July 15, 2021
Affiliate Spotlight: Tiara Rea-Palmer of CouponFollow on the Growth of Coupon Sites and Personalized User Experiences
One of the things we pride ourselves on at Advertise Purple is the relationships that we have with our great affiliate partners. They’re a truly impactful part of our business and, without a doubt, necessary to have by our side. With that said, every few weeks, we like to spend some time highlighting them.
So, today, I’m pleased to say that we’re shining a metaphorical light on one of our favorite coupon affiliates, CouponFollow. In this interview I get to chat with Tiara Rea-Palmer—CouponFollow’s Head of Partnerships—about the big things they’ve accomplished during the pandemic, why coupon sites aren’t so bottom-funnel after all, and their overall offering.
Read on to learn more, and enjoy!
Let’s kick this thing off by talking about you! Tell us about yourself and your background. When did you get started at CouponFollow?
My name is Tiara Rea-Palmer, and I’m Head of Partnerships here at CouponFollow.com. I’ve been in the affiliate space since 2006 and in the coupon space since 2009. I joined the CouponFollow team in 2017 to help accelerate the growth of our partners.
Wow, so you’ve been in the coupon game for some time now. And what brought you to CouponFollow and the affiliate space in general?
I was drawn to CouponFollow in particular because of its startup culture and focus on building and growing partnerships. The company had a very homegrown feel with some big goals for the future. Over the past few years, it’s been amazing to be a part of that growth and help fuel the partnerships side of things.
Oh, for sure. It sounds like your time there has been memorable so far, especially since you’ve been a part of that building and growth. Now, in addressing the last year we all witnessed, what are some ways you personally coped with the pandemic?
For me, personally, it wasn’t as difficult an adjustment for others, as CouponFollow was already set up for remote work. So I had a routine in place to separate work and home life. But beyond that, lots of puzzles, Animal Crossing, and bike riding. I also tried to learn to roller-skate…with not-so-great success.
I can definitely imagine that working remotely with CouponFollow primed you for the at-home life we’ve all experienced over the last year. And in your defense, rollerskating is hard! Okay, before we fully dive into everything coupon and affiliate-related, what’s one more fun thing to know about you?
I am a huge nerd for a lot of pop culture properties like Disney, Batman, Star Wars, anime, Star Trek, and a lot of others. Every time I’m on the phone with a partner, we always have to first discuss what’s on display in my background. Usually, it’s Disney.
What’s not to love about Disney? I’m sure it makes for an awesome conversation starter with your partners. Getting back into CouponFollow stuff, how has CouponFollow been navigating the pandemic and how has the business changed in the last year?
CouponFollow had already been seeing tremendous growth the year prior to the pandemic, so we started 2020 off in a great place in the industry. Once the pandemic hit, we were obviously cautious about how to proceed and where to focus our efforts, but we are incredibly grateful that online shopping habits continued to become more and more important to the survival of businesses and the comfort of consumers. By mid-2020, we made the decision to invest in and supersize the growth of the business. Our staff size has almost doubled over the last 18 months and we continue to hire at a pretty rapid pace.
From a growth perspective, we saw some incredible numbers: a 350% increase in Q1 year-over-year revenue and a 252% increase in year-over-year traffic to the site. CouponFollow is recognized as a major player in the coupon and deals space. We continue to grow as an industry authority thanks to our research and consumer insight pieces, our dedication to partners and consumers, and our amazing team.
That’s incredible, Tiara. It’s clear CouponFollow has seen some phenomenal growth over the last year. Going back to the basics a bit, how would you describe affiliate marketing and where CouponFollow fits into that?
Whenever I’m asked by someone who isn’t in the industry about what I do, I essentially tell them: affiliate marketing is performance-driven marketing. Our company refers consumers to major partners like Target, Nike, eBay, and every other major retailer you can think of, and when the consumer makes a purchase, we get a small portion of the profit. So, the better our partners do, the better we do. That’s really the gist of it, and partnerships play one of the biggest roles in affiliate marketing in my opinion.
One thing that continues to set CouponFollow apart from the competition is our focus on our partners. I am constantly in discussions with various merchants to optimize their strategies and grow their revenue. For consumers, this means a seamless experience where coupons, deals, and cashback are always accurate. For advertisers, this means we are referring with the highest conversion rates and providing quality consumers who are looking to purchase.
