Adaptation is the hallmark of the affiliate channel and in 2021 it will drive our growth even further

We do not yet know the lasting consequences of the 2020 global pandemic. Hockey stick charts show monumental shifts of consumers to ecommerce and digital services. Yet, for as much talk as there is of a ‘new normal,’ circumstances continue to evolve across every continent, nation, and city.

Change is our only constant, and it is faster, bigger, and more unpredictable than at any time in recent memory.

For two decades now, Awin has empowered clients with an open and secure network, where brands and affiliates can partner with trust. In essence an affiliate network can be viewed as a free-market engine of innovation, birthing “multi-million pound companies from humble bedroom offices.”

The performance CPA model upon which Awin is founded now represents the gold standard of digital marketing, enabling brands to invest in diverse ventures with minimal risk. In turn, affiliate partners are free to apply focus to the brands that reward them best. For all parties, Awin tracking powers transparent, real-time reporting so that insight-led decisions can be made.

All of these qualities gained new urgency as the pandemic devastated economies around the world in early 2020. Looking for new opportunities and reliable revenue streams, many businesses turned to the affiliate channel.

True to form, we witnessed some creative partnerships across the network as many of our clients nimbly adapted their offering and experimented in totally new ways.  

Consider Revolut - the London-based fintech unicorn who, in response to the global travel market collapse, introduced innovative new products to complement their core offering. Onboarding brands at pace, Revolut launched Perks, a next-generation cashback experience. Now live in more than 10 markets, it delivers intelligent personalized shopping features to millions of smartphone-first customers.  

tastecard, the UK and Ireland’s largest diners’ club, is another celebrated example. Faced with widespread restaurant closures during national lockdowns, the company pursued a new role as a publisher. In the space of two short weeks, they forged over a dozen Awin brand partnerships and launched a member benefits platform. Raising smiles with their timely campaign message ‘In In is the new Out Out,’  tastecard rewarded stay-at-home diners with movie rentals and food delivery service offers. This remarkable feat of agility both protected business revenues and received a prestigious International Performance Marketing Award.

But these partnerships also evolved what brand relationships delivered through the affiliate channel are intended to do. For decades we have been focused on delivering sales on a cost per acquisition basis, with the challenge of delivering the highest percentage of new shoppers. Yet customer engagement and retention are hugely desirable in an age of declining brand loyalties. As tastecard’s sales faltered in the face of restaurant closures, the value-add delivered by exclusive deals from brands it partnered with gave assurances to customers tastecard was getting more for their money than the core proposition.

For others, adaptation took a different form: Preparedness for the post-COVID normal. Fidel, an emerging leader in card-payment attribution, astutely planned for the changing needs of brick-and-mortar retail. Working in partnership with Awin, it laid foundations for seamless in-store tracking through secure card-link technology. This foresight proved well founded. In late 2020, a multi-national grocer in Europe greenlit a quick turnaround learning campaign. Deployed through a major loyalty platform, it delivered resounding results and confirmed affiliate partnerships as a powerful lever both in-store and online (you can read more about this in the success story below).

These are just three stories. There are many more. Behind all of them is a shared appetite for rolling with the punches and embracing change. And the affiliate industry has served as the perfect platform for taking this approach with its wealth of innovation and commercial opportunity.

It’s an abundance that shows no signs of slowing down. In the past 12 months, Awin has welcomed historic numbers of new partners. Among their ranks are Silicon Valley giants, fintech disruptors, and AI technology pioneers.

Beyond this, the benefits of affiliate marketing are extending to startups and grassroots businesses like never before, thanks to our dedicated startup and SME product Awin Access. Finally, the proprietary Awin MasterTag continues to power growth by enabling martech partner activation on a CPA basis.

Combined with the potential of our substantial client base, these advantages and the passion of our people ensure Awin is optimally placed to help our partners meet the challenges of this most uncertain time. In doing so, we’re sustaining the heritage of the affiliate channel and its hallmark of adaptability.  

The performance CPA model upon which Awin is founded now represents the gold standard of digital marketing, enabling brands to invest in diverse ventures with minimal risk. In turn, affiliate partners are free to apply focus to the brands that reward them best. For all parties, Awin tracking powers transparent, real-time reporting so that insight-led decisions can be made.

