Consumers have been losing confidence in traditional banks and financial services firms in recent years. At the same time, consumers are increasingly seeking bloggers and influencers small and large as reliable sources of financial advice.
With these trends in mind, it’s time for promising fintech startups to take advantage of the convenience of big finance and expand their market share. More specifically, fintech startups can accelerate their growth by developing mutually beneficial partnerships through affiliate marketing.
Established brands have the advantage of inviting their existing customers to become affiliates, but as a fintech startup with or without customers, you need to do things a little differently. Here’s how to think about affiliate marketing as a relatively new player in the fintech space.
Benefits of Affiliate Programs for Fintech Startups
#1 Pay for Performance
Customer lifetime value tends to be high in fintech, but that doesn’t mean you can stop measuring your results. With affiliate marketing, you pay after a customer is acquired, which limits your upfront risk and ensures not only a stable affiliate but also a stable source of new customers.
#2 Hyper Growth
German neo-bank N26 has increased its user base sevenfold from 1 million users to 7 million users in two and a half years. Much of this growth has been fueled by the generous affiliate program the company has implemented since its inception in 2013.
#3 Product Focus
A successful affiliate program can greatly reduce the responsibilities of an in-house marketing team. This alleviates many of the distractions that beginners face all too often and allows them to focus less on marketing and more on improving the product.
#4 Approval from Thought Leaders
At least some of your affiliates will be opinion leaders in the financial world: whether they run a personal finance blog or a finance-heavy YouTube channel, they’re likely to have an established audience that looks to them for financial advice. When you take these people with you, you benefit from their brand and you can quickly establish your own brand as a reliable and legitimate brand.
How to Build Your Affiliate Engine
Step 1: Find Related Partners
Finding a partner to work with your brand is not difficult. Simply Google the type of keywords you want to rank for, then click on the first page of search results: chances are at least a few of these results are affiliate sites. Let’s look at an example to explain exactly what I mean.
Let’s say you are a personal finance newsletter like Finimize. Finimiz will want to be included in any bulk post of the best personal finance newsletters, so they’ll want to know who is currently ranking for that term and how to get as many impressions as possible on the first page of those searches. Results.
The obvious way to do this is to send a “personal finance newsletter” to Google and see what happens. But I’ve found that using Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer is a more powerful way, because you’ll get additional insights into what people are searching for.
First, type your keyword into Keyword Explorer. When I do this for the keyword “personal finance newsletter” I see 150 people searching for that term every month.
Then click Also sorted in the left menu to see a list of other keywords similar to your original keyword. When I do this, I see 2,500 people searching for a close repeat of the term “investment newsletter.”
When I google and type “investment newsletter” or better still, “best investment newsletter,” I see results that more of my target customers are searching for. If I’m Terminating, I want to be included in these results.
Step 2: Contact
After making a list of sites that rank for your new target keyword, the next step is to reach those sites. My writing on the best investment newsletters currently ranks fifth for Finimize’s target keyword, so I’m one of the sites they will want to reach. The best way to reach out is to send a short and direct email like this:
“Hello [Site Name],
I [Name] I can see you posting on Finimize and the best investment newsletters. We are a finance and investment newsletter that is read by over 1 million subscribers every day and we would love to be included in your article to generate more revenue for your site.
We have an affiliate program that pays £1 per new subscriber. Our top affiliates earn over £5,000 per month, our conversion rate is 30% and it’s easy to sign up here: [Signup URL]
If you want to know more about the program, feel free to get back to me. Thank you.”
This email works for several reasons. First, it is clear why you are contacting: you want to establish a partnership relationship. Secondly, you give the important figures right away: affiliates earn £1 per new subscriber and the conversion rate is 30%. Third, you make it easy for affiliates to get started by linking directly to the registration page.
Not a week goes by that I don’t have at least one or two fintech companies reaching out to me, requesting partnership arrangements like this. Here is an actual email I received a few weeks ago that led to an affiliate partnership:
Step 3: Support Your Affiliates
How to communicate with affiliates after they join your program deserves a blog post in itself, but the essence of what you do with each communication is to set them up for success. It’s tempting to think that once some of your partners join, your program will work just fine. But in practice, this is almost never the case.
Your affiliate program is a system that must be regularly updated, measured and revised to always empower your affiliates with the best possible tools. A thorough onboarding process focused on teaching the fundamentals of your program goes a long way towards achieving this. Here is a list of goals your hiring process should cover:
- Communicate all program details (commissions, cookie length, payment details, etc.) during registration
- Setting up communication channels
- Providing various marketing materials
- Customize the experience for different affiliate types
Of course, some affiliates will need more hands-on hands-on coverage than others, and some will leverage marketing channels you’re not familiar with (e.g. a YouTube channel). Reaching out to these affiliates and guiding them through their first sale is encouraged because at the end of the day, their success becomes your success.
Step 4: Reward and Approve Your Affiliates
To ensure your program is successful, you need to constantly and meaningfully engage with your affiliate partners. This can be done in several ways:
- Send a personal message outside of your registration confirmation email to welcome your members.
- Send another personal note when a partner earns their first commission. Be sure to congratulate them and encourage them to keep up the good work.
- Track your highest and lowest earning partners: some may need extra guidance, while others will respond better to financial bonuses (for example, higher commissions for a certain period of time).
- Create and send insights to each affiliate to regularly measure their progress.
By following these tips, your program should have enough resources to get your affiliates up and running. If you’re not sure how to structure your program’s terms, I suggest you look to others for inspiration. For starters, there are lots of great programs with simple terms you can learn while configuring your own. Here are some examples of fintech startups that have excelled in affiliate marketing.
Wise (formerly TransferWise) launched its affiliate program in 2011, just one year after the company was founded. It’s nearly impossible to read about international transfers today without mentioning Wise, a testament to their incredibly strong affiliate program. Wise gained 2 million new customers between 2019 and 2020, largely due to its affiliate marketing.
I mentioned earlier the success neo-bank N26 has seen from its affiliate program, and its direct competitor Revolut is no different. With 12 million users, Revolut’s program has no doubt been a huge success.
#3 Donation Box
Don’t worry if your business model is a little unorthodox: affiliate marketing can still work for you. A great example is Donorbox, a fundraising solution that helps nonprofits collect donations on their websites with ease. They don’t brag about user numbers like Wise and Revolut do, but they’ve certainly seen their fair share of growth, as they’ve integrated with Donorbox with over 35,000 organizations in 40 countries.
If you’re a fintech startup looking for accelerated growth, affiliate marketing is the perfect way to go. Follow in the footsteps of these and other fast-growing startups and you’ll soon find yourself with a thriving array of partnerships that generate new users around the clock.