Questions about Coupon Sites and my Affiliate Program

Coupons! Coupons! Coupons!  Yes Jan, we are going to talk about coupon sites today.  And yes, we are going to make a case for advertisers to not “throw out the baby with the bath water” when evaluating this category of affiliate.  Why?  Well, it is a very common question we receive from prospective clients when they are evaluating Outsourced Program Managers like JEBCommerce.  Coupon sites and why they are awful always comes up.  (Psst., we don’t think they are awful, and for good reason.)

It is such a frequent question that we’ve wrote about it here, here, here, here, here, here and many other places both on our blog and in others’ publications.  Here are a few of the most recent questions with my best attempt to answer them:

We don’t see any value in coupon sites, how do you prevent cart sniping?

There is really two questions in there.  Why do YOU see value in coupon sites and “how do you prevent cart sniping?”.  Let’s address the first.  The way the question is phrased I take issue with.  You are aggregating a large selection of possible affiliate partners under one tent, ie. “bad coupon sites that only grab sales you were going to get anyway with very little incremental value” when you do that.  Right?  The problem here is you combine fly by night coupon sites that simply scrape other sites’ content and legitimately provide no value to customer or advertiser with solid coupon and discount sites that have spent millions developing a niche, an audience and a compelling reason for that audience to only shop through them.  These are two wildly different groups of affiliates and should be treated completely different from each other.

You simply shouldn’t (I was going to say can’t, but I guess you can really do what you like) measure the success of a partnership merely by the perceived type of affiliate they are.  Many of the best coupon sites have unique audiences, drive an incredible amount of incremental revenue and new customer acquisition for our clients.  Believe me, some of them pleasantly surprise me when we evaluate them on their own merits.  And that is what you should be doing.  Determine your metrics for success and then evaluate each affiliate on those metrics regardless of category.  If it is new customer acquisition percentage, measure each coupon affiliate, and every affiliate, against your average and your goals.  If they fall under your goals, then contact them to see what you can do together to change that.  If they are hitting your goals, then thank them.  If you want 25% new customers, and Coupon Site A is generating 90% new customers (real world example), why do you think all coupon sites suck?  We have had clients remove all coupon sites before they reviewed their individual performance and compared them to their goals and they lost millions doing so.  The assumption that they’d get those sales anyway was simply untrue in the case of good, solid affiliates that happen to feature coupon sites.

So, why do WE see value in coupon sites?  Because we measure what our clients treasure, and we stack up each partner individually according to those treasures.  We put a category name on them after that.  You should too – I guarantee you’ll be surprised.

Now onto the second part of that question – How do you prevent cart sniping?

First, what is Cart Sniping?  From a blog post on incremental sales I wrote in 2013″

This is when a customer walks through an advertiser’s site, finds a product they want to purchase and adds it to their cart.  They go through the entire shopping cartprocess with every intention of completing the transaction and then search in another window for a coupon, deal or discount.  They find one, click through the link and make a purchase and the affiliate gets credit for the sale


It’s pretty safe to say that of the advertises who dislike coupon sites, the vast majority believe this is happening on every order.  Does this happen, you bet it does.  Does it happen all the time, with some affiliates yes, but not many.    How do you stop it?  Without good technology it can be very difficult, but many of the networks have technology that allows you to set the time allowed between adding to cart and clicking through an affiliate link.  This happens too quickly, they don’t get credit.  The technology is very cool and now available.  We use it on several programs and it has saved thousands and thousands of dollars on commissions.

So there ya go.  I hope you can see that there is a better way to manage these sites.  Want to know more, just ask us below!



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