Hi everyone! We represent Unicom24, a finance affiliate marketing ecosystem that encompasses a seemingly conventional CPA network and a full-fledged financial marketplace. In this article, we would like to focus on the CPA side of our business and discuss how we took a leap from an average company to a truly unique and investment-attractive one.
Unicom24 is a Russia-based CPA network focusing on financial services, such as credit products, insurance, and more. On the advertisers’ side, our client base includes major banks, MFIs, and insurance companies. In fact, it can be any mass-oriented product that has lots of competition, and so you can’t successfully promote it only through traditional marketing channels (sales outlets, official websites, etc.):
- online stores;
- insurance companies;
- online games;
- real estate agencies;
- travel agencies;
- booking services;
- educational institutions, etc.
Growth opportunities in a time of crisis
There’s no doubt 2020 was a tough year for any business that tested our resilience, flexibility, and ability to change and adapt. However, those who say that there are no opportunities to grow and develop right now can’t be further from the truth.
We have proved exactly the opposite, as last year our revenue skyrocketed 7 fold, while our partner base was up 10 times as compared to 2019.
How we made it possible
Here are the 5 steps we took to survive the crisis and prosper in the process. By the way, no matter what you are focusing on, all CPA networks can follow in our footsteps and achieve success.
1. Market research (competition analysis)
The pandemic prompted us to rethink our business processes and operations and come up with a better, more efficient way of doing things.
We created a spreadsheet that lists what it is that our competitors are doing that we are not. However, to achieve the goal we have set for ourselves and ramp up our game, we needed to do better than our competition instead of just emulating it.
The characteristic feature of the Russian market is that we tend to lag behind our foreign counterparts, and so we decided to derive inspiration from international companies. Rather than ripping off their ideas, we came up with our own based on the global best practices.
As a result, we were able to identify our current market position, as well as some of the strongest and weakest points of our competitors and what we need to focus on first and foremost.
A good dashboard should be simple to use and easy to understand even to those who have just started their affiliate marketing journey.
With this in mind, we have updated our platform’s dashboard and interface to bring it in line with the most recent UX/UI design guidelines. We have also refactored our website and services with a brand-new look and feel.
Your success as a CPA network also depends on how many offers you have and how many of them are exclusive to your platform. By the way, restricting access to some of the offers to make them appear unique and much-coveted is definitely a bad idea. Adding multi-step passwords and restricting offer access is going to scare away potential partners rather than make your offers appear exclusive.
An easy-to-use and versatile offerwall is crucial to a positive brand experience.
We have recently launched a Flash-powered offerwall with debit card offers (Flash Debit Cards)
That has the following competitive advantages:
- Page load speed. We were able to reduce the page load time to 0.6 seconds. By way of comparison, the standard load time of such web pages used to be ten times longer.
- Pre-selected offers. Our offerwall showcases only the most lucrative and popular offers from major banks with a high payout frequency (about 20 credit cards).
- Optimization. Moreover, we have launched a number of new features aimed at ranking the offers to show the most profitable ones higher in the feed and automatically replacing disabled offers with newer ones.
Reliable and timely statistics are essential for building trust between a network and its partners. We provide our affiliates with real-time data and end-to-end statistics that’ll keep your business on track. To ensure seamless data flow, we have employed cutting-edge database technologies, a CRM system, and an analytics and BI module. Our partners are able to access real-time stats from their personal accounts.
The registration process should take as little time as possible. Don’t ask for more information than you need. Signing up on our platform takes up to 14 seconds, and the registration form has only 4 fields.
Timely and transparent payouts are key to success in our business. On our platform, it will only take you 3 clicks to get your payout.
Quality feedback allows you to assess your performance and make adjustments if necessary. That’s why we decided to communicate with our partners more often and launched a biweekly newsletter to keep our affiliates informed of our latest developments, as well as held a couple of online meet-ups to collect feedback and better understand our partners’ needs.
2. Launching an offline distribution network
More often than not, CPA networks focus either on the online or on the offline side of the affiliate business.
As a way to maximize our audience reach, we decided to combine these two business models.
What we have now is that the affiliate network promotes offers on online platforms, while our agency network (lone brokers, managers) employs offline marketing techniques. At that, the departments work in symbiosis rather than as separate competing entities within the same company. They have different target audiences that don’t overlap.
A month after the improvements took place, our partner base surged to tens of thousands of affiliates. As a result, our traffic volumes increased exponentially, and our financial performance has never been better.
3. Introducing new offer niches and providing a more all-encompassing platform
All CPA networks specialize in a particular offer vertical. As far as our company is concerned, we focus on finance offers.
