Making Best Use of Affiliates in the Finance Sector

The breadth and reach of affiliates is sometimes overlooked by financial services advertisers given the perceived complexities of running an affiliate program. However, with interest rates at historically low levels and consumers increasingly price-sensitive, brands in the finance sector can benefit from leveraging this channel.  The diversity of affiliates can help advertisers take advantage of these conditions for customer acquisition and retention on a pure CPA basis.

Below I assess the suitability of some common types of affiliates and look at practical ways to work with them most effectively.

Incentive-Based Affiliates

Incentivized traffic can pose significant challenges for finance advertisers. Too great a dependency on many cash-back sites can stifle the development of an affiliate program as a whole. For this reason, short-term exclusive offers with trusted incentive sites produce better ROI than maintaining a constantly high rate of cash back.

If you offer multiple financial services products, suggest that cash-back affiliates bundle them together for a larger reward. Like comparison sites, incentive sites are traditionally better at getting users to switch than at keeping them loyal.  However,  if customers get a bonus reward for taking both auto and home insurance, for example, it is less likely they will switch either policy at the point of renewal if they are happy with one.

Some finance advertisers find that cash back and reward portals have been vulnerable to false transactions. A member might submit a lead (or even transact) to get the reward but without intending to become a customer, perhaps planning to cancel during the cooling-off period. Increasing the time between tracking and validation of the commission is an easy way to alleviate this, and works best when backed by messaging discouraging such orders. This can be displayed either on the reward site itself, or via a co-branded landing page or interstitial page. As well as discouraging false applications, this will help reinforce branding messages to good customers, improving conversion by creating parity between the reward site and your brand.

Paid Search Affiliates

Many recommendations for working with PPC affiliates in other sectors also apply to finance. However, as PPC affiliates have to spend on AdWords before receiving commission from the advertiser, be sure to keep PPC affiliates up to date with the conversions you can see but they can’t. Once an application is submitted, make sure the affiliate knows how well it then converts to promising leads or confirmed customers. This transparency builds trust with these players and helps them refine and optimize keyword groups. Validations should also be timely and regular so that they have funds to re-invest in PPC budgets supporting your campaigns. Of course, if you are working through an affiliate network make sure they pay your affiliates as quickly, if not quicker than you pay them!

Email Affiliates

Thanks to its ability to drive large volumes off the back of a broadcast, email provides a useful tactical promotional method for finance advertisers. However, it is vital to ensure the quality of applications is high, and this only follows if the email affiliate has the right data for your program. Be prepared to ask the right questions of email affiliates, not just about the size of their databases, but how the data is collected.  Specifically, ask whether data is owned or leased from a third party and how recently it was gathered.

Spam or unsolicited emails can bring serious regulatory rebuke, so only look for data that is double opt-in. Similarly, bacn is reducible if the email affiliate segments its database (e.g., by age, geographic area, or what product the subscriber likes).  Therefore, advertisers should ask prospective email affiliates whether and how they do this and if certain data not relevant to your product can be filtered out.

Once you find a good email partner, think about whether you want a solo email or to be featured amongst multiple offers. A good email affiliate should be able to scale drops in size or frequency to meet your volume targets and split-test different creative to identify which gives best results.

Content Affiliates

Content sites are often as valuable for the branding and exposure they can offer in hard-to-reach niches as for the volume of sales they drive. Content affiliates in the finance sector will be especially hungry for copy and creative, and as such advertisers should expect a greater demand for dynamic or co-branded creative, with a strong focus on the call-to-action. Banners with drop-down boxes that allow a user to pre-qualify themselves before being referred work especially well. Equally, providing pre-approved copy in various lengths that affiliates can easily drop onto their sites helps satisfy this demand.  Further, this method ensures that what affiliates say about your brand is compliant with financial regulations.

Picking the Best Option

Despite the perception of complexity, it’s clear that the finance sector has several affiliate options to consider. The primary challenge is to follow through and deliver a consistent experience and support for participating affiliates.

About Owen Hewitson

Owen Hewitson is a Client Strategist at where he advises clients on launching, managing and optimizing their affiliate programs. He contributes regularly to a number of UK online marketing publications and speaks at performance marketing events in the UK and Europe.

2 Responses to Making Best Use of Affiliates in the Finance Sector

  1. joeflyde says:

    This was a very informative article. Thank You.

  2. FC says:

    Great post! Affiliate marketing and outsourcing is on the
    rise nowadays. There are many companies that rely upon affiliate marketing
    program. But when you trust your business sales with another agency or company,
    you have to be more focused on their credibility. The paid search affiliates
    will work better if you closely follow up.