Episode #27 – The Performance Marketing Spotlight with Noelle Spagna

About Our Guest

Noelle Spagna began her distinguished career in account management at what was initially called eBay Enterprise Affiliate Network, later known as Pepper Jam, and now operates under the brand Partnerize. There, Noelle received a comprehensive, hands-on education in the many facets of the business, a contrast to the more segmented roles typical in agencies. Her primary responsibility involved managing various fashion clients, granting her significant industry insight and expertise.

After a few years, Noelle transitioned to the agency world, joining Partner Centric where she tackled the complexities of managing finance-related accounts. Her new role demanded a deep understanding of diverse program types, including investments and credit card services. This experience marked a significant shift from her fashion industry roots, showcasing her versatility and ability to adapt to different business environments. Noelle’s career is a testament to her broad skill set and her capability to navigate and excel within the dynamic landscape of account management and client service.



Welcome to another engaging episode of the “Performance Marketing Spotlight,” streaming live from the sunny shores of Miami at PI Live Miami. Today, we’re thrilled to have Noelle Spagna, the seasoned Affiliate Program Manager at The Motley Fool, join us. Noelle brings over a decade of experience in the affiliate marketing space, offering a rich perspective from her journey across networks, agencies, and brand management. In today’s episode, she shares her intriguing career pathway, insights into The Motley Fool’s unique approach to finance and investments, and the evolving landscape of affiliate marketing. Whether you’re an industry veteran or new to the scene, this episode promises a wealth of knowledge and advice on driving effective affiliate strategies and fostering meaningful partnerships in performance marketing. Join us as we dive into the world of affiliate management with Noelle Spagna!


Marshall Nyman [00:00:02]:
Hello and welcome to the performance marketing Spotlight. I’m your host, Marshall Niman, founder and CEO of Nymonco. Each episode I bring you someone with deep experience in the performance marketing space, where they highlight their experiences within the industry. This special episode of the podcast is streaming live from PI Live Miami. And today I have Noelle Spagna, who is affiliate program manager at the Motley fool. Welcome to the podcast, Noelle.

Noelle Spagna [00:00:28]:
Thanks so much for having me, Marshall.

Marshall Nyman [00:00:30]:
Of course, super excited to have you on today. Let’s get right to it. Love for you to introduce yourself to the audience.

Noelle Spagna [00:00:36]:
Yeah, my name is Noelle Spagna. I’m the affiliate program manager, as you mentioned at the Motley fool. I’ve been in the affiliate space for a little over ten years now. Started at the network side, then I jumped into the agency world for a while before hopping into the brand side. So I’ve got perspectives from back and forth.

Marshall Nyman [00:00:53]:
Well, would love to hear how you got your start in performance marketing.

Noelle Spagna [00:00:57]:
I actually started at what is now partnerized, but at the time it was eBay enterprise affiliate network slash Pepper jam, now partnerize. And yeah, I jumped in there as an account manager and really learned everything from the ground up. It was very, you know, you jumped right in and you kind of learned a little bit of everything there. So I feel like I really know as much as I do because of the way that I was kind of trained there because you really had to know all aspects of the business where, you know, sometimes in the agencies it’s more segmented with the roles. But yeah, I managed mostly fashion clients there and was there for a couple years before jumping into the agency world at partner centric and I jumped into finance and that’s a whole other ballgame from fashion. So yeah, I was managing different types of programs and investments and credit cards and things like that and then eventually went to the side.

Marshall Nyman [00:01:54]:
Awesome. Would love to hear about your time at the Motley fool.

Noelle Spagna [00:01:57]:
I actually just celebrated my three year fooliversary, we call them amazing. So I’ve been there three years now managing the affiliate program, and I was on, like I said, the agencies had before managing it. So I had many years of experience and was with it from the very start from the launch of the program. So it’s been really great. I have an amazing channels team there that we get to collaborate with and we also have our ascent side which is the publisher side of the house. So getting to collaborate with that team as well is really exciting. And then other business dev people and pr, so it’s really a collaborative team at the fool. So I’m really grateful to be in that company.

Marshall Nyman [00:02:39]:
For anyone who isn’t familiar with the Motley fool, can you tell us about them?

Noelle Spagna [00:02:43]:
Yeah, the Motley fool does. It’s basically a financial services company, but we have so many different aspects. The site I work on is the premium investment services. So we’re most known for stock advisor, that’s a subscription service, and we basically pick stocks. We want people to understand that you can manage your own portfolio. You can get into investing and buying stocks yourself, and you can, you know, manage your own portfolio independently. And we help you do that by doing all the research for you. We have amazing analysts, analysts that do stock picks every single month, and that’s what my side of the business does.

