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Five tips to optimise your affiliate marketing

Friday 16 November 2018 Digital Marketing


Joanne White's picture
By Joanne White

Affiliate marketing involves the promotion of your product through a third party (usually a partner website), and subsequently rewarding that partner for sales that were referred by them. At first glance, it may seem that the affiliate channel is not a natural fit for your industry. It can be especially difficult to gain traction for considered purchases, such as insurance, on typical voucher code and deals sites on which eCommerce brands can thrive. However, there are other ways to optimise the affiliate channel for your business.

For a start, there is a growing cashback market, on websites such as Quidco and Topcashback, that can be a valuable source of incremental sales. These cashback sites provide the customer with a monetary return on purchases made through them. In effect, the commission paid to the affiliate is passed on to the customer. The cashback market is highly price-sensitive, and so it’s important to have the right strategy in place to make you stand out from competitors. You should develop your affiliate program beyond simply cashback, with opportunities to be found in content sites and onsite technology such as overlays. When set up to run as efficiently as possible, the affiliate channel can be a low-cost way of acquiring leads or sales.

These five tips explain how to make the most of the affiliate channel:


  1. Track the affiliate channel reliably and efficiently

A vast amount of referred sales can come from price comparison websites across the insurance, energy, and financial services industries. This is the biggest area of partnership opportunity - and you should aim to work with a variety of key aggregator sites - particularly the usual top five; Money Supermarket, Compare the Market, Go Compare, and Uswitch.

Partner with aggregators directly and track them individually using your site analytics. Your affiliate program should run alongside this activity, and track through a reputable affiliate network, such as Awin, Linkshare or Commission Junction. This way, you can manage your main volume driving partners (aggregators) without paying a network override on sales, whilst managing all remaining partners more easily under the umbrella of your affiliate program.

  1. Nail your cashback strategy

Exactly how much cashback you can afford to give to the customer should be based on their policy value and their expected lifetime value. If you currently have a cashback offering, it’s recommended that you carry out this analysis and compare these metrics against other partners and channels. With this in mind, a good strategy is to tier the cashback you offer against the amount the customer invests. This can help to increase the average policy value from the channel.

To remain competitive in the cashback market you must be monitoring, and reacting to, the rates that your competitors are advertising on a weekly basis. Analyse your cashback rates after every change in order to work out whether sales with higher cashback amounts are incremental.

  1. Driving leads through the affiliate channel

The affiliate channel can be used to effectively drive lead volume as well as sales. An effective method is to implement onsite abandonment technology that prompts users to enter their email/phone number to receive or save a quote. Providers of this technology include Smarter Click and Yieldify. This can be quickly set up on your site, requiring minimal development time, and can be paid on a cost per lead (CPL) basis only with no fixed-term contract.

With GDPR regulations now in place, it’s likely that any incentivised lead generation activity through third party websites could be deemed non-compliant. For example, a site that provides a user cashback once they enter their email address for a certain amount of free trials. If you already generate leads in this way, then it’s recommended that you review the activity.

  1. Using affiliates for cross-channel expansion

As well as onsite conversion technology, there are other channels that can be tested through affiliates. For example, affiliates that work specifically in PPC can ensure that you dominate the Paid Search space. Social influencers meanwhile can be recruited as affiliates to help disseminate your content.

There is also a big opportunity to work with high quality content sites and blogs either on a CPL or CPA basis. For example, there are many niche insurance and finance focussed advice sites out there, which may have lower traffic, but can refer high value customers. This is especially important for considered purchases as content is key to explaining the benefits of the product or service.

In general, by having an affiliate program, you can quickly implement and track many types of activity for testing, and with low-risk.

  1. Incentivising for success

Ultimately, Affiliates is an incentivised channel. The greater the incentive you can offer the higher the return you will receive. If you can provide an attractive deal to accompany your product, typically, the more traction you will gain on affiliate sites, and the more exposure you can secure.

Finally, it’s good practice to bolster your offers with regular tenancy investment, (one off lump payments), across a range of partner sites paying an additional amount to feature, for instance, in a newsletter or key site placements, in order to maximise your brand’s visibility.

By monitoring the incentive offered and its impact on volumes, affiliates can be a valuable channel to drive volume for any industry. At CACI, we believe that affiliates is a channel that can be utilised to valuable effect by almost every industry.


For more information on how to get the most from your affiliates or to have your affiliate strategy reviewed, get in touch.

Using affiliates as a part of your digital marketing can be a low-cost way of acquiring leads or sales. These 5 tips explain how to make the most of the affiliate channel.

Five tips to optimise your affiliate marketing