Since migrating the dual-network affiliate programme to Rakuten Advertising in August 2018, Cult Beauty has grown exponentially year-on-year through hard work and the delivery of a discerning strategy. With this success comes even greater objectives – something that the Cult Beauty affiliate team have thrived on. 2019 saw three key objectives for the channel, focused on maintaining consistent year on year growth while finding new revenue streams through new customer acquisition and new partnership verticals. Through a collaborative approach with the network, Cult Beauty has achieved +58% YoY growth and partnering with a new-era of affiliates, such as Reward Insight.
- Continual Revenue Growth: Maintain over 30% growth through a new strategy, partnerships and approaches to optimising the programme.
- New Customers: Deliver a new customer rate of > 50%. This was a key objective for the brand to help substantiate the incrementality of the channel.
- Diversify Publisher Base: Cult Beauty sought to grow the order active publisher base by 30% by recruiting new and diverse publishers.
- Email Database Growth: The affiliate channel was set a very ambitious target of driving 500,000 newsletter sign ups in 2019 (a YoY increase of 30%).
- Maintain High ROI: Maintain consistent ROI across the affiliate channel.
Cult Beauty and Rakuten Advertising implemented several new processes and strategies to help achieve the above objectives, whilst building on what contributed to the growth of the previous year:
Cashback & Loyalty
The teams put in place an ‘always-on’ strategy with Cult Beauty’s cashback and loyalty partners. By optimising consistently through cashback and loyalty publishers, Cult Beauty incentivised customers through cashback. This allowed Cult Beauty to remain competitive outside of promotional periods and the new customer objective was incorporated through the offer of a higher commission for first-time buyers.
Using its attribution platform, Rakuten Advertising was able to prove the lifetime value of customers driven by the voucher vertical. With the growth of white-label voucher solutions, Cult Beauty could bridge the gap between content and voucher through partnering with well-known publications, such as Daily Mail, Independent and Evening Standard. A constant review of the performance and strategy of these partners showed that they were not only bringing in incremental sales but also reaching new audiences.
Rakuten Advertising used data from its attribution platform to guide the Cult Beauty affiliate strategy. A key example of this is looking at the value of typically upper-funnel publisher verticals, which often drive a high volume of traffic but lower conversions.
Diversifying and Expanding the Publisher Base
When considering how to target new customers, the Rakuten Advertising team knew that expanding the publisher base would help to find new audiences. A new partnership was initiated with a card-linked offers provider, to target the customers of top banks through its apps. Through the partnership, Cult Beauty was able to target potential customers who had never shopped with them before via a closed platform. Together with Rakuten Advertising, the publisher generated a 57% new customer rate and moved into the top 15 partners on the programme.
Creativity & innovation
The Cult Beauty and Rakuten Advertising teams continued to look for innovative and creative ways to optimise the affiliate programme, whether that be through new and unique partnerships or branded campaigns that are launched and promoted via the affiliate channel.
Although new to working with voucher sites, the brand was interested in personalising the customer experience through these partners. As a result of being able to work more strategically with voucher platforms within publications such as Global Savings Group, Savings United, and measure incrementality through Rakuten Advertising’s attribution platform – these partners became an active part of the Cult Beauty programme in 2019. Not only did this help broaden its publisher base, but Cult Beauty was able to tailor the content to align with the brand. This has now sparked conversations around the Rakuten Advertising products developed to enable a more strategic approach with incentive sites. For example, the Coupon Commissioning tool gives the brand greater control and flexibility within the voucher space.
Cult Beauty has launched several unique and innovative brand campaigns with the support of its affiliates. In 2019, a Wellness campaign was launched in conjunction with International Women’s Day. The campaign was a ground-breaking initiative that encouraged discussion about women’s health and sexual wellbeing in a way that was commonplace and without taboo. This was pushed alongside a new product range on-site and 10% of any purchases made from this category were donated to the Lady Garden Foundation. The campaign was supported through the affiliate channel, with both promotional and content exposure being secured to help raise awareness of women’s health and wellbeing.
Another area of innovation was the launch of Men’s Beauty on the Cult Beauty website. An atypical category, it encourages men to invest in beauty products that will help with day-to-day life. To drive awareness of the new range, the affiliate channel supported this launch through publisher newsletters and partnering with men’s specific partners.
The Cult Beauty affiliate programme saw great results during the judging period:
Revenue YoY: +58%. This was accomplished through cashback partners achieving +91% growth YoY, Core8 growing +175% YoY through closer collaboration, and voucher sites growing +54% YoY.
Diversification of Publisher base: 53 new publishers became order-active in 2019, including a new and innovative partnership with Reward Insight and white label voucher partners which increased the order-active publisher base by 43%.
New customer orders: 55% new customer orders (beating the target by 50%). This was achieved through new partnerships such as Reward Insight, who drove 57% new customers and other partners, such as VoucherCodes.co.uk who drove 64% of new customers.
Leveraging data from Rakuten Advertising’s attribution platform allowed Cult Beauty to ensure that partnerships not necessarily delivering on a purely last click model, were being recognised for their real value (e.g. rewardStyle for upper-funnel contribution and lifetime value). This was vital in making sure that every partner on the programme was both contributing value across the full customer journey and affiliate programme, from influencers and content sites to voucher partners.
“I have worked with Rakuten Advertising on the Cult Beauty account for 5 years now, I see the team as an extension of Cult Beauty and they have been integral to the success of the programme. Internally, we are continually impressed at the service and expertise they provide for us. They champion innovation and consistently update their service offering in response to client feedback, Rakuten Advertising is a true diamond in the affiliate space.” Chikay Lo, Cult Beauty.