On Azam Marketing’s 14th anniversary, CEO Nadeem writes about the company’s founding
I’ll still never forget the reaction of the Editor-in-Chief. “What, you’re quitting an acclaimed magazine to start an internet business? An internet business?” he exclaimed as he spluttered his tea. “And you’re going to be doing what, affiliate marketing?
His reaction was not too dissimilar to that of most of my colleagues, friends and family when I announced I had decided to leave my role as a scribe on a now-defunct socio-cultural magazine. Even though I hadn’t been paid for four months despite working such long hours that I would regularly sleep on a mattress in the office, and the publication was so understaffed that I was allocated several pseudonyms so the readers didn’t suss out I was writing a third of the articles in each issue, everybody felt I was on securer grounds working in Old Media than risking my future on what they were certain was a fad that would go the way of CB radio.
It was a long time ago. Both Bill Clinton’s Democrats and Tony Blair’s Labour Party had recently been elected, and Puff Daddy was number one in the charts with his bittersweet I’ll Be Missing You, soon to be eclipsed by a remix of Candle in the Wind.
After several months of noctural cybersurfing as I researched the opportunities that may exist on the nascent interweb, I bit the bullet and launched Azam Marketing.
Last Thursday was exactly 14 years since that day when Azam was founded, 4 August, 1997.
It’s almost impossible to describe how emotional, challenging and rewarding the past 14 years have been. Azam Marketing has grown from a little baby to a sensible teenager.
We’ve managed to build a strong and reliable family unit around our growing youngster, and without that important foundation we wouldn’t be here today. Our loyal and dedicated team members have been a golden asset to Azam Marketing and I have had the privilege to travel on the roller coaster journey with some incredible people.
So what has been the key to our success?
Well, to be honest, I don’t think we’ve found it. The ambition, drive and passion required to succeed in business shouldn’t be a means to an end. We are constantly thinking up ways of pushing boundaries, and providing our clients with the most effective strategies, services, and technologies.
We want Azam Marketing to Godwillingly keep on growing and reaching new heights as each year passes by. There’s no expiry date or best before date. I love this industry and here’s to another 14 years!
Azam Marketing in the 1990s: 14 Things You Didn’t Know about the Company in the Early Years
- The business was not originally called Azam Marketing and was rebranded a couple of times in the late nineties and early noughties.
Some of the company’s initial development took place in the University of Heidelberg. I was spending long stints in Germany in the 1990s and, in the absence of my own internet connection, would go to the university every day to work on the computers.
Azam Marketing’s very first online sale was a book about Eastenders, which for those that don’t know is a long-running British soap opera. We earned 60p ($1). This was our 10% affiliate commission from the Internet Bookshop, a web retailer who was subsequently purchased by WHSmith in June 1998.
Azam Marketing was an online book retailer in our own right in the 1990s and sold books on theology and cultural studies.
These were the days of pay-per-second dial-up connections, so my internet bills would regularly come to over £100 ($163) a month even though I would try to do as much work as possible offline.
A lot of what I learned about affiliate marketing was from Allan Gardyne of AssociatePrograms.com fame. His weekly newsletters were a compelling source of knowledge about all things affiliate.
Having carried out SEO since the very earliest days, Azam started doing PPC in 1999 via Goto.com. This evolved into Overture, which was eventually snapped up by Yahoo.
Affiliate networks did not exist in Europe and the first ones we used were DirectLeads, Linkshare and Commission Junction in the United States.
We used to buy our domain names from NetNames in the UK and Network Solutions in the USA. The latter is now a client. Our .com domain name on NetNames cost £150 ($246) each and all changes to the DNS, URL forwarding and email addresses had to be made by fax.
We ran a network of websites which reviewed books, games and other entertainment items. The main sources of traffic to the sites were web directories, banner exchanges and top site lists.
Some web directories didn’t accept credit card payments to get listed, so we’d have to post them cheques.
In the days when getting prominent listings on search engines was easier, our affiliate sites promoting merchants would sometimes list above the merchants themselves in the natural results.
The affiliate programs we mainly focused on sold books (Bookshop.co.uk, Books.com, Amazon.com), magazines (Magmall), cassettes, CDs and videos (CDParadise, VideoParadise), or offered comparison shopping (Dealpilot.com)
The first employee was Marilyn and she is still with us to this day!
Thank you to all our friends, partners and clients for their support over the last 14 years and we look forward to sharing the next 14 years with you.
Contact Azam Marketing to see how we can use our unparalleled 14 years of experience to boost your business.