All of these qualities gained new urgency as the pandemic devastated economies around the world in early 2020. Looking for new opportunities and reliable revenue streams, many businesses turned to the affiliate channel.

True to form, we witnessed some creative partnerships across the network as many of our clients nimbly adapted their offering and experimented in totally new ways.  

Consider Revolut - the London-based fintech unicorn who, in response to the global travel market collapse, introduced innovative new products to complement their core offering. Onboarding brands at pace, Revolut launched Perks, a next-generation cashback experience. Now live in more than 10 markets, it delivers intelligent personalized shopping features to millions of smartphone-first customers.  

tastecard, the UK and Ireland’s largest diners’ club, is another celebrated example. Faced with widespread restaurant closures during national lockdowns, the company pursued a new role as a publisher. In the space of two short weeks, they forged over a dozen Awin brand partnerships and launched a member benefits platform. Raising smiles with their timely campaign message ‘In In is the new Out Out,’  tastecard rewarded stay-at-home diners with movie rentals and food delivery service offers. This remarkable feat of agility both protected business revenues and received a prestigious International Performance Marketing Award.

But these partnerships also evolved what brand relationships delivered through the affiliate channel are intended to do. For decades we have been focused on delivering sales on a cost per acquisition basis, with the challenge of delivering the highest percentage of new shoppers. Yet customer engagement and retention are hugely desirable in an age of declining brand loyalties. As tastecard’s sales faltered in the face of restaurant closures, the value-add delivered by exclusive deals from brands it partnered with gave assurances to customers tastecard was getting more for their money than the core proposition.

For others, adaptation took a different form: Preparedness for the post-COVID normal. Fidel, an emerging leader in card-payment attribution, astutely planned for the changing needs of brick-and-mortar retail. Working in partnership with Awin, it laid foundations for seamless in-store tracking through secure card-link technology. This foresight proved well founded. In late 2020, a multi-national grocer in Europe greenlit a quick turnaround learning campaign. Deployed through a major loyalty platform, it delivered resounding results and confirmed affiliate partnerships as a powerful lever both in-store and online (you can read more about this in the success story below).

These are just three stories. There are many more. Behind all of them is a shared appetite for rolling with the punches and embracing change. And the affiliate industry has served as the perfect platform for taking this approach with its wealth of innovation and commercial opportunity.

It’s an abundance that shows no signs of slowing down. In the past 12 months, Awin has welcomed historic numbers of new partners. Among their ranks are Silicon Valley giants, fintech disruptors, and AI technology pioneers.

Beyond this, the benefits of affiliate marketing are extending to startups and grassroots businesses like never before, thanks to our dedicated startup and SME product Awin Access. Finally, the proprietary Awin MasterTag continues to power growth by enabling martech partner activation on a CPA basis.

Combined with the potential of our substantial client base, these advantages and the passion of our people ensure Awin is optimally placed to help our partners meet the challenges of this most uncertain time. In doing so, we’re sustaining the heritage of the affiliate channel and its hallmark of adaptability.  

Awin Talks
Insights interview
Awin UK's Strategy Director James Bentley speaks to tastecard's Alister Lee about how their business model underwent a profound pivot in 2020 when the hospitality sector went into lockdown. Recorded in January 2021.
+23%
average shopping cart value
34%
opt-in rate for TopCashback users
+10%
in-store customers spending over £50

Fidel and TopCashback drive in-store growth for leading grocery retailer

+23%
average shopping
cart value
34%
opt-in rate for TopCashback users
+10%
in-store customers spending over £50

Card-linking tech partner Fidel worked with a leading supermarket retailer in the UK and TopCashback to alleviate pressure on the grocer's online delivery service during lockdown and prioritize it for elderly and more vulnerable customers.

Thanks to Awin and Fidel’s API integration, the campaign was able to get off the ground quickly and respond nimbly to the changing circumstances of the pandemic.

The initial two week campaign drove over a 4% growth of in-store sales from TopCashback users, many of whom were spending more during their visits too.

