March 7th 2017
5 Smart Strategies for Working with Coupon Sites

With online shopping increasing year-over-year and budget-savvy consumers on the rise, it’s not surprising that around 85 percent of US shoppers look for coupons prior to shopping.

To help keep your brand in front of these consumers while also maintaining your marketing strategy; staying true to your brand; and ensuring incremental revenue, we’ve outlined five strategies to consider when leveraging coupon sites in your affiliate marketing program.

1.  Be selective. You do not have to work with every coupon site out there. Before approving a coupon partner into your program, reach out to them (either directly or through your management agency) and ensure you will have a designated contact who will help execute your brand’s strategy and manage compliance.

In this relationship, it’s important to be clear on expectations around permitted behavior. Also, by limiting the number of coupon sites you work with, monitoring compliance becomes more manageable and quick actions can be taken to resolve issues.

2.  Design promotions that align with your goal. Create exclusive/vanity promotions for coupon partners to promote that align with your marketing goals. Merchants can customize the promotions that are posted on coupon sites, which can help drive the best results for your brand. For example, if your goal is to drive new customers, create a promotion that is only valid for new customers.

Also, consider sharing “every day” deals with top coupon partners to keep your brand front of mind. Whether it be free shipping on all orders, free shipping on orders over a certain value or a free trial component, this is content that consumers look for on coupon sites and can help convert them to purchase.

3.  Develop a strategic commission structure. Not every sale is worth the same value. It’s a best practice to develop a commission structure that aligns with the value of each consumer as well as review attribution to commission partners appropriately. Depending on the tracking capabilities of your affiliate technology provider and your internal capabilities, commissions can vary based on several factors including:

  • New versus return customers
  • Product purchased
  • Coupon code used at check-out
  • Length of time between click and purchase, etc.

As a merchant, it’s essential to understand your options and establish commission structures per the value of each customer order. It’s also growing increasingly important for merchants to review attribution when setting up commission structures.

Depending on the affiliate technology provider, there are different options to commission affiliates differently depending on where they fall in the clickstream. If your tracking platform does not have this capability, use internal analytics in your affiliate links to track and monitor attribution.

4.  Optimize your on-site offer strategy. If you have a promo code box in your check-out process, your customer will likely go looking for a promo code. If that’s not what you’re wanting, then make this box less eye-catching or change the name to “gift code”. You can also minimize the number of customers who leave your site in search of a promotion by adding your own “offers” page to your site that a customer could use at check-out. This could help protect you against sharing commissions on sales that were going to purchase already but went to a coupon site before converting.

5.  Consider link-based coupons vs. coupon codes. If you are concerned about exclusive offer codes being grabbed by coupon sites who are not permitted to promote that offer, you can remove the promo code box altogether and switch to link-based coupon codes. These can be made exclusive to specific partners and automatically apply the discount at check-out.

This set-up can also help resolve the issue of promotions that are exclusive to other marketing channels being listed on coupon sites when not permitted. While a viable option, keep in mind that link-based coupons will affect promo code tracking.

This tracking is helpful to have when running social campaigns through Instagram and other channels as they do not allow for unique links to be posted, so be sure you consider the pros and cons before implementing them.

The above strategies are not finite nor are they applicable to every brand. The takeaway is that working with coupon affiliates does not have to be an all or nothing strategy. There are numerous optimizations that can be executed to allow coupon sites to drive sales in ways that align with your internal marketing goals.

In a time when more and more consumers are engaging with coupon sites, it’s essential to evaluate these partnerships closely and find the best strategy for your brand.

For more detailed insights into how working with coupon partners could help you achieve the goals you've set for your affiliate marketing program, download our Ultimate Guide to Working with Coupon Sites in Affiliate Marketing.

Amy Crider is an Acceleration Partners Associate Account Director 

Author: Amy Crider