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Tips to Maximize the Reach & Effectiveness of “Exclusive” Discount Codes

Posted on 12.31.2014

By Matt Swan, Client Strategist at Affiliate Window

Exclusive discount codes can be one of the most powerful tools for advertisers to ensure they receive extensive coverage across publisher sites.

With “performance marketers” looking to gain loyalty from their user base, securing these “exclusive” codes can be a practical way to keep visitors returning to their websites – but it isn’t always the easiest initiative to get off the virtual ground.

While “exclusives” are a valuable tool to have in your promotional toolbox, the challenge for advertisers is in understanding the types of codes that convert, as well as the publishers that are most effective at distributing them to a wide audience.

Providing exclusive codes (such as vouchers and coupons) is all well and good but it is essential to have a strategy in place to ensure their successful distribution and exposure in order to maximize sales. Consider the following ideas for distributing exclusive codes effectively.


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Rotation of Codes

In order to secure coverage across a number of publisher sites, the rotation of codes is a good idea. With numerous advertisers vying for exposure across sites and within newsletters, the proper distribution of vouchers is vital. If exclusives are consistently given to the same publishers, the impact of these discount codes will be negated. By offering these across a variety of sites, the tactic can extend reach for advertisers and keep a number of publishers engaged with the brand.

Start with Volume Drivers

Exclusive codes are typically distributed in order to increase sales and hit revenue targets. It is advisable for advertisers to give themselves the best possible chance of achieving these targets by enticing customers immediately following the release of the codes.

If these codes are to be rotated, it only makes sense to try the exclusive offer first with the publisher that is going to generate the most exposure. The more coverage a publisher is prepared to give codes – and the greater reach they have - the more likely advertisers are to generate a significant volume of sales.

If the offer is not working with a large volume driver, this could be an indication that the offer is unlikely to convert with other publishers. This provides an opportunity to tweak the offer to ensure consumer uptake is at a maximum level.


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Analyze Current Performance

It can be tempting to use an exclusive discount code to engage with a new publisher or a smaller volume driver. While this is a perfectly viable solution to engage with a wider publisher base, it isn’t always guaranteed to deliver results. An exclusive code can often be difficult for an advertiser to secure and with the erosion of profit margins, it is essential the code delivers. Before testing an exclusive code with a new publisher, consider analyzing current program performance with existing generic offers. If there isn’t a great level of activity for these, it is an indication that an exclusive code may not perform as well.

Know The Publisher Base

Often an exclusive discount code will be applied to a particular product or product range (or product line), rather than across the whole site. When this is the case, transactional data can help determine which publishers already have demand for the product/range being offered. If a publisher has no history of selling the product, it indicates they do not have an audience that is engaged with that particular range. It is important to identify the publishers that will be effective at converting users to the offer.

Seek Publisher Feedback

Publishers will know to which offers their visitors will respond. For some it may be a money-off code, but for others a percentage-off incentive may convert best. “Stretch and save” codes (where consumers add additional items for a discount) can also work well for many publishers if the objective of the code is to drive up basket values as well as increase sales volumes. Being flexible can enable your voucher code strategy to perform to its maximum potential.

Create Buzz

When releasing an exclusive code, generating some excitement before the code goes live can ensure it gets off to a great start. If the discount code is going to provide a truly compelling offer it could be beneficial for the publisher that runs it to let their visitors know beforehand when it will be made available. Publishers will be willing to negotiate exposure and if the offer is particularly strong, advertisers may even be able to secure a countdown to the exclusive rate on the site. This may not be possible for all publishers but it is certainly a question worth asking.


Negotiate Increased Exposure

Tying in with the previous point, if advertisers don’t ask, they don’t receive. It is possible to negotiate exposure across a publisher’s site. The stronger the offer, the more likely advertisers are to secure a prime spot across the site, as well as possible newsletter inclusion. Publishers will typically have a rate card for the exposure they are able to offer, but stronger discount codes will provide a solid negotiating position to secure the best spots.

Incentivize Further

Rewarding publishers for hitting sales targets can be a good way for incentivizing them to push the code as much as possible. This also gives advertisers a stronger hand in securing the prime spots across the site when negotiating the coverage they will receive. By making expectations clear to the publisher and rewarding them for delivering, there is a clear incentive for them to maximize sales.

Using Generic Codes as Exclusives

It isn’t always easy for advertisers to provide an exclusive code but it is possible to make a generic code into an exclusive on a short-term basis. Releasing a generic code a few days earlier to one lucky publisher can effectively act as an exclusive code during that period.

Action Plan

This is by no means an exhaustive list of how to increase activity through the distribution of discount codes, but hopefully it provides an outline of strategies that can be considered. Careful monitoring of performance will provide insights for rolling out additional codes both in terms of the types of codes you should be issuing and the publishers you should be looking to gain exposure with.

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