just try to have a really broad base of relationships. And to be honest with you, people can add things from websites that don’t have affiliate programs onto their gift registry. A lot of times that’s actually what starts new conversations, because these sites see that we’re sending them traffic and they’re like, wow, what’s that all about? Who are you and why are you sending us traffic? And then we introduce them to the affiliate industry and we say, look, you want to get in on this? Because this is like the greatest thing ever. People are going to be your remote salespeople like us. So it all kind of feeds upon itself, right? So if our customers are interested in it and the company doesn’t have an affiliate program, we might actually reach out to them. Also, if we see that it’s like a high traffic company that our customers want and we have a very sophisticated system in the back end that allows us to get daily lists of companies that have gotten over a certain volume of traffic from our site that don’t have affiliate programs. And the same thing with gift registry. So if you don’t use our gift registry software, which is really one of the best ways to grow affiliate traffic, because people are on your site. So it’s not only my customers going to your website now, it’s your customers who love your product, gives them the ability to create a gift registry on your website, and then we facilitate it so that the friends and family are able to come and buy it and it all just grows. Everybody’s. Affiliate traffic.
Marshall Nyman [00:15:35]:
Awesome. So what do you see as the big piece for 2023? What are maybe new areas that you’re headed to or things that look interesting for the business?
So we’re growing in two different directions. First is vertical because wedding and baby, there’s lots and lots of competition. We love those businesses and we’re firmly and deeply involved in them, but there’s no growth. I mean, no matter what we do, there’s going to be no more. Even now that the post pandemic wedding catch up is still not 100% finished, but okay, at the maximum, there’s going to be 2.5 million weddings a year. More likely 2.2 million weddings, right? And there’s going to be 4 million babies born in a year. But there’s 850,000 people every single day who have a birthday, and there’s 300 million Americans who celebrate some kind of holiday in fourth quarter. So we’re very focused on growing out these alternative gift businesses, in particular birthday, housewarming, holiday and whatnot. So we’re doing a lot of growth in that area, and some of it is organic. And a lot of it now going forward is going to be much more intentional because we see that this is really where we shine. Nobody is going in. This is our direction. So we love that it’s kind of like unchartered territory, but it needs a little bit more education. And then we’ve really grown dramatically in all of the English speaking countries. So our other growth areas are we now dominate the Canadian market. And last year we went into Australia and the UK. So these are all kind of affiliate hotbeds. They’re all kind of getting revved up. And the affiliate marketing industry in the UK and Australia are booming and a lot of companies are joining. So we’re all kind of excited to be growing this out together in those different markets. So those are kind of like the 2023 directions of more events that are more mass market. Because you’re not getting married or having a baby this year, but you’re definitely having a birthday, right?
Marshall Nyman [00:17:55]:
Let me ask you a question. What’s the worst gift anybody’s ever given you?
Marshall Nyman [00:18:03]:
I really don’t like T shirts. When somebody goes to another place and they bring you back a T shirt from that place and you’ve never been there, and so you’re like, supposed to walk around with a T shirt from a place you’ve never been to.
So just think about it. If it’s right before your birthday and you put together this little gift list of all the things that you do want, right? Because in the end, nobody really knows what you want except for you. That’s really what it comes down to and it’s just so easy to put these gift lists together. So we’re trying to turn this into second nature for people. And I think that the millennials are so list centric, they do lists for everything. So I do think that the growth that we’re seeing in these other areas is going to just continue to explode because there are more than 800,000 people having a birthday every day and that’s only in the US. So we add all these other countries together and there’s just so much growth potential.
Marshall Nyman [00:19:04]:
Yeah, what you’re speaking on is definitely something that we experience with some of the brands that we work with where there’s only so many babies that are born and there’s only so many parents that you can market to that have a child that age. And then once the kid gets a year or two older, they’re no longer somebody that you can market to. So it is definitely a challenge with some of those continuing to grow the business. But it definitely can stay consistent with that type of customer.
