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  1. #1
    Plain Ol' Affiliate Rainmaker's Avatar
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    Question To coupon or NOT to coupon - THAT is the question
    Hi Everyone!

    I have an internal struggle right now that I'm hoping ya'll can help me resolve.

    I'm trying to decide if I should recommend to my clients that they offer coupons/discount codes. I see a lot of discussion about WHAT kind of coupons to offer, but I couldn't find a thread on WHETHER to offer coupons or not. For the sake of this discussion I'm talking about an online discount code for and online-only merchant.

    I've always had a bias against coupons. I've seen phrases like "MERCHANT coupon" or "MERCHANT discount code" countless times in search aggregators such as WordTracker.com. My bias is that it seems like the people that are going to use this code are the ones have already decided to buy from the merchant. Maybe it's a regular customer just looking for a discount. The customer says "hey, I need some more Stanley Widgets" and does a Google search for "Stanley coupon". An affiliate site pops to the top. The customer goes to the Affiliate site, gets the coupon then buys the widgets. It doesn't seem that that's how affiliate promotion is supposed to work.

    With all the talk about coupons and all the productive affiliate coupon web sites I see, I feel I must be missing the big picture.

    Can someone help me out here?

    THANKS!!!!

    ~Bob

  2. #2
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    My "coupon sites" would make squat without coupons

    and

    on my product sites, I consistantly get emails like "I don't know all my groomsmen's initials - can I order today to take advantage of the coupon - and give you their initials later?"

    and

    on an indie program that actually tells me what coupons people use - only one cutomer a day doesn't enter a coupon code

    so I think they are responsible for converting people that may not have purchased

  3. #3
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Coupons are an incredible motivator when they're used properly. You're at a strategic disadvantage if you don't offer them.

    It's true that you'll get some customers who already want to shop with you and are just looking for a coupon. Often, however, those shoppers are looking for a coupon because they're just not convinced yet that they're getting the best deal. Without a coupon, many of them will abandon the cart and buy elsewhere.

    You'll get very little (if any) exposure on coupon sites without coupons. Many coupon sites have a very loyal following of shoppers, and they can be top producers for your programs.

    Coupons can greatly improve conversion ratios, which helps the merchant and all of your affiliates who promote your coupons.

    Coupons can also be structured to encourage whatever customer behavior you would like. If you want new customers, larger orders, etc., coupons are an ideal way to accomplish it.
    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
    Affiliate Manager SpinLife1's Avatar
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    Since I began running my program I noticed an increase in sales when I make coupons available. I'm still pretty new to the biz (almost 1 year in), but have to agree that using coupons will increase conversions.

  5. #5
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Ideally, as an affiliate, I'd prefer that there were no coupons anywhere - I feel it devalues things more than it helps add value and it usually interferes with focusing on incremental sales and value propositions. However, the reality is, your merchant has competitors who will use coupons and put your merchant at a somewhat small disadvantage - so you'll end up having them in the market no matter what you think is best. Use them wisely. Consult with folks like Suluta.com (or most any OPM you'll find here at ABW) or engage a professional, ethical couponer like Michael Coley who can show you the right balance in things.

    You'll find some great Coley coupon posts here at ABW in the couponer's corner by searching and the OPM crowd here is top-notch too.

    OPMs at ABW:
    http://forum.abestweb.com/forumdisplay.php?f=236

    Moderator... how come Suluta ain't shown in link above? Am I pointing to the right place?

  6. #6
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    And... expanding on Donuts...

    MONITOR aff's usage - and kick out aff's that makeup codes. If there's 2 results in google, and mine says the LEGITIMATE Free Shipping, and someone else says 50% off (they just made it up), I loose a visitor and sale, 'cause they'll click on that other person all the time

    Do NOT make coupons that are ONLY activated by the coupon link. I CAN'T incorporate them into my product sites. I NEED "Enter code XDF" for the product sites.

  7. #7
    Affiliate Manager PingoPrepaidCallingCards's Avatar
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    coupon code debate
    good feedback on coupon usage.
    Brian Hawkins AM @ [URL=http://www.pingo.com/affiliate.do]Pingo[/URL] Earn up to $35 CPA for a [URL=http://www.pingo.com/p/onedollar/onedollar.html]$1 trial offer[/URL]!
    [URL=http://www.twitter.com/TelecomAgents]@TelecomAgents[/URL] [URL=http://www.twitter.com/telephonecard]@TelephoneCard[/URL]

  8. #8
    Plain Ol' Affiliate Rainmaker's Avatar
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    Wow. Some good info so far!

    Donuts
    - Yes! I read through Michael's stickies. That's where I got the idea that I might be missing something
    Michael - Hmmmm good points that I had not considered. Thanks.
    Billy - good tip on watching PPC ads. Also, you mean you need "old fashion" codes where people TYPE the code into a promotion box in the check out, right?
    Spin- Thanks for your reply

    Looking forward to more compelling reasons pro and con!

