Financial institutions are facing more competition than ever before, especially in the online space. Given this, many finance brands are looking to affiliate marketing and partnerships to increase both awareness and customer acquisition.
Yet financial services affiliate and partner programs come with unique challenges. There are added layers of complexity that require partners to be savvy to compliance and regulation requirements. To bring insight into this complexity, I asked our internal finance-focused performance marketing expert, Veronica Brown, to identify six best practices for establishing strong, profitable partnerships in the US finance sector.
Know the Law
Partners must truly be knowledgeable about the laws and regulations governing the financial services industry. For example, two of the important US regulations to note are Unfair, Deceptive or Abusive Acts and Practices (UDAAP) and Regulation Z. Check with your legal team to ensure that you are in compliance with all relevant regulations in your operating region(s) before you pursue financial services programs.
Ensure Accurate Delivery of All Relevant Product Information
Due to the aforementioned laws and regulations, it is crucial for strategic partners to ensure they consistently deliver accurate product information across promotional methods, especially when those details are subject to change routinely. The best-equipped partners have the ability to:
Ingest product details directly via an API.
Refresh the API frequently for updates.
Have a dedicated compliance team on-hand to respond to requests.
Conform to a content review process prior to pushing content live.
Implement automated solutions for quickly updating content across their site. This is particularly important for content partners who tend to have more manual processes for content updates.
Be Willing to Receive and Act Upon Program Data for Optimization
The strongest financial services partners are those in which strategic opportunities are identified through the sharing of data, subject to regional and local laws and regulations. The data that financial institutions can share with you will vary by region. In the US, for example, it is possible to share aggregated customer credit score data, campaign results and conversion data, as well as A/B test results. All of that information can be valuable for optimization.
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Remember also that making offer distribution decisions based on some demographic data may not be appropriate or legal. For example, in the US, making such decisions based on age, race, gender and certain other criteria violates the Fair Lending Laws.
Partners Should Use Their Campaign Performance Data to Support Higher CPA Requests
Every partner wants to be paid the maximum amount for each conversion. In some cases, strong performing partners can earn higher CPAs if they can demonstrate the extraordinary value of the individuals they drive to the finance client. The best way to ensure that you receive an increased CPA is to have a demonstrated history of high performance.
Generally, partners should not request a higher CPA if their past performance hasn’t warranted it, or if the quality of the leads generated is poor. Partners should not necessarily ask for a higher CPA just because other competitors pay more. It’s all about the value you deliver.
Partners Should Be Patient with the Partner Review and Acceptance Process
The process of establishing an affiliate relationship with a financial services company can take significantly longer compared to other advertisers. By nature, financial institutions assess risk much more stringently. Reviews of global partner operations may require more due diligence. Integration may take longer. Ensuring great customer experience may be more complex. Due diligence for account volume estimates and layers of internal approval make take more time. Practicing patience is key.
The good news is that once approved, a partner will likely be one of a small base of select partners, and may receive greater attention than they would in a program with far fewer barriers to entry and a large partner base.
Partners Should Also be Able to Accurately Quantify and Qualify Their Qualifications
Partners may only get a single chance at consideration for entry into a partnership program. You must know and clearly communicate their audiences, objectives, growth trajectory and how they are positioned competitively. An inability to quantify or qualify a potential opportunity for a financial partnership will likely lead to rejection by a financial team’s analyst.
In summary, the rewards for joining financial services affiliate programs can be high if you are prepared to meet the aggressive requirements and regulations inherent in the opportunity. While these six tips are not an exhaustive checklist of partner requirements, they provide a solid foundation to help start on a strategic path to make a successful and scalable partnership program.