How To Start A Coupon / Deals Website Business
Coupon sites are compelling internet businesses.
For one, there are tons of big, low competition keywords you can rank for.
But, perhaps more importantly, it’s because coupon sites are capturing you at the end of your buyer journey.
You’re on the cusp of purchase, but you’re running one last Google search to see if you can scrape a few bucks off that final sales price.
For affiliate marketers, this is the ideal time to snare your attention and get you to click on an affiliate link.
The SERPs are littered with promo code sites.
There are thousands upon thousands of eCommerce storefronts offering coupon codes, which means there’s a ton of search traffic for related terms.
Sure, nowadays, we have Wikibuy (purchased by CapitalOne) and Honey (purchased by Paypal), both popular promo-code browser extensions, but many people still defer to Google to hunt down discount codes.
And there are many, many sites more than happy to insert an affiliate link in between the buyer and their purchase.
Today I’m going to look at how to create a coupon blog- how I would go about getting and monetizing this lucrative traffic.
One prominent coupon website is Brad’s Deals. Below, you can see some pretty serious stats, as of 12/19.
Including its 635,00 keywords and, just as impressive, it’s getting 96.5% of its traffic from the United States. For sure the most valuable geographic traffic you can get.
It’s rare to see such a high percentage of traffic coming just from the U.S., but Brad’s Deals isn’t profiling European promo codes, only American discounts, it seems- so it makes sense.
This traffic is insanely valuable, to put it bluntly.
Coupon usage is massive- check out some of these stats compiled by Wikibuy:
- 90% of consumers use coupons in some way (Valassis)
- There will be 1.05 billion digital coupon users by 2019 (Juniper Research)
- Digital coupon redemptions totaled $47 billion in 2017 (Juniper Research)
- By 2022, digital coupon redemptions are set to total $91 billion (Juniper Research)
- Globally, the mobile coupons industry is slated to grow by 56.5% by 2025 (Orian Research)
- In 2017, consumers saved $3.1 billion with consumer packaged goods (CPG) coupons (NCH Marketing Services)
- By mid-2018, consumers had achieved 1.4 billion in savings with CPG coupons (NCH Marketing Services)
- Digital and print coupons are up YoY from 2017 (NCH Marketing Services)
- Worldwide, 31 billion eCoupons are expected to be redeemed by 2019 (Statista)
How To Get Started In This Niche
- If you want a complete, step-by-step system to start growing your own highly profitable affiliate & authority niche site, check out AuthorityHacker's Authority Site System
- A reliable and fast hosting solution like SiteGround (it's what I use)
- A brandable domain name from GoDaddy (my guide)
- A premium theme- I use GeneratePress but there are some cool niche themes on ThemeForest
- Image & graphics from DepositPhotos (all legal and licenselid)
- SEO Friendly Article Writing ($8-$12 / 1,000 words) from HireWriters (my review)
- Powerful Backlinks from DFY Links and Authority.Builders
- An automated social media drip campaign from MissingLettr (my review)
- An auto-responder to build your email list– ConvertKit is what I'm using
- Finally- you can always refer to my free step-by-step niche selection guide and all of my free niche reports for inspiration
Comparing Some Big Players
I extracted some of the top coupon sites by analyzing Brad’s Deals organic competitors.
CouponCabin.com has the best Traffic stats, while Coupons.com owns the most Keywords.
Coupons.com also dwarfs the other sites with over 14 million backlinks.
|Domain Rating||Total Backlinks||Total Keywords||Total Traffic|
How Do Couponing Sites Work?
Theoretically, a ‘good’ coupon site aggregates up-to-date deals and promo codes, helping buyers find merchant discounts.
Very frequently, however, affiliate coupon sites are just trying to get you to click on a fake or expired ‘coupon reveal’ button. They might have some legitimate deals on their site, but it’s difficult to manage hundreds or even thousands of promo codes.
And, once they begin ranking in Google, and pushing lots of traffic to an affiliate offer, there’s not much incentive to delete expired deals or offers that are earning them rankings and money.
What I Would Do
I’d prefer to keep things as white-hat as possible. I’ll show you what I’d do if I was starting a coupon website- including how I’d attempt to manage tricky, time-sensitive coupon deals using ThirstyAffiliates and other third-party services.
I’d start by doing some keyword research.
Below, I extracted 1,000 of Brad’s Deals top-performing organic keywords.
This popular coupon site has some great rankings and provides an overview of some of the biggest coupon search terms:
You can see a lot of different keyword themes here:
- “code”, “deal”, “sale”, and “coupon” keywords
- “black friday” keywords
- brand name + deal keywords (i.e. “overstock promo code”)
I’d use a Google Sheet and begin mapping out different Categories of content- for example, tech deals like ‘ThinkGeek pomo code’ vs home improvement deals like “Lowe’s black friday”.
I’d sketch out the different deals I’d want to profile, position them beneath relevant Categories, write up 5 of them myself to get a feel for the content, and then create a Standard Operating Procedure for an Upwork or HireWriter author to follow.
Niching down: you might want to niche down into a tech or home & garden coupon site, rather than being a general couponing site. A niche coupon site might have a ranking advantage because of its tighter, thematic focus.
Plus, it’s easier to create contextually relevant blog content if you’re niched down than if you’re a general coupon storefront with a scattershot focus.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure you can actually monetize the keyword you’re creating content for. It makes sense to cross-reference “macys coupon codes” to make sure you can actually get into the Macy’s affiliate program before you create content for it.
Though, it also makes sense to rank for coupon keywords that you can’t directly monetize, just to get the traffic. And then push the traffic to related deals that are monetized.
