Serial advertising and affiliate marketing entrepreneur Denis Lagutenko tells how your forward thinking helps scaling the business and standing at the forefront of the industry. He launched his first digital project in Russia in his early 20s. And now, just over 10 years later, Denis is a founder of several internationally operating companies and one of the leading Instagram influencers in the field.
With digitalization taking over, internet marketing has become the talk of the town among those who use online platforms to earn money and gain recognition. As digital promotion is a vast field with fundamental basics that need to be carefully understood, people seek role models whose outstanding work they can look up to. And our interviewee is definitely setting the digital marketing benchmarks you can learn from.
Is a successful entrepreneur who is really keen on travelling but not only for recreation purposes. Denis explores those countries where he goes to, and identifies their demands and opportunities to bear this in mind when developing his further business strategies. When asked whether he had business as a skill since his childhood, Lagutenko chuckled and admitted:
“Even now, I still can’t discover that business talent per se in myself. Probably, I felt it deep down inside but didn’t realize it while studying for the engineer at university. For me, getting into business for yourself is more about accumulating knowledge and experience along with always trying things out. Nobody is born an entrepreneur and this skill is something you achieve working really hard with a strong belief in everything you do.”
Born on December 9, 1985, in Moscow, Denis had graduated from Moscow Institute of Electronics and Mathematics with a degree in engineering and only after that turned to business education. He completed his Master of Management in RANEPA and also earned the MBA degree in strategic management and leadership. As Lagutenko indicates himself, he founded his first company quite late whereas many entrepreneurs start doing business since they are at high school or university. Before that, he simultaneously worked as a salesman in a clothing store and system administrator at a car dealership, while also developing photographs at night.
“I kept working even when launching my own project and quitted only after I got this sense of overconfidence that the income from my business consistently remains higher than my salary. In this regard, I am a staunch conservative and still advocate such an approach,” Denis says. “For example, if you have several ideas underlying your business, you’d better start implementing them within one company to evaluate the public demand for each of them. And once you understand that a given direction has become financially feasible and has enough resources to operate independently, you decide to turn it into a separate business.”
The first steps in promising affiliate marketing sphere
But if the concept is the same, your next business model may emerge in the process, constituting a logical continuation of the ongoing one. This is how it happened when Lagutenko got involved in affiliate marketing. It was the very beginning of e-commerce in Russia and, together with his partner, Denis opened a few online stores to sell computer bags, cell phone cases and other stuff that was in demand. Looking for alternative ways of attracting new buyers, they addressed their fellow webmasters who at that time were engaged in traffic arbitrage.
“They rushed into working with our websites and the results were quite impressive. We established traffic arbitrage and media buying has much potential and the more I delved into affiliate marketing in general, the more I realized it was the future. Every business needs traffic, and I pretty early understood that this idea combined with the ability to bring clients is a lucrative business asset I need to invest in. And thus, I co-founded my first online companies that managed many digital and affiliate projects. We’d come a long way that was full of mistakes prompted by the lack of experience before we figured the things out. And all this time we were genuinely sanguine about the final outlook,” concludes Lagutenko.
And the final outlook was optimistic. Today, the digital agencies that are involved in affiliate marketing are in high demand all over the world. More and more retail organizations, apart from creating their own referral programs, go to digital marketing companies that imply a cost-per-action payment model. In other words, they offer a cost-effective collaboration, whereby advertisers know exactly how much they will pay for targeted actions and webmasters can calculate their margin in advance according to their traffic sources. As Denis stands, this is much more beneficial if compared with advertising agencies where the client’s budgets are wasted on endless creative testings.
“This is a symbiotic relationship between advertisers and webmasters where the platform itself mediates in launching offers, adjusting logistics, organising call centers and making payments. All parts are interdependent and that’s why everyone is interested in working as properly as possible.”
Going online is the paramount priority
Digital companies founded by Lagutenko have always operated globally. As each new country or region brought him new risks and challenges, Denis has built up rich expertise in his field and worked out a business model that would be stable no matter what happens to the world economy.
“The key secret of modern business success is its online presence. With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, the e-commerce sector has grown significantly and facilitated positioning of entrepreneurs’ goods and services on international markets. Almost all companies operating worldwide that decided to take advantage of online technologies at the pre-crisis time, now have a huge benefit in terms of competition. Throughout my career, I’ve been learning to play by the rules of digital and, thanks to this forward thinking, I currently have a proper understanding of internet marketing. I know when is the best period to run an advertising campaign, what platforms should people place their ads on and what creatives will win the hearts of the target audience. And at the same time, many projects that have never explored the digital space will have to catch up on missed opportunities to promote business effectively.”
But it doesn’t mean that former offline businesses are also-rans. What comes to internet marketing, it is so dynamic that today you can be on top of the market, but tomorrow there will be someone who has suddenly set a brand-new trend. Denis emphasizes that even now, when he is running internationally operating businesses including AdsProfit digital agency and ADSbase integrated communications agency, he constantly needs to keep up with emerging tools and traffic sources to create the complete solutions for other brands.
“My ongoing business is intended to ensure that every client willing to adjust to this changing reality will be able to claim about himself. My projects and the teams standing behind them have complimentary experience and skills, that’s why I decided to unite the majority of them and build something really big. ADSbase consists of strong marketers, PR, sales, content and event managers that are able to make a feast from any brand. This altogether will serve as a one-stop platform that will meet every single demand that advertisers may have had before with promoting their business.
Today, we have some other IT niches under the ADSbase radar. For most companies in the sphere the key constraint is their own local success. Yes, expanding the business or opening a new one is not always a right instant decision in terms of finance, but the perspective of driving the industry beyond its borders and being of service for other global institutions is something you should take into account as the most important catalyst of business processes in the long run.“
With having so much to offer in the digital world, Denis Lagutenko has become an influential name in the Russian affiliate marketing community and was rewarded with the Russian FPA Awards as the best business blogger of 2019. He speaks at the well-known local and international conferences where he talks about the mainstream trends and strategies that would be useful for any newcomer hoping to get a foothold in the world of affiliate marketing.