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Cashback, trust, and compliance are critical elements to successful financial services marketing and promotions, according to a new survey of 1,000 consumers conducted by Rakuten Advertising. The research, available at no cost for industry participants, revealed that all demographic segments most desire cashback offers, and that security concerns make strong monitoring and anti-fraud protections essential elements of an effective financial services go-to-market program.

Designed to address the “gap” in data-driven insights into “what works” for financial services marketing and promotions, the survey asked consumers to identify whether a specific offer type was most desired, second most desired, or third most desired.

CashBack Offers Most Desired By All Groups

68% of respondents said that cashback bonuses were a most desired reward type, with loyalty points coming in second at 45%. The figures point to marketplace evolution; while offering free airline miles and hotel points used to be the top driver of card choice, cashback is now king.

The Rakuten Advertising analytics team, which works with 60% of major US banks and several dozen other traditional financial services and emerging “fintech” businesses, says redemption hurdles have driven a popularity decline for points-based card offers, particularly for people making less than $100K per year. Growing program complexity, blackout dates, and steadily increasing point requirements for popular rewards have lessened the appeal of travel points for these customers.

Said Beth Benedict, SVP Client Service for Finance at Rakuten Advertising,“Miles used to be “it” for cardmember rewards and deals. But their appeal now skews to people making $100K+. The data show that $100K+ earners were 62% more likely to list points as a “most desirable” offer than individuals making $45-$100K. As airlines and hotel chains continue to raise earning and redemption requirements, it’s become more difficult for moderate spenders to earn enough points to qualify for meaningful rewards. Yet everybody likes the immediate gratification of cashback.”

According to Rakuten, these and other demographic insights can help inform a more effective messaging and offer strategy for the affiliate channel. “Understanding the types of offers that will most likely interest customers gives teams a head start in the ongoing optimization process,” continued Beth. “Keeping track of changing customer perceptions helps imbue a culture of continuous improvement in partner and affiliate marketing.”

Generations Value Benefits and Perks Differently

Older generations value welcome bonus perks most highly, according to the research. In comparison, younger generations are more likely to look for additional perks like gym discounts and transportation credits as they consider products and offers.

Continued Rakuten’s Beth Benedict, ”As we develop partnership recommendations for our clients, target considerations play a significant role in defining the right portfolio of publishers and other partners for each brand. Many of our clients have implemented segmented messages and offers tied to the audience characteristics of specific partner classes and even publishers. The data show the importance of audience/offer alignment.”

Non-Promotional Messages Make a Key Difference

Consumers also voiced strong opinions about non-promotional messages and reassurance they value most. Some highlights:

Mobile Banking and Apps: 59% of consumers rank mobile apps and good customer service as two of their top criteria when selecting a new bank or payment provider.

Compliance and Security: The high number of recent data breaches and other security and compliance failures have heightened customer awareness of risks. Customers gain reassurance when brand messages are consistent and privacy and security are safeguarded at every step of the customer journey.

Quality Brand Connections: Customers expressed strong interest in direct communications like email, direct mail, and social media messages by and about financial institutions.

The data underscore how considerations beyond offers and rewards drive greater consideration and choice. For affiliate marketers, it makes sense to consider how these messages can be effectively communicated. Depicting quality mobile banking experiences, available options, and leveraging industry-leading compliance processes should be on the affiliate marketer’s to-do list.

According to Rakuten, financial services companies can find ways to achieve traffic scale while ensuring that every partner meets rigorous anti-fraud and compliance standards. “Monitoring and protections are ‘must haves’ for any affiliate solutions provider,” says Beth. “Our clients rely on our tools for real-time monitoring, anti-fraud tech, and real-time updating of messaging and offers to ensure they comply with national and international regulations and deliver consistent customer experiences.”

Get More in The Study

This summary only touches on the scope and breadth of the data in this important report. Rakuten invites you to see the entire study. This examination is just one of the available insights and best practices from the company. As the affiliate solutions provider for dozens of financial services businesses, they can help you make better choices.