For all businesses, gaining quality leads that turn into lifetime customers is the most essential part of creating a successful business. Each type of business defines what a quality lead is differently. Finding the right customer for credit card issuers can be challenging in the digital world. Success is defined by effectively matching consumers to the “best fit” card for their lifestyle, while maintaining a balanced portfolio of consumers based on their spending characteristics. This post focuses on ways financial services companies can improve their customer acquisition strategy and attract the best mix of applicants.

Define a Quality Lead

define a quality lead for financial company, financial marketing strategies, credit card consumersHow does a brand decide what is and isn’t considered a quality lead?  To begin, it is important that an issuer can define the optimal mix of transactors (consumers who are more likely to pay off their credit card balance each month) and revolvers (consumers who are more likely to carry a credit card balance each month) in their credit card portfolios. This can then be layered with more granular attributes of the customer persona that aligns with their products, such as identifying consumers who are interested in travel, luxury goods and/or dining.  Striking the right balance of transactors and revolvers is part art and part science.  Yet, when a credit card issuer can define upfront their ideal customer and relay it back to a publisher this can positively affect an acquisition campaign. With proper analysis and tools, brands can communicate their expectations with their affiliate partners to define what type of consumer they want to prioritize.

Find partners who align with your customer personas

consumer persona, finding the right consumer for your brandThe next step is to seek affiliates that can help to deliver the customers that you have identified. Building the optimal publisher mix is no small task and finding a way to get the most out of that mix takes transparency and trust. To accomplish this, it is important to dig one step deeper into the data to understand traffic sources that are driving readers to a publisher’s site.   Site traffic can be driven by various efforts including SEO, online advertising, social media and organic traffic.  Not all traffic is created equal.  For example, if you are promoting a lifestyle product, your audience might consist of readers of travel blogs, food aficionados, and outdoor enthusiasts. By analyzing the sources of traffic to each publisher’s site, you can ensure you have the optimal combination of partners in order to reach audiences that are going to deliver on your portfolio mix.

Ensure proper measurement and tracking

To ensure these partnerships deliver quality leads, brands must be introspective.  By appropriately tracking and measuring specific KPI’s that are tied to a brand’s goal, advertisers can be more proactive in their marketing adjustments rather than reactive. Many brands are looking at data retroactively, which is better than not utilizing data at all.  But we recommend going one step further by creating checkpoints to analyze this data weekly, allowing for continual program adjustments along the way.  Additionally, it is important to bring in key business stakeholders on a regular basis to ensure that all are aligned on how a program is pacing.

Create a publisher feedback loop

marketing feedback, publisher partnerships, how to create good communication between a brand and publisherOnce partnerships have been established and a quality lead is defined and communicated, businesses should be sure to continue communication. Financial brands should be updating and reviewing their data to give publishers constant guidance and reassurance on their customer acquisition efforts. Knowing what type of consumer a financial advertiser is looking for is the first step for a publisher, but gaining feedback on how that acquisition ended up performing is critical.  Providing insights into trends in cardmember spend can help publishers make adjustments to their programs to be more strategic in the audiences they target.  A strong feedback loop can also include communicating information about the quality of customers back to the publisher in the form of a customer score*, which encourages them to better understand the types of audiences that they are driving so adjustments can be made to deliver better quality and “best fit” audiences.   In addition, adoption of publisher tools such as Rakuten Marketing’s Affiliate Consumer Graph can allow partners to improve personalization of ads they deliver to site visitors.  For example, if a consumer is identified as someone who is a frequent visitor of travel sites or travel purchaser (such as airfare, cruises or hotels/resort), then a publisher can make content serving decisions to show an ad for a card that offers travel benefits.

Communication both internally and externally with publisher partners is key to building a successful affiliate program.  Once you have identified your business objectives, an affiliate can assist in driving the right mix of applicants to your site.  And to continue to optimize your program, analysis and measurement can guide you in making the right adjustments to your customer acquisition strategy.

*Customer score provides merchants and issuers the ability to pass along a value for every order.  The issuer determines how this value is derived, as it can include several factors including risk, transactor vs. revolver tendencies, and lifetime value.