Couponing is a tough business to e-commerce. When many small and global brands use discounts and successfully uplift their revenues, also many learn their lessons from harm done by reckless coupon ideas. If you got to the point when thinking about implementing (or improving) coupon strategy to your business, read on. We’ve prepared an ultimate guide with dozens of ready-to-go tips and tactics building a modern coupon marketing. And, if you’re still not convinced whether or not coupons are what your marketing needs, then the next paragraph is for you.
Coupons have already become sophisticated marketing tools, which not only drives sales, but also helps in building branding image and customer loyalty. By using a modern infrastructure, coupon campaigns are also a source of tracking data for CRM used to build and continuously improve the marketing efforts in general.
Do you need them? The answer is not up to your business model, market branch, or even your scale. Coupons can help almost every business type and size, if only a strategy is well thought through and planned accordingly to the current budget and clear marketing goals. The way you run coupon campaigns must be consistent with the way your marketing department works.
After choosing a coupon provider, you need to plan your strategy ahead. In the beginning, run small campaigns with diversified parameters, such as discount value and type, duration, discounted products, etc. Crucial to succeed and move forward is tracking the performance of every single coupon and campaign you launch. You must be patient and aware that it will take time and numerous experiments to figure out what works best for your business.
Quick Tip: If you run a small business, start from choosing one product and run 3-4 coupon campaigns from time to time with different discount types and values. Results will show you which of the discounts work best.
Now, let’s dive deeper and take a closer look at coupon attributes that make them effective.
Design: people buy with their eyes, so coupon design needs to catch attention. There is no place for spelling mistakes or poor graphics. If you don’t have an idea or resources, consider employing a professional who can design a coupon project for you that you can later modify for future campaigns.
Expiration Date: always provide coupons with an expiration date to protect your budget and keep the offer attractive. It is already proven that consumers find promotions far more appealing if they are offered within a short time frame.
Clear and Concise Message: less is more here. Too complicated promotion rules or too much text to read will instantly discourage potential consumers from using the coupon.
Tempting Call to Action (CTA): while designing your coupons, remember to make CTA visible to your users. Secondly, don’t be lazy. Figure out something original instead of using the worn out, “shop now.”
Need inspiration? Here are some examples of more creative CTA:
Track-able Code: whether you decide to share a standalone code for multiple use or use unique codes assigned to particular customers, you need to track each of them through their entire lifecycle. Before choosing a coupon system, check if the provider’s tracking features enable you to analyze detailed redemption data.
Here are some real examples of eye-catching e-coupons done in the right way:
You can strengthen the power of offered incentives once you learn how to use special occasions and holidays to run coupon campaigns. Besides official holidays, personal celebration days, such as birthdays and anniversaries, of your customers are also perfect for a coupon. It’s a great example of marketing personalization, and is much appreciated by modern consumers.
When talking about a marketing personalization, we need to clarify some things in this matter.
You have most likely already heard that personalization is paramount to successful marketing. I guess you also heard, or even experienced, the overwhelming privacy hiccup amongst modern consumers. In these circumstances, using personalization in your coupon marketing becomes thin ice, which needs to be trodden upon lightly.
Does it mean it is better to give up personalization? Of course not. The key to moving freely in the field is ensuring a proper balance between “loss” of privacy due to revealing personal data, and benefits the consumer gets in exchange.
43% of consumers agreed that they would exchange personal data with companies to save money through personalized promotions, discounts or deals
To offer relevant deals, which let your clients save money, you need to first know your audience.
What is also important to make a coupon deal relevant is to know what type of products/services your customer purchased. For example, there is no point in offering another winter coat to a customer right after she purchased one. There are things people buy daily, and other items that are only needed from time to time. Following this, your coupon marketing must operate with more sophisticated algorithms and personalize offers in diversified ways.
Quick Tip: Remember that personalization cannot be managed manually at scale. Even in the beginning, it is worth it to invest in coupon marketing software that already supports coupon automation.
When we are done with personalization, let’s go back to ideas for coupon campaigns. We have listed many of ready-to-go examples that you can use in your coupon strategy.
Send an email with a discount for a first order to every customer who signs up.
Keep an eye on customers’ birthdays and send wishes with an exclusive discount.
Note: You can use popups, widget forms, or a live chat.
Note: Gamification in promotions builds unique customer experiences that increase engagement, loyalty, and retention. We were writing about it here.
Coupons can be attached to your answer to a complaint or live chat conversation. Every time something fails, you can counter the discontent by sending a surprise discount/gift card.
Note: For more details, you can read our ideas for live chat coupon campaigns with “support issues” included.
Send an email or SMS with 5% off coupon when a customer abandons their cart.
Note: This tactic, used by global giants, reduces the number of cart abandonments.
Divide your customers according to the revenues they bring. Create exclusive discounts or gift cards for those who bring the highest profits.
Note: Remember to emphasize the individual character of the discount. For example, add a note to the message, “Only 2% of our customers receive this discount.”
Place a 40% coupon code on your landing page and enable customers to get discount for the next 12 hours (Add a minimum order value to start discounting when your budget is safe.).
Note: Flash-sales are good to use to experiment and try out new campaign ideas.
Send unique coupons if:
Note: The way custom events work enables you to build coupons at every point of the sales funnel and use almost every interaction to trigger coupon send outs.
