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With purse strings tightening across the UK, now seems an especially good time to own a cashback and reward site. 

So we’ve posed a few questions to Neil Durrant of Submission Technology,  which has been involved in cashback for five years and recently bought the cashback.co.uk domain for a “substantial” sum.

We ask Neil how cashback sites could improve their offering to consumers and merchants (including the challenge of tracking), and how marketers could get more out of them.

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Can you give us a quick introduction to the business?

To give you a bit of history, we launched the first cashback site in the UK, under the brand Greasypalm, about five and a half years ago. It proved incredibly successful; it was just a small bootstrap start-up between two of us. We now have 12 staff, two offices and have turnover in excess of £3m a year. We have numerous white label partners, including the likes of GMTV.

Cashback is more and more entering the mainstream. We’re enjoying more media attention on the cashback model — we were featured on Working Lunch a few weeks ago, and have been covered on The Guardian online. Cashback is coming into the public eye. More and more large corporates are looking at it, so we felt we needed a domain name that was really appropriate. We therefore acquired the cashback.co.uk domain a few weeks ago.

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How much did it cost you?

I can’t tell you, but it was a substantial investment.

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What info can you give us in terms of the size of the UK cashback market?

Our database, which includes both our sites and those of our white-label partners, is about to reach the 1m registered user milestone. Not all of those are active — some will have joined five years ago.

At a guess, if you aggregate all of the key players in the cashback space, you will probably get up to around 2m to 2.5m UK consumers. I guess the activity rates of those consumers will be around the 35% to 40% mark. There’s huge scope for additional growth in the market.

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What spending trends are you seeing from consumers?

A great deal of new members attracted by cashback sites are through word of mouth. They get testimonials from family and friends — people that have started to get cash in the bank and are singing its praises. There is a real value add — you are buying the same product from the same retailer, but getting a share of that organisation’s marketing spend.

That does have a direct influence on consumers’ spending patterns. I was looking at data from our white label partners the other day, and consumers that were offered an incentive to purchase a product in the insurance market were up to 500% more likely to convert than those that weren’t offered one.

When you talk about the lower value incentives in the retail market, that figure was still between 300% and 350%. That was for a big name electrical and a big name fashion brand.

It also increases average order values. Average order values are seeing an uplift of anywhere between 15% and 20%. Consumers get a little bit back so treat themselves a little bit more.

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What are you seeing in terms of repeat usage?

I do know that Greasypalm users log into their account seven times a month on average. We see an average customer lifetime of 43 months. I took a sample of 50,000 users that had made a transaction one year and looked at whether they had made a transaction the next year. Then extrapolated the customer lifetime from that.

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Do a lot of users d their research on price comparison sites before purchasing via cashback sites?

Yes. If you are a very savvy online shopper, you will first ascertain where to buy a product. You will then come back to the cashback site and make sure you get the maximum value for that purchase.

Kelkoo made an announcement a few weeks ago that it was planning to introduce coupons and cashback, so I assume it has looked at the model and seen that consumer interaction with price comparison sites is changing.

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How does the fact that you are effectively giving away much of your commission affect your ability to acquire and convert traffic?

If you compared us to a typical affiliate doing PPC arbitrage, the chances are they would just be driving a sale but not focusing on the overall loyalty of that consumer.

We take a much reduced margin on the sale. However, the cashback model then encourages that consumer to transfer his or her spend to our partners. Although margins are thin, we have our advantages over paid search affiliates.

We do have a lot of word of mouth referrals, but we’re not totally reliant on word of mouth. We still do a lot of online marketing and have a large monthly search budget.

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How do you see the cashback model developing in the future?

We’re always looking at ways to develop the model. Areas of interest include looking more closely at product feeds. We already get several million product feeds from our retailers, to help consumers to research products. So that could allow us to provide price comparison and product rewards.

There are a number of interesting directions in which I see the model developing in the future, particularly in terms of encouraging loyalty. Microsoft is using the model to drive search traffic, and there are at least two financial institutions in the UK that are looking at the cashback model to provide added value to customers.

I would imagine there are a number of other markets where consumers subscribe to a service and the provider would want to encourage loyalty and reduce churn.

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Are you seeing any best or worst practices developing in the sector?

