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  1. #1
    A Real *and* Darn Cool Member! lstolze's Avatar
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    Question Tracking Coupon Expirations
    I was painstakingly cleaning out old coupons on one of my sites, when I complained loudly, "There has to be a better way to do this!!" My toddler was climbing on the coffee table, and jumping onto the dog (an overweight rat terrier), when I realized I had coupon codes from December that I had completely forgotten about. I know it sounds lame, but it is really hard to keep up with this stuff while trying to referee a toddler and a dog. I have enough other site maintenance to deal with, without having to overthink coupons, which is really a small part of what my sites are about.

    The site in question is not strictly a coupon site, but I do have one page devoted to coupons from merchants related to my niche. And I hope to add a coupon section to another site of mine. But the dillemma - how can I organize coupons and create expirations for them? In other words, is there any type of software that you can use to enter the coupons, that tracks expiration, etc., so I can easily look in one place and see for example, just the coupons due to expire that week? I know I could create a spreadsheet, and I may very well have to if I don't find another solution, but any advice you could give would be appreciated. How do all of you list and track your coupons?

    Thanks for all your input!

    ~Lisa~

  2. #2
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    Although I imagine that you're not going to want to hear it, the best way to accomplish what you are talking about is to store the coupons in a database. This is what I do on my site. I associate an expiration date with each coupon and everything about the coupon is stored in a database. When a user comes to my page, the database is queried and only those coupons with an expiration date of today's date or later are displayed. The coupons that have expired are still in the database (although I clean them out every once in a while), but they are not displayed to the user. Thus, I can spend my time updating coupons and listing new coupons instead of identifying which ones have expired and removing them. Retailers like it as well, since I'm not displaying out of date offers, unless they've given me an incorrect expiration date to begin with.

    Obviously, this requires a database and some knowledge of how to work with databases. I know that it sounds intimidating to do this type of work, but with some reading on the subject, I think that you would probably be able to do it.

  3. #3
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    That's what most of us do. A database makes it much simpler to manage.

    There are other complications, though. Different coupons expire at different times (and with different time zones). For instance, Overstock coupons typically expire at 11:59pm MT, but some expire at 2pm ET. Most merchants expire coupons at midnight ET, CT, MT, or PT. Then you have ongoing coupons (with no expiration date) or coupons with unknown expiration dates. Plus there are ones like Dell's coupons that may expire early if they have a lot of redemptions.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  4. #4
    A Real *and* Darn Cool Member! lstolze's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice! Makes it much easier than having to keep track myself. Actually, after showing these threads to my hubby, he said, "Oh, that's easy." Well, gee thanks! LOL! He's an IT guy. So now he's left the burden of how I want it to look on the page to me, as if I have a clue! Well, I guess I better work on that... Thanks again. I had no clue this could be done. That's what I love about it here. I get wild ideas of things I think would be great, and then find out everybody who knows anything about AM does/uses it. Makes me feel silly! Poor Lisa the n00b...

  5. #5
    Full Member markschok's Avatar
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    I use only a few coupons too. How I manage them is through a calendar script I converted in php. I didn't want to write a full script and database to handle this for just a few coupons so the calendar seemed a nice and simple way to do it. It lets me set when coupons start and stop down to the minute. I can group coupons by type/theme but this could just as easily be by merchant. Also, it's possible to show the coupons by month, week or day however it does look a bit messy on the monthly page.

  6. #6
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    The tricky links to handle (database or not), are the ones that become inactive -not 'dead' . They don't have an official ending date but at some point redirect to a merchants "sorry...' page.

  7. #7
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Yeah, I just found one like that. I've had a very targeted banner up for almost two years on a relatively low-volume page. The merchant emailed me saying that I hadn't generated a sale recently so they were going to terminate me. I looked at the page where I had the banner, and apparently the merchant had deactivated the banner. It was showing a generic Linkshare banner. No wonder I hadn't generated any sales for them recently.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  8. #8
    A Real *and* Darn Cool Member! lstolze's Avatar
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    Ugh...that stinks Michael. You could probably argue it if you cared to. For awhile I was getting frustrated with a particular merchant because they kept sending special coupon banners/links that I used often. The issue I had was that for some reason when they did they did their updates every morning, it would change all of the pages that my links went to, so instead of the special promotional item, etc, the customers ended up on a completely different product page. It was weird, annoying, and just plain stupid. No wonder my sales went down. *sigh*

