There are a lot of ways to nurture leads and encourage consumers to convert in the digital marketing world. But if you work in e-commerce, coupons really are a must.
One of the main reasons people like to shop online is options. Many won’t even bother purchasing from a business if they can’t get some kind of discounted price. According to Hawk Incentives research, 97% of consumers look for deals when they shop and 92% are always looking.
Offering coupons is a great way to drive sales for your eCommerce business. Working with coupon affiliate sites is an even more effective way to get more reach and unique traffic from shoppers looking for deals.
Mixing coupons, affiliate marketing, and social media
Between coupons, affiliate marketing, and social media — many amateur marketers think about and optimize these strategies in isolation. But if you want to develop a strategy that really drives your bottom line, then you should focus on finding ways to integrate them to be more effective overall.
Social media marketing and coupons actually work quite well together to deliver audiences what they want. According to a MarketingSherpa survey, the biggest reason people follow brands on social media is to receive coupons/promotions:
And when you think about it, many coupon affiliate sites are social platforms in and of themselves that businesses can use to reach new audiences, attract traffic, and drive conversions.
Finding the right coupon affiliate sites to work with
There are actually a lot of different kinds of coupon sites you can choose from for affiliate marketing. These sites usually use an affiliate network to connect with brands and distribute their promo codes, so you’ll likely need to join one of the major affiliate platforms first:
- Pepperjam Network
- Impact Radius
- CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction)
- Rakuten Linkshare
- Affiliate Window
Then, you’ll be all set to link up and work with coupon affiliate sites. Here are some of the most valuable ones for your social marketing mix:
- Traditional coupon sites — Huge, catch-all coupon sites like Savings.com or Groupon are great platforms to get some initial reach for your coupons. Because they’re well known by consumers, working with traditional coupon affiliate sites can give people more confidence to click through from your social posts to find and redeem coupons.
- Niche coupon sites — Instead of publishing any and all coupons that come their way, niche coupon sites focus on curating the latest and best related to certain categories of products (e.g. technology, clothing, etc.). TechBargains is a good example of a niche coupon site. These sites also tend to build a more engaged, attentive audience, making real estate on their website more valuable for your coupon marketing goals.
- Coupon forums — Of all the types of coupon sites out there, coupon forums are the most like social platforms in and of themselves. Forum content is created by consumers, not brands. Users post and discuss their favorite coupons they’ve found across the web. Slickdeals is the most popular coupon forum out there, but there are others. You can pay to advertise on a coupon forum site, or potentially work with a forum user to suggest your coupons (just make sure it’s in line with the forum’s user guidelines).
- Coupon bloggers — There are plenty of niche finance and savings bloggers around the web you can partner up with to promote your coupons. Krazy Coupon Lady and Hip2Save are popular examples. Many have a dedicated coupon page attached to their blog, and/or feature discounts in their blog content. They’ll also promote this content to their social audience, which you can then share to serve as social proof for your business.
There are two other kinds of coupon affiliate sites I didn’t go into detail on — browser extensions and loyalty sites. Browser extensions are for opportunistic shoppers and don’t integrate into social media promotion. Loyalty sites also attract a very specific audience, and while they’re great for coupon marketing, attracting new loyal users from social media is really the prerogative of loyalty sites themselves, not the brands that affiliate with them.
Vetting potential coupon affiliate sites
Before choosing a coupon site to work with, make sure you read the fine print of their affiliate program. Most will want a percentage commission of the revenue generated from the coupons promoted on their site. Keep an eye out for hidden fees and conditions that could impact your strategy or your bottom line.
You should also ensure the platform isn’t using deceptive PPC strategies to attract traffic from search. Some coupon sites will use search PPC ads for their affiliates’ coupons, regardless of whether there are any active coupons available.
Start by looking at how much traffic the coupon site gets from search. Healthy, honest platforms will use email marketing, social media promotions and other tactics to attract traffic in addition to search and PPC. Platforms with unusually high search traffic (85-90%) should be a red flag.
