Affiliate Marketing

RetailMeNot VP Kim Read on the past, present and future of affiliate marketing – FashionUnited UK


Some don’t even notice
it, but savvy shoppers can’t help but open another tab in their browser
when they go checkout an online purchase and see a box saying “insert
coupon code here”. If you’ve ever typed “shop name + coupon code” on your
search engine of choice, chances are you ended up at RetailMeNot.com, one
of the leaders of the online voucher code business.

Websites like RetailMeNot are called “affiliates”, what they do is
“affiliate marketing”.
Ecommerce businesses pay these websites a small commission fee for every
sale they generate via a tracking link. Some even go as far as rewarding
affiliates for increased traffic, regardless of whether or not the extra
eyeballs spark an increase in sales. It is also possible to use affiliate
marketing to promote a sale, a markdown on a specific product, you name it (in this case, a voucher code isn’t necessary). The relationship between
the webshop and affiliate websites may or may not be brokered by a
dedicated agency (“affiliate network”) which gets a commission too, of
course.

Since 2006, when RetailMeNot.com was founded, a lot has changed in the
world of affiliate marketing. Smartphones and social media became
ubiquitous, bloggers and influencers entered the scene (many are affiliates
themselves) and now social networks are even striving to become shopping
spaces in their own right. How have all these changes affected couponing
websites? Is it still advantageous for webshop owners to partner up with
them as part of their online marketing strategy? What does the future have
in store for affiliate marketing? FashionUnited spoke with Kim Read, Senior
Vice President and General Manager at RetailMeNot to find out.

Why should e-commerce businesses offer coupons to external partners
such as RetailMeNot?

Today’s retail landscape is as competitive as ever and partners like
RetailMeNot can help retailers win new customers and close sales. 80
percent of consumers say finding an offer for a brand or retailer that is
new to them would encourage them to make a first-time purchase, according
to research we’ve conducted in conjunction with Forrester. That’s huge: it
means four out of five people who have never before shopped at your store
would be willing to do so if they found an offer or discount. In 2018, more
than 491 million people used RetailMeNot.com, with over 20 million mobile
monthly users on average.

Suppose I’m a web shop owner and I want to get started with
affiliate marketing. What should I offer? Is there a type of deal that
tends to convert more?

The more relevant the offer, the better it will perform and convert. The
broader the offer, the broader the relevance to the audience. One way to be
relevant is with promotions that are able to be applied wherever the
customer chooses to transact. Our data shows omnichannel offers, meaning
consumers can find and redeem deals across multiple channels, give
consumers the most flexibility to engage with a retailer or brand.
One-third of omnichannel offer engagements through RetailMeNot result in a
sale.

We also see that customers love sitewide exclusive codes. Instead of
offering a discount on a specific product or service, offer a coupon that
is applicable to anything they want to purchase. There is something about
inputting a code in the checkout area that gives a customer an added
thrill. If we take the same exact discount and test it as both a coupon
code and a sale, the code will outperform the sale.

Additionally, codes that are exclusive to RetailMeNot and not restricted
to certain brands or categories average a 14 percent lift in conversion.

RetailMeNot operates websites in Canada, the UK and France. What
differences do you notice in couponing culture and user behavior in each of
these countries?

Generally, the thrill of the deal is a universal language. By location,
we may see a slightly different mix in how users prefer to save and which
coupons or vouchers are most utilized, but any way you look at it,
consumers want to feel they are spending their money as wisely as possible.

Affiliate marketing is often a source of revenue for bloggers and
influencers. How has RetailMeNot been dealing with this competition?

Like with every business, our job is to stay focused on creating a great
experience and value for our customers. Keeping that at the core is our
main priority. There will always be new and changing ways of finding
savings-related information. That’s why we focus on making a great,
trustworthy experience where we do the work for our customers so they can
save at the stores they love with ease. Many times, influencers can also be
our partners, so we don’t necessarily see them just as competition. We have
worked with some great bloggers and influencers, especially on Instagram
and YouTube, across our marketing campaigns.

How has the rise of the smartphone impacted RetailMeNot and affiliate
marketing in general?

Smartphones have changed how all experiences are designed. We’ve seen a
lot of opportunities emerge from the use of smartphones, which has allowed
RetailMeNot to build a highly-engaged, large audience that is ready to
purchase across mobile, desktop and in-store channels. The mobile device is
the link between the digital and physical worlds. It has become every
shopper’s companion from discovery to point of purchase, and it’s a
powerful marketing channel for marketers who can reach consumers at the
right time, the right place and with the right content.

We’ve geo-fenced all of the major shopping centers and malls across the
US, and it’s a powerful way to communicate with shoppers via the
RetailMeNot app to give them the content they want when they want it.
Unique mobile content allows for more real-time engagement in the moments
that matter for reaching shoppers.

The biggest challenges for affiliate marketing in mobile tend to be on
the tracking and breakage side. “Cross-device” shopping can create some
breakage when it comes to affiliate tracking. Many users start their search
on mobile web but then check out on desktop, for example. Not all affiliate
networks are equal when it comes to the cross-device tracking options
available for capturing these potentially lost transactions.

How do you see the future of this type of advertising?

The future is leaning heavily into personalization and targeting.
According to Forrester, 89 percent of digital businesses are investing in
personalization. Even beyond online, 72 percent of retailers said they plan
to personalize their in-store experiences. The opportunity for brands is to
create richer and more relevant experiences that keep consumers coming
back. With the right data investment and consumer permission, marketers
should be using what they know about their customer to build the most
relevant, targeted and personal saving experiences possible, on their phone
and in the store, in a more connected way.

What are RetailMeNot’s future plans?

In the past several years, we’ve grown our savings options for consumers
from different offer types within retail (gift cards, cash back offers) to
areas outside of retail including grocery/CPG and prescription
pharmaceutical savings. Moving into 2019 and beyond, RetailMeNot’s growth
will come from a focus on the consumer shopping experience with an emphasis
on mobile, in-store and loyalty. We will also continue to secure great
content that helps users save across many verticals and locations, both
online and in-store.

Read more:

Pictures: RetailMeNot Facebook, courtesy of RetailMeNot

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