Friday, 26 October 2007
There has been a series of voucher code bloopers as reported by e-consultancy lately: Threshers, Sainsbury's, Hamleys and Littlewoods.
Furthermore, what with sites like Tesco are stopping voucher codes from being displayed on websites and affiliates reporting voucher code theft, is this the beginning of the end for voucher code websites?
They were a great idea to begin with when they were smaller. Then, the bandwagon became crowded. I sometimes search for voucher codes but feel the search results aren't worth going through anymore. Dead pages, pages with dead codes and holding pages fill up the majority of the top 10.
To prove my point, I'll choose a retailer at random on an affiliate network (let's make it easy - HMV). Now I'll search Google for "hmv discount code" and show the results below.
There are 280,000 results for the term "hmv discount code" so that's not looking good already :-)
1 - HotUKDeals - Voucher and Discount Codes
Promising results with 2 codes found - £2 off the Sopranos if I fill in a survey though there's nothing on the page to say I will get this discount (unverified) and £82.01 discount if I spend £17.99. This one is to do with referring people to the site. Both of these therefore are not instant discounts that I can use right now.
1a - HotUKDeals - Main Page
A supplemental result in this search and only appears because HMV is in the select box on the side.
2 - Free Discount Vouchers and UK Coupon Codes
HMV is listed on the home page - so far so good. It lists a voucher code which shows as "unrecognised" on HMV's site so it's safe to assume this £5 off £35 HMV code is dead.
3 - HMV Discount Codes, Promotional Code, Discount Vouchers, e-Coupons ...
This site looks very promising with 8 codes down the side. Click on "View codes" and an IFRAME loads the HMV site using a Buy.at affiliate link - unethical in my eyes (worth reading this by Jason Dale).
Nevertheless, 12 codes appear and all of them are "unrecognised" on HMV's site.
4 - VoucherCodes.com - Free Voucher Codes, Discount Codes, Coupons ...
HMV is listed on the left hand menu and again I'm directed to "view codes". This opens up a popup with no address bar with the HMV site embedded into it, with a separate popup for the codes. This to me should be frowned upon by merchants as any shopping site where you cannot see the address bar is bad for business. As a shopper, how am I supposed to know that's the genuine HMV site and not a rogue site farming for credit card details? In this case, this example is damaging the HMV brand in my opinion. This is also a buy.at affiliate.
15 voucher codes were found and all of them are "unrecognised" on HMV's site.
5 - Vouchers Threads A-Z - MoneySavingExpert.com Forums
This links to a forum topic from 2005 so I won't check any of these codes as they will all be dead. This is a case where Google rewards age over content. The forum topic includes a link to a dedicated HMV thread but this contains old codes too.
6 - HMV Promotional Code
No voucher codes displayed, just a link to the HMV site. Congratulations Barry on keeping an up to date website, clear of old codes!
7 - http://www.rsspad.com/HMV-Promotional-Code.htm
This is a feed republishing website and the page in questions links to My Voucher Codes - a site included in Jason's report and not in the top 10.
8 - Discount Codes | Voucher Codes | Coupons | Special Offers | FREE ...
Whilst My Voucher Codes is not in the top 10, it's sister site is. The page above lists every company imaginable with "voucher codes" appended to the company name. Clicking on HMV takes me over to the Safe Buyer website. Clicking on view voucher codes loads up the HMV affiliate link in a new window (I'd call this a popup) plus the codes in an original window. When you click on a voucher, it loads up an IFRAME with the code at the top and the HMV site at the bottom. Not ideal but I did click on the voucher code so I think this is a reasonable solution.
The 3 codes listed all return "unrecognised" on HMV's site.
9 - High Street Voucher / UK Discount Vouchers Code Sites ...
This advertises My Voucher Codes plus a few others but no actual voucher codes
You may also be interested in reading:
Comments are manually approved and hence can a while to appear. Questions, informative posts, and feedback comments are gladly accepted. Spam is deleted. Spam-type comments have their links removed (Comment Policy)
Our site in your google results did open an IFRAME when the visitor has read the available codes/deals and decides to click "View codes" and visit the site so this isn't a forced click. However we do take your point so to make it 100% clear to the visitor they're about to visit the site we've changed this to "Show codes & visit site...".
The site design was also cleared by the networks at the time it was designed and for any mechants with T&Cs which do not allow their sites to be framed we can open the site in a new window - I personally think this detracts from the visitor experience, which is what we're striving for but we use the option where T&Cs require it.
When I'm searching for codes for my personal use I would rather see dead codes than no codes for two reasons:
1) It shows the site has at some point offered codes so I may want to look elsewhere or come back later.
2) I can sometimes guess the current codes from the dead codes - think of it as a hobby or sport.
To make this as obvious as possible to our visitors we ALWAYS list the expiry date WHEN AVAILABLE otherwise we add "limited promotion" or the date we added the code.