  9. #9
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Billy - good tip on watching PPC ads. Also, you mean you need "old fashion" codes where people TYPE the code into a promotion box in the check out, right?
    My product site looks just like a regular merchant site:

    Thumbnails on a category page

    Product page with all relevant info

    Registration page (so I only send qualified leads)

    If I did all the pre-selling and pre-qualifying and the merchant has a coupon activated only by the coupon link... my choices are:

    Cheat the customer out of the coupon and send him directly to product I already pre-sold

    Give cust the coupon... but make him start all over at the merchant's home page - even tho they already know what product they want

    FYI: MY categories and a merchant's may differ. A product somone found in my "Back-to-School" category may be in the merchant's "Grandpa Gift ideas" category - so they'll never find the item again if i send them to the merchant's home page

    So MY sites require a coupon code the customer can write down on their way to the merchant's product page

  10. #10
    Member Mike Allen's Avatar
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    This past July I did a blog entry at Revenews on five benefits of coupon affiliates (http://www.revenews.com/mikeallen/20...e_benefit.html). In a nutshell, I stated that coupons do the following:

    - stimulate certain consumers to buy products they would not otherwise buy at that price
    - allow sellers to charge multiple prices for the same basket of goods or services
    - encourage speedier purchase decisions (and even impusle buying)
    - encourage brand loyal consumers to try a competing brand
    - can increase average order size

    I do believe there is a "right" and a "wrong" way to use coupons. They should encourage new sales and larger sales, not take away from existing sales. They can provide a competitive advantage or edge over otherwise equals. They can energize affiliates. Used incorrectly, they can also be used to make a merchant look like their prices are inflated just to cover their coupons.

    I posted a second blog entry a few days later warning that not all coupon sites are created equal (http://www.revenews.com/mikeallen/20...pon_sites.html). Basically this post offered four criteria I suggested merchants use to evaluate coupon site affiliates.
    Mike Allen | <a href="https://twitter.com/mta1">@mta1</a>
    <a href="http://www.businesswright.com">Businesswright Consulting</a> | <a href="http://www.shopping-bargains.com">Shopping-Bargains</a>

  11. #11
    Plain Ol' Affiliate Rainmaker's Avatar
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    Milke-
    AWESOME. Thanks for pointing me to your posts. They sound great. I'll read them asap.

    ~Bob

  12. #12
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    Donuts - as an affiliate, I'd prefer that there were no coupons anywhere - I feel it devalues things more than it helps add value and it usually interferes with focusing on incremental sales and value propositions.
    I second what Donuts said.

    We have two different kind of affiliates.
    The couponers and the old fashioned affiliates.

    You answered already what a couponer do.
    "I've always had a bias against coupons. I've seen phrases like "MERCHANT coupon" or "MERCHANT discount code" countless times in search aggregators such as WordTracker.com. My bias is that it seems like the people that are going to use this code are the ones have already decided to buy from the merchant."

    And you have the old fashioned affiliates doing their best to promote your products.

    Now, it's up to you. WHY should I promote your company and products if you offer coupons?
    If you set a coupon box on your check out page, my visitors are going to look for "merchant coupons" on the SEs and more likely my commission will be lost.

    It's easier to optimize my pages for "merchant coupons". Is it adding value to your merchant? It's up to you. I know what I will do.

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador
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    "The couponers and the old fashioned affiliates."

    What's that mean? Couponers have been around since the start. Coupons have been around before the internet. It's because they work.

    "WHY should I promote your company and products if you offer coupons."

    Increased conversions. I've always said a product link with coupon is probably some of the highest converting traffic you can send a merchant. The product link is targetted, the coupon saves them money and saves them from having to look elsewhere for it.

  14. #14
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    Couponers have been around since the start.
    WRONG
    Affiliate marketing didn't start with coupons.

    Increased conversions
    TRUE
    But, who benefits from them?

  15. #15
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    "WRONG
    Affiliate marketing didn't start with coupons."

    What did it start with? If they weren't there on day one, they were right after. Coupons working are nothing new. Like I said, they have been used offline for many, many years. Because they work.

    "TRUE
    But, who benefits from them?"

    Increased conversions? That's kind of self explanatory. You make more money, merchant gets more sales, customer saves money. All good. Coupons work, that's a fact. Many merchants have posted here seeing increased conversions when they use them.

  16. #16
    Plain Ol' Affiliate Rainmaker's Avatar
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    Zeus,
    Why wouldn't you add coupon/discount text to your product description? Then you are doing your "pre-selling" AND giving them a nice incentive to "buy now".

  17. #17
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    It's a lot of work I think for some. Some product sites set it and forget it. It's also kind of why I started the thread about merchants offering longer coupons. Have some good for the year, then they'll get on sites that don't normally post them. Some affiliates have hundreds of thousands of product pages and they aren't going to update them monthly with new coupons.

  18. #18
    Internet Cowboy
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    Coupons become a crutch and end up with merchants paying less to their affiliates than they could have otherwise. I have a coupon site and it does well, but if I were a new merchant getting into the affiliate biz I would avoid them all togther.

    Some of my best performing merchants outside of my coupon site do not have coupons.

  19. #19
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    "but if I were a new merchant getting into the affiliate biz I would avoid them all togther."

