Utilize Coupons in Your Online and Email Marketing

Image Utilize Coupons in Your Online and Email Marketing

By Vanessa Salvia, 3/2/11

Coupons are one offline marketing technique that fairly easily transfers to online marketing efforts. People love using coupons. It makes them feel like they are getting a real deal, and they don't have to expend much effort to get the discount. Usually, all it takes is clipping a coupon from the paper, or even better, just typing in a code on a website. Savvy shoppers at the grocery store (as well as online stores) look for coupons or other discounts.

Sometimes, making a coupon available even for a small discount such as 5% or $5 off is enough to sway someone who might be considering purchasing an item from another site. Aside from feeling like they are saving a little money, receiving a coupon in a newsletter or targeted mailing makes people feel special, and engages them in a "bargain hunter" psychology. People enjoy the feeling of getting a bargain and receiving special treatment. When the discount coupon arrives, it's almost like winning a contest - using coupons makes people feel like they're getting something for free. But perhaps the best thing about them is that compared to other promotional avenues, coupons are inexpensive. They are easy and cost-effective for the business owner to implement.

Here are some ideas we've put together for using coupons successfully as part of your marketing strategy:

Targeted marketing: When consumers have a coupon available before they set off shopping, they often end up spending more than they had planned. Through targeted marketing to your customers, coupons can be a viable vehicle for increasing product sales. Coupons can create a short-term blip in traffic and sales, and work best when they're tightly focused on one product or discount. A consistent and continual coupon program can help you build a loyal customer following.

State some limitations: An e-coupon should only be usable within a certain valid period of time with an explicit beginning and end date. This could be the duration of the shopper's current session in the online store, or some time in the future.

State the discount: The e-coupon should offer some type of discount, as a dollar amount or as a percentage of purchase. Or, it can be used for free shipping or a free item up to a certain dollar amount. Whatever it is, state it clearly so there is no confusion.

Coupon delivery ideas: A great strategy is to publish coupon codes with expiration dates or other appropriate limitations right on your site. You can even have a page of coupon codes. Well known gourmet food retailer Harry and David have a great coupon code page that may give you some ideas. The coupon code page can be linked in your site navigation, or your site can be configured so that when someone places an item in their cart, a message about the code appears, among other options. If you have a spot to enter a coupon code and the customer doesn't have a code or know where to get one, they might leave the site to start looking for one and never come back. You can remedy this by having lower value "public" coupons available on your own site and other coupon hosting sites, and higher value coupons sent through email newsletters, or through social media outlets for preferred customers. Once someone receives a discount code (even for something minimal like 5% off or free shipping), they will be more apt to complete their order.

Present offers upon login: Regular shoppers on your site can be presented with an offer on the login screen, if there is one. The main advantage of this method is that it is relatively low cost and easy to implement. The drawback is that only regular, return customers will see the offer.

Send coupons through email: Coupons can be sent in emails, to registered customers. The advantage of this method is that your email can reach customers even when they're not browsing through your store. The main disadvantage of this method is that only shoppers who opt-in to your emails will receive the coupon. An offer of a coupon can be an enticement to get some customers to register.

Offer incentives while browsing: You can offer e-coupons at appropriate times while the shopper is browsing in your web store, such as in the display of a particular product's description, while they are adding a product to the shopping cart, or completing a purchase (the coupon can be for a discount on a future purchase). The main advantage is that the offer can appear at moments as an enticement for them to complete the purchase. The drawback is that only shoppers on your site will see the coupon, and some shoppers may not be comfortable knowing that their behavior is being monitored.

There are many other options for coupon implementation, including using coupons in paid advertising such as banner ads and pay-per-click advertising that can direct people to the coupon page on your site. Coupons are a good marketing strategy that work for many people. If you're not sure where to go, let your web team know that you have some questions. They'll be happy to help you!

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