For example, you can’t get into the Macy’s affiliate program, but you can push traffic from that unmonetized page to a monetized Nordstrom’s page; just run display ads on the content; or get traffic to the page and then see if the company will let you into a private affiliate program.
In addition, how you structure the content and calls to action will depend on the promotional materials available to you. For example, take a look at this RetailMeNot Macy’s coupon page below.
There are 3 separate types of Macy’s offers:
- reveals a code upon click and links to a category page with the code applied;
- links to a time-sensitive Black Friday deal;
- links to a Macy’s credit card offer.
Remember- if you’re getting enough traffic, say at least 500 page views a day, you can make good money running ads on the site. In that case, it might be worth ranking for a coupon keyword you can’t affiliate market and just earn from ads.
In that case, I would write up a page that discusses how to find deals with that specific merchant. With a little research, you can uncover their holiday deals schedule, or even link out to other sites that have access to valid promo codes.
Choose A Coupon Theme
Sometimes it makes sense to purchase a ‘niche’ theme, like a WordPress coupon theme. This style of theme will come preloaded and adapted for an online couponing business.
For example, one of the most popular, Couponis, has a pretty attractive live preview that showcases some of its useful features.
This includes a user coupon submission option; coupon timing to create ‘countdowns’; different coupon types like sale/printable/code options; an affiliate import option; a user-voting option to gather ratings thumbs-up-thumbs-down coupon ratings.
That said, a lot of people prefer to use a popular theme, like GeneratePress or Astra, which will have a more robust development history, and adapt it to their needs.
How To Add The Coupons With Couponis
The video below demonstrates how to set up the Couponis theme- I’ve skipped ahead to the point where the individual coupons are being added:
There are certainly some automated ways to generate hundreds and even thousands of thin content, coupon deals pages.
I wouldn’t do that when starting out.
Instead, if I was working with a brand new domain, besides targeting particular coupon keywords, I would also see which of the affiliate programs that are currently running deals I can get into.
ShareASale has a big section inside their affiliate network where you can find which companies are running deals and then join them:
Starting out, I would hand-pick some of these deals and then create landing pages for them on my website.
Rakuten LinkShare also has data feeds you can play around with- I haven’t done this myself, so I’m not sure if/how the coupon codes could be provided on Rakuten’s end and whether they’d be routinely updated:
My suspicon, having dealt with these affiliate networks a bit, is that the end product of these data feeds is not going to look that great and suffer from numerous glitches. Here’s a somewhat dated video showing someone setting it up:
I would check out some of the popular deals websites to see how they design them.
You could also use a plug-in like this Coupon Reveal Button, to obscure a coupon code, only revealing it when it is clicked, which will effectively cookie the user so that you can earn affiliate commissions on their session.
But- you don’t always have to do it that way, particularly if you are affiliate-linking to a ‘Sale’ that doesn’t require a coupon code (the JCPenney screenshot below demonstrates what that looks like).
Other Affiliate Networks
Landing Page Design
I would experiment with creating unique content about the company on the coupon landing page so that it is keyword rich and has a better opportunity to rank.
For example, Brad’s Deals actually places a bunch of unique content in the sidebar for JCPenney:
It looks like the individual coupon codes are Products, which appear on this page using a Product Category shortcode with a ‘smart’ widget sidebar to display JCPenney info alongside the JCPenney coupon codes.
As well, I would make sure to keep track of all the different coupon codes so that when they expire you can update the page- I recommend using ThirstyAffiliates, at least to start.
A Pro level subscription will get you access to their Link Scheduler tool. So, you can set a link to expire when that particular deal is set to end and then automatically redirect it to after that point.
With some of the coupon themes, as well as WooCommerce, you’ll also be able to give coupon codes a time frame- automatically deactivating them once the promotion has ended.
A lot of websites in the coupon niche merely spin out thousands of these coupon pages and they don’t update the deals. They claim that there’s a coupon code if you click an affiliate link- but the code has either expired or never existed in the first place.
This makes for poor user experience. People come to your site and try to use a coupon code that has expired, which causes them to rage quit your website.
Sure you might earn a commission if they end up buying, but it remains a poor user experience and a rather unethical gimmick.
If you want true staying power, I’d keep the deals pages updated with the latest information regarding present and even future sales information. Affiliates frequently get alerted to upcoming sales so they can plan promotions in advance.
There are some services that will manage your coupon codes for you- check out LinkMyDeals. The way it works “LinkMyDeals automatically updates latest offers on your Coupon website/App with unique titles & descriptions. So you get all the time to focus on your growth strategies.”
Or, Coupon API, which offers a “Single API to get Coupons from all Affiliate Programs.”
You won’t need this out of the gate, but it would be something to consider once you’re getting some decent site traffic.
Figure out more traffic sources
You could also do very well with an email list. For example, say you run a general coupon site, you can use email opt-in software like OptinMonster to have custom pop-ups and opt-ins on different pages.
For example, say you get a lot of traffic to your 1-800-flowers coupon page. You could serve a popup on that page that is just for people interested in flower discount codes and then email market to them exclusively.
You can see how Brad’s Deals emails people on their list below:
As I’m writing this, Black Friday is approaching.
I’m obsessed with internet marketing automation lifetime deals and I depend on one of my favorite Facebook groups, Martechwise, for deal alerts.
People flock to social media to find working coupon codes- I’d experiment with a social media drip tool like MissingLettr to automate cross-platform content promotion.
There are tons of coupon sites out there.
But, there’s also a ton of search volume for these terms- even though tools like Honey and Wikibuy are grabbing up massive user bases. I use Honey & Wikibuy- they don’t get ALL the deals, that’s for sure.
So I wouldn’t be scared off from these Capital One / PayPal companies- there’s a lot of Search and Social traffic to be had here. Especially if you can build a reliable, usable coupon site.