    I would actually do the opposite. I still have this consumer behavior book that I used in school that goes into this, using coupons. A new merchant is likely to have competitors that use them. Used the right way they can entice a merchant's competitor's shoppers into trying them, lure them on over. A new merchant with coupons will also get you on a lot of sites that can drive sales. Many reasons that have already been given in the sticky above and throughout the forum. There are also merchants that have them and you could choose to use them but at a lower commission rate, like Target. I'm up over 13% conversion with them this holiday season. Coupons aren't evil

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rainmaker
    Zeus,
    Why wouldn't you add coupon/discount text to your product description? Then you are doing your "pre-selling" AND giving them a nice incentive to "buy now".
    Because, my 10 years of experience in Affiliate Marketing ( and a bunch of stats) are telling I'm getting scr..ed if I add a coupon on my old fashioned pages on a non coupon site.
    If I give a 10% discount on my site and you have a coupon box, my visitors are going to look if they can find a 12% or better discount. So they are going to search for "merchant coupons" get a flying cookie from somewhere and my commission will be lost. I don't work for free.

    If you offer a coupon, great, I'm going to add it on a coupon site optimized for "merchant coupons" BUT NOT on my other sites just because an old fashioned affiliate can't compete with couponers.

  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus
    Because, my 10 years of experience in Affiliate Marketing ( and a bunch of stats) are telling I'm getting scr..ed if I add a coupon on my old fashioned pages on a non coupon site.
    If I give a 10% discount on my site and you have a coupon box, my visitors are going to look if they can find a 12% or better discount somewhere. So they are going to search for "merchant coupons" get a flying cookie from somewhere and my commission will be lost. I don't work for free.

    If you offer a coupon, great, I'm going to add it on a coupon site optimized for "merchant coupons" BUT NOT on my other sites just because an old fashioned affiliate can't compete with couponers.
    How would you get screwed by adding them since they increase conversions? You're getting screwed by not adapting. If you work with a merchant that has them and don't post them, that's on you. Someone else will post them. And say you do work with a merchant that has them and you don't post them, the coupon sites usually help you out in the sale. Usually a shopper will pop open another browser looking for the coupon, find one and just copy and paste it. So that coupon site helped you with the sale and got no commission. Unless they're auto setting cookies. That's why good couponers want coupon text links so that can't happen.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrustNo1
    How would you get screwed by adding them since they increase conversions? You're getting screwed by not adapting. If you work with a merchant that has them and don't post them, that's on you. Someone else will post them. And say you do work with a merchant that has them and you don't post them, the coupon sites usually help you out in the sale. Usually a shopper will pop open another browser looking for the coupon, find one and just copy and paste it. Unless the coupon site is auto setting cookies, the coupon site gets no part of the sale, helped you with the sale.
    Trust, you HAVE NO IDEA of how much money I made all these years, just by AVOIDING adding coupons on my sites.

    Affiliates have a choice!

    I don't say coupons don't work. I just don't want to compete with thousand of sites offering the same coupon.

    I don't use coupons to do my grocery shopping, because I HATE THEM, I don't need them. I can pay the full price, I don't want to count the pennies and I believe others are like me. I believe coupons don't add value to a product. It's a game to find the lowest price. I play that game, too sometimes, but it doesn't add value to the product. I just don't want to pay more than I should. If I offer a price on my sites, it should be the best price in town with no coupon. I don't want my visitors to have to shop around.

    Yes, I know I don't work with every merchants with an affiliate program.

  23. #23
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    "I don't want my visitors to have to shop around."

    Well your visitors are either shopping around or they aren't. If they aren't, then you have no problems. If they are, looking for a coupon, post it so they don't have too. It is what it is. Coupons aren't going anywhere. If it is that big of deal to you, just work with coupon free merchants. If you work with merchants that have them and don't post them, like I said, that's on you and you have nothing to complain about.

    "I don't use coupons to do my grocery shopping, because I HATE THEM, I don't need them."

    I don't use them myself at a grocery store, but many people do. Shopping online, if one is available of course I'm going to use it.

  24. #24
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    it's like a content versus sales site discussion... leader, where you at?

    i've crossed over and can tell you that couponing is like shooting fish in a barrel... it's got value, but that value is drastically different than non-couponing (which is a gross generalization given the number of ways "selling" can be done, but enlightened merchants, affiliates and AMs/OPMs know exactly what i'm talking about).

    and before anyone argues the fish in a barrel analogy, let me also add some serious caveats. there are 1,000's of affiliates shooting into that barrel (TONS of competition, like nothing you'll ever see outside of couponing) and that barrel isn't the size of the ocean, but just a barrel (not every consumer looks for coupons) and keeping a coupon site updated is a monumental task (i'll venture to say it isn't for part time affiliates at all)...

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrustNo1
    If they aren't, then you have no problems. If they are, looking for a coupon, post it so they don't have too.
    To avoid my visitors to look around for a coupon it's much better to offer them the best price. I'm looking for merchants with no coupon, fair prices and a good service. I'm quite lucky to have a few of them working with me.

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