Is there a sinister plan behind voucher codes?

The reason I ask this question is that with the ever growing popularity of voucher codes why are merchants offering these types of discounts. The usual answer you’ll hear is that it improves conversions.  However I have noticed a severe drop in conversions when a merchant starts to offer discount vouchers so I don’t really believe that.  It is widely acknowledge that Amazon, which only has a 24 hour cookie and no discount voucher code box, converts around 4% – no other company comes close!

On paper, the discount voucher code scheme should work!   If you offer a product then indicate that the consumer can achieve a further 5% saving using this code then the consumer would be further motivated to buy the product and you should get the commission.  On paper this may be a good idea but in reality the Internet savvy consumer will not be satisfied with this saving.  He will surf further looking for a a bigger discount and when he finds that there aren’t any he’ll just buy the product using the last entry site which is doubtless a voucher code dedicated site.  Result – loss in commission!

So what if you don’t want to offer your visitors the opportunity of a discount voucher can you still send traffic to the merchants site without a them being asked if they have a discount code?  The answer is no!  If you have tried to email a merchant to ask for a landing page which will not result in the user being asked if they have a discount voucher, the standard answer of, “no, I am sorry this option is not available” is trotted out -strange, as some merchants offer landing pages with no telephone numbers.

Why no?  Surely if you send someone to a landing page then the merchant should be happy since the prospective customer probably has their card out ready to buy the product at the price indicated on your website, and even more ready to buy the product when they have entered a delivery address. But your hard won cookie is lost to the “Enter discount coupon here” on the page before entering credit card details because the Internet savvy consumer just searches for a coupon code and usually ends up on one of those dedicated voucher sites which means they get the last cookie and your hard work goes for nothing.  The commission goes to a site which offers no additional value to the product, no product details and no product insight.

Voucher codes are available to anyone who searches so is the discount a real discount?  Why are the merchants encouraging people to use dedicated discount code websites which offer next to nothing in terms added value?  Why are merchants not offering landing pages which don’t result in voucher code boxes?

The reason I think that there may be a sinister plan afoot is that the simply issue of landing pages could be easily sorted so why hasn’t it been?  What the reason is, I can only speculate on which is fun and can sometimes lead you to the real reason!

Some things to think about are; –

  • If you owned a large voucher code site would you, do a deal with the merchants which meant that they would maintain the voucher codes but you would take less commission, knowing full well that your business would disappear overnight if merchants were to stop using that small wee box on the penultimate page?
  • (broad sweeping statement) Merchants who have voucher code boxes are light on content about the products they feature.  They encourage traffic from dedicated vouchers codes sites which are also light on content. – Discuss.
  • Elephant in the room moment – are voucher codes just being used to masked poor conversions?

I asked these questions because I think we should all start critically analysing why voucher codes are being used.  Do they really improve conversions?  Does anyone have any evidence of this? Or is it something else?

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