Promo codes have become a staple in our media consumption.
From Instagram stories that captivate to viral TikTok dances, brands are aligning with content creators and publishers across these platforms, rolling out discounts at an unmatched tempo.
Well, for one thing, they work in converting website visits into sales!
Consumers are always looking for a way to save money, especially when it comes to online shopping.
But with that, challenges can arise.
Publishers and content creators might inadvertently promote codes past their expiry, or make public what was meant to remain exclusive.
More concerning are those who deliberately push outdated or unauthorized codes, prioritizing web traffic over the integrity of brands and the trust of consumers.
So, how do you mitigate and monitor the risk that comes with promo codes?
We’ll dive into all of that now.
When it comes to coupon abuse, we’re talking about when promotional codes get misused or mishandled.
This can be someone overusing a code meant for a single purchase, sharing exclusive discounts without permission, or even sites promoting outdated or unauthorized deals. It's a headache for brands, affects their earnings, and can lead to disappointed customers.
[Hypothetical] Example Scenario of Coupon Code Abuse for a Brand:
Brand: LuxeTech, a high-end tech accessories company.
Promotion: LuxeTech partners with an Instagram influencer, @TechGuru, to promote their newest line of wireless earbuds. As part of the collaboration, @TechGuru's followers receive an exclusive 20% discount using the code "TECHGURU20", valid for one purchase per customer.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of ways in which people can abuse promo codes.
Below are some of the most common methods we’ve seen, but of course, there are always other ways not listed you’ll need to pay close attention to.
Now it’s time to protect your brand.
No matter whether you’re a small business owner or multinational brand, below are ways you can protect and monitor promo code abuse.
We’ll share what each of these are, and how this strategy can be effective for your business.
Okay, let’s jump into #1!
Instead of general codes, generate unique, one-time-use codes for each promotion or user.
Priceline does a fantastic job at this for their loyalty program. They provide a one-time, unique code to receive discounts on Express Hotel deals.
Place limits on how frequently promo codes can be tried from a single IP address or user account in a given timeframe.
To limit redemptions in certain areas, use geo-restrictions for region-specific promotions.
To track abnormal patterns, like sudden spikes in redemptions or multiple uses from similar IP ranges, use analytics.
Set expiration dates for promo codes to ensure they're only valid for the intended promotion period.
Below is an example of Sperry’s email promotion offering up 30% across their site, but they’ve put a time limit on the coupon code.
To get special promotions or first-time user discounts, you need to have a verified email address or phone number.
As you’ll see below, there are hundreds of publishers promoting “Wayfair coupon codes”, but Wayfair rarely offers these types of coupons.
These affiliates are poaching on high-converting affiliate tracking, and depending on the publisher, may have hidden they were a coupon affiliate to the brand.
To keep track of where your codes are shared and discussed, use tracking systems. Pay special attention to unauthorized forums or websites.
Below you’ll see Reddit threads where people are posting about Wayfair promo codes. It’s best to measure these types of sites in case there has in fact been a coupon code leak.
Regularly check and update your promo code system to patch any vulnerabilities and adapt to new abuse tactics.
Use affiliate software to manage, distribute, and track promo codes for influencers or affiliates.
Here are some of our recommended affiliate software that can help manage coupons:
Why It's Effective: Provides a centralized system with built-in safeguards, ensuring codes are used as intended.
To keep track of promo code usage, use software from another company that monitors how codes are given out and used on different platforms.
Here are a few coupon tracking software we recommend:
Why It's Effective: Offers a broader view of code distribution, enabling you to spot irregularities or unauthorized sharing across multiple platforms.
Stumbling upon a case of promo code abuse can feel like quite the kick in the gut.
I've been there, and let me tell you, it's not fun.
Based on my experience, I’d say some of these below tips will help you
1. Swiftly Revoke the Code:
As soon as abuse is detected, revoke the problematic code immediately to stop further misuse. This ensures minimal continued financial impact and disrupts the abuser's operations.
2. Communicate with the User:
Reach out to the individual or entity misusing the code, informing them of the misconduct and any consequent actions. This establishes that your brand is vigilant and can deter potential future abuses.
3. Blacklist Repeat Offenders:
If particular users or IP addresses consistently abuse codes, consider blacklisting them. This can significantly reduce recurrent abuse from known trouble sources.
4. Audit System Vulnerabilities:
Conduct a thorough review of the platform or system to understand how the abuse occurred. Identifying weak points allows for reinforcement against future exploitation.
5. Strengthen Code Distribution:
If certain partners or affiliates repeatedly share codes improperly, reconsider how you distribute codes to them or if they should receive them at all. To prevent misuse, only trusted entities receive promo codes.
6. Public Transparency (If Needed):
If the abuse is widespread and public, consider issuing a statement to clarify the situation and actions taken. This maintains public trust by showing proactive management and accountability.
7. Update Terms & Conditions:
Ensure that your terms of service or usage policies clearly define promo code misuse and associated penalties. Clear guidelines provide a foundation for action and deter potential abusers.
8. Regular Monitoring:
Keep consistent surveillance on promo code usage patterns. Early detection of any irregularities allows for quicker response and mitigation.
9. Educate Partners and Customers:
Regularly remind your partners and customers about the correct use of promo codes. Education can reduce unintentional misuse and set clear expectations.
10. Feedback Loop:
Create a system where partners, affiliates, and even customers can report observed abuse or share feedback. This crowdsources vigilance, multiplying the eyes and ears attentive to potential abuse.
Using promo codes incorrectly in partner marketing is not a small problem. This challenge can harm profits, disrupt marketing data, and strain relationships with partners and customers.
But, as we've delved into, it's a challenge that can be met head-on.
Brands can reduce risks and protect their campaigns by monitoring and responding quickly to abuse.
We must remember that the digital world is always changing, including the tactics of its exploiters.
Brands must stay alert, update systems, and communicate openly to benefit from promo codes.
In partner marketing, as in all business endeavors, forewarned is forearmed.
To increase engagement and growth, learn, use tools, and apply strategies with your promo codes.