On top of this we have a "Report" button which anyone who uses a code which doesn't work can let us know AND it is immediately flagged with a caution icon so the next visitor can see it didn't work for someone. I don't think any site does this better than us and it's the best visitor experience we can come up with but we're always open to suggestions.
Written on Sunday 28 October 2007 at 02:01:21 GMT (Permalink)
@Joe - Not sure which site is yours as you didn't add a link to the comment. I've not come across you before :-)
Firstly, thanks for providing some feedback.
Next, thanks for implementing some changes. This post was intended to highlight the problems facing voucher code sites so it's a positive sign to see someone implement changes as a result of this post (please post a link if you get a chance - free publicity!)
As for voucher codes, I would rather see live codes only. The point of searching Google was to see how many codes I could find that worked. Out of 33 codes, 0 worked. I would rather see a list of active codes with a date the last search took place. I think voucher codes could create a nice following of dedicated voucher code users if they only listed current vouchers. In my opinion, they would become loyal. When you shop for books, where do you think of first? Me, I think Amazon, but I always run the book title through a specific price comparison site. I use one and one only because I have developed a loyalty towards it. I trust that the results are correct. The same could be done for voucher code sites.
Expiry dates help and 'report dead code' links help to create loyalty and it also helps with the admin.
At the end of the day, voucher code sites will have to create some sort of loyalty, as with most other affiliate based websites. In terms of affiliate based sites, I could list preferred insurance sites, book comparisons, CD comparisons and DVD comparisons. I can list the most popular price comparison website, the best cashback site and the best shopping site. I couldn't list the definitive website for voucher codes.
Written on Sunday 28 October 2007 at 15:40:57 GMT (Permalink)
The Threshers voucher was in fact some great viral marketing and wasn't a blooper at all. It was seeded by 7th Chamber - you can read their case study here: http://www.the7thchamber.co...
Written on Tuesday 30 October 2007 at 17:53:50 GMT (Permalink)
Great post :)
Written on Tuesday 20 November 2007 at 16:32:58 GMT (Permalink)
Looks like a new wave of voucher fraud could be doing the rounds with Gap warning that 60% off vouchers should infact be only 30%.
The original vouchers were "only for Gap employees" according to the BBC News article - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/... but who are they trying to kid? It's a viral and is designed to be leaked to all and sundry. Maybe this will give them and other retailers a bit of a wake up call - try to influence the voucher sites and become a victim of your own success as people target your offer!
Written on Sunday 02 December 2007 at 09:50:50 GMT (Permalink)
I have had major problems over a number of months with voucher sites - so I agree that something has to be done.
Written on Thursday 20 December 2007 at 12:56:05 GMT (Permalink)
I think the major issue here is todo with the nature of Google. Their inclusion of age as a fairly high ranking factor in their algorithm is not conducive to the content of voucher code sites due to the relatively short shelf life of most codes.
Voucher / Discount codes in my opinion still have a long and fruitful life ahead of them. Vocuher code sites might just have to adapt a little, diversify (if they don't already) and rely more heavily on mailing list promotion.
Written on Wednesday 02 January 2008 at 15:13:21 GMT (Permalink)
i agree with the above comment. The stores that issue these are not helping much either distributing codes that are valid for only a couple of days sometimes just hours. Voucher codes have a future but only if they are used correctly by all parties
Written on Tuesday 17 February 2009 at 15:17:41 GMT (Permalink)
We've already seen the likes of Comet forcing voucher sites to remove them from their sites.
Pcworld and currys are trialing out a zero commission on "collect in store", via voucher code referrals.
Agreed, Voucher codes do have a future, but it needs the co-operation of all parties. And possibly, not make it soo easy for web newbies to knock up a voucher site, without giving them a list of strict T&Cs
Written on Tuesday 24 February 2009 at 11:57:11 GMT (Permalink)
I run a small business and most of the voucher code websites won't even entertain us. Either we are not affliates or not a brand / market leader. One reply we got was quite rude and told us our request was 'unwelcome' and basically not to bother them again! Our website has good deals every now and then and it would be nice if we could get listed on these sites and pass them on to the consumers. I wouldn't even mind paying for a listing on some of the sites.
Written on Tuesday 31 March 2009 at 14:17:49 GMT (Permalink)
@Michelle - Voucher codes tend to follow a particular business model. They affiliate with merchants who offer discount codes. They then try and get users to click through to the website to use the code, dropping a cookie and collecting a commission. This is slightly more tricky now the IAB regulations on voucher codes have come into effect but the theory is much the same.
This is therefore why you would struggle to get listed. That said, you could always set up an affiliate program offering x% and then offer a discount code of y%, with x+y=z (e.g. z=10% - so offer a 5% commission to affiliates and a 5% discount code) . This way, you don't lose out on the voucher code market if that is where you feel potential revenue lies.