We need regular communication with our retail partners, so we can pro-actively merchandise their special deals and offers to our user base. We do that through our website and email marketing, so we need open dialogue with retailers and information on what is working and what isn’t.

The one core business problem cashback sites have is the issue of missing transactions. We rely on networks to track transactions and tell us if they have taken place. If that doesn’t happen, the consumer comes to us to ask where their cashback is. We have built quite a robust infrastructure to handle those queries over the past five years.

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How often do you see missing purchases?

It is a very small percentage of transactions, considering the tens of thousands we deal with per week.

Approximately 2% of transactions are reported to us as not tracked, in the first instance. Of those, the bulk are reported straight away and resolved within a few weeks.

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Related research: Affiliate Marketing Buyer's Guide

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Published 22 August, 2008 by Richard Maven

529 more posts from this author

Comments (25)

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ex-cashback

once I was enrolled with Greasypalm. I then found the emails too much, tried to change settings which didnt work. Changed the email address so it would go somewhere else; wrong. Both email addressess now receive emails. I cancelled the account. Emails still came. The unsubscribe links in the email do not work. It takes you to greasypalm.com where you're required to log-in. Log-in doesnt work of course.

I have been emailing 'Submissiontechnology', 'Cashback', 'Netflip' and Neil himself. None are answered. It is bordering to harrasment now. Looked around on the web and I seem to be not the only one.

Neil, if you're reading this, have a look at the messages and emails i've left.

Thanks!,

Markus

over 7 years ago

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TMK

The unique email I used to sign up to Greasypalm has been passed without my permission to an outfit called Netflip who are now spamming me relentlessly - up to 4 emails a day! Repeated unubscribe requests have been ignored.

Beware Greasypalm and Netflip spam!

almost 6 years ago

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JT

Same as the 2 comments above. Netflip now spam me at least 10 times a day, the 'unsubscribe' links do nothing but seem to increase the amount of emails I get!

about 5 years ago

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Rob Hazelby

Put me down as another person who's been trying (without success) to unsubscribe from Netflip spam mails for months.

I shall be taking further action if these emails cease.

about 5 years ago

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emmelle

Sick to death of netflip. Tried all ways to unsubscribe. Just ignored

about 5 years ago

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Emily

I too have been spammed relentlessly by Netflip. I suggest if you to have been sent spam email you report them

http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/privacy_and_electronic_communications.aspx

about 5 years ago

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Ben

And me. I've tried to unsubscribe from their various mails, and now get more than one per day from them.
Gmail marks them all as spam, so I just have to check/delete them all the time.
I've started reporting them to spamcop.net, not that I think it'll do much good.
And it's totally untargetted crap. One minute I get an email telling me about saving money and earning an extra income, the next it's advertising casinos.

about 5 years ago

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Ben

I've reported them to spamcop.net a few times now, and each time it tells me that the mail originates from "theplanet.com".

This morning I had a nice chat with SoftLayer - who are now the same company as theplanet, and they told me to email abuse@softlayer.com regarding any spam emails from Netflip/Submission Technology.
I'd advise others to do the same.

about 5 years ago

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Lynne

As above, I'm getting spammed ridiculously by netflip :( had at least 10 emails today, every one I've 'unsubscribed' to but seem to be getting more & more spam!

I'd love to find a way to stop all emails from them!

almost 5 years ago

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Andy

Yep, same here, for months and months. I saw someone else make a suggestion (this is not really a solution and also wastes your time, but it might make you feel better)...

Every time you get a Netflip email, give Submission Technology a ring: 020 7183 1653. Have a chat. Why not? I guess you could ask them to remove your details but as they seem incapable of good practice, you may as well tie up their phone lines instead.

almost 5 years ago

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Andy

Ah, it seems "econsultancy" don't like the direct approach (nothing illegal, I merely suggested you phone the company using the phone number readily available on their web site). Oh well, that's one down for free speech eh?

almost 5 years ago

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paul

Netflip are also using my old unique greasy palm email address to spam me several times a day from numerous different email addresses for months. The unsubscribe links are pointless, they just dont do anything and emailing submission technology direct results in no reply. How on earth can I stop this relentless spam. Who can I report them to, surely it cant be legal to do this.

almost 5 years ago

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Ben

I sent them a message via their contact form, asking them to stop, and thought that the messages had actually stopped.
Seems they took a few days off, then started again. I've now set Gmail to delete anything featuring the word "netflip" anywhere (they might advertise different products/services, but the emails always come from a netflip.co.uk address). That seems to work.

