While Purple continues to expand its DTC operation into new channels, it also has sought to build up an often-overlooked marketing strategy to get in front of more consumers. By partnering with Rakuten Advertising in January 2020, Purple gained access to a network of 150,000 publishers and brands, enabling the mattress retailer to establish its own system of new, growing affiliates. In addition to integrating product review sites within its affiliate program, the retailer feels it has a major opportunity to attract a more upscale consumer base, particularly as it launches new products.
“As a DTC brand, Purple has done really well with a certain segment for consumers and still continues to do well,” said James Brohamer, Director of Omnichannel Marketing at Purple in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “As we build our product portfolio and our products become more premium, that particular demo isn’t necessarily the same demo that would buy traditionally. We’re seeking a new demo as a strategy, and that’s where coming in and working with different publishers has really helped.”
Purple, which sells through its own e-Commerce site, wholesalers and retail showrooms, can customize offers to different consumers at various times while still controlling margins. The affiliate program enables Purple to display an ad within a web site, a newsletter or a social media post and know when and where a shopper sees it. The ads are typically banner ads, sidebars or rich media display ads, and are personalized based on data collected from the affiliates and shoppers. Rakuten’s technology can infer from the data when a consumer wants to soon make a new mattress purchase, and if there’s a higher chance that they would buy a Purple mattress.
“Now that we have some retail showrooms, we’re looking at that crossover between typical affiliates and brick-and-mortar and there’s been a few brands that have been able to capture some of that,” Brohamer said. “In 2020, we’re looking to figure out how we give more support to our showrooms and our DTC operation, but we have a lot of retail partners now, such as Mattress Firm and now Raymour & Flanigan. Our next challenge is: how do we leverage what we do really well online with our brick-and-mortar partners?”
Review Sites, Shopping Comparison Sites Serve As Fertile Ground For Affiliate Marketing
But while the company has continued to expand its exposure, both through new sales channels and different publishers, Brohamer noted that the biggest lesson he’s learned in his time at Purple has been the value that review sites bring to an affiliate program.
“Traditionally at other companies I’ve worked at, affiliate marketing has been seen as the last touch point, the deal site, the coupon site,” Brohamer said. “Purple is living in a different world, one where review sites and comparison sites have a huge impact on a person’s decision making. Under the traditional affiliate program, review sites like Sleepopolis or RIZKNOWS wouldn’t be getting credit for sales. I can go on to any of the review sites, get all the information about a Purple product, then buy a Purple mattress on RetailMeNot with a promo code, who would then get all the commission from the affiliate program.”
Purple Plans To Revamp Commission Structure To Give Credit To Product Review Sites
Upon driving traffic to Purple, affiliates can quickly earn up to 5% commission from purchases made by referred customers. But Brohamer intends to rework the way Purple pays commissions so that it functions on a more dynamic, tiered basis, with the review sites getting credit for the first or middle touch of the shopper journey.
“The sum of the commission would be paid out to those affiliates who in the past didn’t get a lot of credit unless it was a last-click sale, but realistically have a huge impact in Purple’s customer journey,” Brohamer said. “When you look at it from a multi-touch attribution [perspective] across not just affiliates but the entire marketing spend, it all starts to work into account, and it’s just easier when you have affiliates to credit them for the sales.”
To ensure publishers are always up to date on industry trends and technology, Rakuten Advertising’s publisher development team offers dedicated account management and analytics to source, surface and connect brands and publishers. Additionally, the network maintains a constant feedback loop through its publisher advisory boards and other in-person networking opportunities.
The affiliate agreement also gives Purple access to Rakuten’s first-party data from its partner network. The anonymized data comes from influencers and bloggers, as well as sites such as the Rakuten e-Commerce site and RetailMeNot.