Each time a new customer places an order, you should trigger an automatic multi-level coupon send out, which delivers coupon codes to active users (from time to time).
Send one coupon to a dormant user, and schedule 2-3 automatic reminders, e.g., 20% off the next order if you purchase within two weeks. When the code remains unused, reminders will notify user automatically.
Note: You can read more about coupon reminders in a separate article.
Note: To automate these campaigns, use dynamic customer segments, updated continuously along with customers’ activity.
Note: It’s good to add a required minimum order value and a rule “one redemption per customer.”
“Refer us to your friend to get rewards. Every time you referral code is used, your friend gets 10% off. The code can be used five times - 50% discount for next purchase. When you get to 10 code redemptions, you can get a special free product. Each week, a new product is awarded, so keep an eye on the ball!”
Note: Great referral programs are gamified, multi-layered experiences so be creative!
10 points on customer’s loyalty card for each item bought. Points are exchanged for coupon codes divided into categories (loyalty levels). Plus, customers can get extra points by sharing their content on social media, writing reviews, or providing answers to the weekly quiz.
Note: Loyalty programs should offer attractive incentives and be good fun no matter how long a customer participates. This is why gamification is so widely used in loyalty campaigns; it maintains the customers’ interest.
Note: Social media sites are the right places for contests in which coupons can serve as rewards.
Coupons, even those made with lots of creativity, must be appropriately targeted to work effectively. The way you segment your audience must be consistent with shopping patterns and habits performed by your customers. At the very beginning, take your time and learn what habits and features shape your customers buying activities. Then, you will be able to divide the audience into segments and create campaigns accordingly to their preferences.
There is no customer segmentation that works for every business, or even for two different businesses. As every business and audience is unique, you need to dive deeply into the CRM and sales data to choose customer segments criteria.
To make it a little bit easier you may use following examples:
Advanced segmentation used to target coupons typically requires a combination of many criteria, e.g., location-based coupons for regular customers could be targeted to the following segment:
"Promo codes for customers from Europe, who have placed at least three orders so far and signed up more than one year ago."
How to Promote Your Coupons Online?
Having an idea and, finally, coupons in place are just half of the way to campaign success. The other half depends on whether or not you will be able to reach your target audience and put coupons in front of them. There are many channels you can use to promote coupons online. We have listed them for you, and also added some popular service providers.
Thanks to websites like this, your coupons can reach customers who haven’t heard about your brand yet, but look for specific products. It is a chance to compete with the greatest giants and win new acquisitions.
Our Tip: Watch carefully to place your coupons in the right category as a mistake like this can be very painful and a waste of many resources.
Look at this post to find more coupon platforms ready to promote your coupon codes.
Coupon marketing that is supported by emails has one significant advantage; it can be highly personalized. It means extra points to their marketing power and a chance to build 1:1 interactions with potential buyers. To start with email marketing and collect your list, you can also use coupons and offer one on your website in exchange for an email address.
Quick Tip: While acquiring email addresses always inform your visitors about how often you will email them and how they can quit their subscription. Showing respect for their privacy makes people more willing to share their data.
There are numerous options here. You can use simple popups or web widgets and offer coupons in exchange for customer data. What is important in the case of popups is to make them eye-catching, not irritating.
Social media are a free source of new and regular users. You can start with standalone code and publish it at different times of day/week. Results will show you when the traffic brings the highest conversion. Don’t give up too soon, social media, same as any other distribution channel, requires patience, lots of tests, and also creativity (Think about some contests, influencers or gamified experience).
To make the most of SMS, you need to combine it with geo-targeting. SMS gives you a chance to catch customers right in front of the store, and a coupon makes the message a real incentive. Read more about geo-located coupon campaigns in this post.
The popularity of live chats is continually growing. We recommend it as a support tool, which is well suited to a modern, tech-friendly consumer, and also as a great marketing channel. Besides serving support requests, you can leverage your live chat to build an outstanding customer experience and boost sales. How? By launching flash sales, personalized campaigns, and other coupon ideas through a live chat. Need ideas? Here you go!
Each of these channels can be a good choice, but only when combined together can they really work great. Whatever channels you decide to use, keep in mind that people strive for genuinely omnichannel experience these days. It means they want a seamless journey when changing from online to offline mode. The way you sync your online coupon marketing with the in-store/offline experience decides its final efficiency and results.
Before we start to talk about coupon stats, we need to mention coupon limits.. Only correctly secured campaigns can be a source of relevant data. Here are most useful limits:
Crucial for coupon and budget safety is a system that validates every redemption request and that won't allow customers to misuse it.
Secure coupons mean a safe budget and reliable data. Information carried with promo codes can give you credible clues about directions for your future marketing. Each redemption should be tracked and include the following details:
It would be tough to process this information manually at scale, so you need a ready-to-analyze metrics and stats systems updated in real time. What do we find the most useful?
Of course, more means better here. The most important is to analyze data you get up-to-date and to learn your lessons each time. Tracking and measuring performance is the only right way to build and develop efficient coupon marketing for any business.
Coupon marketing is much more than coupon campaigns alone. It requires a comprehensive management system ready to build Omni-channel experiences and 1:1 personalized relationships with your customers.
Our last tip for today? Modern software is valuable as much as its integration possibilities. This is why we always advise choosing coupon software with your tech team. With a flexible coupon system with API, you can plug promotional campaigns into your unique business model at every stage of the sales funnel.