This is something I wrote for FeedFront but didn't get the submission in time. Thought other AM's might enjoy!

One of the strongest segments in affiliate marketing is the coupon/deal/shopping sites. With the state of the US economy these sites reach a major segment of online consumers and every affiliate program needs to make sure they are optimized fully.

Shelf Space
Why does Wal-Mart advertise when they are the low priced leader and in every city, burg and village nationwide? Because there are so many brands and so many products that its difficult to get all in front of a typical shopper. So if you want to sell retail you need to get shelf space. Couponers have that shelf space and have created loyalty with their readership over many years. Most send daily newsletters, have forums and use social networking to promote beyond their core domain. The largest couponers are now spending $ millions on offline advertising for Q4.

1000 Points of Light
There are over a 1000 sites that fit this description and generally half of the Top 20 in a program are couponers. Couponers are some of the highest organically ranked sites on the net and can outrank many merchants. Most of the top couponers are experts in pay-per-click so make sure you offer your trademark policies so there are no questions.

Letís Make a Deal
But I donít have coupons or discounts! Granted, sites with clothing, computers, health and beauty tend to have coupons galore. Try showing the difference between MSRP and your selling price as a % off or $ off. Free Shipping is a big motivator as well as no sales tax in certain states. Offer sweepstakes, consumer give aways. Text links are most effective as they are placed on a store page, category listings and easy to add to emails.

Exclusive Coupons
Be prepared to be asked for exclusive coupon codes as the large couponers get better conversion if the code is co-branded. You may want to reserve the highest coupons for the top producers to reward them. If you solicit to membership sites they want a unique coupon to close the deal. It keeps their members loyal so they donít have to cruise the search engines looking for a better deal.

You can always offer a slotting fee to get better placements but the top coupon sites may charge several $1000ís for this. Try looking at smaller coupon sites and set up a unique tracking link to quantify your spend. Be patient, develop a relationship and attend the Affiliate Summit to meet couponers on a first name basis.

Save Them Time
Send links formatted for the affiliate ready to use. If you can send them so the affiliate can grab the code which includes their affiliate ID then they are inclined to use them as you just saved them time. Friday morning is the best time to send as they will position pages to go live at midnight Sunday night. Shoppers will find them in their inbox Monday morning, on the site and via their RSS and Twitter feeds.

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