How to Drive New-to-File Customers

Oct 1, 2015
Written by Mark G.

Today's always-on, multi-channel ecosystem has impacted consumer buying behavior, brand loyalty, and overall lifetime value (LTV). Now is the time to focus on driving new customer acquisitions—build new brand loyalty and target customers, who maybe as early as last year, might not have been interested in your brand.

The affiliate channel can drive invaluable new customer acquisition; however, many affiliate managers don't know where to begin. Launching, tracking, and monetizing new-to-file (NTF) customers via an affiliate channel can be confusing and time-consuming if you don't know how best to proceed.

Keep reading to learn where to begin and what strategies to incorporate to maximize NTF growth.

Where to Start?

The first step is to understand the criteria your company uses to determine what qualifies as a "new customer," as this definition may vary from company to company. For example, is a new customer someone who has never purchased from you before? Or is it someone who has not purchased within a year, or two years?

In addition, it is important know the customer information from which you've based they are a "new customer." Is it a mailing address, phone number, email address, etc.?


Before you decide on a method to track your new customers, make sure you have the ability to track at the Publisher level. If you can't track new customers at the Publisher level, it will be very challenging to pay your Publishers accordingly.

Once you determine that you can track at the Publisher level, consider options for tracking and paying your Publishers on new Advertisers:

  • Batch-integrated Advertiser: Set up a separate action in your account for new customer vs. repeat customer. An Advertiser can "batch-in" NTF customer data within their daily file.

  • Pixel-integrated Advertiser: Set up a separate action in your account for new customer vs. repeat customer. Advertisers need to be able to differentiate when the pixel fires.

  • Manual bonus: Add bonus amounts manually. For example, if a Publisher generated 50 new customers for you within a given month, you could bonus them a specific dollar amount for each new customer they drove.

With any of the above options, for Advertisers who may be new to these processes, we suggest coordinating a call with our tech team and your internal team.

Commission Structure

Create a commission structure to ensure a positive ROI. Since many Advertisers place a higher value on new customers vs. repeat customers, they have the ability to pay higher commissions on those sales. That way, you can reduce the payout on repeat customers (slightly) to offset the increase on new customers.


  • Offer a coupon code for first-time customer purchase to help Publishers drive new customers.

  • If you would rather not increase their rev-share rate, offer a flat bonus amount on each new customer a Publisher drives.

  • Test, test, test! Targeting top Publishers in the program first.

  • Develop contests that reward incremental new-customer activity.

Topics: CJ 101,
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