Marketing Strategies

The Affiliate Marketing Shopper Part 2: Loyalty Shoppers

We recently performed a comprehensive 18-month study, surveying 15,000+ online shoppers on their habits when buying online, with a focus on online coupons and rewards, cashback sites, budget planning, and online shopping behaviours. In the second part of our three-part series, we explore the loyalty and reward shoppers and what they really value.

Starting in early 2022, we started a long-term study on consumers’ affiliate shopping habits. Over the past 20+ months, we’ve surveyed 15,000+ US shoppers, focusing on their use of online coupons, reward, and cashback sites, budget planning, and what and how they’re hopping online over time.

This is part 2 in our 3-part series exploring where we explore the past and present of US consumer reward shopping habits. Part one focused on the Coupon Shopper and highlighted the dominance they hold within the affiliate space. Here, we’re diving into the loyalty affiliate shopper: how they buy, where they buy, and how they use their loyalty knowledge to get the most out of their purchases.

Shoppers have more knowledge than ever before and are aware of the numerous options available for anything they may want, and rewards are no different. However, certain shoppers are ahead of the rest when it comes to flexing the reach of their dollar. With the economic outlook shifting every few months, and the influx of reward options, these savvy consumers are looking to minimize their spending, while maximizing the benefits received.

Loyalty 101: Maximizing rewards

FinFluencers, bloggers, content, and comparison sites have been rising in popularity as consumers seek out reputable credit card loyalty reward knowledge. The causal points-earner has become an expert in how to maximize the value of their points when shopping, earning, and redeeming. Popular reward pros like The Points Guy, NerdWallet, and Business Insider have become the point people (pun intended), for consumers looking to maximize credit card reward value.

Interest in loyalty shopping has increased by 15% since early 2022 and retailers looking to capitalize on this interest and knowledge boom need to be ready to give shoppers the rewards they want. They are looking for insight into the value of their purchases, what types of rewards they will be earning, and when the best time is to make a purchase to maximize their points. Ultimately, they want to maximize their return.

Are you an active member of any online shopping websites, that reward you for making purchases in the form of points, cash back, airline miles, etc._ (Y_N) Chart

To really tap into the mind of the loyalty consumer, brands need to have their loyalty offering in front of the right audience, leveraging an affiliate network with a wide variety of loyalty and reward partners can be the key to unlocking customer loyalty and brand success.

Expert strategies to grab the attention of the Loyalty Shopper:

  • Personalize your messages. Publishers have immense first-party data that can be strategically leveraged to target members with individual offers tailored to their purchasing habits. Advanced targeting strategies can help reach new shoppers who have purchased from competitors or reengage lapsed consumers to drive repeat purchases. With Audience Engine, we offer tools for publishers to show a unique pass back to their members based on audience segments you help to define and prioritize, which can help you target the shoppers your brand values most.
  • Leverage Dynamic Commissioning. Dynamic Commissioning enables brands to align publisher payments with business objectives like new customer acquisition or increasing sales for a specific product. With Dynamic Commissioning strategies, your loyalty partners better understand what’s important to your business and can optimize campaigns accordingly.
  • Stay Agile: Stay agile and ready to pivot. If a sale is underperforming increasing rewards or cashback is a great FAST tool to improve conversions quickly. This also keeps it interesting for shoppers, helping them to pull the trigger on that purchase.
  • Collaborate with your publishers. It may go without saying, but publishers know their audiences better than anyone! Work with them to understand what promotions and/or placements would resonate more with members and perform for other brands.

Loyalty, Rewards, and Points, Oh My!

The loyalty market is thriving, with partners offering points, cashback, travel perks, and more. 45% of consumers are members of at least 1 or 2 loyalty sites, with that number increasing to 3 to 5 in 2024. With the wide variety of options, it’s important to understand where your audience is looking for their rewards, and which ones they actually value.

Are you an active member of any online shopping websites, that reward you for making purchases in the form of points, cash back, airline miles, etc. Chart

While there is a dedicated market of loyalty-forward customers, other shoppers can get easily overwhelmed by the sheer number of loyalty programs available. Companies have leaned into trying to reward customers for their loyalty, there are now memberships for everything, from neighborhood coffee shops to major hotel chains; no matter where you turn, a company is offering some sort of perk.

Roughly 42% of consumers say they get loyalty fatigue. It’s important to understand how customers use their loyalty perks, and which ones matter to them, so they stay loyal. With many options available, work closely with loyalty site publishers and partners to incorporate them into your top publisher list.

Expert strategies to stand out

  • Diversify your funnel. Focus on using loyalty partners for all parts of the funnel, not just the bottom. Shoppers are increasingly turning to loyalty platforms to discover new brands or products. Work with your partners to run upper funnel or branding campaigns for more exposure.
  • Be competitive. Consumers are savvy and will go wherever the best discount or cashback rate is guaranteed. Ensure you’re offering competitive promotions and commissions to increase campaign performance. Tools like Affiliate Benchmarking help you uncover new and better ways to work with your publishers. Whether it be understanding how to better incentivize underperforming partners or rewarding high performers to keep them motivated.
  • Ensure your tracking is working! Loyalty partners rely on robust tracking to ensure they can reward their members for shopping via their platform. Work with your affiliate team to ensure you’ve got the right tracking in place and can accurately measure and pay your partners for the value they drive. This includes enabling in-app tracking to incentivize and track mobile purchases, creating a streamlined and all-around better experience for both shoppers and publisher partners.

While shoppers have a seemingly never-ending list of loyalty and reward programs to choose from, ensuring your brand is partnered with the right loyalty partner for your audience can turn the casual shopper into a loyal fan.

Check back soon for our next installment. Until then, check out our resource center featuring reports, case studies, and more, to keep you busy and expand your affiliate knowledge.

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Rakuten Advertising

Rakuten Advertising leads the industry in delivering performance-driven ad solutions that help the world’s top brands connect with unique, highly engaged audiences – from first impression to final sale.