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Performance marketing is an ideal channel for driving leads for financial services companies. It greatly reduces the risks of buying media that may or may not convert into revenues (funded loans, issued credit cards, etc.) downstream.

The financial services vertical faces unique challenges with respect to industry regulations, but when addressed head-on these challenges can become a source of strength. To that end, below are 3 strategies that can improve the quality and quantity of leads driven through your affiliate channel while protecting your organization from compliance concerns.

1. Document and Enforce Clear Guidelines and Policies

When recruiting or accepting new affiliates into your program, you need a clear set of approval criteria and an onboarding process. This will help you avoid potential compliance or lead quality issues later. All affiliates should be screened and documented against your approval criteria. This way if there are issues later, you have proof that they met the initial criteria and weren’t accepted in error.

Once you accept them into your program, provide and review your guidelines and policies with your partners. Even though these guidelines might be part of your program terms, you need to make sure your partners actually read and understand them.

I mean, how often have you skimmed through terms and conditions without fully comprehending them? It happens. I recommend a quick call and a webpage that has the guidelines detailed so you can reference the link and talk through them one by one.

You need to also ask who else will be working on your account. Your affiliate may have many employees that will be handling your creative assets and placements, so you want to ensure that the whole team understands your guidelines – not just your day to day contact. This gets things off on the right foot and reinforces that you are on top of your partners and expect them to comply with your terms.

2. Clarify What a Lead is Worth

There are many factors (geography, credit score, education, employment, product alignment, etc.) that can contribute to the overall value of a lead. These need to be factored into what you are willing to pay for each lead. It is also important to disposition (sold, not interested, duplicate, unqualified, fraud, etc.) each lead after the fact so you can do an analysis of your partners. Once you know the blended value of the leads driven by each partner, optimize the cost-per-action (CPA) to match the quality.

A simple strategy is to set a base rate and two higher and two lower rates. For example, you might set a base rate of $25 CPA. Depending on the quality and quantity of leads delivered by a specific affiliate, you may increase the CPA to $30 with a maximum CPA of $40. If the leads are of lower quality, you may decrease your rate to $20 or $15. If the quality is too low, you should reconsider the partnership versus lowering the rate further.

3. Score Your Leads

In an ideal world, all leads would be an A+. Unfortunately, all leads are not equal so it is important to score them so you can prioritize the order at which you process the leads. You don’t want your call center processing low grade leads when there are higher grade leads in the queue.

Lead scoring is done in real time prior to the submission of the lead. A score is developed based on IP address, user agent, and other critical factors that can determine both the quality and risk factor of the lead.

For example, lower scored leads may end up qualifying but have a significantly higher rate of defaulting on their first payment. If a lead has a very low score, you can prevent it from being submitted or offer a product that better aligns with their risk profile.


The impact of the above 3 strategies is frequently underestimated. When properly implemented and used consistently, however, they can have a significant impact – greatly improving the quality and quantity of your leads while minimizing risk and compliance issues.

A well structured program runs smoother with fewer surprises, freeing up your time to focus on growing the channel. View our webinar titled “Performance Marketing Best Practices for Financial Services” to learn how other players in the financial services space are finding success with performance marketing.

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