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There are a number of myths that are associated with cashback sites portraying them in a negative light. 

Sale Stealers

One of the myths that has seen a lot of debate in the affiliate community is that cashback sites do not play a crucial part in the customer journey, they merely “steal” the sale from a content affiliate who has done all the hard work to initially attract the customer.

Our research highlights that this is not actually the case; in most instances the cashback site is the only referring affiliate in the sales journey and where there are multiple affiliate clicks in a sale, they are most likely to originate from other cashback affiliates.

Many loyalty and reward sites do not explicitly encourage users to delete cookies and seasoned cashback users will know how to click through and purchase to avoid overwriting their cookies. Therefore the chances of a significant amount of cookies being deleted from  consumers’ machines is likely to be reduced, although there is no evidence to currently back this up.

Our research on cookie overwriting was presented recently at the A4U Expo and findings have been summarised here

Cashback sites are becoming brands in their own right, so rather than being an afterthought to see if cashback is available for a particular merchant, they are now becoming the first port of call and should be seen as a valuable affinity or brand partner in much the same way a large publisher or portal would be.

New Customer Acquisition

There is a common perception that cashback sites do not deliver new customers, rather it is existing customers of the merchant using cashback sites to get an additional discount from their purchase. However, cashback sites are able to deliver new customers to a merchant. A consumer that regularly searches for cashback that may not know your brand has the opportunity to find it when browsing these sites. 

We looked at new customer data and has the following findings for two merchants, one in the fashion sector, the other in telecoms:

Typical Cashback Customers

Another myth is that cashback members are consumers with a low income who are looking to get some money back and are unlikely to be spending vast amounts. On the contrary, research shows that the typical cashback member is an internet savvy consumer with high disposable incomes, looking for the best deal available.

Data from one of the leading cashback sites indicates that almost 50% of members earn £50k or over per year and just over half of all members are within the A and B socio economic groups. 

Merchants who have decided against working with cashback sites because of one of the aforementioned myths, may wish to work with them on a trial basis to see if they can add value to their campaign.

Matt Swan

Published 1 November, 2010 by Matt Swan

Matt Swan is Client Strategist at Affiliate Window and a contributor to Econsultancy.

25 more posts from this author

Comments (5)



really nice piece, I'm keen to find out, with the data that you've presented, was that at the begining of the campaign or (let say) one year in? I've no doubt that cashback sites can be hugely influential, especially the really large branded cashback sites, but (i suspect) after a period of time, the level of new customer diminishes, whilst the level of repeat customers gradually increases. Have you seen any data or do you have any data that reflects or counters this?

almost 6 years ago


Duncan Robb

Also worth noting that the bigger cashback sites are generating business among their loyal membership through social media networks and weekly newsletters. Merchants with time limited offers are seeing massive responses via cashback sites able to connect with hundreds of thousands of active online shoppers in a matter of minutes.

almost 6 years ago

Matt Swan

Matt Swan, Head of Business Intelligence at Affiliate Window

Thanks for the feedback Ken. The two merchants that were examined in the piece have been clients of Digital Window for a few years now and they are both well established campaigns.<br><br>

We work closely with both merchants to optimise their cashback offering and focus their commission on the value that they drive for them. As they are targeted on new customers their commission rates reflect this.<br><br>

I think the figure for the telecoms provider is high because this is a switchers market and typically customers that are aware of the cashback concept may look to switch their provider in order for the reward – especially if it is difficult to differentiate the service levels. A new customer in this market is generally defined as someone who has not been a customer in the past 12 months (although they could have been prior to this).<br><br>

The fashion retailer is benefitting from cashback sites being brands in their own right. For example, if someone is looking for a product that is available from a number of retailers like a new top, the amount of cashback could sway the decision. The customer may not have been aware of your brand or purchased from you before, but the ability to earn cashback has swayed their decision. I agree in this instance that you are also likely to see a number of returning customers but if cashback is lowered for existing customers this can still fit in with KPI’s. It is also worth noting that these returning customers may not have come back if no cashback is available for existing customers as it was the reward that drew them to engage in the first instance.<br><br>

For a merchant it is important they determine what they deem a “valuable” customer and plan their online strategy around targeting these. Utilising cashback sites can be a very powerful tool in this instance.<br><br>



almost 6 years ago


Sandis Viksna

Can anyone tell how cashback sites are affecting the content affiliate sales? I have feeling they don't help at all.

If one has offer A at price £200 and same offer A at £200 + 10% CB on a cash back site, so did it really help in making the sale or did it switch the sale from content affiliate to cashback site?

almost 6 years ago


Farhad Koodoruth

The key here is actually what data is being looked at , essentially the above seems to me to just look at the relationship between differing affilates in the value chain in determining conversion, but not looking at the broader mix of how other channels such as ppc/seo etc etc play their part in overall mix which significantly changes the picture that has been portrayed above

almost 6 years ago

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