In my experience as an affiliate manager I see the value in providing coupons to affiliates. It gives your affiliates another way to convert visitors to their site in customers of yours. Do all affiliate programs need to have coupons? No, but if your products/services are set up for coupons then I highly recommend developing a well-rounded coupon strategy to introduce to all your affiliates (not just coupon affiliates).
During the set up process of clients affiliate programs (even merchants with established programs) I like to have them create a set of coupons to offer their affiliates from the outset. Affiliate coupons should not be intended only for coupon/deal oriented affiliates, but also content, media buying affiliates, social media affiliates. Each affiliate has a different way of promoting merchants products and the more tools given the better chance for success.
So the question you are now asking is; what coupons should be offered?
There are six common types of coupons for merchants to offer affiliates, but please note that not all will be applicable to every program. The six coupon types are: monthly coupons, coupons that are valid from the beginning of the year to the end (i.e. January 1 – December 31), holiday related coupons, short-term coupons, affiliate exclusive coupons, and deal of the day coupons.
1. Monthly coupons
These coupons should target different price points and should change from month to month. We recommend clients try and make the banners/links associated with the coupons dynamic so that the affiliate does not have to change creatives monthly and they can be assured it will update automatically. Having happy affiliates increases the chance of program success. Examples of monthly coupons include: $5 off $50 order and $15 off $100 orders. Each month the offer would change either the amount of the discount, the threshold, or both.
2. Coupons that are valid from the beginning of the year to the end
The main purpose of these coupons is to get the customers to spend more than the average customer would. For example, Free Shipping on orders over $50 or Save $10 on orders over $100. This gets the customer in the mindset that the more they spend the more they will save.
3. Holiday specific coupons
Customers love to save money, especially around the holidays, so create coupons that will excite the customers (an affiliates too). An item simply on sale does nothing, but offering a percentage off or dollar amount off gives the customer more motivation to buy, and it is free money to them. The holidays are right around the corner, so be prepared with coupons specific to your business and the holiday.
4. Short-term coupons
These coupons are valid for a weekend, a 2 – 3 day period during the week, or even a full week, but the purpose is to get the customer to act and spend immediately. If weekends are historically slow then offer a discount to create buzz and spur action (i.e. 20% + Free Shipping on all orders). Also, if you have a product that you want to move then a good strategy is to create a coupon that will aid in that (i.e. $100 off all widgets – this weekend only).
5. Affiliate exclusive coupons
These coupons are self-explanatory, they are meant for affiliates only. Affiliate exclusive coupons should be reserved for the affiliates that you value the most, but making sure they are aware you can do this is essential. Personally reaching out to affiliates that produce and add value with exclusive coupons can help cement a healthy relationship. Some affiliates do not want to promote coupons that the other affiliates are, so providing your top affiliates with their own coupons (with their own vanity codes) will help differentiate them from their competition.
6. Deal of the day coupons
These coupons are geared more towards retailers, but if you have a product that you want to promote, then creating a deal of the day coupon should be an option. Coupons like this should be as aggressive as possible in terms of a discount. If you are planning on implementing a deal of the day strategy be sure to create dynamic banners for affiliates. Affiliates are not going to want to update banners daily. The easier you make it for your affiliates the more they will want to promote your products/services.
A coupon strategy is another way to increase conversions for your affiliate program, but making sure they make financial sense (for the merchant) and are going to be used and accepted by affiliates is another piece to the puzzle. The six above mentioned coupon types gives you a foundation to create your strategy and solidify relationships with your current and future affiliates.
As always your comments are welcome. Please comment below or email me.