During the most challenging days of the coronavirus pandemic, UK supermarkets took on a vitally important role, ensuring the population could continue to access the essential groceries they needed during lockdown. Many served as a lifeline in particular to the elderly and vulnerable, coordinating home deliveries that allowed them to receive their goods without venturing to stores.

With demand for home deliveries surging 150% during October’s second lockdown, one Awin grocery retailer sought to alleviate pressure from its overstretched delivery teams. To achieve a rebalance, the brand wanted to trial an initiative via its affiliate program that would encourage more consumers who weren’t elderly or vulnerable to shop in store. In doing so, it could better allocate its delivery resources to those who needed them most.

Amplifying established partnerships with enhanced personalization

With Awin’s support, the retailer’s team identified TopCashback and Fidel as the partners necessary to execute its ambitious vision. TopCashback has been part of the grocer’s affiliate program since 2016, consistently driving strong volumes for the advertiser across its userbase. Fintech card-linking publisher Fidel was selected to close the loop on this strategy as it could easily partner with TopCashback to deploy relevant, real-time rewards to the cashback site’s audience to ultimately drive in-store shopping for the supermarket.

Once the publishers were established, Awin facilitated strategy sessions to agree KPIs, validate tracking and plan relevant TopCashback placements.

From this, two clearly defined goals for the partnership were established:

  • Grow in-store sales by 2% vs the pre-campaign period
  • Grow in-store customer average shopping cart spend by 10%

Leveraging the Awin and Fidel API in-store tracking integration, the retailer secured a direct link to audiences that had registered their credit or debit cards within the TopCashback loyalty platform. After a user engaged with a custom TopCashback offer, this integration allowed for subsequent in-store purchases at the store to be identified in real time - enabling personalized, payment-led rewards.

Conducting a pre-campaign audience analysis to see what was popular with TopCashback users indicated a shopping cart spend threshold reward would be most impactful. Examining user demographics and their previous purchasing behavior to determine the most popular reward mechanism, the brand decided to offer a £5 reward for every eligible minimum spend of £50 (compared to a standard in-store spend of £27). TopCashback would additionally support the offer with premium placements and educational messaging.

With the details confirmed, the campaign was set to run for two weeks - at which point redemptions would be assessed and it would become clear if this was a tactic worth continuing.

Shifting consumer behaviors produce powerful results

The two week campaign proved a resounding success, with results demonstrating clear, incremental and positive shifts in purchase behavior across all targets:

  • 34% opt-in rate for eligible TopCashback audiences
  • +4.3% in-store sales vs the prior period
  • +10% in-store customers spending over £50
  • +23% average shopping cart value
  • 12% users repeat purchasing

A frictionless, mutually-beneficial path to success

The Awin and Fidel API in-store tracking integration provided a seamless experience for both the retailer’s and TopCashback’s audiences at point-of-sale. Additionally, customers didn’t have to rely on sourcing specific coupons, promotional codes or membership cards, as in-store rewards tracked automatically.

Because of this, the brand was able to reach a highly-engaged audience through TopCashback, and in return TopCashback users could access a compelling offer encouraging them to shop in-store. This resulted in relieving pressure on the supermarket’s online delivery service and allowed the retailer’s online team to focus their efforts on prioritizing orders for the elderly and vulnerable.

All of this was achieved at speed thanks to Awin’s connection to the Fidel API, which bypassed the need for complex technical integrations or onerous in-store staff training. In doing so, the retailer was able to quickly adapt to changing circumstances and use its affiliate partnership with TopCashback to drive very specific and valuable customer actions that were a benefit to all.

“Thanks to all the respective teams’ hard work we were able to take the cashback offer live to market in 2020. This campaign solidified our belief that deep, long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships like the one we share with Awin are integral to Fidel. In respect to what we can achieve together, we’ve been convinced that this partnership is still in its infancy - even in such uncertain times. We’re proud to support Awin’s platform, channeling the power of real-time, transactional data across Fidel’s publisher reward platforms - in turn, helping brands to better understand and effectively segment their customers.”

Dan Jones

Partnerships Lead, Fidel

Back to top
Top
Stay up to date with global insights from Awin