Travel Affiliate Network Automated Direct Marketing and Reduced Affiliate Churn

Travelpayouts Affiliate Network is a global affiliate program focused exclusively on travel offers. It allows the user to choose from 100+ affiliate travel programs and to monetize traffic on their websites by paying for clicks on affiliate links. The offers cover flights, hotels, insurance, excursions, and car rental. The company was founded in 2011 as part of the Aviasales travel metasearch company
Company size. 
More than $20 million paid out to affiliates over 10 years
300,000 users connected
 100+ affiliate travel programs
author
Elizaveta Rudykh,
Deputy Head of Marketing at Travelpayouts
Goals
Reduce affiliate churn using direct communications
Solutions
Combine fragmented customer databases and send all campaigns from a single platform

Personalize bulk campaigns and set up 300+ triggers

IT stack. 

The website, iOS and Android apps, as well as backend developed by Travelpayouts, Mindbox
Results
The churn of affiliates decreased year-over-year

The CRM manager saves an hour a day as thanks to the automation of manual campaigns
The following case study is from Mindbox, the original brand behind Maestra’s technology

Marketing Automation Results

  • 1 hour/ day
    is saved by the CRM manager thanks to the automation of manual campaigns
  • ↓Churn
    of affiliates decreased year-over-year

How marketing has changed after automation

Before automation was introduced
After automation was introduced
Bulk campaigns were sent from one platform, trigger campaigns from another, transactional emails from a third, and web push notifications from a fourth. The communication load on the customer could not be controlled
All communications are sent from a single platform. Thanks to highly specific segmentation, the customer only receives relevant offers and is not bombarded with messages
Customers weren’t able to unsubscribe from campaigns and they just kept on coming
Customers can unsubscribe from campaigns with one click
When creating segments for emails, we had to manually upload contacts from different sources and ask analysts for help. There was no information about the actions, activities, or earnings of affiliates
All customer data, including information about sales, campaign interest, profile logins, activity, and earnings are stored in a single profile. The segment for each campaign is created by the CRM manager in just a few clicks and is updated automatically
We had to turn to the IT department and wait a long time for a new trigger campaign to be created, so there were only two campaign sequences
The CRM manager is able to create new trigger sequences in a few hours. This allowed us to produce more than 300 trigger campaigns
In order to analyze the results of each campaign, we had to ask analysts for help pretty much at every step
Simple analytics, such as campaign enagagement and interest are available on the platform, so we no longer need to involve analysts

How customers are segmented in manual campaigns

Which automated campaigns are sent to customers

Travelpayouts has more than 300 triggers configured. The segments that are used are highly specific, making it impossible to conduct A/B tests: getting a statistically reliable result on such small samples would be very difficult. Below we will tell you about some of the most important trigger sequences for our business.
Onboarding. Affiliate marketing is a complex tool. New users need to be taught how to use it, so this email series is very important for Travelpayouts.
News regarding offers. Travelpayouts has 90+ affiliate programs, there are different verticals of users. Because of this, we need to send several news articles regarding offers every day.
Training on securing offers. The goal of Travelpayouts is to allow the affiliate to receive their first offer as soon as possible. The training email chain was set up and its effectiveness was immediately verified with the help of a control group: part of the segment was excluded from communication in order to compare the behavior of other users with it. The test showed a statistically reliable result. The rate of receiving an offer increased for the test group.
Special projects. Travelpayouts’ special projects are complicated. Onboarding is provided for each of them. It also tracks whether affiliates check their rating, whether they are subscribed to campaigns, and whether they log into their account. All these conditions affect which emails they will receive.
Churn reactivation. The main goal is to motivate the customer to carry out a simple action that does not involve any obligations. For example, clicking on the affiliate link and making sure that the transition is displayed in their account. The email sequences differ depending on the customer’s lifecycle stage.

Next steps

Develop more triggers for user segments, taking into account each user’s lifecycle, earnings, and activity.
Make reactivation campaigns even more personalized: take into account not only account logins, but also transitions from segment to segment.
Finalize onboarding by expanding the current basic workflow, branching it out and creating a different series of events and campaigns depending on the user’s behavior (i.e., what they did or didn’t do). Our goal is to help each specific customer. We want to explain the basics to those who do not yet understand affiliate marketing and to offer more complex solutions to those who received a payment in the first month.
Set up triggers to remove inactive users: together with analysts, define criteria showing that affiliates cannot be reactivated, and automatically delete them to avoid overpaying for database storage.
Create a set of standard dashboards that can be applied to each company, for example, to evaluate the transition from segment to segment. The default reports are not suitable for Travelpayouts' needs as they were designed with e-commerce in mind.
P. S. In this article we discussed our Customer Data Platform (CDP) and Multichannel Communications modules. Learn more about each module by clicking the links, or reach out for a discovery call.