Consumers have been losing trust in traditional banks and financial services firms in recent years. At the same time, consumers are also increasingly looking to small and large bloggers and influencers as reliable sources of financial advice.
With these trends in mind, the time is ripe for up-and-coming fintech startups to capitalize on the complacency of big finance and expand their market share. More specifically, fintech startups can accelerate their growth by developing mutually beneficial partnerships through affiliate marketing.
Established brands have the benefit of inviting their existing customers to become affiliates, but as a fintech startup that may or may not have customers, you’ll need to do things slightly differently. Here’s how to think about affiliate marketing as a relatively new player in the fintech space.
Customer lifetime value in fintech tends to be high, but that doesn’t mean you can stop measuring your results. With affiliate marketing, you pay after the customer has been acquired, limiting your upfront risk and securing not only a stable partnership but also a stable source of new customers.
German neo-bank N26 increased its user base sevenfold from 1 million users to 7 million users in two and a half years. Much of that growth was fueled by its generous affiliate program, which it has had in place almost since the company’s inception back in 2013.
A successful affiliate program can drastically reduce the responsibilities of an in-house marketing team. This alleviates many of the distractions that startups so commonly face and enables them to focus less on marketing and more on improving products.
At least some of your affiliates are going to be thought leaders within the financial world: whether they run a personal finance blog or a finance-heavy YouTube channel, they likely have an established audience who look to them for financial advice. When you get those people on your side, then you benefit from their brand and can quickly establish yours as one that’s both trustworthy and legitimate.
Finding affiliates who will work with your brand is not hard. Simply Google the sort of keywords you want to rank highly for and then click through the first page of search results: the odds are that at least a couple of those results are affiliate sites. Let’s look at an example to illustrate exactly what I mean.
Suppose you’re a personal finance newsletter like Finimize. Finimize would want to be included in any sort of roundup post of the top personal finance newsletters, so they’ll want to know who’s ranking for that term now and how to get themselves as much exposure as possible on the first page of those search results.
The obvious way to do this is to Google “personal finance newsletter” and see what comes up. But I’ve found that a more powerful way is to use Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer since you’ll gain additional insight into what people are searching for.
First, type your keyword into the Keywords Explorer. When I do this for the keyword “personal finance newsletter,” I see that 150 people are searching for that term every month.
Then, to see a list of other keywords similar to your original keyword, click on Also ranks for in the left menu. When I do that, I see that 2,500 people are searching for some close iteration of the term “investment newsletter.”
When I go back to Google and type in “investment newsletter”—or better yet, “best investment newsletter”—I’m shown the results that many more of my target customers are looking for. If I’m Finimize, I want to be included in these results.
Once you’ve made a list of the sites ranking for your new target keyword, the next step is to reach out to those sites. My post on the top investment newsletters currently ranks fifth for Finimize’s target keyword, so I’m one of the sites they would want to reach out to. The best way to reach out is with a short, direct email like this:
“Hi [Site Name],
I’m [Name] from Finimize, and I can see that you’ve published a post on the top investment newsletters. We’re a finance and investing newsletter read by more than 1 million subscribers every day, and we’d love to be included in your post to generate more revenue for your site.
We have an affiliate program that pays £1 per new subscriber. Our top affiliates are earning over £5,000 per month, our conversion rate is 30%, and it’s very easy to sign up here: [Signup URL]
If you’d like any more information about the program, feel free to get back to me. Thanks.”
This email works for several reasons. First, it’s clear why you’re getting in touch: you want to build an affiliate relationship. Second, you give the important numbers right up front: affiliates earn £1 per new subscriber, and the conversion rate is 30%. And third, you link to the signup page directly, making it easy for affiliates to get started.
Not a week goes by that I don’t have at least one or two fintech companies reaching out to me requesting affiliate arrangements like these. Here’s a real email I received a few weeks ago that led to an affiliate partnership:
How to communicate with affiliate partners once they’ve joined your program deserves a blog post of its own, but the core of what you’re doing through every communication is preparing them for success. It’s tempting to think that once you have some affiliates join, your program will run just fine. In practice, though, that’s hardly ever the case.
Your affiliate program is a system that needs to be updated, measured, and regularly revised to empower your affiliates with the best possible tools at all times. An exhaustive onboarding process focused on teaching the fundamentals of your program goes a long way in achieving this. Here’s a list of objectives that your onboarding process should cover:
Of course, some affiliates will need more hand-holding than others, and some will leverage marketing channels you’re not acquainted with (e.g., a YouTube channel). Reaching out to these affiliates and guiding them through their first sale is encouraged because, at the end of the day, their success translates into yours.
To ensure your program thrives, you’ll need to constantly and meaningfully engage with your affiliate partners. This can be done in several ways:
Following these tips, your program should have enough resources to get your affiliates up and running. If you’re not sure how to structure the terms of your program, I suggest looking at others for inspiration. There are plenty of great programs for beginners with simple terms you can learn from in structuring your own. Here are some examples of fintech startups that have seen exceptional success with affiliate marketing.
Wise (formerly known as TransferWise) launched its affiliate program back in 2011, just a year after the business itself was founded. Today, it’s nearly impossible to read about international transfers without a mention of Wise, a testament to their incredibly strong affiliate program. Wise gained 2 million new customers between 2019 and 2020 due in large part to affiliate marketing.
Earlier, I mentioned the success that neo-bank N26 has seen from its affiliate program, and its direct competitor Revolut is no different. With 12 million users to its name, there’s no doubt that Revolut’s program has been a huge success.
If your business model sits a little outside the box, don’t worry: affiliate marketing can still work for you. A great example is Donorbox, a fundraising solution that helps nonprofits collect donations on their websites with ease. They don’t boast user numbers in the way that Wise and Revolut do, but with more than 35,000 organizations across 40 countries integrated with Donorbox, they’ve certainly seen their fair share of growth.
If you’re a fintech startup that’s looking for accelerated growth, affiliate marketing is an excellent way to go about it. Follow in the footsteps of these and other fast-growing startups, and you’ll soon find yourself with a thriving set of partnerships generating new users for you around the clock.
inTech affiliate program? Try all the features: ?get a 14-day free trial here
Want to start a FinTech affiliate program? Try all the features: ?get a 14-day free trial here
Jordan Bishop is a personal finance expert and travel hacker who holds a degree in finance and entrepreneurship from Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada. He is the founder of Yore Oyster and How I Travel, two sites to help you optimize your finances while living an international life. He recently published his first book, Unperfect, an exploration of problem solving.