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Voucher Codes can be a problem

Discount voucher codes have their uses, but more often than not they are misused. What is the point in a merchant giving away voucher codes so everyone gets a discount? In running an affiliate program there are legitimate expenses such as paying commission to the affiliates and paying the affiliate marketing company, but giving away free money as voucher codes seems to be a needless expense, and a practice which may lead to attracting problems that are undesirable. It's a bit like thinking it's a good idea to leave food out to feed the birds and then carrying it too far by leaving loads of food out day and night and you know what that attracts? Rats! In a way, voucher codes are the new PPC, as surely as PPC is the new spam.

I was first alerted to the problems of voucher codes when the well known traditional games supplier Camberwells had a purge on problematical affiliate activity. Some affiliates were giving away voucher codes indiscriminately, as well as overpromoting, and doing other things which, it has to be said, brings the affiliate business into disrepute!

I've also heard cries of dismay from marketing people when they find the "loyal customer bonus" vouchers have mysteriously found their way into publically available websites. However, I have an algorithm for the merchant which can crack this: Use the loyal customer's name as a scrambled key into a hashing table to generate the voucher code and then give that away to the customer. The voucher then only works for that customer. (talk to me to find out more)

Voucher codes as a means of tracking: If you have an affiliate program in the physical world, tracking is more tricky than online. If you have a shop in the town and your affiliates are giving away leaflets in the streets, one way to get customers to tell you which affiliates are doing any good is to print a voucher code on the leaflets, a different code for each affiliate. When the customer presents the leaflet to claim their code, you can record which affiliate has attracted that customer.

In contrast, in the virtual world, you don't need a voucher code for tracking, as each affiliate has unique tracking URLs. So instead the voucher codes are being used for other purposes.

Another problem with voucher codes, at least those voucher codes I've seen being given away in emails to all affiliates at an affiliate marketing company, is that they are short term temporary offers which can be exploited by the type of affiliates who have short term campaigns (PPC, spam, etc), but not by my own affiliate website where there are thousands of pages and there are better things to do than to post up yet another near-expired code for no good purpose!

I say if you are a company with your own affiliate program and you want to sell more stuff, there are much better things you can do than to chuck away money on voucher codes! It would be better to give away affiliate prizes than that, and better still, talk to the actual affiliates and have some good business relationships. For example, hard disc drive ata recovery companies tend to have good relationships with their affiliates.

Update: Later, the history of voucher codes took an even more sinister turn. It started to get the like the bank hoax e-mails where scamsters make false claims about the bank. What happened with voucher codes and coupons was that disreputable sites were making false claims stating there were voucher codes at places were there were not! This may not sound sinister, but it has nasty knock-on effects because they are bringing other places into disrepute. Essentially it is telling lies about a company, and then it does commercial damage to that company. There are coupon websites where this sort of thing is what they do, and it is very bad.

No-one can do anything about entirely false voucher codes from a managerial point of view. The way to defeat them is from a customer's point of view, to disregard all voucher codes. Chances are that MOST of them will soon be entirely false, in the same sort of way that most e-mails from Nigeria offering you a share in a few million dollars are false. It may seem a bit drastic to suggest surmising that all voucher codes are false, at this early stage, but the idea has some validity. Sufficient validity in fact, that it would be wise for reputable companies to stop doing voucher codes. Stop it, now, and make a stand against a culture of deception!

Come to think of it, there IS a way for merchants to defeat entirely false voucher codes, at least in terms of their value as false advertising. The method is: When a customer enters a voucher code, the merchant's site can immediately respond "That Code is FAKE / not_valid" or something like that.

Also note that there are NO coupons, voucher codes, or incentives OF Zyra's Website www.zyra.org.uk , and if you ever see any site claiming there are, or insinuating there is a possibility that there might be, then they are LIARS! This means that other statements they make about other sites and the coupons thereof are also likely to be unreliable.

Another problem is scrapers. Some of them scrape other people's websites and steal voucher codes, exclusive voucher codes, and then they have got everyone's coupons and everyone's voucher codes. This is highly disreputable. I have seen a clever suggestion for defeating this: Any truly exclusive voucher code is only valid for the one affiliate it's been issued to. Therefore any sale that uses it, regardless of where it is generated, should be credited to that affiliate.

This should help to defeat some of the cheating that's going on.

What would really defeat voucher codes is for merchants to make clear statements that there are no voucher codes. For merchants that do this, I am willing to give them an extra promotion on a page of merchants that have disavowed voucher codes! How about that? Additional promotion for NOT having coupons / voucher codes?!