One of the most common questions I hear from new Merchants during their first few weeks of going live is, “Why are so many of my affiliate applications coming from coupon sites?”
Rest assured, this is a very common phenomenon and there are a variety of reasons why this occurs. It is not unusual for new programs to see their first influx of applications come from coupon or deal sites. For one, Affiliates can monitor when new programs go live on ShareASale via our RSS Feed, and many coupon / deal sites receiving the feed will sign up instantly for most programs as they come on board. Why, you ask? Well let’s think about your favorite coupon sites for a moment, what do they all have in common?
- They feature many retailers. The bigger the site, the more retailers or stores they will feature. It bodes well for a coupon site to have a large inventory of stores in order to provide their visitors with a wide selection of stores and brands.
- The retailers they feature span multiple categories. In other words, the site is not limited to one specific niche, it most likely will have many categories. Again, this gives the coupon site broader reach and more shopping opportunities for their user.
Coupon sites don’t necessarily need to take the time to research and comb through the available Merchant programs. The more the merrier in terms of partners in their eyes, which is reflected in the applications a new Merchant will see within the first few weeks.
Secondly, couponing is a part of the typical shopping experience for many consumers. According to statista.com, about 66% of U.S. consumers used online coupons in 2011, and eMarketer.com estimates this number will rise to 96.8 million in 2013. Naturally, as the number of consumers looking for deals increases, so does the number of websites marketing coupons and deals. So in a nutshell, there are loads of coupon sites out there.
96.8 million U.S. consumers will use an online coupon in 2013. – eMarketer.com
On the flip side, niche specific and content sites will require a little more time and energy researching potential partners. These sites may have specific criteria or products they are looking to market and will be more selective when considering new Merchants. Your Affiliate applications will diversify over time as the program matures, but there are a few things Merchants can do to help capture the attention of niche Affiliates:
|Provide a datafeed. If you are looking to work with Affiliates who focus on specific types of products, it’s in your best interest to provide the Affiliates with your product inventory.|
|Turn on Auto Deposit. This tool is often used as a filter by Affiliates when they are looking for new programs to join. If you have this feature on, you will increase the likelihood that your program will be listed in their search results. Additionally, auto deposit is a great way to ensure your program remains online, which is also a very important factor to prospective Affiliates.|
|Make a competitive offer. Do a little research to make sure your Affiliate program offer is competitive with the other Merchants in your space. This would include checking commission, cookie duration, promotions, and tools provided.|
|Max out search keywords. Utilize all 255 available characters to include specific key terms and phrases that are associated with your site and products.|
|Be sure to add a page on your site that promotes your Affiliate program. This is a great way to recruit Affiliates who are already interested in your site or who are doing an internet search for related terms and “affiliate program”. Include your co-branded recruitment link to the page so prospective Affiliates can join right from this page: http://www.shareasale.com/shareasale.cfm?merchantID=YOURMERCHANTID|
Finally, I think it’s really important for Merchants to monitor all of their Affiliate partners to ensure they are adding value to the retailer. This is true of all Affiliates, not just for the coupon and deals sites. Below are a few tips to help maintain quality in the program:
- Establish a program agreement and have clear guidelines in place for all Affiliates. Specifically speaking of coupon Affiliates, Merchants will want to list out the explicit rules regarding the use of their coupons. This might include how or where the Affiliate acquires the coupon, how the coupon is displayed, and what coupons the Affiliate may post.
- Consider all Affiliate applications carefully. I have listed out some tips and best practices for application review HERE.
- Review all Affiliate transactions. Utilize the reports offered to identify any unusual spikes or conversion patterns. Some key reports to help with this task are: Transaction Detail, Monthly Payment Review, Affiliate Timespan, and Year in Review.
- Familiarize yourself with available tools. ShareASale offers many comprehensive tools that can greatly assist Merchants in achieving specific program goals, below are three examples that are relevant to our topic today.