Right? Sorry. But we keep track of everybody’s when their babies were born and we follow them along through their toddlerhood and their childhood because we know that a customer from four years AGO’s baby is about to have their fifth birthday, right. So we love to be able to just remind them, hey, it’s time for your child’s fifth birthday registry to be created. Their birthday wish list. Let’s get started. And obviously the kind of things that they’re going to add to a fifth birthday list is completely different from what they’re going to add to a baby registry. But that’s why we tried to work with so many different types of advertisers that basically can span a lifetime, including college. College is a big gift registry market now. Kids putting together gift lists for going off to college for their dorms and also during graduation because people give such terrible and ridiculous graduation gifts. So this kind of corrects all of that.
Marshall Nyman [00:20:33]:
Yeah, I just need stuff for the dorm, some sheets and stuff like that. Awesome. And then one last question. Any predictions on the future of performance marketing.
Growing like crazy. I mean, at some point it’s going to get to a period. So the good news is that it’s going to get to a period where if you are selling something and you’re not involved in the market, in the affiliate industry as a whole, people are going to be like, why? It’s going to be more the exception for the companies that don’t participate because we’re all going to expect everybody to be participating. So that’s the great news. The bad news is that the browsers keep getting smarter and there’s so many technical things that just keep putting spokes in the industry wheel that we hope that all the big networks are going to just work out so the browsers can’t outsmart the customers and block our tracking. And that tracking is going to be good. And I guess everybody’s always interested in Attribution, right? So we want to make sure that there’s a little bit more policing on last click overrides. So those are the three things that I see for 2023 that people are going to look for.
Marshall Nyman [00:22:00]:
And going forward, tracking is the big thing for me. I think there’s a lot of pieces not just in the affiliate space. I think in general, because there’s so many channels that are interacting and a lot of last click attribution is what brands look at. But there’s so many other touch points. And so having some way to show true attribution across the funnel is definitely something that would be beneficial, I think. And then the first point that you were making about affiliate programs yeah, I think when we first got started in the space, most people didn’t want an affiliate program and you really had to kind of convince them. Then the last five years, a lot of brands are open to it and now it’s like table stakes. Like you have to have an affiliate program if you’re looking to work with any type of partners. A lot of PR teams, too are saying, hey, you need an affiliate program. So it’s like starting to touch other areas, influencer marketing. So, yeah, I think you have to have an affiliate program. But with that, now that there’s so much competition, there’s so many affiliate programs, there’s so many people applying to be part of every publisher site, that it is a lot more challenging to do affiliate marketing now because there’s just so many people that are looking to take advantage of that pay for performance model. And when you don’t have to have a big upfront budget and you can just really rely on someone else to drive traffic on a sale, it’s really beneficial to people. So I don’t see it slowing down as well. I think there’ll be big growth for the channel in the next coming years.
The greatest channel ever. The greatest, greatest digital marketing channel ever. Because if you only pay when you receive, what could be better than that for any business?
Marshall Nyman [00:23:46]:
Yeah, and it’s really more than a channel. It’s really like a technique of marketing because all these other channels that we’re talking about, email, search, display, social, you can all run those on an affiliate basis too. So it’s really like encompassing of all marketing. You can really run anything on a performance basis. And to kind of your point when you’re talking about being at Cju and there was just those kind of few publisher buckets. Now I know there’s a lot more buckets, there’s technologies and browser extensions where that was not part of the mix 510 years ago. So, yeah, a lot more publishers, I think, will come to the space with probably interesting ideas as things start to shift a little bit with how people use other platforms, Google, Social, et cetera.
Marshall Nyman [00:24:39]:
Awesome. Well, it was great having you on. Looking forward to maybe having you on again in the future, but definitely a big thank you to Nancy from my registry for joining us this week. Some really great insights on how my registry could be a great addition to a Performance Marketing program. What is the best way for listeners that are interested in learning more to connect with you?
They can go on our site and hit the Contact US where they can reach out to me directly. My email is just Nancy@myregistry.com.
Marshall Nyman [00:25:09]:
Awesome. Thanks so much, Nancy. I am your host, Marshall Nyman of the Performance Marketing Spotlight. I am signing off. Thank you for joining us. Have a great day. Bye.