Many years ago I did an Affiliate Summit presentation entitled “20 Questions and Answers from Behind the Scenes.” I keep meaning to include some of that in my blog posts but never got around to it. Today I was talking to Ashleigh about a merchant who offered us an “exclusive coupon” that wasn’t exactly exclusive. It reminded me of this slide that turned out to be a pretty popular one:
Let’s talk about coupon codes in terms of these stair steps and their size.
General Coupon Codes
General coupon codes are the easiest to get and the bottom tier. You might be able to find these on the merchant’s website, their newsletters, and available for all public use. You are not offering your reader any extra value with these codes except maybe just to let them know that the merchant is having a sale if they wouldn’t already be going to the merchant site. Every coupon site will have these, but they are good to include with content so that your readers do not go searching other places for a coupon that might overwrite your cookie.
Affiliate Channel Exclusive Coupon Codes
When a merchant makes a coupon available only to the affiliate channel, you are providing a better deal to your visitor than the customer could get on the merchant site if they went directly. These are great because they give your visitor a reason to keep coming back to your site. When you advertise it as an “exclusive deal,” you are being genuine in that they won’t find the deal if they go directly to the merchant. That said, every other coupon and deal site will likely have these same coupons posted, so they don’t have a lot of unique value for you. Not all merchants will offer affiliate exclusives so be on the look out for them and when they do, take advantage of them.
Vanity coupon codes are deals that you can find on other sites (maybe even the merchant’s own site) but with some kind of identifier that the deal is for your readers. Fewer merchants do vanity codes because they have to set them up individually with the merchants. The benefit of a vanity code is that it is clear to your reader that you have a special relationship with the merchant and the deal LOOKS more exclusive than what they could get elsewhere. Just be careful not to heavily promote a vanity code that is a WORSE deal than other deals that the merchant is offering either on their site or through the affiliate channel. Consumers are savvy and you don’t want them to think you are taking advantage of them. Aim for vanity codes that are clearly associated with your site (I try to get either SUNNY or SREWARDS or SR10OFF or something like that for Sunshine Rewards).
Exclusive Coupon Codes
Coupon codes exclusive to your site are the goldmine of all coupon codes you can get from a merchant. This is a deal (usually for a limited time) that a customer cannot get anywhere else besides your site. It may or may not be a vanity code. That matters less than the actual deal itself. Usually you either have to be doing a lot of volume with a merchant or be a perfect niche site fit for them to get a true exclusive coupon code. Even better, some merchants will tie the commissions to the coupon code so that if another site scrapes the code and uses it, you still get the commission. Alternately, they may require that a certain link be used for the consumer to get the deal so people have to visit your site to be able to use the code. This is rarest of the coupon codes and worth the most to you.
Whether you are an affiliate looking for coupon codes for your site or a merchant trying to negotiate with affiliates, understanding the different types of coupon codes and their true value is extremely important!
Are there other types of coupon codes that you use in affiliate marketing? Anything that I missed?