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Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing for Banks: How to Get Started

Danielle Lauzon

Danielle Lauzon

Client Services Director
  • Last Updated: February 21, 2024

In This Article

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Affiliate marketing has proven to be one of the most valuable and cost-effective channels for banks and financial institutions to target and convert new customers online. If you work for a bank and are doing research on the affiliate marketing channel, you may:

  • Be looking to get started with affiliate marketing as a channel for growth.
  • Have had success with some affiliates and are looking to scale in a way that remains compliant.
  • Be deciding between working with an agency or affiliate platform to grow the channel. 

In this article, we cover: 

How to get started with affiliate marketing as a bank

There are three different ways you can get started with affiliate marketing.

1. Find and manage affiliates yourself

This is how many companies get started with affiliate marketing: by finding and managing affiliate partners themselves. This means you select the affiliates that you’d like to work with, reach out to them, put together the affiliate marketing strategy, manage payouts and do all the tracking yourself.

Finding and managing affiliates yourself is a good way to get started with the affiliate marketing channel, as it allows you to test what does and doesn’t work with limited up-front investment. However, it’s hard to scale. Once you start working with multiple partners, it can become arduous to manage payouts, content, and contracts manually. Affiliate partners are also most effective with high levels of transparency and frequent reporting, which is difficult to do without a platform.

Once you’re ready to scale, that’s when it may make sense to engage an affiliate platform and network to support.

2. Use an affiliate platform

For brands that know they are wanting to implement a full affiliate marketing program, they most often turn to an affiliate marketing platform. Affiliate platforms offer the ability to more easily scale your program, as they include the tracking, analytics and for some, a database of affiliates to tap into. More well-known platforms include Impact, Rakuten or Commission Junction. 

These platforms can be great for discovering and connecting with potential new affiliate partners. However, it’s important to note that they are a technology first solution. They won’t help you manage and grow the affiliate marketing channel, which means you’ll still need additional resources to set the strategy, manage the relationships and find new partners.

To fully support the affiliate channel, you’ll therefore still need to either hire or train someone on your team to manage the channel, or hire an agency. This leads to a situation where you’re then paying for the technology and an agency, which can quickly get expensive and add more complexity. 

Not just that, but these platforms don’t specialize in banking services and host all types of affiliates in their networks. As a bank, you want to be very careful about the affiliates you partner with so you can remain in control of where your product ends up and how affiliates promote your brand. A generalist affiliate platform may also not ensure your affiliates’ content and brand requirements remain compliant.

3. Use a specialized affiliate marketing solution

The third option is to work with a specialized affiliate marketing platform, network and agency like Fintel Connect

Our expertise lies in the financial industry, helping both fintechs and financial institutions scale their affiliate marketing efforts. We’ve helped banks like Royal Bank of Canada, Scotiabank, Live Oak Bank and many others effectively scale their partner marketing programs and results. 

Fintel Connect operates as an agency, platform, network and compliance engine all in one, which allows us to do a lot more than just find and manage affiliates. We help banks manage the entire affiliate marketing channel, which includes setting the strategy and growing their program, all while ensuring all affiliates are compliant and tracking results. 

Since our focus is solely in financial services, we ensure your affiliate partners are a good fit, align with your goals, and that their campaigns stay compliant.  

Before we go into more detail about how we work below, it’s important to understand the different types of affiliate sites you can partner with.

What type of affiliate sites should you partner with?

If you’re considering testing the affiliate marketing channel for your financial services products, here are some affiliate sites you should consider recruiting into your affiliate program.

Comparison Sites

This is the most common type of affiliate site when financial institutions think of affiliate marketing. Finance comparison sites like Credit Karma and Bankrate attract like-minded, targeted shoppers who are high-intent and actively searching for the best financial products to meet their needs,  including mortgages, insurance, credit cards and banking. The combination of a large volume of high-intent audiences is a recipe for high performance.

young woman draws on a glass board with red pen

Review Sites

Review sites like NerdWallet and Forbes do in-depth research and evaluate products to make it easier for high-intent audiences to find what they need. Advertising on well-known review sites like NerdWallet can offer you the exposure you need to grow your audience. However, if you’re just starting out or launching a new product, it may be difficult to get noticed by the likes of NerdWallet or Forbes. So you may want to start off with smaller review sites or more niche sites.

Specialized Content Sites

Niche content sites can also be a good way to find a new audience. For example, travel information sites like Frugal Flyer can help you promote a credit card to frequent flyers.  

Or the audience-specific site like Millennial Money can get your online deposit accounts in front of a more digital savvy crowd looking for ways to manage their money. 

Coupon & Deal Affiliates

Coupon sites get an estimated 48 million monthly users. Adored by price-savvy consumers looking for a deal, many coupon sites, like RedFlagDeals, promote retail discounts, personal finance, and credit and debit card offers. This is a great way to easily experiment with offers and incentives to your customer base without needing to overhaul your product (or backend systems). 

Rewards Affiliates

Affiliates offering cashback, points, or other types of rewards have a loyal member base and offer exposure to a large audience of consumers. Sites like Frugal Flyer and Great Canadian Rebates use campaign commissions to pay their devoted customer base for using their recommended products. Rewards sites are a great addition to your affiliate mix, characterized by a strong community and a healthy, active email database. It’s important to note that while many financial institutions are nervous to work with these types of sites, they can end up delivering the highest-value customers who just happen to be savvy buyers. 