In an effort to facilitate our business growth, we began to expand our range of offers beyond consumer loans and credits.
We launched a unique comprehensive offerwall that showcases all our loan products and also added insurance offers to our database, as insurance services are an integral part of the financial sector. During the lockdown period, our database was expanded with food delivery and job hunting offers.
Overall, we launched more than a hundred new offers, thus offering our partners numerous money-making opportunities:
- car loans;
- credit cards;
- consumer loans;
- short-term loans;
- refinancing services;
- debit cards;
- insurance products.
The databases of most CPA networks include dozens, hundreds, and sometimes even thousands of offers. However, affiliates often struggle with picking up the right offer and identifying the target audience for the product they promote. At the same time, reducing the time needed for choosing the best offer can help you monetize your traffic much more successfully.
So, it was clear that we had to tap into cutting-edge technologies to better serve our customers.
Our developers were able to implement a slew of additional features, including:
- Uni_Tracker. This is a credit scoring solution that creates a customer profile, checks the solvency of a client, and filters out fraudulent traffic based on the following parameters:
- Screen size;
- Page scrolling;
- Filled-in forms;
- Text selection and copying;
- Button clicks;
- Hyperlink click-throughs.
1. Uni_Tracker consists of three technological solutions that are basically three separate products:
- Uni_Digital, which is a credit scoring digital model based on device conversion data (model, brand, OS, browser version, etc.) and data on previously visited websites;
- Uni_Anti-fraud, an anti-fraud solution that detects bot traffic and restricts non-target ads;
- Uni_Personal, a credit scoring technology that is based on personal data, such as credit history, as well as Federal Bailiff Service, FICO, and NBCH data, etc. to determine one’s credit approval odds;
- Uni_ID, i.e. a unique user identifier that is used for tracking, attribution, and online analytics.
2. Uni_Pro — a personalized credit product ranking based on the probability of credit approval.
3. Uni_Ranking — a CPA algorithm that automatically rates credit offers based on EPS (earnings per sale).
4. ProgressCard — a unique credit score improvement service that enables our agents and webmasters to meet the needs of pretty much any credit user and earn money.
5. Uni_Score — a website monitoring solution that allows affiliates to avoid wasting their ad budget.
Every 10 minutes or so, our specially-designed algorithm checks the advertisers’ websites to find out whether they are accessible or not. If the site is unavailable, we suspend the offer and redirect traffic to a similar one. This allows us to ensure your traffic doesn’t go to waste and you will still get your money.
As a result, our agents and webmasters are able to increase offer profitability, as they have access to conversion data, while all our offers are ranked based on their performance.
Moreover, our partners spend less time picking up the right offer for a particular client, which allows them to process huge traffic volumes.
5. Other marketing activities
Promotions, contests, and bonuses are a great way to boost partner loyalty in a competitive environment.
In mid-2020, we launched a Russia-wide large-scale tournament with a prize fund of about 20 million roubles: an apartment in Moscow, a BMW X3, a Volkswagen Polo, Apple products, etc. Such promotions are associated with huge risks and a high level of responsibility, but the results were quite impressive: over 10 thousand participants in the first week of the tournament.
However, as it often happens, the activity level began to decline over time, which was unacceptable for us. The solution was launching a number of smaller contests that increase your chances of winning a tournament. Such promotions were held once in two weeks.
In-house store and currency
What’s more, we launched our currency called UniCoins and a store called UniShop where you can exchange “coins” for goods, such as cars, TV sets, laptops, phones, and headsets — overall, more than 100 items.
As a way to get more information about our advertisers, we began to reward webmasters with UniCoins for their feedback. This enables us to get first-hand information about MFIs and adjust our business process and rankings accordingly.
But that’s not all that we did, as we also created our YouTube channel to discuss our new technological solutions and offers in a simple and easy-to-understand way, essentially giving our partners guidelines on how to better promote our offers. Our educational videos are hosted by the head of our CPA department who has in-depth knowledge of our platform.
Social media channels
Plus, we continue to share the company’s news and updates and announce special deals and contest winners on our social media channels: VK, Facebook, and Telegram.
What we are planning to do next
2020 taught us that you shouldn’t be afraid to take risks and try out something new. We absolutely need to bring bold, ambitious ideas to life. In line with this, we are glad to announce our latest major development — iOffer, a modern incarnation of the mythical golden city of El Dorado. This product is actually a button that an online store can place on its website. The basic idea behind iOffer (smart offer) is pretty straightforward: one button is one loan offer that has been carefully pre-selected based on analyzing the customer who wants to take a loan to purchase an item that is sold on a particular website.