Many merchants find that Coupon/Bargain sites can generate a considerable amount of business if managed properly.

Here are some tips that I would offer for merchants wanting to maximize their results with coupon/bargain sites:

<UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI>Communicate regularly. Coupon/Bargain sites like to receive new bargains much more frequently than normal affiliates. Create a separate group or mailing list. Keep it short and simple. No need for a fancy HTML newsletter or a set schedule. Just let us know what promotions are running, especially new ones. We typically work with 100 or more merchants, and can't check the affiliate interfaces and sites for every one every day.
<LI>Always include expiration dates. Most of us use databases and can automatically remove bargains when they reach their expiration date, plus expiring bargains get extra promotion.
<LI>Make it easy. Pre-coded affiliate links are handy if there is a special landing page for a specific promotion. Landing pages for specific promotions are great, as they reinforce the promotion and can provide restrictions that we might not have room to list.
<LI>Communicate via email. Advance notice isn't necessary for promotions unless it's something really special. Even then, one day should be enough. Most of us update our sites daily (or continually throughout the day), and new email is what usually reminds us what to add. Emails are great because they'll have all the details when we're ready for them.
<LI>Capitalize on your marketing department's efforts. Provide affiliate links to your internal marketing. Let us know the details. Let us know when it expires.
<LI>Run a wide variety of coupons and promotions. If you run one coupon or promotion per month, your exposure will be very limited. If you run 5-6 per month (at different times!), you'll get much more exposure. If you feel that this is too much for your affiliate base as a whole, just distribute them to the coupon/bargain sites.
<LI>Know what works. Rebates, free items with order, and percent off coupons aren't very effective. Dollar off coupons, sales, and free shipping work great (especially when you combine them)!
<LI>Make coupon codes short and simple, if possible. Try to avoid confusion over letters and numbers like L, 1, O, and 0.
<LI>Provide every possible way to make sure the coupon is applied. Give a code. Show it on a landing page. Automatically insert it into the cart based on the link. Reflect it as early as possible, preferrably in the shopping cart. Use as many of these techniques as possible.
<LI>Make it easy for us to create an affiliate link to any arbitrary page on your site.
<LI>Dynamic links don't help. We have to enter the information into our database. Plus, we typically have dozens of deals listed on each page, so it would be really slow if all of them had to dynamically load from other sites.
<LI>Run some really good short-term bargains. These maximize your exposure.
<LI>Consider a Deal of the Day. If run properly, this can produce tremendous results. I'll post about this in a separate post sometime later.
<LI>Make sure that customer service knows to contact you and/or the affiliate if there are customer complaints about expired bargains or coupons being listed.
<LI>Restricting affiliates from promoting certain coupons is okay, but make sure you offer the same types of coupons in the affiliate channel as you do in other channels. We'll work with you, but you need to work with us.
<LI>Keep your links updated. Many of the affiliate programs I check have TONS of expired promotions listed in their affiliate interface.
<LI>Make some (or all) of this available to your other affiliates. It can be helpful to many of them, too.[/list]

Hope this helps!

Michael Coley
Amazing-Bargains.com