Influencer Affiliates

Consumers are becoming more and more “ad-blind”, especially to traditional display ads. About 200 million internet users have installed ad blockers. As a result, content marketing has grown in popularity because it’s less intrusive. Personal finance blogs and influencers like moneyGenius and other niche sites offer articles and ideas that appeal to their audience while including some information about your financial product. Social media and newsletters are also avenues widely used by personal finance bloggers and influencers.

man sitting on a white desk with a silver macbook

At Fintel Connect, we have also seen vast success when finance brands offer customer rewards tied with a financial service offer.

Based on previous affiliate marketing campaigns, we know that customer rewards, in the form of a physical or digital reward, significantly increase the overall exposure and number of conversions for the respective provider by over +400%. This strategy works best when introduced during certain times of the year and helps boost brand presence and increase activity.

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Why work with Fintel Connect to implement an affiliate marketing program for your bank

Fintel Connect is an all-in-one platform, agency, and compliance engine that helps banks with cost-effective customer growth through affiliate marketing. Here’s how working with Fintel can make scaling your affiliate channel easier. 

You get access to a high-quality network of partners and specialized technology

Hunting for the right partners and building the right relationships can be time consuming. With Fintel Connect, you can short-cut this process because you’ll get access to a highly curated list of over 5,000 finance-focused affiliates. 

Our expert team has the industry insights and the deep understanding of the competitive landscape to support you along the way. You’ll be able to form relationships and get in touch with your affiliates easily because we know which affiliates and influencers are a good fit for your brand and can make introductions. 

You’ll also receive our insights and guidance when building your affiliate marketing channel. We’ll help create a strategy, decide on the affiliate partners and ensure that you’re getting the most out of the channel. We’ll help drive and direct your bank partner strategy to ensure its success.

Because we specialize in financial services, we built our platform with features and elements specific to this industry. For example, you can filter through our platform for affiliates with financial attributes, such as prime vs. sub-prime traffic:

publisher invitations fintech affiliate program

The result is that your affiliate marketing program is bespoke to you as a bank: we’ll work with you to achieve high-quality accounts through affiliates that understand the importance of compliant content.

We work with 80+ financial institutions and fintechs across Canada and the US, which means we have a lot of experience working with compliance teams and know what is needed to make it through vendor due diligence and onboarding.

You can use our compliance tool to know when content is not compliant

One of the big challenges with affiliate marketing as a bank is that it’s difficult to monitor and stay on top of the long-form content of all your affiliate partners to ensure your product information stays accurate and up to date

This is why platforms like Impact and Rakuten may not always be the best fit for banks, as their technology and solutions are not specialized for this industry and often can still involve lots of manual work.

At Fintel, we highly curate the affiliates on our platform and carefully vet every single affiliate that joins our platform. Not everyone is accepted, as we need to ensure they are a good fit for financial services companies and banks.

Our platform also includes Fintel Check, a marketing compliance tool built for financial services that helps to automate the monitoring, evaluation and auditing of affiliate campaign content. When powering your affiliate program with Fintel Connect, you’ll get automatic scans of any page with affiliate links to know where your products are being promoted and what is being said.  

compliance rule settings for financial services marketing

For example, you can set a rule for what should be said, like an interest rate. When the tool runs, it will provide a report that flags any findings where it has scanned and evaluated the content and identified discrepancies against what should be there so that it can be more easily and efficiently remediated.

As a top PerformLine competitor, Fintel Check will also automatically take screenshots of the pages so you have an audit trail of your affiliate campaigns for record-keeping purposes.

Book a demo with one of our team members to see the full platform.

You won’t have to work with multiple providers to get your affiliate marketing program up and running

Having multiple providers across a platform and an agency can mean communication and campaign management will get complex quickly. Many platforms like Impact and Rakuten are so large that it is difficult for them to offer personalized customer service to everyone, especially if you’re not a major bank or financial brand. 

With Fintel, the platform, affiliate network and team are all in one place. You have one provider, platform and contract to manage all your affiliate marketing needs. And if you already have existing relationships with finance affiliates, you can also invite them to join (although most financial affiliates will likely already be on our platform).

We also take a holistic approach to managing a bank affiliate program. We’ll work with you to decide on the best CPA, pick the right affiliate partners and optimize your campaign for volume, quality and scale. You’ll also have a dedicated team that will work with you and act as an extension of your team, offering full support and direction as needed.

How Live Oak Bank increased account growth by 420% with affiliate marketing

Live Oak Bank is an American digital first, FDIC insured bank that offers high-yield savings and CD products for retail and business customers.

The bank had previously experimented with affiliate marketing and had seen good results. But the team knew that to take it to the next level, they needed expert help.

We worked with the Live Oak Bank team starting in 2022 and helped put together a mix of affiliate partners that would help scale their efforts while ensuring their campaigns were compliant. We did extensive data analysis, testing, message optimization and partnership alignment to ensure their products appeared in the right places.

As a result of those efforts, Live Oak Bank secured placements in Tier 1 publications such as NerdWallet, solidifying its presence as a leading bank for small businesses.

Live oak bank review on NerdWallet

Within 6 months of launching, they:

  • Onboarded over 30 partners
  • Achieved an 80% lower spend of direct average acquisition spend for deposits via the channel
  • Achieved 420% increase in approved accounts volume via the channel
  • Acquired higher quality accounts and account balances compared to other channels.

By working with a specialized agency and platform like Fintel Connect, Live Oak Bank successfully grew their affiliate marketing results and established it as a cost-effective, always on tactic. 

Bank affiliate marketing: Pick an affiliate marketing agency and platform that understands financial services

Most affiliate marketing agencies and platforms won’t have the processes in place to ensure you’re working with compliant affiliates and partners.  

That’s why we set up Fintel Connect: to help banks and fintechs make the most of affiliate marketing in a way that is scalable and compliant.

Interested in learning more about how we work? Reach out to us to discover how we can help.

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