No month passes without me returning to the question of coupons and how they do/may affect merchants’ brands.
Not too long ago, a colleague of mine, Chris Bishop of 7thingsmedia, addressed this very question in an excellent post on how to “protect [a] brand whilst competing on price and protecting [one’s] product margin” in the affiliate marketing context. He boiled the essence of coupon/offers usage “without harming your brand” down to five points:
1. Do your math to ensure that your profit margin is protected (you do not want to go into the negative, but make your money too)
2. Ensure that the affiliate(s) who promote(s) your coupon/offer adheres to the IAB’s Affiliate Market Council’s voucher code guidelines
3. Announce the coupon/offer through your affiliate network, OPM, and affiliates, and do it well in advance (for everyone to be able to market it effectively)
4. Clearly spell out the coupon/offer-related Terms & Conditions and any restrictions that affiliates and/or consumers should be aware of
5. Ensure that everyone who needs to be aware of the offer in your internal team is aware of it (especially your Customer Service team)
Based on what I wrote here, I would add 5 more points:
6. Make sure to keep your coupons/offers fresh (not the same offer being repeated every holiday under a new name)
7. Do not offer “less-than” coupons through affiliates
8. Flee from problematic coupon codes and complex redemption instructions
9. Have a juicy creative to go with every coupon offer
10. Remember to reinforce the deal with a dedicated landing page for every coupon
No, using coupons and deals does not have to equal compromising or hurting one’s brand. With a proper approach, and a team of skilled affiliate marketers to push your offer, top affiliate program management you can actually generate a substantial amount of incremental sales by adding coupons/offers to your online marketing arsenal.