Here's How it breaks down ...
- Affiliates are a 'good thing' if they drive traffic to your website that you would not otherwise receive and/or if they provide reassurance to punters (who have already found you but are searching further) by redirecting them back to you.
- Voucher Code (aka Coupon Code aka Discount Code) affiliates rarely if ever do this ... having analysed the traffic paths in some detail (thanks to Hitwise) the reality is that most Voucher Code affiliate commissions are generated as a result of the user searching for your website brand name and 'voucher codes' (or equivalent) after they have decided to purchase from you and normally when they are at the point in your check-out process where a voucher code could be entered
- Of course they don't need to succeed in finding a voucher code for you to leak the commission, they simply need to click one of the links on the Voucher Code site's page to now be tracked as the last referrer for this transaction
- And if you think it through, it get's worse; if the transaction had been referred by another affiliate, the Voucher Code affiliate 'hijacks' that commission by being seen as the last affiliate referrer before the order is placed ... and of course if a voucher code does exist and the punter finds it on that site you are now paying affiliate commission and funding a voucher discount on that transaction (so chances are the transaction is economically marginal for you anyway)
Of course there is an argument in favour of the voucher code sites which goes something like this: bargain hungry customers start their journey at the voucher code site (or are prompted by an emailer having signed up to a voucher code site) and follow the journey that goes 'this retailer is offering a voucher so I will shop at this retailer now' (rather than its competitor, presumably). I simply don't buy this logic (even for those firmly established retail brands where the consumer is more likely to respond to the prompt to shop from this retailer because of the Voucher Code offer itself). Certainly for the majority of web businesses the cost of the 'leaked' and 'hi-jacked' commissions far outweigh the benefits of true 'new traffic' generated.
This is relevant not just for those running affiliate programmes of course -- if I was a 'good' affiliate myself I wouldn't want to be driving traffic to a website that is dominated by voucher code activity as I would know my affiliate commission is likely to be hijacked by a voucher code site at check ot.
Glad I've got that off my chest.
And yes, I have been through the process of paying a fortune to Voucher Code affiliates (when the programme was being managed for me by an idiot) and I have observed what happens when you tur them off (no discernible impact on traffic or revenue generated, massive saving on commissions and funded voucher discounts) so for my sites at least I have tested and validated the hypothesis that Voucher Code sites are mostly leeches and to be avoided.
And yes, it irritates me that I know they are highly successful and they make a fortune ... which is why I have written this blog in the hope that the bubble will burst for them soon!
Maybe we can coin a new term: "Vouchasites" (Voucher Sites + Parasites)