I've also made an complaint to the provider that Spamcop says their emails originate from. You can do the same by emailing abuse@softlayer.com with the details. I spoke with softlayer via their web chat system and they seem quite nice.

I actually feel most sorry for the organisations using Submission Technology's mailing lists. They won't know that the people receiving their emails will have been trying to get off the mailing list for the last 5 years, and will just be going "oh for f**ks sake...another one of these!"

almost 5 years ago

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David

Same for me, only gmx who handle my Email account block netflip at source so I only get notified they are being blocked. They are the worst spamming company around, and of course sooner or later someone will take legal action against them, but for now they are ruiniing everyone's Email.

I tried logging into netflip but it says I have no account. I tried unsubbing and it ignored me.

Netflip = SPAM! Netflip = SPAM! Netflip = SPAM!
Netflip = SPAM! Netflip = SPAM! Netflip = SPAM!
Netflip = SPAM! Netflip = SPAM! Netflip = SPAM!
Netflip = SPAM! Netflip = SPAM! Netflip = SPAM!
Netflip = SPAM! Netflip = SPAM! Netflip = SPAM!
Netflip = SPAM! Netflip = SPAM! Netflip = SPAM!
Netflip = SPAM! Netflip = SPAM! Netflip = SPAM!
Netflip = SPAM! Netflip = SPAM! Netflip = SPAM!
Netflip = SPAM! Netflip = SPAM! Netflip = SPAM!
Netflip = SPAM! Netflip = SPAM! Netflip = SPAM!

D.

almost 5 years ago

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Mark

Same here... no matter how many I unsubscribe from, they keep spamming the same email address.

Their mobile numbers are on their email marketing page.

For each spam I receive, I shall telephone one of their mobiles to complain. Perhaps they will learn how intrusive and annoying they are being.

http://www.submissiontechnology.co.uk/email_marketing.php

almost 5 years ago

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Andy

The solution (read this quickly before Econsultancy filter it out)

Set up an automatic filter on your email to forward every email you receive from the netflip.co.uk domain to any or all of the email addresses which you can find at http://www.submissiontechnology.co.uk/ - hint: click on one of the "what we do" categories then pick out the addresses from each page of the left-hand menu.

If you can add your own message, the following seemed to work for me:

"Hello,

As you have refused to acknowledge my unsubscribe requests and other attempts at contact, you are now being automatically forwarded every piece of (spam) email your NetFlip.co.uk service is sending me.

Annoying isn't it?

I've been receiving multiple copies of multiple messages for well over six months now.

I suggest you work out how to remove all instances of <email address> from your databases!

Please do not reply to this message. It will be ignored."

Funnily enough, I stopped receiving their email after two days!

almost 5 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Hi all,

The Akismet spam filter automatically binned a bunch of these comments. It's not something we would do. Bad practice needs to be flagged up.

Cheers,

c.

almost 5 years ago

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Rob

It seems they took a few weeks off but now it's started again. Two more spams to my email address that they always spam. Click the unsubscribe links and as usual it says I've been unsubscribed. As usual their spam keeps on coming.

It's about time the Information Commissioner shut these people down.

almost 5 years ago

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Sean

We use Akismet, we have never had anything binned that contained valid information.

Anyway, moving on, please can someone tell me how to get off the netflip.co.uk spam list.
Tried unsubscribig so many times now, to no avail of course.

Oops, sorry just saw Andy's comment above - now added to outlook - hopefully they will get the message now...

almost 5 years ago

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Rusty

Why give publicity to a notorious spammer like this?

As noted by all of these comments and a simple Google search, Netflip is a terrible company, pure spam and unsubscribe requests totally ignored.

Submission Technologies / Greasypalm = SPAMMERS!

almost 5 years ago

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about 4 years ago

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about 4 years ago

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about 4 years ago

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almost 4 years ago

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