One of the big hot topics these days is the idea that coupon sites don’t add value.  We have all heard numerous “experts” in the affiliate marketing space complain that a lot of coupon sites don’t add value and I totally see their side of the argument, but why do they have to add value?   Why can’t a coupon site just gain you the customer?

We’ve all gone offline, or online, looking for a specific product right?  So answer me this then.  Do you just go into the one store, look at the price and then buy it no matter the cost or do you shop around to see if you can buy it somewhere else for cheaper?   It is the exact same product after all so why should you pay more than you have to?   Contrary to what my kids might think I don’t have a money tree in the backyard so I’m going to several stores that I think will have that product at a good price.   And wherever I find it the cheapest that’s where I’m going to buy it from.

So let’s apply this to the online model.

Store A

  1. We have a commodity product
  2. I know it’s available at multiple stores
  3. I search for the product and find it at Store A
  4. The price is a little higher than I thought so I look for coupons to bring the cost down
  5. There’s no coupons around on any coupon sites

Store B

  1. We have the same commodity product
  2. I couldn’t find coupons for it at Store
  3. I search for the product again on search engines and find it at Store A
  4. The price is a little higher than I thought so I look for coupons to bring the cost down
  5. I search again online for coupon
  6. Eureka!
  7. I purchase the product at Store B

 Now you’re right when you say that that coupon site didn’t add value, but they sure got my business and isn’t that what merchants are after?   From this standpoint we need to stop looking at coupon sites as a one-off and rather as a means of acquiring the customer and not letting our competition acquire them instead.   After all, the amount of consumers using coupons isn’t going anywhere but up according to a eMarketer report from Oct 2013:

eMarketer graph depicts coupon usage

Now does that mean that using coupon sites should be your only way to drive sales?  The short answer is no, but if you’re willing to go against 110 Million US Consumers and not provide coupons and/or work with coupon sites then do at your own peril.

Here’s a workable strategy you can use effectively AND keep coupon sites in your program:

  • Limit the amount of coupon sites within your affiliate program
  • Turn off user submission where applicable
  • Use product based deals to blow out inventory
  • Use exclusive coupon codes
  • Use minimum values to increase AOV (average order value)
  • Use new customer coupon codes to drive new customers through your funnel
  • Use coupon codes to optimize the user experience
  • If the merchant has lower margins then lower the commission of coupon affiliates
  • Use coupon codes to find out more about your customers
  • Extend coupons to only the first 100 customers for example to increase immediacy
  • Always include a short term expiry date in the description
  • Change out coupon codes continually to keep the codes fresh for coupon sites and their users
  • Know your customer lifetime value (CLV)
  • Upgrade your up-sell strategy so consumers buy more than they intended
  • Create a successful remarketing strategy so you can “keep” the consumer for life and not just the one purchase

It’s important to take all of these points into consideration when planning your overall marketing plan. Yes, coupon sites themselves don’t add value, but adding an effective promotional strategy including some of points mentioned above into your marketing plan can truly be an effective way to utilize this mega-traffic source. 

If you have any feedback, questions etc please feel free to email me at any time,


Randy Norton
rnorton at