How to Add Coupon Affiliate Sites to your Affiliate Marketing Mix

Post written by Michael Quoc
On Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

Achieving marketing goals from digital advertising isn’t as easy as it used to be. Six hundred and fifteen million devices use ad blockers today, while some online publishers use spammy content tactics to get clicks and impressions. This can run up the cost of your display advertising campaigns and do very little to drive sales for your business.

Affiliate marketing is one vertical that remains largely untouched by these challenges. By offering publishers commissions on sales of your products, they’re incentivized to focus their content strategy on your marketing priorities, not theirs.

And by working with a variety of individual affiliates, it’s possible to track and optimize your investment in the best ones. Tools like AffiliateWP, Skimlinks and Afftrack make it easy to track your affiliate partners, increase visibility and drive sales from your efforts.

Affiliate marketing is a great strategy to grow your visibility online, especially if you partner with valuable websites to drive your marketing goals — coupon sites included.

Why add coupon sites to your affiliate marketing mix?

While most brands today focus on news sites and niche bloggers to drive their affiliate marketing strategy, there are some unrealized benefits of working with coupon sites in the same fashion.

Today, 97% of consumers look for deals when they shop and 92% say they are always looking. And while many people don’t have the patience to cut coupons out of newspapers and remember to take them to the grocery store, online shopping is different. Consumers can find coupon deals in seconds using Google search, and redeem the rewards nearly as quickly at an ecommerce store.

There are a fair number of consumers who simply won’t make an online purchase unless they can get a discount, and an even larger group of people who would be much more likely to convert if they found a special deal. Even those pesky millennials are more likely to try a new brand if they offer promo codes.

Coupon sites are the top platform consumers use to find deals:

While couponing sites aren’t traditional affiliates (content creators charged with illustrating the value of your product), they do have access to an incredibly valuable audience: people looking for deals. Offer them a commision to display your promotions and you’ll see for yourself how they can drive sale volume and help deliver ROI.

5 tips for working with coupon affiliate sites

Coupon sites can be a valuable channel to get reach and drive sales for your products. But it’s important to know that they aren’t the same as your regular affiliates. You need to take extra steps when choosing coupon sites to partner with to ensure positive ROI from your efforts. Here are 5 tips that can help:

Pick the right type of platform

Coupon sites aren’t homogenous. There are actually many different kinds of coupon platforms that will be more or less suited to help you reach your affiliate marketing goals. While there is some overlap, here’s a breakdown of the major types:

General coupon sites

These coupon sites are the ones shoppers are most familiar with. They’re huge platforms like Coupons.com and Offers.com that aggregate all sorts of coupons for different kinds of products. These well known sites tend to rank well in search results and as a result attract a lot of traffic from people searching for discounts. They also market to email subscribers who regularly check for the latest deals.

Curated coupon sites

Instead of publishing any and every discount they’re handed (e.g. 5% off your next purchase), curated coupon sites focus on displaying the most attractive deals (e.g. buy one get one free!). These sites can be generalized, or they can focus on a specific product niche like video games, fashion, etc. These daily deal sites tend to do more to engage their audiences with related content than general coupon sites:

Loyalty sites

Loyalty sites are coupon platforms that offer a commission of their own to customers. There are a lot of places around the web to find coupons, but these sites encourage shoppers to source discounts from them exclusively by offering cash-back bonuses. Ebates is one popular example of a loyalty site.

Browser extensions

Browser extensions are a fairly new technology that make it possible for shoppers to discover discounts from coupon sites while they’re browsing around the web. People who install the extensions on browsers like Google Chrome or Firefox will find suggestions for relevant coupons as they checkout. Honey was the first tool like this on the web, but now other couponing sites are making their own browser extensions to compete.

While these tools are great for encouraging conversions on site, they don’t do much to broaden your reach since shoppers won’t even discover the coupon until they’re already checking out.

Coupon forums

Coupon forums are online communities consumers join to share and discuss the latest deals around the web. Popular platforms like Slickdeals get millions of daily site visits and generally have a cult following of loyal members. Often, coupon forums are a place to discuss unusual savings opportunities from coupon glitches (e.g. 100% discount). But people also go to these platforms to share regular discounts that offer value.

With some coupon forums, there are options to advertise with them directly. You can also enlist the help of forum members to suggest your coupons, as long as the relationship doesn’t go against the rules and guidelines for the platform.

