Due to intense regulations in the financial industry, financial advertisers are known to be very selective when it comes to adding publishers to their affiliate programs.
If you’re a publisher that creates content surrounding finances—especially categories like credit cards, banking, and loans—regulations require that you must be vigilant that anything you’ve shared with your audience is approved, up to date, and factually correct. Trust is a huge part of any partnership with a financial advertiser.
It may be a challenge to join financial affiliate programs, but it’s not impossible. Finding new affiliate partners is essential to long-term success for both financial advertisers and publishers. While each partnership is unique, there are several key actions that any publisher can take that give them the best opportunity to land new finance partners.
Make a Great First Impression
It's important to know that any partnership with a financial advertiser will go through several rounds of approval before you get to "yes". The wrong impression can get you rejected before the conversation starts. Here’s what financial advertisers are looking to see:
A completed website: Advertisers want to see a robust and fully functioning website before they partner with you. It should contain information relevant to their brand, their products, and their customers, and should give advertisers a clear picture of how their brand will be portrayed. Publishers who create content and links before the partnership will have real-world data to present to potential advertisers, showcasing how users will interact with their products. This also minimizes the work you'll need to do later—when you're added to their program, you’ll simply swap out regular links for affiliate links.
Strong site optimization: Getting discovered by advertisers can be as simple as a web search. Some advertisers may look up keywords and phrases to see if there are potential partners in the search results. The higher you rank, the more likely you'll be found by advertisers and users alike. This also presents a benefit to advertisers who know that any content that features them will get decent traction via search.
No risk, big reward: This saying is an important thing to keep in mind when it comes to finance partners. The key is to appear to be as risk-averse as possible. Words like "steal" or "hack" can raise red flags. Financial advertisers avoid sites that focus on churning or gaming the system, or ones with explicit content.
Grab Their Attention
While your site might be discovered organically, it's much more likely that you'll need to be introduced to potential advertisers. Here’s how you can break down barriers and get in front of potential partners the right way.
Find and use advocates: Remember that a recommendation is more impactful from a trusted source than from a stranger and will help make a new relationship feel more familiar to financial advertisers. Make connections with trusted advertiser contacts, like affiliate network teams or current affiliate partners. They’ll help troubleshoot issues and set you up for an ideal introduction.
Share your stats: Finance is a data-driven industry—advertisers know their audience, and they will want to know yours. Have audience demographics and site metrics ready; you'll be asked for them early on. Advertisers are looking for partners with users that are a good fit for their products. Any demographic information you have, such as your users' average age or life stage, will help pique the interest of advertisers. You can learn how you stack up with the advertiser's audience and their current affiliate partners by using third-party tools like Alexa Ranking, SimilarWeb, ComScore, and eMarketer.
Be patient, not pushy: Remember that this is a relationship, and you'll want to cultivate it from the start. If you're declined, learn why and build better for the future. It’s not uncommon for a publisher to get declined, return later with a fresh look and audience and become a key partner. As you make upgrades, share it with your advocates! That way, the next time the advertiser is looking for new partners, you can be reintroduced with confidence.
Getting Finance Partners to "Yes"…and Keeping Them There
Once you have a financial advertiser’s attention, here are some steps you can take to get the decision you want.
Bring something to the table: Advertisers are not looking to simply shift existing traffic to new partnerships. They want incremental growth and partners that bring new value to their business. Financial advertisers’ favorite partners are ones that provide new insights into the space, like swapping out offers from their competitors, or presenting new ways to target their key audience. Think about what you can provide, and what sets you or your audience apart. This will make your partnership more valuable than just new accounts.
Make it easy: Advertisers have limited time, and so the easier you make the relationship, the more likely and happier they'll be to work with you. Strong communication skills, high availability, and adaptability and a huge plus for any financial partner. Respond to any questions or concerns as soon as you can.
Have a compliance strategy: Understand that this is a highly regulated space, and compliance issues (which is to say, information on your website that is either incorrect or not approved) are the top concern when it comes to active partnerships. When compliance issues are found, advertisers will sever affiliate links and they won't be turned back on until those issues are resolved. Know that compliance issues will arise, and the more severe they are, the more harm is done to the relationship. Too many of these issues or too slow of a reaction will sour the relationship, potentially long term.
Factor in the snowball effect: The more partnerships you have, the easier it is to make new ones. There is confidence in shared security—when you’re partnered with other financial advertisers, new ones know that you’ve already addressed questions on compliance and have experience working within their vertical. If you're approved by their competitors, it's more likely you'll be approved by the advertiser's internal teams. Plus, having more advertiser partnerships gives you a better overall understanding of the space, and you’ll have greater insights into strategy for steering your relationships. Moreover, this can create a sense of urgency—advertisers want to be where the competition is, otherwise, they may already be missing out on new accounts.
A More Perfect Union
Once partnered, look to maintain and grow the relationship. Great partnerships thrive on partners that are tuned into what’s working and are open to tweaking things that aren’t.
Pay attention to advertiser KPIs: While standards may vary, there are key criteria all advertisers will use to determine if the juice is worth the squeeze. A bad result in any one of these will threaten the relationship and issues in more than one area are likely to kill any partnership. KPIs include:
- Quality of applicants
- Long term value of new accounts
- Cost for each acquisition
- Total volume
- Issues with compliance
Monitor your results and adapt proactively: Use your affiliate network data and your site data for insights into your results. Keep an eye on them and bring new information and strategies to your advertisers and affiliate network contacts. BUT…
No big surprises! Remember, for financial advertisers, it's "no risk, big reward." Transparency is crucial, and changes that are unexpected (especially if they lead to compliance issues) will erode the partnership. Let your contacts know about major changes (and minor ones). Better to overshare than to leave something out. And again, use your network contacts to vet these changes before going directly to advertisers.
Privacy and Tracking
Now more than ever, changes are happening that affect the digital arena and impact affiliate relationships. It’s crucial to stay on top of all regulations and make sure that you’re compliant across the board.
Mind privacy laws: Laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act and the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) limit the data that can be captured and shared by publishers, advertisers, and networks. Compliance with these (and all local laws) are a necessity for any advertiser.
Follow browser restriction updates: Apple, Firefox, and soon Chrome, have been instituting privacy restrictions that have the potential to break tracking between your site and an advertiser's. When these browsers drop third-party cookies (like the ones many affiliate networks are using), there’s no way to tie a new account back to your site, and the longer the time between click and sign-up, the more likely tracking will be lost. These changes are happening more and more, and different networks have varying solutions. CJ is on top of changes and has put many solutions in place to mitigate these tracking risks. Be sure to ask about this when speaking to your affiliate network contacts, and watch out for updates.
Here’s to more fruitful relationships with financial advertisers!