How Wine Enthusiast Stopped Wasting Its Money On Affiliates

By Jeff Zwelling, CEO and co-founder

With the wide array of coupons and discounts available, not to mention holiday promotions and seasonal sales, it’s a wonder anyone pays full price for anything anymore. This price-slashing trend has become increasingly prevalent due to the availability of discount perks online. Companies offer deals directly on their websites, but can also pay affiliate coupon sites to feature their promotions in hopes of driving sales back to their online shopping carts. The issue with coupon affiliates is what if they insert themselves in a customer’s path that would have ended in a purchase regardless? Suddenly, the money spent on the affiliates is money wasted.

Wine Enthusiast, the leading source for wine information and accessories, was created in 1979 and has steadily expanded ever since. The company was initially just a direct mail business, but over the years, it has developed a catalog, signature products and an online retail site. To market the new website, Wine Enthusiast put together a broad campaign that included display advertising, social media and coupon affiliates. Unfortunately, the company was using a last-click attribution model, which could not determine which marketing activities were driving the most revenue, or which channels to further invest in. Wine Enthusiast collected last-click data and spent hours trying to manually calculate the data into Excel spreadsheets, but the insights were subpar.

This caused Wine Enthusiast to invest in an attribution solution to gain better insight. After incorporating Convertro’s algorithm, the company determined that some of the coupon affiliate networks it was investing in were not actually driving traffic. Convertro showed Wine Enthusiast that these customers were actually on the Wine Enthusiast website first, and were leaving to retrieve the coupon code, and then returning to the company website to make the purchases. Wine Enthusiast was able to determine which affiliate networks deserved credit, which ones were contributing nothing and which ones were claiming to drive traffic that in reality originated at Wine Enthusiast’s site. After cutting ties with the affiliates that were less-than-valuable, Wine Enthusiast was able to put that extra money toward the legitimately effective aspects of its campaigns, cutting its costs paid to affiliates by 33 percent and increasing overall ROI by 49 percent.

To read Wine Enthusiast’s full story, check out the case study here.

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