Janine Sinclair, Director of Customer Services at eDealsUK Limited and cashback shopping guru
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Today sees the official launch of froggybank, an innovative loyalty website which not only pays 100% cashback to members but boasts a stack of extras: the site has a highest cashback guarantee, pays the highest referral fee of any 100% cashback site, and even purchases a whopping 250kg of carbon offset for every active member.

Janine Sinclair has been the charismatic Director of Customer Services at VAC Media, the company behind froggybank and nearly 110 other cashback websites, for the last 8 years. Nadeem Azam asks her about the new website and trends in the cashback business in general.
 
How long have you been working on froggybank Janine?
 
We have built over 180 websites, but this has consumed more time than any other. We first started working on froggybank a year ago. It has consumed a extraordinary amount of work because of the many innovative features.
 
In terms of just the look, froggybank must have gone through over 100 redesigns since last autumn! [Coming soon to Azam.info: one of the site designers talks us through the many revisions to froggybank before its launch.]
 
There are other 100% cashback sites. What makes froggybank.co.uk special?
 
We have so many USPs I wouldn’t know where to start. We guarantee the highest cashback. We buy carbon offsetting on your behalf when you join froggybank. We pay the most generous bounty for referring somebody to our site, £2.50 from the first £5 that a member makes.
 
We allow webmasters, charities and others to build a personalised landing page or fundraising pages. For larger referrers, we can even custom-build a landing for them.
 
I noticed a distinct section called froggy pond on the website. Could you please explain how that works?
 
I wanted to add charities to froggybank but was concerned about people signing up, making a small donation, and then pulling out just to get a generous cashback based on the CPA. I didn’t want such misuse to happen to charities and that is why I thought of the referral commission earned from these charity sites going into the ‘froggy pond’ and off-setting carbon with that money. People willing to donate to a charity will surely like the idea of off-setting carbon at the same time. Killing two birds with the one stone as the saying goes… they will be supporting two causes at the same time this way.
 
Are there any charities you are particularly passionate about?
 
My favourite charity is World Vision Child Sponsorship. I have always been involved with this charity since I first started working myself. It is rewarding to help a child in an undeveloped country. It’s a truly beautiful thing to receive letters, pictues and photos from the child you sponsor as well, and to be able to write to them. They absolutely love it and they love you as well.
 
Incredibly, it only costs £18 a month to sponsor a child, which is a measly 60p a day. I am really going to push this, as I really am passionate about it.
 
We will get:
1-15 Sign-ups: £25 per sign up
16-24 Sign-ups: £27.50 per sign up
25+ Sign-ups: £30.00 per sign up
 
 … which means for every Child Sponsorship we get our members to sign-up to, not only will they have this wonderful new bonding relationship with a child in need, but we will be off-setting approx. 9,000 kg of carbon too. Isn’t that just grand?
 
It certainly is Janine. There seems there is a distinct emphasis on being green and giving to good causes?
 
Absolutely. Not only will our members receive all the money we receive from merchants as cashback, but we wanted froggybank to be about raising money for good causes..
We have set an ambitious target of offsetting 1 million tons of carbon by 2012 – just by using affiliate revenues.
 
That is wonderful. Despite these exciting and ambitious targets and the innovative features you have mentioned, do you think there is room for yet another cashback site?
Froggybank came live on 16 April, 2008. It will hopefully become one of the leading cashback shopping websites in the UK
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My estimate is there are not more than two million people in the UK who are actively shopping via cashback sites. As Keith Budden said a while back, there is a potential for another 20 million people in the country to be buying via cashback websites.
 
Providing you are offering a good quality service, there is room for everyone to grow.
 
Could cashback sites not suffer if merchants decide not to work with them, as some have recently decided?
 
Merchants and networks are not doing enough to differentiate the cashback sites who put effort in and who are willing to work with merchants to prevent fraud and maintain the quality of traffic. They see all cashback sites as being the same and I do think that is not right.
 
We do understand that there needs to be extra care and a lot of effort put into maintaining quality of traffic . But treating all cashback sites the same without bothering to differentiate the more professional outfits is not fair.
Most merchants benefit a lot from cashback sites, with increased revenues, bigger basket values and better brand awareness, so I think it is unlikely there is going to be lot of merchants who would stop working.
 
Fraud is a major concern for many merchants. What measures do you have in place to try to root it out?
 
Over the last four years, we have spent thousands of man hours studying member trends. From studying the behaviour patterns, we have adopted what I believe to be the most stringent anti-fraud merchanisms and procedures in the industry.
 
For example, if somebody signs up to any one of our cashback sites and immediately applies for insurance, they get flagged up and are investigated. If somebody applies for two insurance products at any time, they are flagged up.
 
We belong to the The Loyalty Association along with Rpoints, GreasyPalm and The Mutual and, even during our teleconference on Friday, we  discussed how we can eliminate fraud and build more confidence from both merchants and consumers. All four loyalty businesses are working together to improve things.
 
We believe in working closer with networks and merchants, but networks could do more to increase the awareness with the merchants on quality cashback sites with good standards. More networks should be working closely with proactive cashback sites such as ours and other members of TLA to improve confidence in the sector.
 
Which networks does eDealsUK find it easiest to work with?
 
Most of them. There are a few good networks such as Tradedoubler and Affiliate Window who have improved their untracked sales system.  They have both been incredibly responsive. Tradedoubler in particular have come a long way and AW is one of our all time favourites in terms of support.
 
By launching a 100% cashback site, will it not impact on your white label partners?
 
No. Infact we think it would actually be beneficial for our entire network. All of us put together, we are not even scratching the surface of the market.
 
Most of our white-label cashback site partners are targeting different audiences to froggybank. And, as I was saying, with 20 million potential users of cashback sites, there is room for everyone to grow.
 
We think it will be benefical for our other websites and the white-labels in the sense that our white-label partners would rather us taking a share of the 100% market than another company. This will mean more commissions and better rates for their websites. We will be hitting higher tiers  more, and this will mean higher cashback amounts for their members and more revenue for them.
 
There’s a lot of talk about an economic downturn in the air. How do you think this will impact on cashback sites?
 
When the economy is in a downturn people will be watching their wallets. Whereas people may not have bothered about saving a few pounds during the good times, they will be more keen to keep a grip on their expenditure and so more likely to utilise cashback sites.
 
Is there anything we’ve missed out?
 
If I may, I’d like to mention part of my job remit is to try to gain the maximum cashback for our members. So if any merchants on major UK networks can offer increased commission, we are willing to give them enhanced exposure on our 60-odd cashback sites. We are also seeking out voucher codes and competition prizes. If anybody would like to get in touch, my email address is janine [at] uspree.net or you are welcome to ring 0845 838 4687.
 
 
eDealsUK Limited is an Azam Marketing client. Read about froggybank’s target to help offset one million tons of carbon by 2012 by clicking here.
 

Role reversal: you can read an amusing new interview with Nadeem Azam at Doug’s Mouthpiece.