Coupon Sites Do Not Steal Affiliate Channel Sales
Let's just come right out upfront and say it; coupon sites do not steal sales from merchants. Oh really, some of you may say? Yes, really. Stick with me as we walk through how coupon sites can actually be of tremendous benefit to a merchant.
Now, in some cases, coupons do have the ability to steal sales but only if the merchant has not identified how to properly handle them in the affiliate channel. Any merchant that has a promo code field in their shopping cart or somewhere else in the purchase process is inviting the consumer to take 30 seconds, open up another tab or window and search for a deal.
And, yes, this happens often... so often there's a well-known term for it; shopping cart abandonment. But, remember, there are many forms of shopping cart abandonment and though, technically, this is one of them, in many cases it isn't and doesn't have to be. And this is one of the reasons coupon sites can be great for merchants.
What's So Great About Coupons?
Coupon sites give the consumer exactly what they are looking for; something to put in the promo box on the checkout page. When a coupon site gives the consumer what they are looking for, many times the consumer goes back to the merchant's checkout page and completes the sale. In essence, the coupon site has helped the merchant close the sale. And it's quite clear most merchants would interpret that as a benefit worth implementing.
In addition, although it sounds somewhat counter-intuitive, coupon sites can be a strong affiliate for merchants who don't allow discounting if their brand is promoted through the coupon site's newsletter or a newsletter that they produce on behalf of another website.
Now rather than rely on theory, let's take a look at some research that examines the coupons place within the consumer's shopping experience and how they can benefit the merchant or retailer.
Just the Facts, Ma'am
On behalf of RetailMeNot, Forrester Consulting conducted a study on coupon usage. Here are some noteworthy findings:
- 59% of consumers stated that of the different types of promotions a retailer can employ, digital coupons hold the most sway when it comes to influencing a consumer's purchasing decision.
- Clothing, apparel and shoes are the most popular types of digital coupon used (53% on computer, 48% tablet). This is closely followed by entertainment (books, music and movies) and restaurants.
- 65% of consumers use at least 3 digital coupons on their tablet in 3 months.
- Tablet & smartphone users tend to use slightly more digital coupons than computer-based users.
- 33% of those who received a digital coupon via their smart phone redeemed it by buying something on their computer, 27% used the digital coupon in-store and 25% used in on their smart phone.
- 65% of consumers love to receive digital coupons, 50% say they are more likely to visit a store if they have received one.
- 63% say a promotion or a coupon often closes the deal if they are wavering or undecided about making a purchase.
- 68% of consumers believe that coupons build brand awareness and 68% said they also generated loyalty.
Tips and Tactics For Effective Coupon Implementation
So here are a few suggestions for you to better implement coupons, coupon codes and coupon sites into your affiliate channel:
- Consider using coupons on high margin products; higher ticket products or product bundles.
- Structure your offers as such: "X% off when you spend $Y" where X% off gives you an increased net margin compared to your average order margin.
- Use coupons for up-selling.
- Plan for your coupons to go viral. Because we all know you can't keep a good thing down.
- Ensure your online checkout can reject inactive coupons that have expired. This is key. You don't want to be allowing discount after the metrics for your sales period have been met. Otherwise, it will all have been for not.
- Set expiration dates and unique identification to measure redemption. As above, keep a close eye on the timing for the coupon offer and insure you have the proper mechanisms in place to measure and manage the use of the coupon.
- Use coupons to push fence sitters off the fence. There are many times a shopper fills up their shopping cart and then has second thoughts. An onsite coupon of a follow up email urging the person to "purchase in the next three days to receive 50% off" can do wonders.
- Use social media to promote your coupons to a broader audience. People regularly link to coupon pages and share them with friends via social media networks. Your coupons should be there.
- Make sure the terms and conditions for you coupon are clear and help protect your margins.
And Another Thing...
And here's another thought. Affiliate sites and, in this case, coupon sites, are simply an extension of your marketing efforts and sales force. They are actively promoting your products and your supplied coupons and you don't have to part with a single cent unless that coupon site contributes to a sale. What more could you want than and marketing and sales army that actively sells your products with no upfront cost to you?
The key to successful coupon implementation is, of course, proper affiliate channel management. Effective affiliate channel managers should be able to provide proper credit to all contributing factors in the affiliate channel by evaluating KPIs and shifting commissions to affiliates based on conversion rates and their role in the buy process. This will avoid the pitfalls some feel are endemic to the usage of coupon sites. Like anything online -- or in life, for that matter -- proper oversite will insure your money is well spent and you aren't being taken for a ride.
People love a good deal. Affiliates love a good commission. These two facts combine to irrefutably support the use of coupons and coupon sites in your affiliate channel.
This guest article was written by Greg Shepard, CEO of AffiliateTraction.