Noelle Spagna [00:03:16]:
As I mentioned, we have the ascent. Who’s more personal finance. We also do venture capital and money management. All of you know, different aspects of finance, basically from start to finish. No matter what stage you’re at in your financial journey, we’ve got something for everybody.

Marshall Nyman [00:03:32]:
What makes the Motley fool unique?

Noelle Spagna [00:03:34]:
It’s definitely, well, we refer to ourselves as fools, so it’s definitely like that foolish aspect of it. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. And again, we’re really trying to, our motto is to make the world smarter, happier and richer. And we’re trying to get that out to everybody. We want everybody to know that you can get out there and do that. You don’t have to come from a background of your parents already set you up for this, or we’re already in that space. You can go out and do it now. Anybody can.

Marshall Nyman [00:04:03]:
So what do you do in your role for affiliate marketing there?

Noelle Spagna [00:04:06]:
It is my job to manage our existing partnerships, but of course bring in new partnerships. So we’re always looking for new partners. We’re always testing things out, always trying to get new campaigns going. So the thing with this program that I’ve always loved, even before I worked at the fool, was that they were always open to testing new partners. They were always open to testing new things and working with partners that we didn’t think maybe it would work, but it did. So even on the rest of our team, testing is always the motto, and we’re encouraged to test new things, even if it’s not directly our channel. If something comes across our desk and we’re really interested in it, they encourage us to do that. So it’s a really nice system without.

Marshall Nyman [00:04:45]:
Giving up any secrets. What is the affiliate strategy for Motley fool?

Noelle Spagna [00:04:50]:
It’s really new member acquisition. That’s our main goal is to get new members in and again, just educate them on being able to manage their own portfolio with the help of our services. So that’s really what we go after, is new members and meeting new audiences. And we work with a diverse amount of different affiliate partners and all sorts of spectrums, whether it’s content, financial services companies, fintech, loyalty partners, even some deal sites.

Marshall Nyman [00:05:19]:
Awesome. Full funnel. Absolutely. What has been your favorite part of working at the Motley fool?

Noelle Spagna [00:05:27]:
It’s a very employee centric company. It’s very, they take care of us like family, even though there’s so many of us. It’s a big company, but it just has a really great environment and atmosphere. They really are very good to their employees and you know, even like our CEO Tom Gardner, like, you can go right up to him and talk to him and have a conversation. He’s a great guy. And I think that that is, it says a lot about the company. You know, it’s all of our, even the higher ups, they’re very accessible and again, they’ve really great, you know, benefits and flexibility. So it’s, it’s a really nice company to be a part of.

Marshall Nyman [00:06:06]:
Amazing. You just finished a panel on what is the role of an affiliate manager in 2024 and beyond? Any big takeaways you could share with us?

Noelle Spagna [00:06:15]:
Yeah, we basically covered the idea that specialization in affiliate is important, but it’s also important to have a well rounded background. You need to kind of know the ins and outs of all sides of it. But getting into more specialized verticals like finance or fashion or whatever the case may be, required different skill sets and different types of training. And we also covered how it’s important to kind of let other channels and C suite level executives know, like the importance of the channel, how much work goes into managing affiliate program, because it really is, you’re juggling sometimes hundreds of partners all in one, and just making sure that people understand, you know, the partnership relationship aspect of affiliate and how valuable that is to a business as a whole, and really just how to collaborate with other channel managers in that space as well.

Marshall Nyman [00:07:15]:
So we’re podcasting from hello Partners PI Live. So it feels like fitting to ask what are your goals for attending a conference like this?

Noelle Spagna [00:07:23]:
Really networking. I’ve got a lot of meetings in terms of existing partnerships and new partnerships, so always looking for new things, but always looking to, of course, strengthen the existing relationships that we have and just learning some new things while I’m here, I’ve got, like I said, a lot of meetings set up with partners I’ve never heard of before. So it’s always nice to kind of get in there and see. And the last conference I was at, I was able to take things back to other channels, which is great, too. So you get a little bit everything.

Marshall Nyman [00:07:53]:
Discovering new partners is always a great opportunity. Networking with people, the FaceTime is always absolutely incredible. Yeah, it’s fun too. That’s also why we go, right?

Noelle Spagna [00:08:04]:
Great. Can’t beat Miami, right?

Marshall Nyman [00:08:06]:
Weather’s beautiful, staring at the ocean, nice breeze. You know, you can’t beat this. So I was going to ask you, what are your favorite parts about attending conferences? But I think we just answered that.

Noelle Spagna [00:08:15]:
Yeah, it’s really just getting to network and meet with people. I think it’s when you establish that face to face connection, it just changes things. It’s very different than, you know, you send an email and you just see a person’s name and their email address, but when you meet them face to face, they become a person. It’s not just, you know, some name that you can throw out there. And if they answer, they answer. So I think that establishing those relationships have been an affiliate for a long time and people bounce around and you never know when you’re going to run into that person again or when you’re going to want to collaborate with them. So I think it’s just about really building those relationships, no matter where the person is working for. Even if you don’t want to work with that company.

