What to do about your coupon code box

Merchants and online stores always struggle with the same thing regarding coupons.  Do we offer them, what happens if the person leaves in the shopping process and goes to an Affiliate site (then why should I have to pay for that sale), what can I do to help stop people from leaving my site for coupons and how can I do damage control online when all the coupons listed are expired.

The answer is that there is no one solution that will satisfy everyone and nothing you can do will stop everyone from reacting the way you want.  If you pull Coupon Affiliates, they’ll still more than likely rank for some of your terms, the only difference is they can and sometimes will send your traffic that was in your cart to your competitors.  If you just start releasing coupons everywhere, you over saturate the market with your coupons and run the risk of people only finding expired ones and causing a really bad user experience.  The reality is that if you don’t want coupon issues, do not put in a coupon code box in your shopping process.  Completely ignore it and use coupons a different way.

You can always create landing pages that lead through a shopping cart which automatically has a discount on products or a category of products.  This eliminates coupons from existing and because you are the only one that can control how people get there and can pull the sale domain down whenever, your campaigns also become more trackable.  Sure some sites and user generated coupon communities may post the urls, but the urls will die with you pull the pages down and it is a bad user experience on that site, not as bad for you or your site since they weren’t already in your shopping cart.

Now, the answer above is completely not a normal solution and actually creates a ton of work.  So what else can you do if you insist on having a coupon code box?

Call it something else.

Instead of calling it a coupon code or coupon code box, call it a promo code, a voucher, a tracking number or something that may not seem as obvious.  I love the tracking number idea since people wouldn’t associate it with that term, unless they were already familiar with your site and terminology.

Ok, maybe you are in a large company and changing wording is something your General Counsel or your Marketing Department won’t allow.  What else can you do?  You certainly do not want to get rid of your Coupon Affiliates.

Coupon Affiliates get a bad rep. for numerous reasons.  Sure they get sales from people already in your shopping cart and sure if the last click in is through their site even though they were referred by your PPC campaigns or other channels, the large ones still have newsletters, general traffic coming in, categories and sections and a lot of them have large followings and blogs that people trust and shop through and you do not want to lose that traffic.

You could find a way to do split commissions in situations like this where the original Affiliate gets their full commissions and the Coupon Affiliate gets a smaller percentage since they did not refer the sale.  You could split the commission, you could give it to the Couponer or you could give it all to the Affiliate or channel that originally referred the sale.  Either way or anyway (besides paying the full amount to the channel that originally sent the sale and a commission to the Coupon Affiliate) will anger someone so you just aren’t going to win.  You could however look at it as a customer acquisition and hope the customer has signed up for your newsletter and give up the rest of your mark up to the Coupon Affiliate and make the money of remarketing to them again and again in the future.

Ok, now if those ideas don’t work for you.   Suppose you had a coupon code box already installed, you made the wise decision to work with Coupon sites and you have coupons available, what can you do to try and keep your traffic on your site and from clicking an Affiliate link to close the sale?

I recommend you add in a link to open a new window, but not a full cover and then show a couple of coupons that do not equal as much as you distributed across the the internet, but still enough to keep them in your shopping cart, from leaving your site and from having to pay out to a second channel when they were already shopping on your site and the original channel should get the credit for the sale.  Some coupons you may want to try in this new box include a offering free shipping at the normal  free shipping minimum amount (This isn’t a real coupon since they get it anyways, but it could reinforce the message if they missed it), 5% or 10% off the normal amount you give a discount up to raise the average order value up or even just a percentage off your top selling category so that you can keep the sales coming in off that particular type of product.

Anyways. coupons and Coupon Sites play an extremely important part of your revenue stream so it is important to keep them happy, but at the same time you need to keep your traffic on your site and keep them shopping so the above is only a part of the way to be able to keep your customers shopping and on your site.  If you want a custom solution to your own issue with people leaving your site to find a coupon code and then coming back to make the purchase, send an email to adamr @adamriemer (dot) me and I’ll write you back with how I can help you find a solution.

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