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How to Choose the Discount Management System? 8 Top Features You Need

What to look for in coupon management software? Should you build or buy voucher management software?

How to Choose the Discount Management System? 8 Top Features You Need

Nearly one-third of US shoppers look for online deals and discounts whenever they shop. That’s many opportunities to come on top of your competition and deliver the value customers are already searching for. 

The unstoppable popularity of online shopping forces brands to come up with savvy online discount and coupon strategies. Why? Online promotions create a unique opportunity for brands to analyze customers’ path-to-purchase, engage users, and nurture brand loyalty and advocacy. And that’s just for starters – you can learn more about the benefits of discount marketing in this post

What is a discount management platform?

A discount management platform manages the entire discount lifecycle starting from coupon codes generation through code delivery and finishing with redemptions tracking. A voucher management system is a cost-effective way of incorporating digital offers into your marketing strategy. What’s more, a coupon management system opens up an opportunity to run multiple promo campaigns with one holistic tool – a precious asset for any digital sales team.  

In short, the discount management platform lets marketing teams create, distribute, and track coupon codes. 

Why do you need a coupon management system?

According to IBM, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift away from traditional shopping to ecommerce by five years. As Millennials and Generation X overtook Baby Boomers as the largest consumer group, it is important to note new trends in the space of ecommerce. While Baby Boomers show a preference for in-store purchase and value quality over quantity more, younger clientele is much more receptive to good deals and less likely to stay loyal to brands. With the digital environment kicking into high gear, retailers are forced to have clearly defined sales and marketing goals to accommodate different customer personas. And there is nothing better suited to do this job than a flexible and data-driven offer management system.

Can I build a voucher management system myself?

Of course, you can. But why would you? The quest for developing logic for generating, managing, and tracking vouchers and discounts is undoubtedly not straightforward. While small-scale businesses perhaps can rely on excel sheets with codes, this approach fails to meet the scalability challenge. 

As simple as it is – time is money. While building an in-house coupon solution definitely offers some unique benefits such as coverage of specific business use cases, it is also a fast-paced carousel of unexpected development work, annoying showstoppers, and negligence to take care of your core product or service.  

The crux of the matter is that you can spend time, money, and resources to build an in-house solution that is sure to cover your use cases or save money and time with a market-ready coupon system that may or may not cover all of your requirements. This is why the proper audit is so vital before settling for a coupon provider.

Eight features to look for in a coupon management system

You need two things to start developing your coupon strategy – objective and means to achieve it. With a market already saturated with technological tools for streamlining even the smallest business task, you are sure to find a dozen possible coupon management platforms out there. But before investing in one, you should consider the following must-have discount management system features.

1. Advanced coupon customization

A sound coupon management system should enable you to run highly-targeted and customized coupon campaigns across all marketing channels. You don’t want to offer open-for-all discounts that can be used an unlimited number of times by random visitors. Proper coupon customization starts with the discount value and expiry date, but the tweaking capabilities go far beyond that. Your voucher management software needs to keep up with your scale and be flexible enough to design multiple, diversified incentives for any segment and occasion.

There are several features that will let you do just that:

  • Flexible redemption rules based on multiple criteria, such as segments, order size, or cart content. 
  • Code customization options to make your vouchers user-friendly and secure from fraud. 
  • Redemption limits per customer, order, campaign, and more. 
  • Specific time limits and voucher validity periods. 
  • White-label capabilities to fully reflect your branding.

2. Pricing scalability

The voucher management system should fit your business goals and long-term planning. Pricing rules need to be clear and straightforward. In the case of coupons, this means you pay according to the number of executed operations, e.g., used codes. This simple rule helps you keep maintenance costs low and profits balanced at scale.

In an agile marketing field, even a well-designed promo campaign can bring unpredictable results. That’s why the usage-based pricing plan is even more critical. It allows you to start small, iterate, and gradually estimate the long-term strategy roll-out cost. You don’t want to end up with a large up-front investment, and your marketing goals only reached half-way, do you?

