Affiliate marketing: Employing voucher codes for incremental sales

How many times have you reached the final stage of the checkout process, spotted a “Have you got a voucher code?” box and gone off to search for one?

How many times have you reached the final stage of the checkout process, spotted a "Have you got a voucher code?" box and gone off to search for one?

As online shoppers become increasingly price sensitive, this consumer behavior is becoming more common, and the effect on the merchant is not entirely positive. If the customer does find a voucher code, they'll then get a discount on a purchase that they were probably going to complete anyway. And if they don't find one, they might still click on an affiliate link - the merchant then has to pay commission, but arguably the affiliate didn't contribute to the sale.

Fortunately, there are a number of measures you can employ to ensure that sales attributed to voucher code partners truly do add value to your marketing mix.

Hide the voucher code box

Add a click append to your affiliate links. This ensures that your voucher code box only appears if the user has clicked through from a legitimate voucher code link, discouraging the culture of a last minute search.

Use voucher codes strategically

Analyse the mix of affiliates driving traffic on your campaign. If affiliates are driving traffic that isn't converting, try issuing them with an exclusive code. Free delivery codes tend to convert best, but try basket-increasing codes like 10% off orders over £50 or ones that will contribute to strategic goals of your business. If your aim is to increase sales of a specific product type, issue a code exclusively for that range - your code doesn't have to be site-wide.

Take some time to analyse and truly understand the customers that are referred by your affiliate channel. Examining the click-sale latency will allow you to gain a true picture of the stage at which your customers find a voucher code, and can help inform your strategy.

Don't just issue codes blindly - be sure to have a goal in mind and evaluate its success at the end of the campaign.