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Fintech Affiliate Program: How Brands Can Pick the Right Partner

  • Last Updated: May 28, 2024

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If you work for a fintech company doing research on fintech affiliate programs, you’ve probably reached a point where you’re deciding which affiliate network, platform or agency would be the best suited to help scale your affiliate marketing efforts.

You may be in one of these situations:

  • You’ve been running your affiliate marketing program internally and are managing all the reporting, payouts, relationships and content yourself, and have now reached a point where it takes up too much time and resources. 
  • You’ve had some success with affiliate marketing as a channel and are ready to scale it.  
  • You’re evaluating different affiliate marketing platforms and agencies and are trying to understand which model will work best for your fintech company.

If you’re new to affiliate marketing platforms and programs, we recommend you read this guide: Are You Ready to Scale Your Affiliate Program?

In this article, we’ll be covering:

  1. How to get started with a fintech affiliate program
  2. What to consider when picking the right affiliate marketing platform or agency for your needs
  3. Why work with Fintel Connect to implement your fintech affiliate program? 
  4. How we helped Neo Financial grow by 511% in approved customers
  5. 4 tips to ensure your fintech affiliate program is a success

Note: looking to work with an affiliate marketing platform right away? Reach out to us to get started.

Key takeaways:

  • Fintech is a niche and complex sector, so you want to make sure you work with an agency or platform that understands the industry and can connect you with affiliates that have experience covering financial topics.
  • Most platforms are technology first, so if resources are limited internally you’ll also have to hire an external agency to manage the relationships with your partners.
  • Make sure you have a realistic CPA (what you’ll pay your affiliate partners) and sustainable business model before scaling your affiliate marketing program.
  • If your fintech product is very unique or complex, consider prioritizing affiliates that can help educate your target audience before selling the product.

Are you an affiliate or publisher looking to work with fintech companies? Check out our Publishers page to learn how to get started with Fintel Connect.

How to get started with a fintech affiliate program

There are three main ways to implement and run an fintech affiliate program:

1. Find and manage affiliates yourself

This is probably how you and most companies get started with affiliate marketing. 

With this approach, you reach out to publications like NerdWallet, Forbes or influencers yourself, and set up the contracts, negotiate the terms, manage payouts and the strategy all internally.

This is a good option when you’re getting started with affiliate marketing as it allows you to test the channel and see results before committing too many resources.

However, this approach is hard to scale. It’s easy to manage five affiliates with a spreadsheet. But once you have 20, 30 or even 100s of affiliates, spreadsheets are incredibly resource intensive. 

Also, the largest affiliates and publications often want detailed reporting on a daily basis (rather than monthly), which can be very hard to do without a technology solution.

It can also be tough to get your foot in the door as a newer brand to the market, and get the attention of large publications like NerdWallet or Forbes.  

When you reach a point where it’s too hard to manage, that’s when it makes sense to partner with an affiliate marketing platform and/or agency.

2. Use a technology platform such as Impact and hire an agency

There are multiple partner platforms that will help you manage finance affiliates, such as, Rakuten and Commission Junction.

These tools can help you discover affiliate partners, manage their payouts, handle reporting and sometimes, depending on the package, offer a managed service.

However, these tools are first and foremost technology platforms.

They won’t help you with setting the strategy, connecting you with the right partners, helping you get your foot in the door, and managing the day to day with the affiliates.

You’ll still need additional resources to ensure you’re getting the best results from the channel.

Here, your options are:

  1. Pay an additional fee for their managed service.
  2. Hire an external agency to manage the day to day with affiliates. 

Both can be good alternatives, however with the first solution it’s unlikely the platform’s managed service will have expertise and experience in financial services and fintech. 

If experience in financial services is important, then the second option is better: working with a specialized agency.

But then you’ll have to pay for two separate resources: a platform and an agency. This can create more complications in communication and workflows, and it can also get a lot more expensive. 

