Ebates: Elevating an Online Cash-Back Shopping Giant

Ebates (now Rakuten.com) is a leader in online cash-back shopping. Since its founding in 1997, Rakuten has helped shape the way people shop online, offering cash back, deals and shopping rewards on the world’s largest selection of products and services. To date, Rakuten’s 12 million members in the U.S. have earned over $1 billion in cash back at their favorite stores.

Ebates selected Bospar to elevate the company’s brand in consumer media, online, print and broadcast. The company wanted to use PR as a key strategic pillar to build brand awareness and position itself as the undisputed leader in the online cash-back shopping space. The company also wanted to become known as the one-stop shop for all online shopping, especially during the holiday season.

When Ebates first approached Bospar, there was a lack of awareness and understanding of how cash-back shopping works and if it is a legitimate way for consumers to save money. Ebates wanted to use PR to educate the market and build credibility.

Strategy

Bospar helped Ebates develop a comprehensive PR strategy that included:

  • Reporting on consumer survey data aligned with the retail calendar
  • Reporting internal, proprietary data that highlighted shopping trends
  • Blogger and influencer outreach to help develop a group of credible ambassadors for Ebates

Execution

 Bospar’s PR program goals to deliver on that strategy were multfold and included:

  • Getting top-tier media coverage in consumer outlets
  • Using a data-driven approach to position the company as a reliable source of consumer sentiment data around shopping, deals and saving
  • Being viewed as a valuable resource for consumers on topics surrounding best deals, shopping sources and savings tips
  • Building an influencer program especially focused on mommy bloggers and bloggers who focus on personal finance, deals, saving and shopping

Results

The Ebates PR program was extremely successful and helped establish the company as the clear leader in the online cash-back shopping space. Reporters regularly covered the company and its data, and Ebates-affiliated spokespeople were interviewed by leading online, print and broadcast outlets.

Through working with Bospar, Ebates saw a dramatic increase in the quantity and quality of media coverage. From USA Today to The Today Show, the company was regularly featured in top-tier publications and clearly owned the share of voice in the online cash-back shopping space. In 2013, Ebates accounted for 5% of all holiday shopping through the website.

The successful position of Ebates in the market was validated when the leading Japanese internet-service company Rakuten acquired Ebates in 2014 for $1 billion. Bospar continued working with Ebates, increasing brand awareness of the company through their rebrand to Rakuten in 2017.

“Cash-back shopping was an unfamiliar concept for both media and consumers when we signed on with Bospar, “ noted Priti Khare, who was Ebates director of corporate communications at the time. “As a result of Bospar’s efforts, we were able to educate the market as to the value of cash-back shopping and then build on those efforts to establish Ebates as the clear leader in the field. We were overjoyed with the coverage we received and our positioning in the market.”

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