  9. #9
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    I let the merchant know what they had done, that I wasn't happy about it, and that if they wanted to remove me from their program I certainly wouldn't be disappointed. The space would have earned considerably more if I had AdSense ads there, which is a real shame since it was extremely targeted traffic and they were a perfect match.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  10. #10
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmschmitt
    Although I imagine that you're not going to want to hear it, the best way to accomplish what you are talking about is to store the coupons in a database. This is what I do on my site. I associate an expiration date with each coupon and everything about the coupon is stored in a database. When a user comes to my page, the database is queried and only those coupons with an expiration date of today's date or later are displayed. The coupons that have expired are still in the database (although I clean them out every once in a while), but they are not displayed to the user. Thus, I can spend my time updating coupons and listing new coupons instead of identifying which ones have expired and removing them. Retailers like it as well, since I'm not displaying out of date offers, unless they've given me an incorrect expiration date to begin with.


    Obviously, this requires a database and some knowledge of how to work with databases. I know that it sounds intimidating to do this type of work, but with some reading on the subject, I think that you would probably be able to do it.

    This is exactly what I need to do with my site.

    Can someone point me in the direction of a ready made script that I can install on my site, or some directions on how to do this myself?
    ~Michelle
    "All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy."
    "Work to become, not to acquire." -- Confucius

  11. #11
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ~Michelle
    This is exactly what I need to do with my site.

    Can someone point me in the direction of a ready made script that I can install on my site, or some directions on how to do this myself?

    ~Michelle
    "All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy."
    "Work to become, not to acquire." -- Confucius

  12. #12
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    Unfortunately, I do not know of any pre-packaged script that you could use to do this on your site. There are several requirements to implement this type of system, which in my opinion are:

    a) a database on your server or through your hosting provider: i.e. SQL Server or MySQL
    b) a database design. This is just a design of the tables and specifies how you are going to store the data, what data will be stored, and what form your data will take. This will also require that you specify relationships between tables that hold data (i.e. you may have a retailer table and a coupons table, with each coupon identified with a specific retailer)
    c) stored procedures that you create to access the data stored in the database
    d) some sort of front end page (i.e. asp, php etc.) that serves as a means to input/edit/delete coupons in the database. This would simply be a form that eventually calls a stored procedure to save the data.
    e) code in your display page to access the coupons that you will be pulling from the database.

    While someone could (theoretically) provide you with a script to set up the database and all associated stored procedures, it would be specific to their design and may not be what you want. In addition, you would still need to have them provide part d) as well as some instructions about how to implement e). Since database design is a topic unto itself in some circles, I think that it may be difficult to generalize a design that everyone would be happy with...

    Sorry that I wasn't able to be of more help.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmschmitt
    Although I imagine that you're not going to want to hear it, the best way to accomplish what you are talking about is to store the coupons in a database. This is what I do on my site. I associate an expiration date with each coupon and everything about the coupon is stored in a database. When a user comes to my page, the database is queried and only those coupons with an expiration date of today's date or later are displayed. The coupons that have expired are still in the database (although I clean them out every once in a while), but they are not displayed to the user. Thus, I can spend my time updating coupons and listing new coupons instead of identifying which ones have expired and removing them. Retailers like it as well, since I'm not displaying out of date offers, unless they've given me an incorrect expiration date to begin with.

    Obviously, this requires a database and some knowledge of how to work with databases. I know that it sounds intimidating to do this type of work, but with some reading on the subject, I think that you would probably be able to do it.
    whats your site so we can see this in action???

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    That's what most of us do. A database makes it much simpler to manage.

    There are other complications, though. Different coupons expire at different times (and with different time zones). For instance, Overstock coupons typically expire at 11:59pm MT, but some expire at 2pm ET. Most merchants expire coupons at midnight ET, CT, MT, or PT. Then you have ongoing coupons (with no expiration date) or coupons with unknown expiration dates. Plus there are ones like Dell's coupons that may expire early if they have a lot of redemptions.

    what happened to your site michael its been Page rank cleaned??

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lasthope
    whats your site so we can see this in action???
    My site is CopiousCoupons.com. (Mods: if this is not allowed, then feel free to remove). Note that it works better in IE than in Firefox/Mozilla due to some controls that are available in IE that aren't available in the other platforms (which meant I had to recode the whole thing for the other platforms). At some point I may have the time to make it better on those platforms, but I just don't know where the times goes these days...

  16. #16
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julius
    As a merchant, I'd be very interested in finding a program that our affiliates could use in order to automatically keep up with our expiration dates.
    What you might want to do is to create a web page that you keep updated and let all of your affiliates know about it. Mondera does a really good job with theirs:

    http://www.mondera.com/affiliate_support/offers.asp

    It's helpful if you use a consistant format, so the more technical people can scrape the page and extract all the details.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

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