Before I start here’s a note; I run a discount code website that ranks on page 1 of Google (on good days) and I know how competitive the market is. But, I have to add, that the competition is definitely worth fighting as it’s a very lucrative form of marketing. I’ve learnt a lot in two and half years of internet marketing and I’m still learning but here’s some of my observations that you might want to consider if you’re planning to build a coupon code site.
Before you even begin to start building this type of site there are quite a few factors to consider. In just a minute, I’m going to give you a run down of what is, in my humble opinion, some of the key factors you need to consider when getting ready to tackle the discount market.
But first, the question all of you are no doubt asking…
How much money do discount websites make?
If they’re big, an awful lot. Take Groupon, recently courted by Google for figures of around $6 billion, who’s expected IPO when they launch on the stock market is expected to about $15 billion!!! The money is there, all you have to do it find a way to grab some.
Benefits Of A Coupon Site
The most obvious benefit is to the customer. They save money on their purchase so they’re happy. You, as a webmaster, benefit from those lovely commissions but is there something in it for the retailer? Yes. Consider this: manufacturers regularly update their products with some funky new additions. But the decks have to be cleared, ready for this new stock so two options exist: a sale or discount vouchers. Retailers are pretty savvy – most have excellent marketing teams behind them so don’t assume that those coupons you find on the web are just a case of the retailer playing Mr. Nice Guy and giving you a discount!
They, like backlinks, are our lifeblood. Pick the wrong keyword for you site and, at worst, you’ll crash and burn. In the early days of Voucher Frenzy (my discount site) I chose the most competitive phrase I could find and went for it. That hurt as, at the time, I knew nothing about SEO! When I first build my site, I thought I’d scream to the top of the rankings an retire a year later!
The US, like the UK, is saturated with websites offering every form of discount and deal under the sun. So what should you do? Well, if you’re determined to build a mammoth website targeting tough phrases, like ‘coupon codes’, forget it. Well, at least for now. Go after the long tail phrases. Build up links to your sub-pages, rank for them then, once you have the funds, go for the big boys.
Tip: if you use GKWT to research your phrases try ordering your queries by volume i.e. lowest to highest. You’ll find some great long tails that have very little competition.
An alternative approach would be to build a site around a long tail search for coupons or discounts i.e. ‘<a href=”http://voucherfrenzy.co.uk/category/electrical-discount-codes/comet-electrical-discount-codes/”>discount codes for comet</a>’ or ‘sears coupon codes’. This approach will make your site much easier to rank and, if you work this way, you can also link to a related subpage of a ‘mother site’ (I don’t endorse this approach but I may well have done it :).
When you do your keyword research think, ‘locality’! You may find a highly searched keyword phrases or group of phrases specific to a region. If so, go for it. In fact, if you’re local to the region, consider speaking with the retailers and building a direct relationship.
Here’s a few examples of coupon related sites you could build:
Babies and Children goods
The population of the planet is growing, fast. Every year more and more children are born around the world which means there are a huge number of expectant parents out there. Whilst every prospective parent wants the best for their children they also want to save money and here’s your chance to grabs a piece of a very big pie.
Think small! Strollers, buggies, car seats…. they’re all expensive and the commissions are, generally, pretty good. But how many of these do you really expect a family to buy? Baby clothes are an entirely different matter. As a child grows they need bigger clothes, obviously. Now, unless you’re a parent yourself, you probably don’t realize how much people are paying to keep their little ones at the cutting edge of fashion. On average, I receive about £40 ($60) commission for sales of baby clothes and other goods (working on an average of 5% commission… I’ll let you work out the average basket price).
The market place is full of websites promoting the best prices on LCD TV’s and home cinemas. I’ve competed in these markets and the returns are excellent but the competition is fierce. Instead of promoting big ticket items like televisions try accessories instead. Which are you more likely to need; a new TV or an HDMI cable to connect your games console to your TV?
Groceries isn’t an obvious market to promote but there is an awful lot of money to be made but not in they way you’d expect. In this case, think about the average person – busy lifestyle with a home to run. What do they want? FREE DELIVERY! It’s easy to find the cheapest goods using the search engines but what the customer really wants is to have their shopping dropped of without having to pay any extra.
3 simple ideas that can be extended to pretty much any sector you care to think of – you just need to be creative.
Setting Up A Discount Site
There are plenty of options are available including custom written CMS’s through to plugins for products such WordPress and Joomla. I’m going to focus on WordPress as there are some excellent plugins out there.
CouponPress is a plugin created by a developer in the UK and has an impressive array of features that make building your site easy. Top marks for integration with icodes and For Me To Coupon (two sites that aggregate deals, discounts and general offers) which means you can easily import the feeds directly into posts in CouponPress.
WP Coupon is a plugin from the US that has many comparable features but with one key difference: the theme currently only integrates with US affiliate networks.
There are a number of free plugins out there but, having tested a couple of others, I can honestly say they don’t stand up to the premium plugins from CouponPress and WP Coupon.
Both of these plugins are designed to give you all the functionality you need from your discount code site. You can do some additional tweaking with plugins such as ‘All In One SEO’, ‘no category base’, etc but there’s really no need to. Both of these themes work out of the box will minimal configuration.
Linux or Windows? Dedicated server or shared hosting? Make sure you know which platform you need. Although Microsoft’s IIS server now supports PHP you’re probably best going for a Linux server.
Whether to use shared hosting vs dedicated server is another question you need to ask yourself. There is an ongoing argument over shared vs dedicated web hosting but, when you first start out, you’re not likely to be getting huge volumes of traffic so save your money and used shared hosting. Once your website starts to morph into RetailMeNot Mk2 you can start looking at dedicated servers.
There are plenty of hosting companies out there that are more than willing to take money off your hands in return for hosting your site. Take your time when choosing where to host your coupon site. Do a little research, hit the forums, ask questions. It will pay off.
Where To Get Your Discount Codes
The obvious places to go to are the affiliate networks. Commission Junction (US) and Affiliate Window (UK) are two of the biggest networks and they supply feeds with regularly updates coupons and discounts free of charge.
If you’re looking for lead based payments you might want to consider one run by coupons.com. This program is for US residents and, unfortunately, I haven’t seen a UK version yet although Affiliate Window does have a number of companies offering good return from CPA.
Whatever way you choose to promote your discounts, try to sign up to multiple networks even if you’re promoting same supplier across many networks. There a number of aspects to consider: think of collapse of one network or a retailer removing themselves from one network but maintaining a presence on another.
Affiliate links can be easily switched (especially if you’re using a CMS like WP). Other factors that might affect your usage of a particular network include simple changes to policies (like tax laws in the US), disagreements, etc..