If your brand is trying to boost its reach and acquire new customers through the world of affiliate marketing, the most obvious ways are affiliate websites and social media. It would be a mistake, however, to overlook the role of coupons and discount codes in affiliate marketing.
Much like the physical paper coupons you might use at a supermarket, e-commerce coupons offer specific discounts to customers — with an aim to elevate revenue. They are a great way of attracting new customers to your site who might not have found it otherwise.
There’s just no denying it — people love a discount. According to scientific research, coupons make people happier. A study carried out by neurologist Dr. Paul Zak found that participants who received coupons had lower stress levels than those who did not receive them.
It makes sense. In this shopping-obsessed modern world, people want to get the most bang for their buck. It’s unsurprising that the prospect of a discount would make people so excited. This benefit makes affiliate coupons a prime opportunity for attracting more customers to your site.
According to the 2019 Coupon Intelligence Report done by Valassis, 92% of consumers used coupons during that year.
The same report also tells us that more than half of millennials use coupons frequently. 30% stated that they always use coupons, while 23% use them very often.
Those are some stats that can’t be ignored.
Launching coupon campaigns won’t just direct new customers to your site and boost sales. They will also help you build a good brand image.
Before diving head-first into the world of affiliate coupons, you should stop to consider whether it fits in with your brand, products, and overall marketing strategy.
If your niche is unique and not so competitive, coupons may not be very valuable when it comes to acquiring new customers in the long run. Think aspirational brands vs. more consumer-friendly brands. There are simply some things people are willing to pay more for.
People who spend money on high-end items are going to purchase them — discount or not. Brands like Apple and many luxury fashion labels rarely offer discounts or have sales. They don’t need to. Their prestige speaks for itself. So, have a hard think before you go offering 50% off your handmade silk trench coat collection.
On the other hand, if yours is a highly competitive market, a good coupon offer may encourage potential customers to buy from you over one of your competitors. Whatever the case may be, be sure your coupon campaigns correspond with both your branding and budget.
Once you’ve decided to incorporate coupons into your marketing strategy, you’re going to want people to find them. The best way is through affiliate coupon websites. Today there is a plethora of such sites at your disposal.
On the one hand, this is good, because it will give you many options. But you also have to be vigilant about potentially partnering up with a spammy site.
Affiliate coupon sites work by marketing coupon promotions for brands and advertisers. This distribution is done not only by displaying coupons on the site itself, but also through promoting offers via email newsletters and social media too. These sites usually push the best deals to their homepage. Therefore, it’s a good idea to negotiate the placement of the bargain when partnering up with an affiliate coupon site.
In exchange for featuring a brand’s coupons, coupon sites earn a commission for every sale they generate on partner sites.
The best coupon website types for new customer acquisition are:
There are also cash-back sites, apps, and browser extensions. As these tend to reward customer loyalty rather than customer acquisition, we’re only going to discuss the types of coupon sites featured in the list above.
Aggregate coupon sites: These are the more traditional type of coupon sites, like Offers.com.They often sort coupons by brand and category, and tend to be the most reliable as they verify thousands of coupons a day. Regular email newsletters and editor’s top offers are also common. To ensure better placement, such as being featured in the newsletters or homepage, it’s a good idea to contact sites directly and offer to pay a higher commission rate.
Curated coupon sites: As the name implies, these sites provide more than just a list of discounts and coupons for users to use. The editorial teams for curated coupon sites review deals not just for the discount given, but for the quality of the goods on offer and the reliability of the store selling them. These sites are sometimes general but are often focused on particular categories, like consumer electronics or fashion. Popular examples include Brad’s Deals, TechBargains.com and DealsPlus.com.
Coupon bloggers and influencers: With some coupon blogs having millions of readers, teaming up with coupon bloggers has great potential for steering new customers to your site. Coupons are often promoted via content like listicles and product reviews. Popular coupon blogs includeHip2Save, and Coupon Pro.
Likewise, an influencer or general blogger in your niche is a great way of getting the word about your brand out there — by people who have a very trusting, organic relationship with their followers. You can find suitable influencers through platforms like Dealspotr and Famebit.
