Merchant name: Columbus Direct
Program name: Columbus Direct Travel Insurance affiliate program
Network: The Affiliate Gateway
Contact: Chris Thom, UK Accounts
For the benefit of those that may not have already heard of you, who are Columbus Direct?
Columbus Direct is a leading travel insurance specialist which was established in 1988. We have a history of innovation in the industry, including being the first company to sell travel insurance direct to the consumer in the UK.
Customer satisfaction and value for money are the driving forces behind Columbus Direct and we pride ourselves on providing a quick, efficient and hassle-free service.
We have covered over 15 million holidaymakers since 1988 and our latest customer surveys show that over 95% of customers would recommend us to their friends and family.
What is it that makes Columbus Direct stand out over and above the competition?
We offer a wide range of travel insurance products including single trip, annual trip, backpackers insurance, ski insurance, business travel insurance, adventure travel insurance, senior travel insurance, cover for pre existing medical conditions and ash cloud cover.
Columbus has won multiple awards including Best Direct Travel Insurance Provider in the 2012 Your Money awards, the 2012 ITIJ Travel Insurance Intermediary of the year, 13 Which? Best Buy awards, The Best Customer Focus Award from the Best Business awards, Best Travel Insurance provider from Your Money and also the Best Travel Insurance Provider award from the Personal Finance Awards 2011 and 2012.
When did your affiliate program go live and what sort of success has it enjoyed to date?
Affiliate marketing has been an essential part of our marketing mix for many years. We have enjoyed success in this channel ever since we first began working with affiliates to promote our portfolio of insurance products way back in 2006. Since then we have always maintained a presence across multiple networks. Four years ago we launched with The Affiliate Gateway. Having already established relationships with many of the main financial service comparison sites, the team at TAG made an effort to understand our USP’s and worked hard on our behalf to identify new opportunities within the affiliate arena. We were able to diversify our affiliate portfolio which has resulted in a significant uplift in incremental sales, most notably for our more specialist niche travel insurance products.
You are obviously affiliate industry veterans! So how do you keep your program fresh and your affiliate partners engaged in the promotion of your brand?
A lot goes on behind the scenes to ensure that our affiliate partners are promoting the best travel insurance affiliate program in the industry! Our affiliates do a fantastic job and they are great at what they do, so we have invested heavily in our infrastructure to ensure we are doing everything we can from our end to maximize conversions from the traffic that they send to us.
A new website was launched in May 2012. The site is built on a new CMS giving us greater flexibility for adding new and regular content. With faster page load times and better site architecture we have seen major performance improvements across all key online channels and delivered significant improvements in conversion rates for our affiliate partners.
We have also recently invested in a suite of new creative including targeted video content for landing pages, which we have now made available to affiliate partners after initial trials within our own in-house PPC department were confirmed to be a great success.
We are constantly looking to evolve our affiliate program and meet the requests of our affiliate partners, whether it be a request for a bespoke cobranded landing page, or in some cases a tailor made insurance policy to for fill the exact requirements of the specific niche that an affiliate may be working within. We welcome feedback from affiliates and with the help of our account managers at The Affiliate Gateway, we encourage our partners to participate in an ongoing dialogue, enabling us to be proactive and quickly provide new or improved resources whenever they are required.
What are the USP’s that set your affiliate program apart from others?
Aside from the wealth of resources that we provide to assist our affiliates in the promotion of our brand and our ongoing commitment to continue to invest in infrastructure. It’s the popularity of our product offering that sets us apart and makes a real difference to an affiliates earning potential when they choose to promote our policies over those of our competitors. Affiliates experience higher than industry average conversion rates when promoting Columbus Direct for the following reasons:
- We offer award winning travel insurance at highly competitive rates
- We offer a wide choice of cover levels that customer can tailor to their needs and a range of optional “Bolt-on” cover including: Zero excess, Gadget cover, Travel Concierge Service, Ash Cloud cover and more
- 99% of customers would recommend Columbus to their friends and family
- We have a 4.7 / 5 Star rating from customers, based on price, product selection, ease of getting a quote and customer experience
Columbus undertakes significant above the line marketing activity including TV advertising and advertising throughout the London Underground network. The result of which is that we are one of the leading and most trusted brands in the market, our track record within the industry and our multiple award winning achievements are a testament to this.
What type of affiliate demographic are you looking to attract to participate in the Columbus Direct affiliate program?
We accept applications from affiliates who engage in a wide range of promotional activity including: comparison, loyalty, incentive, organic & paid search marketing. We will consider any application provided the applicant is able to generate traffic that is relevant to the travel & insurance vertical. All applications are manually reviewed, promptly responded to and no opportunity is overlooked.
We also welcome affiliates who can engage an audience with an interest in niche travel markets. These affiliates are especially welcome where our policies for fill a specific requirement within their niche such as cover for those with pre existing medical conditions, cover for those over the age of 64 or cover for those engaging in specific sporting or adventure activities.
What advice would you give to new affiliates that have recently joined your program on TAG?
Get in touch with your account manager at The Affiliate Gateway and let them know what you need from us in order to promote our program. We are in contact daily with the account management team at TAG; they know our products inside out and will make every effort to assist you where ever possible.
We encourage both new and existing affiliates alike to bookmark our program’s thread within the TAG dedicated network forum here on A4U. This thread will be kept up to date with the latest information about Columbus and any new developments related to our affiliate program.
And finally, how can interested affiliates get in touch?
If you would like more information before joining our affiliate program, to discuss opportunities or for any questions please don’t hesitate to contact our dedicated account management team at The Affiliate Gateway. If you already have an affiliate account at TAG and you would like to join our program then you can find us and apply via the program directory located within your affiliate admin area. If you do not yet have an affiliate account with TAG you can create one instantly here
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