Do this using a free browser plugin like Alexa. Visit the coupon site, check Alexa, then click through to “Search Analytics” to see the percentage of traffic from search.
This analysis of RetailMeNot shows they receive 71% of their traffic from search:
Next, browse their coupon offerings and test out a some of the links. If you immediately come across old or non-working discounts, their platform could have some user experience issues—or worse, they could be employing spam-laden tactics to boost their commissions—that you don’t want your brand to be associated with.
Choosing what type of coupons to offer
You probably already have a general idea of the various types of e-commerce coupons you can offer, such as:
- Dollar amount off
- Percentage off
- Free shipping
The coupons you create to promote on affiliate sites and social media should depend on your underlying goals. For example, free shipping can help drive conversions. Percentage off can encourage larger purchases. Buy-one-get-one is a great way to clear out excess inventory.
You should also consider what kinds of coupons offers work well with social promotion. Recurring (weekly/monthly) discounts are a great way to build an attentive audience on social media.
Pre-launch offers can help you generate buzz. Holiday/seasonal offers will help you get into the social media shopping frenzy during the holiday season.
Just clearly identify what marketing goals you want to achieve by adding coupon affiliate sites to your social media marketing mix. Then let these goals drive the kind of promotional offers you create.
Optimizing your strategy
Once you’ve picked your coupon affiliate platforms and created the coupons you plan to promote, you can take steps to optimize your strategy through social promotion and other tactics:
Negotiate for top placement
Getting your coupons on affiliate sites is easy. Getting prime placement takes some effort. Especially if you’re working with traditional coupon sites, it’s easy to get your discounts buried on a back page where people never see them.
So make sure you negotiate for top placement so you get the most out of their platform for potential reach. Usually, you can do this by contacting them directly and agreeing on a higher commision rate to appear on the homepage, in a sidebar, or other highly visible locations.
Share with your social audiences
Once your coupons are live on the affiliate site, you’re ready to start promoting them to your social audiences on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. It’s good practice for just about every social media platform to include attractive visuals with your post, such as the product you’re discounting.
To get more reach on social media, make sure you use hashtags related to your coupon affiliate site. This makes it possible to join social conversations surrounding the platform.
You might also consider @mentioning your coupon platform, prompting them to share your social post as well.
Work with micro-influencers to get more social reach
Probably the most valuable way to promote your coupons on social media is with the help of influencers. You probably already have an idea what a strong impact social media has on purchase decisions, while 92% of consumers trust peer recommendations over branded advertising.
Micro-influencers — niche social media personalities with less than 10,000 followers — are the peers everyone’s turning to for recommendations. Enlist them to recommend your products and share your coupons to get more reach and serve as social proof for your business.
Niche micro-influencers are actually fairly easy to find if you use an influencer marketplace such as Klear or Tribegroup. Dealspotr is a user-run curated coupon platform, but it also includes an influencer marketplace feature where you can find and partner up with social media influencers to share and promote your promo codes to their followers.
Just like with any marketing strategy, you should wrap up your campaigns by measuring the success of your efforts. You’ll want to have tracking and analytics in place to answer questions like:
- Which coupon types are the most effective at driving my affiliate/social media marketing goals?
- Which coupon affiliate platforms bring the most traffic to my site?
- Which social media platforms are the most effective to market my coupons?
- Which influencers generate the most reach/traffic/conversions for my coupons?
Coupon codes themselves are inherently trackable, so just make sure you have a system in place to measure success. For example, you can use different codes for different social media platforms or influencers to help identify the most effective choices.
Use these insights to inform your long-term investments, optimizing your coupon marketing campaigns for better ROI.
The bottom line
Given consumer expectations about shopping online and today’s competitive e-commerce landscape, coupons are a must for any effective e-commerce marketing campaign. But instead of viewing them as one strategy among many, instead think of them as a tool you can use as part of your other marketing efforts, like email and social media.
Create the right coupons for your goals, give them more marketing power with the help of coupon affiliate sites, then double down with social promotion. This three-pronged strategy can potentially double or triple a coupon’s power to drive your bottom line.