As a brand grows, a diversified affiliate portfolio is critical to satisfy ambitious growth goals
Sourcing unexpected strategic alliances can elevate performance by supporting more traditional paid channels already in place
Strong publisher relationships add alternative advertising vehicles to the performance channel
The Motley Fool is a brand with broad awareness and strong direct relationships in the finance media sector. The move to adding affiliate marketing to its mix was a bold step for a disruptive brand in an established marketplace. The brand’s main goal was to add more paid subscriptions to their various stock advising and retirement products, and they set the same goals for their foray into the affiliate channel. By adding relevant content sites to their traditional mix, we were able to consistently exceed this aggressive weekly goal by 47%.
What sustained dynamic growth over the years for The Motley Fool’s affiliate program was a combination of:
- Willingness to branch out from a small set of partners to a robust, diversified set
- Willingness to trust in our team’s new ideas and test, as long as strict performance measures were applied
- Willingness to allocate incremental budget to the channel so true revenue value could be proved
While The Motley Fool’s initial affiliate program launch with PartnerCentric was a success, our team aimed new strategies at recruiting and cultivating publisher relationships that could reach new audiences. This was driven by a need for measurable efficiency and the confidence to drive reach at different points along the customer acquisition journey.
Onboarding a card-Linked publisher allowed us to reach new audiences and drive incremental revenue. In total, the addition of this new CLO partner increased revenue by 16% in 3 months.
The brand was already working directly with a few strong content partners. When we recommended the addition of personal finance blogs geared towards millennials, and proposed new ways to partner with cutting-edge publisher properties, we were able to create and drive display ads through the performance channel. Diversifying beyond the usual content, loyalty, or toolbar avenues made all the difference.
By sustaining the commitment and further optimization to The Motley Fool’s top publishers, they also continued to drive consistent sales growth, accounting for more than 88% of total sales.
Additionally, we targeted new types of content sites, such as review sites, that were not obvious coupon or loyalty options, but could still drive significant value where it mattered to the brand. For some of these alternatives, we developed unique paid search campaigns that would initially drive traffic, and then switched to a CPA format based on new subscriptions. Committing to increased spending in the affiliate channel, backed up by stringent KPIs, allowed the team to take smart risks that advanced growth.
Our team also developed lead-based campaigns via traditional marketing such as email on a CPA basis, in order to capture new customers. Finally, by testing innovative marketing campaigns with traditional affiliates, we also saw sustainable volume and growth.
- In the first 6 months of PartnerCentric’s management, The Motley Fool affiliate program saw an accelerated ramp up period with an average monthly growth of over 500%
- Over the course of PartnerCentric’s long-term management, The Motley Fool’s program averaged 210% YoY growth
- By strategically and consistently promoting via paid media placements both the brand’s main stock investing service, Stock Advisor, as well as their niche-specific real estate investment service, Real Estate Winners, with a top partner, revenue for the partner has increased 45% YoY on average.
- Partnerships with well-known content publishers have ensured prime placements in top investing services roundups and charts – further solidifying The Motley Fool’s place as a thought leader and service provider.
- Contrary to common belief, some of the brand’s most productive and incremental customers come as a result of their paid optimization partnerships with loyalty leaders in the space. These partners have driven incremental customer growth for the brand solely through their use of a “new customer” promotion and strategically coordinated paid optimization placements. Over the course of 3.5 years these strategic partnerships have contributed to 40% of total revenue.
“When we started with the affiliate channel, a few high-visibility content partners initially made us feel pretty good. But, we weren’t aware of the importance of a diversified publisher mix, or how to access the right opportunities for our growth. Once we landed on a publisher expansion strategy with PartnerCentric, we began to see the growth we expected from the affiliate channel.”
More Case Studies >