3. Use a specialized affiliate marketing technology platform like Fintel Connect

The third and last option is working with an all-in-one affiliate marketing technology platform and agency like Fintel Connect.

At Fintel, we operate as an affiliate platform, network, agency and compliance engine, all specialized in helping fintech and financial services companies with affiliate marketing.

We’ve supported fintechs like Ramp and Neo Financial, and banks like Royal Bank of Canada and Scotiabank with their partner marketing programs.

The benefit here is that you only need to work with one partner for all of your affiliate marketing needs, and you don’t have to worry about working with a company that might not have the right network or knowledge for financial services. 

We go into more detail down below about what it’s like to run an affiliate marketing program with Fintel.

Learn more about Fintel Connect’s platform here: Fintel Performance for Fintechs.

What to consider when picking the right affiliate marketing platform or agency for your needs

Based on our own experience building an affiliate marketing platform, network and agency and helping fintech companies implement affiliate marketing, here are the key questions you should be asking to help you make a decision on which solution to pick. 

Does the platform have the type of partners you want? (And how do they vet their partners?)

The affiliate partners who are promoting your product will be the face of your brand when interacting with potential customers, so you need to make sure the platform or agency will have the right types of partners.

For example, if your fintech product is a mix of financial services and travel, do you want travel affiliates? Or financial services affiliates? Do you want to work with influencers? Or publications?

And once you’re clear on those, does the platform cover all the niches you want to target?

Fintech and financial services are so niche that it’s unlikely that you’ll do well working with a network that focuses on health or beauty customers.

You also don’t want to be working with a platform or agency that over indexes in partners like coupon code or cashback loyalty sites.

Make sure you know what type of affiliates you want to work with, and that the platform and/or agency has them in their network.

You’ll also want to ask how the platform or agency vets their affiliates for quality. Here are some questions you can ask to learn more about their process:

  1. How do you assess and select affiliates?
  2. What strategies do you use to motivate and engage affiliates?
  3. How do you measure the success and performance of the affiliate program?
  4. How do you handle affiliate compliance and fraud prevention?
  5. What verticals or industries do you specialize in?

How much support will they offer?

There are a lot of unique aspects of selling financial services.

For example, your affiliate partners need to make sure they’re using compliant language, aren’t offering financial advice, and that their product information is up to date.

That’s why you’ll want to ask the platform or agency how they’ll monitor the content the partners will produce and how they’ll ensure they remain compliant. 

You also want to know how much support you’ll get from them: do they have a one size fits all package or do they customize it based on your needs? Will they help you with selecting partners?

And will they help you put together the strategy and decide on the messaging.

Based on our experience working with hundreds of financial brands, we know that a one size fits all or self-serve model rarely works well in the financial industry.

If you have a relatively new and unique fintech product, for example, you’ll want to work with someone who will invest in understanding the product well so they can advocate with the partners and ensure they know how best to promote your product.

You’ll also want to make sure you get everything you need to make the channel work, and not spend your entire budget only on the technology.

How does their pricing work?

Affiliate marketing usually works on a performance basis, but the pricing model will vary depending on who you talk to. You’ll want to know whether the platform or agency:

  • Charges set up fees
  • Offers a free trial
  • Provides premium consulting or integration services
  • Charges based on a percentage or a fixed monthly fee (or both!)

Typically, we recommend fintechs budget $5k – $10k monthly to put towards affiliate marketing. If that’s outside budget, then it might be too early for your company to consider this channel.

We’ll now go into more detail about why working with a specialized agency and platform like Fintel makes sense for a lot of fintech companies.

Affiliate marketing for bottom-funnel lead gen

Learn how affiliate partners can drive customers to your website, delivering as much as 40% of your net new customers.

Why work with Fintel Connect to implement your fintech affiliate program?

At Fintel Connect, we operate as an affiliate platform, agency and compliance engine all-in-one.

We specialize in helping fintech companies, banks and financial services companies use affiliate marketing to scale cost effectively with our technology, curated network and relationship-focused team.

