Coupon codes — and the sites they end up on — can work for or against your company. That’s why understanding how to track and control them is crucial to your bottom line. If a discount code goes viral at the wrong moment, it can cost you a lot of money if you don’t have a plan to limit distribution or curtail the impact.
The best coupon strategy begins before the code is created and distributed. Before releasing your discount to the world, follow the outline below to make sure you have all the data.
Identify Your Customers
Many shoppers are highly discount-motivated, but it varies by industry and customer profile. Identifying your customers and their habits will help you decide if using coupons and discount codes is worth the trouble. Specifically, look for your customer’s reaction to small price decreases or increases. Did a small price drop lead to a large increase in orders or vice versa? If your customers are extremely price-sensitive, coupons can help.
Find Your Customers
After you’ve identified your customer base and segmented them by defining traits such as average order value (AOV), frequency of purchase, first-time or repeat customer, and the channel they used to discover your brand, you’re poised to take the next step, segmentation.
The Benefits of Segmentation
By segmenting your customer base, you can target your sales strategy to each segment in the most effective manner. Some customers will be hesitant to convert without a coupon, and some will be highly motivated to purchase without one. Figuring out which bucket your customers belong to will help you narrow down your approach to coupons.
Coupon Sites: An Overview
When a coupon site obtains a code for your brand indirectly, they make money by capturing web traffic and providing alternatives to your brand. They may list an eCommerce brand as a competitor, and make money from ads on the site.
The more reputable sites are active affiliates of the brands for which they list coupons. They drive sales to a brand’s website and profit from the referral. It’s preferable to cultivate a real relationship from top coupon sites rather than have your codes pirated with little benefit to your brand.
Pros and Cons of Coupon Codes
Coupons tend to raise the AOV and can encourage customers to switch loyalty to your brand.
Coupons can drive conversions for undecided customers who would otherwise abandon their carts.
Coupons can be offered directly on your site, preventing customers from bouncing in search of a code on some other website.
Coupons can help you test different pricing strategies and potentially maximize revenue.
The presence of a coupon code box at checkout may cause customers to bounce, searching other sites for a code.
If the customer falls prey to a fake code that doesn’t work on your website, the resulting frustration could drive them away.
You could end up paying a double commission — once to the site or affiliate for driving the traffic your way, and the cost of the discount out of your profit margin. However, if you’re using Refersion’s platform we can help prevent this from happening.
Limiting coupon usage
Monitoring coupon sites is a hefty task. That’s why you should begin early in your coupon implementation phase before re-shares get out of control. You can always opt for the more drastic measure of not using any codes at all and taking the box off the checkout page.
But let’s say the pros outweigh the cons and you want to use coupons while working with coupon sites. Here are some ways to track and limit coupon code usage so that you can stay on top of the game.
Terms and Conditions
Update your conditions to prohibit the unauthorized use and redistribution use of coupon codes. Make sure that you set specific parameters on the code’s usage, such as being only for new customers, repeat customers, leads from a particular channel, etc., so that when a violation occurs, there are clear boundaries. You can contact the offending site or affiliate and refer to them to the contract.
Make Coupon Sites Your Affiliates
If some of the coupon sites siphoning your traffic are reputable, reach out and make them an offer to become your affiliate. That way, you can offer coupon codes through an authorized outlet and still benefit from traffic and revenue they are sending you.
Hit Them in the SEO
Coupon sites often compete for your brand’s keywords to direct shoppers to their website before they even reach yours. One way that coupon sites do this is through trademark bidding — including your brand name their Google Ads, which your terms and conditions need to ban. To counter this traffic diversion, build your own SEO so that the terms “your brand” + “coupon” yield your site first.
To do this, build a webpage on your domain with keywords referencing coupons, discounts, and offers. Optimize your keywords to rank for these search terms. Keep it updated with new offers and make it easy for visitors to find, so they don’t bounce away to search for codes. Make sure you keep this page updated with active codes. Adding a warning message about inactive codes is also a great idea.
On this same page, you’ll want to add an invite field that allows customers to subscribe to your mailing list to receive legitimate offers.
Here’s an example of how a “spin the wheel” feature is used on bumblebeelinens.com after the customer provides their email address.
Furthermore, make sure to list some coupons on this page that they can use with their current order. By keeping customers on your site, you limit the risk of bounce, cart abandonment, and frustration for your visitors.
Redirect Coupon Searches
Offering lower-priced SKUs and featuring them more prominently for the discount-driven shopper might not sway a coupon hunter from searching for a discount code. Instead, try setting a pop-up to trigger at checkout and offer an instant coupon at a nominal rate. If it’s faster and easier for customers to check out immediately rather than search, they are more likely to stay.
If a cart is abandoned, an email offering a coupon for finishing an order is useful to nudge customers into completing a purchase. Pop-ups that trigger when a visitor starts to leave the page can also help capture more orders.
Without the data metrics to measure the success of each method, you can’t make an informed decision. Only by seeing the impact of each coupon code on your bottom line can you decide whether to continue offering these discounts. Watching the key performance indicators (KPIs) for each affiliate is a crucial first step in determining who may be profiting by abusing discount codes.
Refersion offers affiliate management tools to onboard and verify affiliates. Our programs and partners allow you to track the origination of referral codes and monitor their usage. By flagging suspicious activity, you can take a closer look and decide whether to warn the affiliate or terminate your business relationship.
Since most codes begin their distribution cycle at the affiliate level before it is picked up by a coupon site, you can control a lot of coupon trafficking at this stage. By segmenting your affiliates and taking a closer look at questionable commission trends, you can intercept the misused codes before they go viral. Since affiliates enter into a contract with your company, they are easier to correct than a viral coupon site. Stopping the leak at its source is your best long-term strategy.
We Have the Solutions
Refersion tracks all the data you need to make informed decisions about your affiliates, in real-time. Track sales, monitor commission payouts, verify affiliate information, and automate payments all from one dashboard. You can ban and block affiliate commissions from suspicious sources and deactivate codes and discounts that are being abused. With the wide range of services that we and our partner apps and agencies have to offer your business, you can make the most of your affiliate network and control coupon code distribution to support your bottom line. Try our platform free for 14 days and see how it all works!