Coupon codes have evolved slowly in the Affiliate Marketing industry, but now represent a new realm of opportunity and optimism.
Consumers have used coupons for online shopping discounts for over 20 years. As consumer demand for online coupons rose, affiliate websites like RetailMeNot.com, Savings.com, and Coupons.com were created to meet and monetize this demand. And, over time, coupon codes provided by affiliates evolved slightly to increase conversion and value to the Affiliate Marketing relationship. For example, a specific vanity code branded to an affiliate site or a code more easily remembered (e.g., Save10) tends to be more effective than a random code. Coupons specifically designed to increase shopping cart value (e.g., 10% off a purchase of $100 or more) are also used to increase the value of an online transaction for affiliate and merchant partners. These optimization techniques have one thing in common—they represent only minor evolutionary progress when compared to traditional coupons consumers have used for over 100 years. With the plethora of member data available to affiliates today, so much more is possible and significant evolution is inevitable.
Coupon and loyalty affiliate companies have much data about their members. This data includes demographic details, as well as purchase habits and interests. Armed with such data, affiliates could significantly optimize further if they had the ability to present coupons specific to each member. Another level of optimization could occur if these affiliates could react to consumer decisions in real-time, but coupon codes for any particular merchant are constrained by a merchant’s shopping cart and the need for that merchant to create coupons manually and significantly ahead of a consumer’s purchase decision. But what would our Affiliate Marketing world look like if this constraint were lifted? What would be possible if affiliates could create codes on demand that transparently worked in a merchant’s shopping cart?
With the ability to create coupons on demand, affiliates could customize codes to its members based on real-time circumstances. Over time, and with A/B testing, codes could be optimized to each individual versus the general population optimization that occurs today. In this environment, one member might react better to coupons that expire within hours while another may perform better with several days to consider a purchase. Or, a particular member may convert at a much higher rate when offered coupons targeted to certain items already in their cart. With the ability to create member and situational targeted coupons specific to each combination of circumstances, affiliates will begin to add value beyond anything seen before in the Affiliate Marketing industry. This is value only a particular affiliate can contribute with access to their member data and behavior.
Personalized coupons are the inevitable evolution of online coupons as technology allows for real-time coupon creation by affiliates. Much stronger conversion rates, higher shopping cart order values, and greater customer acquisition are all possible with the ability to A/B test and optimize on an individual basis. Of course, this will serve to restore the value offered by coupon and loyalty affiliates once again in our industry.
Choots Humphries is the Co-President and Co-Founder of LinkConnector Corporation.
Published by FeedFront Magazine, Issue 46