coupon and rebates websites exposed

Just last month my wife had mentioned to me that she had just spent a certain amount of money for a shirt online, but was angry because her girlfriend had told her that she had coupon code to use for the website, which would have saved my wife 20% on the purchase. I thought to myself, oh cool! “Where did she get a coupon code?”, I asked. She told me that there is a cool website that posts coupons codes to all sorts of products.

Since my job is to know about online marketing, the first thing that came to mind was “HEY! Coupons and rebate codes? Sounds like some kind of affiliate program!” She then showed me the site and then low-and-behold, the links on the coupon code and rebates sites where for stores and products that had actually promoted in the past from Commission Junction and Linksynergy! Clicking on the store links from the rebate and coupon code website revealed the all-too-familiar cj.com and linksynergy “hop links.”

Immediately I felt that my wife and her friend had been tricked by a shady affiliate marketer. I searched around for more coupon and rebate websites and found pleny more. Most are community and forum based.  ALL with affiliate links. I even went over to cj.com and searched a few links and found that almost all of my affiliated vendors had coupon codes that you could pass out.  I never really knew what to do with those things, but thanks to my wife, my mind has been opened and I’ve been exploring new ideas in affiliate marketing.

If you’re not too familiar with affiliate marketing, briefly explained it is like this:

Many commercial companies (Target, Walmart, Eddie Bauer and others) reach out to online marketing and promotion companies to drum up business. Websites such as Commission Junction, Linksynergy and others act as an intermediary for affiliate marketers and commercial companies.

The premise is this: The big company says “If you promote our products, we will give you a percentage of the sale.”  All the affiliate marketer has to do is use the provided promotional items provided by the affiliate intermediary, tied in with their assigned affiliate id. The promotional items can be anything from text ads, email campaigns, banners, and YES, coupon, rebate and promotional codes.

The next step is for the savvy online marketing dude to start a website that says “HEY! I’ve got coupon codes for the stuff you are looking for!” When in actuality, the codes are simply promotional incentives provided by the company in the first place. Some people may think they are getting a deal by discovery a super kept online promotional code and rebate website when really it is there for anyone to use. Like many people, the fact that there is a coupon code will really entice you to purchase items you may not have purchased in the first place.

So the natural flow is this:

  1. Big Company provides the Affiliate Marketing Person with awesome, hard to find coupon and rebate codes
  2. Affiliate Marketing Person tells his users of the new code
  3. User goes wild, uses the promotional code and purchases the product
  4. Big company gets a sale, affiliate gets a percentage of the sale users feels like they made a good decision :)

So there you have it, in a nutshell, coupon and rebates websites exposed. I’m not saying they are scams….coupons are good! But don’t think you have to buy something just because you have a coupon or promotional code! :)