Noelle Spagna [00:08:50]:
Right. Then you don’t know where that person’s going to go next.

Marshall Nyman [00:08:52]:
What are some major challenges you face working as a brand in the performance marketing space?

Noelle Spagna [00:08:57]:
I think just looking at, I mean, being that affiliate is on a CPA, it’s a little bit easier to control like margin and looking at that type of thing. But just making sure you’re getting like the right, at least for us, the right customers coming in. Obviously we want people that are going to stick around with us for a long term trying to find that right type of person who understands what we are. So that’s why it’s really great that we have as many content partners as we do, because they do really in depth reviews of our product. And that’s how I think we educate people that way, too. It’s really great to have those third party kind of endorsements and knowledge out there to explain to people, like, this is what you can use the service for. This is how you can grow your portfolio. People who actually, you know, write about stocks they’ve bought and based on our recommendations and how well they’re doing.

Noelle Spagna [00:09:45]:
So it’s really important to get that information out there.

Marshall Nyman [00:09:48]:
Absolutely. Any predictions on the future of performance marketing or maybe where the industry is headed?

Noelle Spagna [00:09:54]:
Well, I feel like the topic, the hour is always AI right. Trying to see how that plays into it. I haven’t dabbled much in it personally with the management of affiliate, but I think it would be great to see more tools like that coming out that allow, you know, we kind of talked about this on the panel, too. There isn’t one great tool for just management of affiliates, like from an account manager’s perspective to help you really juggle everything. You know, I don’t know what you guys use, but I’m still like, you know, Google sheet trackers, things like that. So I think finding more ways where technology can help us, I think balance some of those like tasks and things that you have to keep track of, but you’re kind of like in all different perspectives, like, you know, it’s new recruitment, it’s existing partners you’re doing campaigns with. Just trying to find something that helps kind of streamline all of that and keep it together.

Marshall Nyman [00:10:43]:
A lot of new technology popping up, for sure.

Noelle Spagna [00:10:45]:

Marshall Nyman [00:10:47]:
Well, final question, would love to know, what’s your favorite part of working in the performance marketing industry again?

Noelle Spagna [00:10:52]:
I’m going to probably go back to the relationship building and, you know, I’ve worked with so many great people across the spectrum, whether it was on network sides and agencies and brands, and just being able to collaborate with different brands and partners is, is really amazing. And, you know, I think it’s so beneficial for brands to have this type of channel in your marketing team because it really helps you get your name out there and helps you reach audiences that you probably couldn’t before. And it really does a lot of good there. But definitely just building up those relationships, those partnerships and just, there’s always something new about this channel, too. I feel like there’s always a new partner. There’s always something new coming across my desk that I’d never heard of before. You know, when you’re managing a program for as long as I have, you’re kind of like, oh, eventually you’re going to run out of partners, you’re going to run out of things that are new. But that has not happened yet.

Noelle Spagna [00:11:43]:
And this has been around for a good handful of years, so I hope it never gets to that. But we always find new things.

Marshall Nyman [00:11:50]:
I mean, I think that’s probably one of my favorite parts, too. It’s just, it’s not the same. There’s no playbook, no one way to run an affiliate program. Everyone looks different. And I think that’s pretty unique to a lot of other marketing channels where there’s like a set playbook, you can kind of go look them up online, learn how to run them, and start ma optimizing those campaigns. I think it’s going to take a little bit of time before AI really, I think knocks us out.

Noelle Spagna [00:12:15]:
Yeah, yeah. I think it’ll be alongside of us rather than because you’re always going to need that human component in this channel.

Marshall Nyman [00:12:22]:
There’s a huge human element in this channel, so we’ll keep it there so we don’t lose our jobs.

Noelle Spagna [00:12:26]:
Yeah, absolutely.

Marshall Nyman [00:12:28]:
We don’t want AI to replace us. But a big thank you to Noelle from the Motley fool for joining the podcast today. Some great insights into her background and how you can run an effective of affiliate program. What is the best way for listeners to connect with you?

Noelle Spagna [00:12:42]:
I’m on LinkedIn and you know, my email is pretty easy. Noelle, that’s bagna fool.com dot.

Marshall Nyman [00:12:48]:
So perfect. A very big thank you to PI live for inviting us out for this Poolside podcast episode. Thank you to our guests, Noel Spagna and to our producer, Leon Sonken. If you’ve enjoyed this content, please give us a like and a follow. Thank you for joining us. I’m Marshall Nyman, host of the performance marketing Spotlight and founder and CEO of Nymon Co signing off. Thank you. Have a great day.

Noelle Spagna [00:13:12]:
Thanks, Miguel.