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Affiliate Marketing: Working with Loyalty Sites

One of the biggest challenges in affiliate marketing is working with loyalty sites, which provide consumers with cash back, points back, or some variation of the two. Some loyalty sites (also called incentive sites) will even contribute a portion of a consumer’s purchase to a charity of her choice.

Loyalty sites fund the incentive — such as cash, points, or miles — through commissions earned as one of your affiliates. Well-known examples of loyalty sites include eBates, which offers cash back to its members for their purchases, and GoodShop, which donates a percentage of purchase to the consumer’s chosen cause. There are shopping portals associated with major airlines, such as AAdvantage eShopping, which provides consumers with American Airlines miles on every qualifying purchase.

Why Work with Loyalty Sites?

For a new brand or small- to medium-sized retailers, there are certainly benefits to working with loyalty sites. There is exposure to a large, established audience of consumers. eBates alone has over eight million members. And when you launch on these loyalty sites, oftentimes you’re included in an email that goes out to their member base, which can generate quite a bit of traffic in my experience. Also, if you don’t have the technology to manage coupon codes or discounts, a cash-back offer from a loyalty site could help convert undecided shoppers. I have run campaigns with loyalty sites where 60 percent of responses are from new customers.

However, on the flip side, I have also run campaigns with loyalty sites that have seen less than a 2 percent new customer ratio — i.e., 2 percent of respondents are new customers. This is typically the case with brands that are already established, and that already have broad customer reach. In these instances, consumers are already familiar with the brand, are likely already planning to complete a purchase, and are simply looking for some form of a discount.


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