Coupon bloggers

Coupon bloggers are another underutilized platform to get reach for your promos and discounts. There are quite a few niche bloggers out there who offer savings and couponing advice. Many attract a massive following of avid readers, such as Coupon Mom and Krazy Coupon Lady. They’ve also built a more personal relationship with their audiences, making them loyal and attentive to suggestions.

Most coupon bloggers will have a dedicated page where they display suggested discounts from brands. You can also enter into a more traditional affiliate relationship with these bloggers and get your coupons featured in their blog content or email messages.

Always audit your coupon sites

If you’re not new to affiliate marketing, you’re probably already aware that there’s plenty of spam and abuse in the industry. Just like with any other new affiliate, businesses should carefully audit a coupon site before partnering with them.

Remember that the primary goal of a coupon site is to attract traffic and earn commission from any and all coupons they display, not just yours. This reality leads some coupon sites to engage in spammy tactics to get in front of your shoppers. For example, say you don’t currently have any promotions available for a coupon site you regularly work with. They could still be running PPC ad campaigns using your brand name to attract traffic back to their site. But instead of offering your valid coupons, they display outdated or fake ones. It happens all the time.

You can avoid working with these spam-laden coupon sites by performing a thorough audit. Start by browsing their site and testing out a few coupon codes yourself. If you immediately come across some invalid coupons, you don’t want to work with them.

Next you can check their site traffic. Most coupon sites receive a lot of traffic from search (70-80%) but they also attract some traffic from email marketing and other tactics. If a site’s traffic from search is unusually high, that could mean they use a deceptive PPC strategy to get clicks.

You can use a free tool like Alexa to see what percentage of traffic a coupon site gets from search. Here’s an analysis of RetailMeNot:

Once you do start working with coupon affiliate sites, you can also regularly audit Google search results looking for signs of deceptive practices. Google “yourbrand coupons” and see if the first page of search results show anything misleading about your promotions. Or better yet, simply disallow coupon sites from bidding on your brand name at all in PPC.

Negotiate for better placement

Most coupon sites are a treasure trove for shoppers — they’re overwhelmed with choices for great deals from various brands. You don’t want your coupons to be among the many buried at the bottom of a page. Get them to appear front and center, then you can maximize sales and ROI from your investment.

Most coupon sites are open to negotiating for better placement, such as on their home page, in a header/sidebar, or in their email newsletter. You will likely need to increase their commission a bit to achieve this, but usually these top spots are worth it if you want to drive a high volume of transactions.

Optimize coupons on your own site

Many brands today make the mistake of creating promotional offers only to market them on couponing sites. But there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give them a boost on your native website as well to encourage conversions without losing on commissions.

So be sure to maintain a native coupon page on your site where visitors can go to find all your deals in one place. If you’re promoting a big sale, you can also display your coupons in your site header/footer or a sidebar.

You should also optimize coupon redemption in your checkout process. This is important no matter if shoppers found your promotions natively or through a coupon site. If your number one priority is to drive as many conversions as possible, then by all means put your promo code box front and center on the checkout page for all to see. You can even include it as its own step in the checkout process:

Then most people will feel compelled to go find a promo code and complete their purchase.

You can also make your promo code box a little more discreet by hiding it behind a “Enter promo code” link. This way many people will continue through checkout without paying it much attention. Either way, just ensure you optimize your promo code box to align with your marketing priorities.

Get more reach with the help of micro-influencers

If you’re having a huge sale and want to get even more reach for your promo codes than what your coupon affiliates alone have to offer, then consider partnering with micro-influencers.

Micro-influencers are regular people with an engaged social following who have a genuine interest in your brand and its products. Finding the right ones to work with is easy enough using influencer platforms like Dealspotr, Klear, or Tomoson. Enlist a team of micro-influencers to recommend your products (promo code included) to their friends on social media to get more reach and drive more sales.

Wrapping up

Ecommerce has become such a competitive landscape, brands need all the extra help they can get to maintain a competitive edge. Offering discounts to consumers and commission to coupon sites can seem like a challenging way to achieve ROI, unless you optimize your strategy.

Create compelling coupons to attract your audience, partner with the most relevant and trustworthy coupon sites, and do your best to maximize the reach and impact of your discounts. Then you’ll see what a valuable asset coupon sites can be to your affiliate marketing efforts.

About the Author:
Michael Quoc is the founder and CEO of Dealspotr, a crowdsourced savings platform that connects emerging brands, influencers and shoppers around today’s best deals. Dealspotr makes influencer marketing easier and more cost-effective for e-commerce brands.

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