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Discount codes at checkout


#1

Interesting thread about this on Hacker News. We have such a box on our Buy page as we do these little discount cards that we hand out at events and can track where we handed them out.

Very occasionally we do a sale offer discount but in general there are no discount codes out there in the wild as I hate the whole thing where you can always get something cheaper if you know where to look.

I do see people coming back in from vouchercodes sites though after going to google to see what they can find. I’d be interested as to any other experiences with this.


#2

In general I think that article is completely flame bait - but I’ll share my opinion on some of the general underlying points.

My site Teenormous makes the majority of it’s money with affiliate marketing so I have some experience in the space. The discount / voucher / coupon code sites have always been a somewhat contentious topic within the affiliate marketing space, especially among merchants. As a result, I’ve always stayed clear of trying to target “[merchant] coupon” type of traffic.

I do believe that coupon affiliates for the most part swoop in and “steal the sale” that was already in progress. It probably happens a lot more in some industries (such as retail) then I would expect it to happen for smaller SaaS companies like many on these forums. The coupon affiliates I think would say they are providing the value of finding the deals - however pretty much all of the coupon sites claim to have codes, even if they don’t, and they will still set their cookie. I’ve even seen codes listed for Teenormous which is pretty funny since we don’t directly sell anything. As a result, many merchants that have affiliate programs are either rejecting coupon affiliates, or giving them a significantly reduced commission.

My personal opinion is by adding a discount / promo code / coupon box on your check out page it will interrupt your checkout flow for a measurable percentage of your customers and cause them to leave your site to go find one. Hopefully they will return, but I would imagine a lot of them may not for a variety of reasons such as interruption, frustration with fake coupon codes, and a lot of those coupon sites also cross promote competitors as well.

I’d be more inclined to post the promotions for your site directly on your site if you want to reward the customer. This keeps them on the site, and make them feel like they are getting the best deal.


#3

I tend to be of the same opinion as @tdavies but, isn’t this something that can be easily A/B tested? just looking at the % of completed checkouts in a form with and without a coupon code box, plus possibly the LTV of each type of customer, should give you actionable results for your target audience, which is, I believe, the key. It’s not crazy to think that different demographics could react differently to the same concept, in the end this is something you’ll have to test for yourself.


#4

I’m strongly against coupon box on checkout.

Let’s see:

A warmed-up prospect arrives at the checkout, ready to buy at the posted price. He spots the coupon box though and rushes to search for it. He’s got a hold of one, uses it and get a discount.

Net result: instead of the full price the seller gets a reduced one and has to pay the coupon affiliate a commission. Affiliate win, customer wins, seller loses a lot.

Instead of intended function - to segment the market, squeezing the revenue from cash-strapped prospects, too - the checkout coupons consolidate everyone into the lowest-paying segment.

Another bad outcome - when the prospect cannot find a working coupon, and either comes back annoyed (coupon sites generate that feeling a lot and that feeling is now linked to the seller) or doesn’t come back at all.

Where I believe the coupons are appropriate is in followup sales. A prospect that did not buy on first visit but left a email. That shows interest, but something stops them from buying. May be it is the price? Let’s offer them a personalized coupon over email!


#5

A/B testing with LTV may take a long time to test. Say 6 months or more. All this time you may be losing money. Though if you only apply /B (with coupon) to a small percentage of the visitors, you may cap your losses.


#6

We don’t have coupon affiliates so that isn’t an issue for us. The two scenarios where we have a code are on our physical handout cards (as we can then track the code to see if that event was successful) and when we do a major special offer with a 3 day code or whatever - these are hugely successful as a way to get new customers, I’ll write about that at some point.

That said we could have a separate URL to tell people to go to in the instance they know about a code leaving the main Buy page free of a code box as if people go searching they won’t find a code. I am leaning to doing that, we’re currently rebuilding our site and infrastructure so I’ll probably do this at that point. If anything interesting comes of doing so I’ll report back!