February 27, 2015

3 Signs Your Affiliate Program Has a Coupon Issue

Affiliate program coupon issues


Feel like coupon sites are cutting into your margins? Frustrated that they make up most of the volume of your affiliate program? Maybe you think they don’t drive any value to your sales funnel and only “steal” the commissions from honest, content-based affiliates?

Here are three signs that your affiliate program has an issue with coupon affiliates that you need to address:

1. Affiliate Commissions are Not Segmented Based on Attribution Data

If your affiliate commissions are not segmented according to attribution data, you’ll most likely be feeling frustration that coupon affiliates earn 100% commission on a sale. Since most affiliate tracking models rely on the last-click-wins method, coupon affiliates receive 100% of commissions for sales that are considered less valuable to the merchant. One solution is to integrate an attribution data vendor into your site, study all touch-points of a customer that leads to a sale, and segment commissions based on your findings.

2. Coupon Affiliates are Not Allowed in Your Affiliate Program

Some merchants we speak with are at such a loss with coupon sites that they boot all of them from the program. When you remove coupon publishers from your program, you relinquish all control from how your brand is perceived on those sites, as well as any other potential value you could get out of the partnership. Most of the larger sites have loyal subscribers to their email and social accounts, which can help with the dissemination of deals and promotions. In addition, as long as coupon sites are joined to your program, you have financial leverage in the relationship.

3. You Do Not Use Promo Code Blocking Technology

Coupon publishers manage thousands of codes daily and it is often not in their best interest to honor requests to remove codes from the website. This will often leave merchants frustrated as a coupon code for one channel gets blasted over the internet, possibly flipping the ROI of the sale and costing the merchant money. A few of the affiliate networks have understood this frustration from merchants. They have built into their technology the capability of canceling commissions if a specific code is used. You can cancel all commissions for that code, or assign a code to only one affiliate so only they will get commission if that code is used. If another affiliate publishes a code that was intended for another publisher  and attempts to get credit for the sale, the tracking technology will $0 out the commissions.

In summary, coupon sites have a ton of traffic and direct a portion of this traffic to your site. What the value of that traffic is has to be determined, based on research and data. Those insights must be used to influence the overall strategy of your affiliate program.
If you’re interested in learning more about the role of coupons in affiliate, download our free introductory slide deck.