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Voucher Code Affiliates

Do they add value?



7:53 am on Oct 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I have not posted on WebmasterWorld for a few years, but when considering where to open discussion about this, I thought there might be webmasters here on both sides of the fence.

I have had an affiliate programme for perhaps 5 years, and in the early days, the affiliates brought me sales that I could not reach myself. They sometimes did it through clever keyword research, sometimes because their customer base was related, email marketing... many ways.

A new way has popped up recently, that of Voucher and Discount codes.
What can happen, is your customer gets to the checkout, then thinks, "now I wonder if this merchant has a voucher code". He/she then Googles "site name voucher code", finds a website proporting to have one, this site picks up the cookie, gets a % for the sale, having added no value.

Having done some test on a merchant affiliate programme, we reduced affiliate sales by 60%+ by targetting these keyphrases, and persuding the customer to come straight back to us, instead of through the affiliate.

Clearly some people doing this will still go to the affiate site only to be disappointed.

This happens. It is massive.

Now, my question is this. Do these voucher code sites add any value? does it depend on the merchant? If you have voucher codes, do you get more sales because of it, or are they just creaming off the top?


6:56 am on Oct 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator 10+ Year Member

This could very well be a way to make some affiliates unhappy and for you to get a bad name amongst affiliate marketers. How about if your tracking kept the original cookie from the aff site so you do not over write the affs cookie?

Another thing to consider, who loses out when the customer gets a discount? You, your affiliates, or both of you proportionally?


8:08 am on Oct 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator ianturner is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

There are two routes that people can take with voucher code sites - the one you describe in the scenario is one.

The other route is people are looking to buy widgets, and look for 'widget voucher code', 'widget discount' etc - They find the voucher code site which tells them merchants A, B & C have voucher offers at the moment and then sends them through to you as the merchant.

I assume that you would have no issues with the second scenario as this will capture genuine new customers who may never have otherwise found your site.

The real issue is the scenario where the customer leaves your shopping cart looking for a voucher code and then comes back with having been referred back by the affiliate - so you are paying the affiliate even though the customer had been to your site before he had been cookied by the affiliate.

If the affiliate doesn't have a voucher code for you site but is still tagetting <'your site' voucher code> keywords it does seem to be a little underhand on the part of the affiliate.

I would have thought there were easy ways of preventing this behaviour - like IP tracking the visitor and storing (and locking) the affiliate cookie, if there is one, in the shopping cart as soon as the visitor makes his first placement in the cart.


6:44 pm on Nov 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

eljefe3, Ian,
Thanks for your answers.
If an affiliate is working against a merchant, does it matter if you get a bad name with them? Fortunately affiliates are only ever a part of an internet marketing plan, and there are plenty of good ones about who do not do vouchers.

eljefe3, I have been pondering your comment :

Another thing to consider, who loses out when the customer gets a discount? You, your affiliates, or both of you proportionally?

Me. So I have solved this, by reducing the payout to the voucher code affiliates. Thx. Might not be popular, but I think fair. That % can then perhaps go into a discount code.

I am doing some testing to see if there are many people looking for that. If there are, I guess that would mean that these sites do add some value, but looking at how they are built, I suspect the returns are much better with "Brand" discount code.

The more I look at this, the less value I see in these sites for the merchant. I wonder if the big brands have cottoned on yet? I suspect not.


7:30 pm on Nov 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator ianturner is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I'm looking at a voucher code program at the moment and will probably be launching in the next few weeks, your comments are enlightening.

My first round of voucher codes is going to be targetting new customers to see if we can get them to repeat buy more - I haven't decided on whether to go with affiliate voucher codes at all yet - though the system has that capability.


8:13 am on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

well I am a coupon (voucher) affiliate and I think they Can add value & sales to a merchant.

But some merchants should Never have a coupon code box on their site:

*ones that never offer coupon codes through Any channel. (plenty of those out there)

*ones that don't have the ability to restrict sales to approved (for affiliates) codes and pay on those only. ...through software

The empty box will entice some of your customers to leave checkout, but the merchant can control who, if anybody, gets a commision.


9:35 am on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The empty box will entice some of your customers to leave checkout

Absolutely, suicide to have that.
Do it off the URL if you must have them.
Onepointone, I think that is my problem, if I do not have a discount code, why am I on the voucher code site? I did not make that clear in my first post I realise, and it is key to the discussion.

If I never have a discount code, I should not have my customers trapped by a discount code website.


2:55 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have some symapathy with massive brands that never give out codes. People do visit our voucher site for 'brand discount codes' etc in significant volumes WHEN THE BRAND IS STRONG. I'm talking about brands like Dell, Currys, Next etc.

However, most merchants just don't have the brand clout to worry about this issue.

For example, take a typical merchant X (ie not one of the super brands) - from my anayltics data - we see that only 4% of our visitors arrive at our site on paid or unpaid keywords such as 'X discount code' or 'X discount voucher'. The other 96% actually find the merchant's site by browsing around our site. So 96% of the commission we generate from merchant X is ONLY because we are increasing merchant X's brand awareness!

Is it therefore fair to reduce commission rates or restrict the involvement of such affiliates?


3:30 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Now that is very interesting, thank you for bringing that up. You see I have no real brand, for a start one site only launched 2 weeks ago, it cannot be any weaker.

Can you expand at all? you see that goes directly in the face of what I have found, and have proved on one site. So there is something else at play.

Could it depend on type of product?

All the examples I have are for expensive clothing.

I can see what you say happening perhaps with white goods or with electronics? As a shopper, if I am looking for a comodity, I do not care where it comes from, provided I have a level of confidence, and I get a good price. Often I will make silly choices for the sake of 1 :)
That is all personal though, I have no proof as it is not my field.


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