One thing that has gotten a really bad rap in Affiliate Marketing lately are coupon sites. Sure some of them are bad and their sole purpose is to optimize for your domain name + coupon code or to poach people from your shopping cart. Others have used or continue to use toolbars and adware to steal from you, but content sites and other non coupon sites may have done or could be doing the same. Other people feel that coupon sites only eat margin and don’t drive real sales but the reality is that if this is the case for you and your store than you have not been handling your Affiliate program correctly and need to rethink the way you are working with your coupon sites. The well established and even some of the lesser established coupon sites can not only help you drive more sales from people who may have never heard of you before, but they can also help to increase your average order value and during busy shopping seasons like Q4 where your Marketing messages get lost in the clutter, they can get it through for you and bring you the sales instead of sending them to your competition. Confused, you shouldn’t be but let me walk you through why coupon sites are not your enemy and why they can actually be your best friend.
Sending you new customers and adding value.
Are you one of those people that thinks that Coupon sites cannot and will not send you new customers? Then you need to pay close attention. The reality is that there are millions of searches for coupons, deals and other sale related terms that aren’t related to any store or retailer each month. Coupon sites are not only able to get these searches easier and more effectively than a Merchant, but they can also get them to sign up for their newsletters, participate in their forums and get them to become loyal and active coupon site users and not neccesarily loyal brand users because they are looking for coupons and not going to stores directly. This means they will go to coupon sites to find a store to buy a TV from and see where the best deal is instead of heading to the electronics store first. From that point when the coupon site shopper has trust in the coupon site and their community, the coupon site can not only introduce them to you and your store if you are not well known, but they can also give you the chance to earn a brand new customer who had never heard of you before by sending them to you because you gave them a custom coupon. Here are some terms I pulled from the Google Adwords Keyword tool just to show you some of the monthly search volume for various non store coupon related terms. There are millions of shoppers there that coupons sites have access to that you may not have access to with out them. By working with the coupon sites and negotiating to be listed on these category pages that show up in the search engines the coupon sites can not only send you customers that you would probably not have been able to reach on your own but they are also adding value to you and your store.
Not only are these millions of searches out there but some of the coupon sites have been very good about getting their visitors to join their opt in newsletter mailing lists and many of the coupon sites boast lists of 10K and some over 200K opt in active coupon loving shoppers. How is that for a ton of power when you need an extra push? Not to mention that during shopping times like Q4 when Marketing Messages get lost and people are looking for deals, guess where they go and whose messages and emails they open first? Many times it is the coupon sites who get the priority and email opens since they trust them and the shopper will get to see multiple stores at once instead of having to look at 20 different store specific newsletters.
Coupon sites can make shoppers lives easier and also save them money so if you don’t think that they can drive new traffic or additional sales off of their newsletters, category sections and homepage listings as well as their organic search traffic from non store specific terms, you are seriously missing out!
Another thing that I brought up with coupon sites is that they can increase your AOV and shopping value. Isn’t that contradictory since they are offering a discount on your products?
This is actually where some people have discovered and amazing power at increasing their sales that pretty much only coupon sites can offer. Instead of giving out 20% off any purchase coupons, some smarter merchants only do coupons like Spend $100 or more and get free shipping or spend over $100 and save 5% off all of your electronics or clothes. What they are doing is getting someone who leaves to find a coupon code to see that if they increase their cart value a little bit more by adding in more products and then they will be rewarded. Other times Merchants won’t offer a discount on the purchase but they will say if you buy a second one of a certain product or add on a upsell or complimentary product then the end user can save 5% or 10% on that category or get free shipping on their entire order. Depending on the category and the margin in that category the Merchant can easily come out ahead because of the coupon sites ability to get the end user to purchase more in order to save 5% or 10% or get free shipping.
Where else can a coupon site add value.
After the holidays or when stores have inventory to move because newer versions of the product came in, guess what, most people want the newer versions and stores have trouble liquidating their excess and overstock inventory. This is another place where coupon sites come in as value adding partners.
Not only can you create links to discount the excess which is costing you storage, warehouse and shelf space but you can move it faster because there is a chance that people shopping for deals and who start at the coupon sites may be able to be convinced to go for the older model at a discount from your store vs. the person who went to your store specifically because you have the newer version of the product. Coupon sites are not only able to help you move old, excess and overstock inventory but they can do it very quickly if you work out special deals with them.
By not working with coupon sites that add value, not the ones who only try to optimize for your domain + coupons or that use adware, you are missing out on some huge opportunities to not only increase your sales but also gain new customers and increase your AOV. Even if they do only show up for your site + coupons and you do the buy one more or increase your order and save by category you are able to still increase your revenue by working with them.
The bottom line is that legit coupon sites are getting a bad rap because of a lot of well known bad players that certain networks and Managers praise as valuable and a few bad players that no matter what you say will continue to break the rules, but the reality is that there are a few very good coupon sites out there that will add a ton of value to your program and help you grow your bottom line.