Here’s what you get when working with us:

You get access to financial services specific technology and expertise

We built Fintel Connect because we believed that financial services is unique as a sector and has specific requirements when it comes to affiliate marketing.

Our expertise is in financial services, which means we live and breathe the industry.

Everything in our platform, from the account managers on our team, our partners and the language we use is geared towards financial services.

This means we understand the industry, which gives us insights into the competitive landscape, such as trends, seasonality and Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) expectations.

For example, we know what the general marketplace CPA rates are with certain publishers and know what tactics can be used to negotiate these rates on your behalf.

As a fintech, you’ll be able to search and filter through our platform with financial attributes, such as by credit score, income, geo and more.

You’ll also be able to use our marketing compliance tool, Fintel Check, which will allow you to monitor your partners and ensure they are adhering to the language you want them to use.

publisher invitations fintech affiliate program

You can filter through partner publishers using financial attributes such as credit scores and income.

performance report fintech affiliate program

You can generate various reports that allow you to see a breakdown of all your partners and their performance.

rule summary fintech affiliate program

You can set rules via Fintel Check to ensure your partners are using the right language and terminology (e.g. make sure they’re promoting the right interest rate).

Book a Demo with one of our team members to take a tour of the whole dashboard.

You get to work with highly curated affiliate partners with financial services experience

Many affiliate marketing platforms will accept almost every affiliate who applies. Often, these affiliates are coupon or cashback sites, which aren’t the highest quality partners for a fintech company.

The platforms also often don’t have real relationships with affiliates, which can lead to an increase in fraud on the platform. 

At Fintel, we carefully vet every single affiliate that applies to join our platform. We work with over 5,000 partners that include websites, bloggers, news outlets, newsletters, youtubers, podcasters and a lot more.

Not everyone is accepted, and we make sure that those that join our platform are compliant and a good fit for fintech companies, banks and financial institutions.

As a fintech, it means you can make sure you’re partnering with the highest quality affiliates that will properly represent your brand while helping you acquire customers.

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

Most fintech startups need to engage multiple providers to get affiliate marketing right: a platform, a network, an agency and a compliance tool.

With Fintel, we have all of these in one place. When it comes to managing your affiliate marketing program, you’ll just have to deal with one provider, one platform and one contract.

If you have existing relationships with affiliates already, you can invite them to join the Fintel platform for free (although direct affiliates are highly likely to be already members of the Fintel Network), allowing you to manage all your relationships via our platform.

This helps reduce complexity, points of contact and makes it a lot easier to manage your program.

We also take a holistic approach to managing a financial services affiliate program: right from the beginning, you’ll have a dedicated account manager who acts as an extension of your team.

You’ll also have a dedicated team that will take care of everything from putting together your strategy, finding and recruiting partners, budgeting and optimizing your campaign for volume, quality and scale.

How we helped Neo Financial grow by 511% in approved customers

Neo Financial is a fintech company that is a digital-first alternative to traditional banks. It’s best known for its popular Neo Credit card, an everyday no fee credit card with cash-back rewards.

Neo turned to the affiliate marketing channel to grow its reach and communicate its product’s competitive advantages. The team tested it first internally and saw some good initial results, which were a good indication for them to double down on the channel.

They were looking for an affiliate platform that would help them:

  • Pick the right partners to grow efficiently.
  • Onboard, activate and improve partnerships that support their brand.
  • Lean on a team of experts to guide them on the right opportunities.

Once Neo partnered with Fintel, they were quickly able to diversify their partner mix and therefore identify the best areas for growth.

Within just the first month of launch, Neo onboarded 30 new partners onto its program.

Fast forward two years of working together, and Neo has achieved:

  • Listing #1 on several Tier 1 publisher websites, helping solidify its credibility.
  • 511% growth in approved customers across its various financial products.
  • Achieved recognition as “Overall Best” in several leading Tier 1 publishers.
  • Affiliates continue to be Neo’s top-performing channels for both quality and volume.