Coupon forums: On forums such as the Slick Deals forum and the Friends Don’t Let Friends Pay Full forum, savvy shoppers hang out and talk about the best deals and “hacks” in the online shopping sphere. Be sure to check out a forum’s rules before posting about your brand’s hot new coupons, though. They tend to have strict rules.
It is important to be selective when choosing coupon affiliate sites to team up with. Every Internet user knows that some websites are more legitimate than others. Coupon websites are no exception.
Some coupon sites engage in shady techniques to get people on their site. This unwise practice can involve promoting a coupon for a brand that isn’t even currently running a coupon campaign to earn sneaky commissions.
Unfortunately, because commissions are only based on clicks and conversions, coupon affiliates can still earn a commission for expired codes even if they don’t work. To take advantage of this, these coupon sites use underhanded SEO tactics to encourage Internet shoppers to grab deals that don’t exist.
How do you know if a coupon site is legit or not? There are a few ways of figuring this out. Testing out some coupon codes from well-known brands is a good place to start. A legitimate coupon site will constantly make sure its coupons are up to date, so if a site has coupon codes that don’t work, it isn’t a good sign.
Other attributes of a spammy coupon website can include:
Looking at a site’s traffic stats is also a good indication of whether or not a coupon site is legit. You can do this using sites like SimilarWeb orAhrefs. If it gets more than 90% of its traffic from search engines, it’s a sign that it doesn’t receive repeat visitors. Would you really want your coupons on such a site?
In the UK, the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) introduced the Voucher Code of Conduct which is adhered to by all UK affiliates and affiliate networks. Display of expired codes isn't by itself an illegitimate action as long as those codes are clearly labeled as expired. Old coupon codes do more than help affiliate websites with their SEO. They also attract new customers who may wait for a valid code to be published by an advertiser of interest.
For more information on how to spot an illegitimate coupon site, and for a real-life example of one, this article on Knoji covers the topic in depth.
Figuring out what kind of discounts to offer involves striking a balance between what’s standard in your industry and what your business can afford. This is why setting goals ahead of time is important.
Use search engines for this research. Check out other brands in your niche and any coupon sites that specifically focus on your industry (this is also a great way of finding out who to partner up with). What kind of discounts are they offering? Can you match that, or even do better?
Speaking of discount type, there are many routes you could go down. You should decide whether you want to offer a specific amount or percentage discount off your customer’s order. To entice new customers, a more generous discount can be offered to those ordering from you for the first time. Offering free shipping to first-time buyers can also be effective. If you offer a subscription service, offering a significant discount for the first year can also be a convincing prospect.
When starting out in the world of affiliate coupons, it’s best to start small and keep track of coupon campaigns. Do regular A/B tests to see what works and what doesn’t, whether it be the discount itself or the look of the coupon (if it has visual elements). By running several coupon campaigns for one product or service at a time you can figure out what deals resonate most with customers.
Many affiliate tracking tools have built-in software that makes tracking the effectiveness of your coupon campaign easy. Depending on what kind of CMS you use, there may also be plugins that help.
Many affiliate marketing software options, such as Everflow, feature tools that allow you to create and track coupon codes. You could also consider using a tool like Voucherify, which is a platform created specifically for creating promotions (including coupons) and tracking them.
ShareASale’s technology allows for advanced coupon tracking if you need it. Likewise, Rakuten’s advertiser dashboard has a coupon code commissioning function.
If you use the WooCommerce WordPress plugin for your online store, you can create basic coupons in the CMS. You can track the effectiveness of your campaigns on the dashboard. You could also use it in conjunction with the AffiliateWP plugin to keep track of specific affiliate coupon codes.
For the most part, your coupons probably won’t have a visual element. Many coupon sites simply list the description of the discount being given and the code the customer will insert at checkout. However, if you plan on implementing pay-per-click ads for your coupons or creating coupons for social media, creating a visually interesting coupon is a must.
Although coupons should be kept pretty simple, you should make an effort to make yours stand out from your competitors. Here are some tips to do just that:
Adding coupons to your affiliate marketing arsenal is never a bad idea. By doing your homework about which coupon sites best suit your niche, and figuring out the most realistic parameters for your coupon promotions, you’ll be well on your way to attracting new customers to your business.