Love that description of affiliate marketing and where CouponFollow comes into it all. In my time with affiliate marketing, something else I’ve learned is that coupon sites have a real stigma. They can sometimes be seen as bottom-funnel, but we know how valuable they are. So, what are your thoughts on this? Why do you think CouponFollow is not bottom-funnel?
Since the pandemic hit, we’ve noticed that a lot of advertisers who were previously not fans of using coupons have come to embrace them, and have seen their business’ profits rise because of it! Now more than ever, if a brand does not have a coupon strategy, they are losing out on customers who will go to their competition to buy the same or similar items for less.
We published a Commerce During COVID-19 report last year where we found that 92% of online shoppers search for a discount code before making a purchase decision. And 89% of Millennial-aged consumers were more likely to make a first-time purchase of a new brand if they were offered a coupon. Plus, 60% of respondents said getting a discount code when shopping was more important to their purchasing decision since COVID-19.
In 2019, we also asked consumers about some of their coupon-browsing habits and found that one of the biggest frustrations for a shopper was landing on the merchant website and discovering that there aren’t specific codes available—only general promotions or sales. We found that 48% of respondents were annoyed by this. The reality is that consumers are going to look for coupon codes. Each brand should have a strategy in place that keeps the consumer happy and engaged and most importantly buying from them again instead of their competitors.
At CouponFollow, we also realize that there are other ways to reach new and highly engaged consumers. So we always work with each brand to personalize our approach.
You know, we actually just published a blog post about coupon site stigmas and how not having a coupon strategy could affect you as a brand. So, a lot of what you said definitely resonates. The stats you provided kind of paint a picture of this, but I still want to ask, what are the biggest benefits and opportunities for growth that CouponFollow can offer to advertisers?
There are so many! One of the most exciting things here at CouponFollow is a new site design that is coming soon. We really invested in the user experience. In doing so, this gives advertisers more opportunity to showcase their brands, reach high-value consumers interested in purchasing right now, and even highlight their brands seasonally or categorically.
Our newsletter audience has also grown over 300% in just the last few months, and our content program continues to expand, with media pickups from Lifehacker to the E-Commerce Times to local TV stations, often featuring our partner brands. Pieces like our Mother’s Day Gift Guide have been a partner favorite. We’re also always willing to run placements on our site in exchange for things outside flat fee spend, like exclusive coupon codes or CPA increases. Cashback is also an area we’re honing in on for 2021 and beyond, and coming soon: membership to CouponFollow!
Pardon my candor, but holy cow! It sounds like CouponFollow’s focus on the user experience is really paying off. And speaking of partners, I’m curious—what has it been like working Advertise Purple?
The Advertise Purple team has been so incredibly supportive of CouponFollow over the years, and I love working with them. They’re responsive and are always willing to go to an advertiser with new opportunities. It’s gratifying to work with an agency that truly cares about its publishers and advertisers equally.
We love to hear that. Like I mentioned in this affiliate spotlight intro, the relationships we have with our publishers are something we’re truly proud of. Since we’re getting to the end of our interview, I thought we could talk about compatibility and trends. What verticals do you think work best with your platform? Are there any verticals that have been performing super well in the last quarter?
In Q2, we’ve seen a strong surge in travel and entertainments/events, so those are certainly two to look out for throughout these summer months and into Q4. Grocery, meal and food delivery, and general food/drink are others that continue to drive value. Other top-performing verticals include women’s and men’s apparel, home goods, consumer electronics, and online learning.
Great to know. Keep your eyes peeled, folks! And for my final question, what does the future look like for CouponFollow? Do you have any exciting developments or initiatives in the pipeline for the remainder of the year or even further down the road?
For the rest of 2021, our major focus is on the consumer experience. That means investing heavily in cashback, membership, content, and of course, ensuring our partnerships are optimized to deliver the best experience to each consumer as they visit our site.
Thank you so much, Tiara! I appreciate you taking the time to introduce yourself and CouponFollow to our readers. This has been an awesome conversation and I loved learning about CouponFollow, how much growth it’s seen during the pandemic, why coupon sites aren’t bottom-funnel, and everything else.
I hope you enjoyed this affiliate spotlight and that you’ve picked up a thing or two about the coupon affiliate that might come in handy in the future.
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