Our experience and expertise in financial services allowed Neo to implement a program that gave them exponential growth in net new customer acquisition and brand visibility, all while maintaining a good mix of high quality partnerships.

Reach out today and discover how we can help you improve your customer acquisition.

4 tips to ensure your fintech affiliate program is a success

Based on our experience helping hundreds of fintech and financial services companies with affiliate marketing, we’ve put together a few tips to ensure the channel is a success.

We also recommend fintech companies have these in place before working with a specialized agency and platform like Fintel Connect.

1. Ensure you have a sustainable business model and realistic CPA

One of the biggest mistakes we see fintech companies make is not having a clear acquisition model and target CPA before running an affiliate program.

For the affiliate marketing channel to work, you need to have unit economics that make sense with a high enough CPA that works as a good incentive for your partners and aligns within general marketplace averages.

For example, if you offer a secured credit card and your unit economics indicate that you need a target CPA of $40 for the channel to be sustainable, then you’ll likely struggle to achieve the scale you want.

With an incentive of $40 per acquired customer, you would need a stellar conversion rate (well above industry averages) to make up for the lower CPA.

Otherwise, affiliates won’t have enough of an incentive to promote your product over similar products in market that offer a better payout. 

If you can’t offer a high enough target CPA, then it might be too early to use affiliate marketing as a channel for customer acquisition.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do affiliate marketing. Instead, a better objective may be to use affiliate marketing to help educate the market on your product and establish credibility.

This is especially effective if your product is relatively new and unknown.

The key takeaway is: you need to ensure the revenue you make from your product is enough that you can offer a high enough CPA for a lower-funnel tactic like affiliate marketing. If not, it’ll be a lot harder to make the channel work well for you.

2. Get the right onboarding journey in place and have a strong digital footprint

Affiliate marketing works best when you already have a strong digital footprint. When an affiliate partner is considering working with you, the first thing they’ll do is research your company and product online.

Ideally, you already have positive customer reviews and information about your company and product online. 

You also need to have an end-to-end digital offering already in place to make sure online customers can easily sign up. This means:

  • Your account sign up process is fully digital.
  • You have web and mobile self serve options.
  • You offer online support online.

Your onboarding journey should be a seamless straightforward application process – if it’s too complicated, applicants will drop off.

You also want a sign up process that allows you to easily track and attribute conversions to your affiliates.

3. Have the right internal resources in place

Affiliate marketing is a high touch channel, which means you’re regularly building relationships and talking to affiliate partners.

That’s why financial technology companies that just work with a technology platform and no agency, managed service or internal resources often struggle to get the channel working.

In order to make the channel work, you either need the right dedicated marketing resources in-house or an agency/third party that will manage those relationships for you. 

4. Consider how much you need to educate customers

As a fintech, you probably have a unique offering that is alternative to what is already out there (i.e. isn’t just a typical bank account).

That’s great for standing out, but it also means you’ll need to spend more on educating potential customers on how your product works and building credibility for your brand. 

When done correctly, affiliate marketing is a great channel for fintechs that need to educate potential customers on their product.

An affiliate can more easily break down what your audience needs to know about your product in an unbiased and objective way, which can be harder to do with a Google or Facebook ad. 

If your product is very complex, you’ll want to prioritize affiliate partners that can explain your product fully (e.g. Youtubers or knowledgeable content affiliates).

It also means you’ll need to spend more time deciding on the messaging to ensure your product features and benefits are clear.

Fintech affiliate program : pick a partner that understands financial services

Marketing a fintech product requires experience and knowledge of the industry.

When deciding on the right partner platform to work with, you want to pick one that can enable you to remain compliant, monitor the language used by affiliate partners and know how to pick the right partners to promote your product. 

With the right combination of a good partner, a healthy CPA and good unit economics, affiliate marketing can become the number one customer acquisition channel for net new customers for your fintech company.

Reach out to Fintel to learn more about how to get started.

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