3. Marketing automation and A/B tests

Marketing automation makes it possible to meet customers closer than ever before. Today, even the most creative coupon campaigns will never compete with a modern e-commerce megacorp if you don’t tap into automation software. How does it help your promo strategy in particular? It helps you build the omnichannel coupon experience with:

  • Personalized emails and SMS with coupon codes fitted to the message context.
  • Automatic coupon distribution at wholesale triggered by customers’ interactions with the brand (like changing location, abandoning the cart, new subscription, etc.).
  • Dynamic customer segmentation, which divides your audience based on current tracking results.
The reality is, marketing automation significantly improves interactions with customers and clients in ways traditional digital marketing struggled to achieve in the past. @Forbes

Before you launch any coupon campaign on a massive scale, you need to know which coupon ideas best fit your audience. A/B tests compare how different discount values and validation rules perform with specific customer segments. The point of A/B testing is to start with small campaigns and expand the ideas which convert best. Your coupon management system should support this and present the test results so you can find the patterns in a blink.

4. Coupon delivery via any media and device

While generating unique codes with custom redemption limits is problematic, delivering these codes to end-users poses another challenge that not all coupon management platforms can face. A sound coupon management system should combine the power of both personalization and dynamic segmentation, meaning that messages with coupon codes should be appropriately composed and carry a contextual discount. Your system should also be aware of changes in customer segments and trigger the message with an incentive in the right context and time. The most popular contexts for coupon codes include welcome coupons, cart abandoned deals, exit intent offers, or re-engagement discounts. Learn more about contextual coupon messages here.

5. Discount redemption tracking

Coupon tracking is crucial to collect customer data and secure your promo codes against fraud. A capable coupon software turns gathered data into measurable reports and eventually leads you to improved sales rates. These days, coupons are much more than codes and discounts. They are used to track customers’ behavior, which is later translated into segments. While choosing a coupon provider, look for monitoring features like:

  • Unique codes that allow you to track every single coupon among dozens of generated campaigns.
  • Redemptions and delivery details specifying when and how the code was delivered (you can see who has redeemed a particular code and which delivery channels are the most effective).
  • Metrics and stats showing your campaigns’ real-time performance (like gift card balances, the total number of redemptions, or the most popular types of discount).

Remember that single features won't ensure a data-driven marketing strategy. Only a voucher management system that tracks a coupon through its entire lifecycle can give you credible clues.

6. API-first coupon management system

APIs enable you to build software that fits into your process and whose development doesn’t take ages to complete. Try to count how many apps, service providers, and business tools you already use. None of them would be sufficient if not integrated to work together. This is why you need a coupon system with API. 

What is an API, you might be wondering. Well, to be very brief, API is a method of fast communication between separated databases. In the context of coupon campaigns, you can see API in action when a customer tries to redeem a discount code. The moment the code is entered, your store asks coupon software about the details of the code. Is it still active? Does the customer qualify for the deal? Then, the answer (either positive or negative) comes back to your store, allowing or blocking the customer from claiming the offer. Learn more about coupon API here.

An API platform gets value from your current infrastructure and data sources. Connection with CRM and BI tools provides seamless data flow and integrity. Thanks to APIs, the coupon strategy simply extends to your existing infrastructure. You can combine all your marketing tools to create one powerful promotional system

7. Your developers like it

If you are not a programmer, you would probably skip this point. And that’s one of the worst mistakes you can make while choosing any software. A coupon provider supplied with API and approved by your developers is a literal time and money saver for your marketing team. The developer-friendly software enables you to implement custom, tailored solutions saving time and resources. With extra onboarding speed, your coupons get one step ahead of the competition.

But what does developer-friendliness mean? Let’s take a look at the most critical features:

  • RESTful API.
  • Thorough documentation with quick-start tutorials, a dozen practical examples, and an interactive console.
  • Support of the vendor's tech team.
  • SDKs (software development kits) for popular programming languages.

8. Minimal learning curve

The landscape of digital marketing is more expansive than ever before. You shouldn’t need a college degree to create coupon campaigns. That’s why, while choosing a discount management system, you need to keep in mind the learning curve required to understand the tool. You should cross out of your list anything that requires weeks of training, loads of custom development, and hundreds of calls and emails. Here is what to look for in a new voucher management tool:

  • Open developer documentation and sandbox environment to test your campaigns before going live. 
  • Open support center with step-by-step guides. 
  • Different forms of support (phone, email, 1:1 demos, slack channels, and forums).
  • Easy & interactive user interface. 
  • A dedicated Success Manager that you can quickly contact in the case of questions and doubts. 

Now that you know what to look for in a coupon management system, you are ready to meet the challenges that lay ahead. Once you make your choice, don’t hesitate to use the fantastic marketing possibilities of coupon marketing. Combine coupons with advanced segmentation, marketing personalization, and automation. With appropriate tools and a plan, coupons will sharpen up conversions, increase loyalty, and strengthen relationships with your regular audience.

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