Affiliate Marketing vs Coupon Marketing: Similarities & Differences

Marketing takes plenty of forms, with plenty of approaches proven for success.

The past decade has seen a solid rise in both affiliate marketing and coupon marketing, with both trusted by countless big businesses. But what are these approaches and how do they differ? Here we take a look at the key similarities and differences between both marketing philosophies.

Affiliate Marketing

Like many means for conversions in the industry, affiliate marketing is a financially incentivised approach that comes in different forms, but fundamentally financially incentivises ‘affiliate’ websites and individuals to promote products.

You can often find evidence of affiliate marketing in certain product reviews that carry links to purchase the item being covered on the page. These reviews tend to avoid conducting a full-on critique and rather cast the product in a positive light as a means of attracting conversions that lead to the affiliate gaining a sizeable commission.

Affiliate marketing is particularly successful thanks to the rise of social media influencers and bloggers and is a strong way of building a lasting sense of brand awareness and trust among target audiences.

Coupon Marketing

The art of coupon marketing comes from the world’s longstanding love affair with discounts and offers in retail. It’s a form of marketing that’s been successful for over 100 years and has completed a seamless transition to the online marketplace over the last decade thanks to digital coupons and discount codes.

Much of coupon marketing’s success comes from affiliate websites that list a catalogue of codes and discounts that enables shoppers to find themselves a bargain on your site. Doing so maximises the chances of building more brand awareness, subscriptions, and future shopping trips as a result.

Conversions begin externally

Both marketing approaches typically begin externally from the commissioning company. It’s vital for the authenticity of affiliate marketing that a product will be promoted in a neutral space, and likewise with coupon marketing, conducting your campaign on an external website with a large audience is a sure-fire way to guarantee a stream of traffic back to your product.

The authority of the affiliate site is pivotal to a successful campaign in the cases of affiliate marketing and coupon marketing. If your product review or coupon is to be displayed on a website that barely exceeds 1,000 monthly visitors, then you’ll see very little return on your investment.

Given that it’s a game of commission, the more experienced marketers will be able to pre-determine the best affiliate and coupon websites to reach the right audiences for less money. For example, if you’re a business that creates smoothies, by targeting an external food review website that has around 200,000 monthly traffic will likely bring you the same amount of conversions for less than through focussing on a more general page that attracts two million visitors each month.

The case is similar with coupon affiliate websites. To have your coupon displayed on a reputable site will cost more per conversion, so it’s worth finding a niche website that suits your target audience.

Establishing trust

Some affiliate marketers may refute the idea that coupons help build trust, but fundamentally coupons won’t help businesses very much if customers only visit their site to get a single 50% discounted product before leaving and never coming back.

While affiliate marketers look to establish trust through carefully optimised reviews, landing pages, promoted content, coupon marketers look to build their brand awareness and trust through retargeting through mailing list subscriptions and winning long-term customers.

The social media boom of the last ten years has given both affiliate and coupon marketing an unexpected extra edge too. Now, content and offers can be posted online to millions of potential customers on Facebook groups and through Twitter posts.

Social media is a particularly big asset to affiliate marketers, whose reviews and content can quickly spread to masses of potential customers, but the platform is excellent for broadcasting great offers and codes for coupon marketing too.

The added bonus of social media is that it makes both affiliate and external coupon marketing mutually beneficial. Affiliates can profit from an opportunity to produce content that has the potential to expand their own personal brand, and coupon sites have the chance to boast even more offers than their competitors. The fact that there are benefits to all parties from this form of marketing is great news in keeping commissions lower for marketers.

Qualitative vs Quantitative

The biggest difference between the approaches is a perceived quality and quantity divide.

Affiliates produce content surrounding the product that they’re promoting. This enables readers or viewers to feel as if they’re benefiting from a separate, more objective viewpoint. Audiences are treated to a full-bodied review that can help them understand more about a product’s features and assets.

While coupon marketing often links back to the product’s listing on a businesses’ website, which can be accompanied by an informative review, it risks bypassing the trust that affiliates can help build elsewhere.

On the flip side, coupon marketing is primarily a tool for driving conversions. If a product is on offer, then it acts as an invitation for customers to try it for themselves. The true value of coupons comes from encouraging customers to complete the checkout process and then keep winning them back through re-targeting.

The commission game

Commission varies significantly between affiliate marketing campaigns and coupons. Depending on the stature of the affiliate and the size of your campaign, up to 80% of the profits raised from conversions from their site can go back to an affiliate. This is a far cry from the more manageable cost of creating a simple code for distribution.

Affiliate marketing has great potential in building long-lasting customer trust through quality and informative reviews and content. It’s a particularly powerful tool in the age of social influencers that are capable of amassing a huge following, too, and is undoubtedly an excellent luxury marketing process for a business that’s looking to build concrete brand awareness.

However, if you’re looking to let your products do the talking, and are confident in your goods, a fast and simple code could be all it takes to build a sizeable customer-base that will keep returning thanks to the quality of your coupon codes.

There’s no right or wrong approach to marketing here, but to get the best results for your business, it’s worth gaining an understanding of your target audience and deciding how best to keep them satisfied for both the short-and-long term.

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