Tailoring partnership programs in highly-regulated industries with Rise Interactive

Discover the value of affiliate partnerships. Affiliate Director of Rise Interactive shares how impact.com helped the agency navigate legal limitations, resulting in a win for a healthcare brand.

Tailoring partnership programs in highly-regulated industries
Scott Gold
Scott Gold
Senior Product Marketing Manager
Read time: 7 mins
Key takeaways
  • CPA (cost-per-action) is a legal barrier for organizations that sell products covered by insurance. Rise Interactive navigated the legal barriers by running campaigns on impact.com using CPC (cost-per-click).
  • The team leveraged Optimize reporting—particularly the Contribution, Top Paths, and Leapfrogging reports—to understand cross-channel customer journeys.
  • The impact.com Marketplace introduced a dashboard of fully-vetted partners, connecting the Rise Interactive team with affiliate publishers that align with the client’s audience.
  • Rise Interactive hit the client’s initial goals—reaching a $20 CPL, driving 28,000 more clicks, and generating 1,000 new leads.

As a full-service digital marketing agency, Rise Interactive taps into affiliate partnerships’ potential to support brand expansion online. A client in the healthcare industry requested the assistance of the agency to build an outreach strategy through affiliates. With the help of impact.com’s purpose-built partnership platform, the team set the foundation for the brand’s growth and success. 

Legal restrictions govern how to sell products that are reimbursable by insurance and prevent the traditional affiliate marketing approach. The Rise Interactive team faced the challenge of creating a legally compliant and highly profitable affiliate program as a crucial component of the brand’s digital marketing strategy.

Director of Affiliate at Rise Interactive, Jake Leganski, details the agency’s approach to customizing partnership programs within a highly regulated industry. 

Scott: Can you share your personal background and experience with affiliate partnerships?  

Jake: I began my digital marketing career on the brand side in site operations, making an internal transition to partnership marketing just under a year later. I spent six years with that organization working on affiliate, influencer, and corporate partnerships. I started at Rise Interactive in early 2021, leading our affiliate and partnerships practice.

Scott: Rise Interactive is currently part of impact.com’s Agency Partner Program.  But can you provide a brief background for our readers who may not be as familiar with the agency?

Jake: Of course! Rise Interactive is a full-service performance marketing agency that creates experiences for brands. Rise specializes in digital media, customer experience, and analytics.  We partner with Quad, a global Marketing Experience company, to offer an unmatched set of core services across traditional, digital, and brand marketing.

Scott: Today, we’re focusing on partnership programs within highly regulated industries, particularly a client of Rise Interactive in the healthcare industry. Can you tell us a bit about this brand? 

Jake: This healthcare brand provides expectant and new mothers with breast pumps during pregnancy through their insurance policy. Working with 1,400+ insurance plans, they make it accessible for moms to choose and order breast pumps—delivered straight to their homes. They have long been a client of Rise Interactive via their parent company. 

Scott: What is Rise Interactives’s level of involvement with this program?

Jake: Rise Interactive manages the entire program from end to end: partner recruitment and onboarding, campaign launch and optimization, budget management, strategic direction and implementation, and reporting.

Scott: What were the unique challenges with implementing a partnership strategy within a highly regulated industry like healthcare?

Jake: The first step was determining causation between different levers of the client’s funnel. We needed to figure out how to manage ad performance within the legal regulations and identify alternatives to CPA (cost-per-action) payouts. 

The CPA payout model wasn’t a legal option for us due to the nature of the healthcare and medical device industry. Additionally, Rise Interactive recognized the need for discovering and recruiting high-quality partners to make the client’s long-term strategy a reality.

Scott: Before working with impact.com, what was the brand’s partnership approach? How did that change once migrating to impact.com?

Jake: The healthcare brand successfully ran its affiliate partnership with another platform. However, they were forced to discontinue campaigns due to legal restrictions. CPA is a legal barrier for organizations that sell products covered by insurance. 

Rise Interactive began managing the brand’s program in Q2 of 2022. We helped navigate the legal barriers by running campaigns on impact.com using CPC

Scott: Considering the legal regulations, how did Rise Interactive match marketing objectives to the brand’s goals?

Jake: The brand started to pay for clicks and impressions (CPC-based), instead of paying affiliate partners based on actions (CPA-based) or leads (CPL-based)—the non-compliant approach. Rise Interactive determined what CPC amounts best exceeded the $20 CPL goal by changing the digital objectives to remain compliant and meet business goals.

Rise Interactive continued tracking the leads to optimize clicks while avoiding paying for them after the move to a CPC-based model.

Scott: What made impact.com the right partnership management platform for this program?

Jake: The impact.com platform provided the right affiliate marketing solution aligned with our specific needs and restrictions. Powering the brand’s affiliate program required harnessing the full potential of impact.com’s expertise, flexibility, and advanced software tools. 

First and foremost, impact.com’s ability to track and pay on a CPC basis (for unique clicks) is a market offering that no other platform can confidently provide. 

Additionally, leveraging Optimize reporting—particularly the Contribution, Top Paths, and Leapfrogging reports—helped us understand cross-channel customer journeys. These reports were a huge advantage since affiliates were such an unknown concerning business incrementality. 

Scott: Tell us more about the agency’s strategy of leveraging impact.com to drive success for the healthcare brand.

Jake: First, we switched the affiliate program to CPC (cost-per-click) payouts as an alternative to the legal limitations. 

The impact.com Marketplace introduced a dashboard of fully-vetted partners, connecting the Rise Interactive team with affiliate publishers that align with the client’s audience. The best way to describe this Discovery tool is, “personalized.” Rise has always felt that impact.com’s Marketplace is best-in-class. 

Especially with how niche this particular brand is, the entire experience is tailored to your client’s industry and platform profile. The search criteria allow you to filter by channel, partner category, size, and engagement rates. The team could stack-rank a hot list of partners in order of priority. Also, categorizing partners you aren’t ready to onboard as “prospects” keeps things warm until the client approves. 

Specifically for this program, we have found it useful to report and apply payouts on impact.com’s “SubID” parameter. The innovative feature identified specific website domains driving traffic/leads. The Rise team pinpointed when those sites access the client’s program via a sub-network. We customized those sites’ CPCs based on lead gen quality instead of applying a single CPC to the entire sub-network on a flat basis.

The Paid Search Monitoring feature was certainly a nice-to-have. Being able to monitor brand matches in broad search was helpful. 

Additionally, one of the more “relieving” aspects for the client was knowing that every contract a partner agreed to was templated. This meant no need for legal review every time someone joined the program and ensured every partner was held to the same compliance standards.

Scott: What was the outcome of this strategy?

Jake: With the assistance of impact.com, Rise transformed campaign management and optimized the affiliate program to exceed brand goals. The brand was always ahead of the curve with daily performance tracking and reporting. Real-time lead and click tracking made live adjustments possible and highlighted the most productive partners. The team was empowered with the right tools to focus on granular details and make big-picture projections.

With a new, winning partnerships strategy powered by impact.com, Rise Interactive hit the client’s initial goals—reaching a $20 CPL, driving 28,000 more clicks, and generating 1,000 new leads


Scott: Amazing! Looking ahead, what are you most excited about regarding partnerships?

Jake: Everybody wants a piece of the partnership economy, and for good reason. Looking at some of the most successful advertising and growth stories over the past twelve months, it’s abundantly clear how much partnerships impacted those outcomes. 

Most marketers agree that the customer journey is more cross-channel than ever and that earning new customers is only the start. What better way to win customers and build brand equity than with partnerships?

Optimize partnership program performance with these additional impact.com resources: 

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