Written on Wednesday 01 April 2009 at 10:36:30 GMT (Permalink)
Promo codes and vouchers will only cease when human nature ceases to seek value. So long as people are enticed by 3-for-2 deals and free shipping with orders over $X, discount promotions will continue to exist.
The scammy side, unfortunately, will continue to exist as well. Con men, ex hypothesi, are a step ahead of the game and will always find loopholes to take advantage of things. The trick is to manage your affiliate program with business goals in mind such as higher AOV or greater units moved (eg to get a manufacturer's discount in turn).
Written on Tuesday 28 April 2009 at 05:52:07 GMT (Permalink)
If your not a big voucher code site the mercants dont want to no you.
Written on Friday 30 October 2009 at 11:34:56 GMT (Permalink)
@Discount Mole - Not strictly true. Merchants love those affiliates that can drive large volumes of sales and unfortunately for most small affiliates, the emphasis is on these. But I suppose that's just common sense - if you were a merchant wouldn't you do the same? The trick for merchants is to understand the profile of their entire affiliate base and see that size does not necessarily matter and that it should definitely not impact the level of support/advice/offers/incentives smaller affiliates receive.
Written on Friday 30 October 2009 at 13:22:56 GMT (Permalink)
Great article to defend the discount coders ( not that they are shy in defending themselves) they not all bad
Written on Sunday 31 January 2010 at 10:06:44 GMT (Permalink)
I have to agree that the voucher code sites are 90% the same in that they show dead codes and view code buttons with no voucher code. But i have to say there are some voucher code sites that i do use and will continue to use like hotukdeals.com and godiscounts.co.uk i used to use my voucher codes but they are just listing all the deals that the retailers have instead of the voucher codes.
Why canít they just show valid voucher codes?
Written on Friday 05 February 2010 at 11:26:21 GMT (Permalink)
Totally agree with John but to be honest i am starting to go down the deal a day route with ukdailydeals.co.uk - voucher code sites are great but the dead links and constant deals instead of voucher codes are really starting to annoy me :(
Written on Tuesday 30 March 2010 at 05:45:41 GMT (Permalink)
I have to agree that it is very frustrating to keep the expired codes on display but on the other hand alot of voucher codes sites keep them there to improve SEO.
I have been building the site http://www.offertag.co.uk and its problem that I would like to resolve myself. Any ideas? I want to go down the social road so it may be possible to also rely upon the commuinity to provide information relating to expired vouchers.
Written on Tuesday 27 April 2010 at 11:51:14 GMT (Permalink)
I suspect that many voucher codes sites are now improving and those that aren't should find that merchants should refuse to work with them if they are showing duff links still or doing sham click to reveal tactics (though driving traffic at high volumes is always going to be a disincentive to get tough with anyone!) My site http://www.whichischeapest.... includes both offers, current deals AND a seperate searchable UK voucher codes section which only shows live codes. Sites like mine are losing out though by being "too honest"..... as others will be skimming my cookies by simply promising something that is no longer there and getting the last click by doing so.....
PS: Enjoy the blog, very informative.
Written on Saturday 29 May 2010 at 23:01:49 GMT (Permalink)
watch this space some out there will re invent a new form of affiliate marketing . the problem lies with google then .if site A gets a lot of business from this method and site B doesnt because they do play by the rules then surely site B would feel cheated so they then decide to try beat them at there own game .Now everybody does it ,its too late .google cant punish those because if they did then google would not be here today
Written on Tuesday 27 September 2011 at 13:25:49 GMT (Permalink)
There are some really big names in the voucher code industry. Some big giants like quidco and myvouchercodes are doing very well but issues like putting dead codes on the website is annoying to customers. My company has designed and developed some very interesting fully dynamic voucher code websites for our clients. And i am happy to say that none of our clients have done anything annoying to its customers. In conclusion i would like say that we cannot blame all the voucher code websites as there are some who still care for there customers.
Written on Thursday 29 December 2011 at 09:41:34 GMT (Permalink)
I find this article very interesting! Working on a voucher code website currently, we work really hard to ensure on a daily basis that all codes / sales / or items links are highlighted very clearly. All deals and offers are added with an expiry date & we check through these regularly.
These sites can have up to 100s of thousand pages & retailers, so ensuring every retailerbis up-to-date is a mammoth task at times.
Expired deals are automatically greyed out and include a giant 'expired' sign & unclickable, and can't confuse the visitor, but remain on site for SEO purposes but also are useful to show visitors the type of deals/ discount that do come available from time to time, that they can come back regularly for updates or even better, sign up to our
newsletter for new promo code updates.
We also include a comments section - if visitors spot an incorrect code/ broken like, they can addva quick comment & we investigate within 24 hours.
I would love to hear your comments on the site I work on... We are continuously trying to improve it, please comment. Thank you
Written on Tuesday 21 February 2012 at 07:40:55 GMT (Permalink)
Thank you to all previous commenters.
Comments are now prohibited for this post.
This could be for a number of reasons but is most likely due to prevent the discussion from digressing.