Most often criticisms on implementing coupon for affiliates revolve around customer’s possibly seeing a coupon box on the check-out screen, and leaving the shopping cart to go out and search for a coupon. This causes the merchant to risk losing the sale (as the customer has left the shopping cart), and also possibly a reduction in profit as they get a coupon they weren’t aware of before making the decision to purchase.
There are several strategies a merchant can employ to guard against this:
You might think you’ll be leaving money on the table if you offer your own page with all (or some) of your discounts and coupons, but if you have put planning into the campaign, and have crafted your discounts to apply to very specific purchases or minimum order values, money really won’t be left on the table. It’s important not to get too hung up on this idea, after all any discount or coupon is going to help close the sale. If you offer a discount, assume ALL of your shoppers will be taking advantage of it during your planning. This way, anyone who does not it simply a bonus for you.
One of the best methods I’ve seen for offering your own discounts/coupons is to make available a box right next to the sub-total on the check-out. A box with a heading like, “Check for a discount on this”, or “Is there a coupon available for this purchase?” Upon clicking on the box, the customer will be shown available offers and discounts. If it’s for another product they don’t already have, then of course an easy option to add that to the cart should be made available.
Another tactic; simply check for each shopper whether or not they have an affiliate cookie or have been referred by an affiliate. If you have coupon affiliates, and they already have the cookie, offer the coupon box. If not, the page does not display a box for the customer to input a discount code.
Many merchants have completely forgone coupon “codes”. As an alternative, their e-commerce system allows for them to set-up a specific page or URL whereby any customer that lands on the page automatically receives the pre-determined discount. Therefore, there is no need to ever display a coupon box, nor give any indication to other customers not landing on that special discount page that there is any discount/coupon available at all.
All of these things can be tracked as well. It’s important to measure and consider if this is even a problem worth addressing. Most analytics packages would be able to tell you if a customer lands on your site with no affiliate cookie set, leaves the site and comes back with an affiliate cookie and discount code. If this occurs with only a handful of customers in relation to the large number of customers being referred originally from your affiliates, then consider if it’s worth it to even bother with the non-issue.
Coupons can be a great tool for affiliate program managers to use to acquire new affiliates and even possibly motivate affiliates for better placements for your links and banners. With an effective affiliate program management strategy, you can rest assured that coupons can be implemented and keep your affiliate program profitable and productive.