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February 22, 2018

How to revive lead generation techniques with personalized coupons - a cookbook

Mike Sędzielewski
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Marketing automation platforms have brought dozens of new lead generation techniques to businesses of every size. But the democratization of these tactics is also making them less distinguishing and ultimately less effective. In the following guide, we’ll show you how personalized coupons can help revive these channels and build great relationships with your customers.

We found them vs they found us

Social media, smartphones, and mobile broadband have changed how customers find their products. The new way has allowed buyers to find, research, and purchase their goods within a single commute to work, as opposed to the traditional way, no contact with a salesperson is necessary. As a result, dozens of marketing automation tools have emerged to enable companies to revamp their lead acquisition strategy accordingly. It’s kind of a level playing field now. Everybody can easily tap into a blog, gated content, newsletters, popups, A/B tests, pixel tracking, mass email sendout, and other digital marketing techniques. So how do you stand out?

source: Marketo

E-commerce giants have already pursued heavy marketing personalization, getting great results. But you just can’t personalize the whole marketing strategy overnight. It’s way too expensive and requires time to figure out what works. A better way is to approach this step by step, fixing one thing at a time. And there’s a versatile tool which fits perfectly into such an iterative approach - digital coupons.

In this article, we will overview the popular lead generation techniques and see how we can use personalized coupons to recapture and ultimately drive up conversion rates.  

Lead generation pillars

Before we jump into explaining how specific channels can be improved, let’s recall what lead generation is all about. According to Chris Goward, the author of You Should Test That, every lead nurturing tactic boils down to 3 things:

  • value - What is the overall perceived benefit in your customer’s mind?
  • relevancy - How closely does the content on your page match what your visitors are expecting to see?
  • urgency - Why should your visitors take action now?

So, the best thing about a coupon code is that it can impact all of them. This gives you great flexibility when optimizing for conversion. Let’s go through the practical examples, from easy to implement up to highly personalized & automated channels.

Note: the digital coupon features

Here’s how a personalized coupon differs from a general one:

  • various discount values (dollar, percentage, custom unit, free shipping) - better diversity and relevance for offers
  • unique code assigned to a particular customer - better tracking, reduced fraud
  • number of usages per customer - helps control your promotional budget
  • expiration date and/or validity time window - sense of urgency
  • minimum cart value - enhances upselling
  • applicable products - control over what part of your product family/lines/SKUs can be discounted
  • eligible customer segments - the basis for A/B testing and discount gradation
  • custom code pattern - facilitates tracking, improves relevancy and customer experience
  • format (text, QR, barcode) - adapting to a marketing channel and device
  • limited number of coupons or the maximum amount for all coupons under a promo campaign - allows you to control a promo budget and reduces the time necessary to run the campaign, you just launch it and forget

Easy

Newsletters / gated content

Having a single email subscriber is way more valuable than having dozens of likes on social media. When the subscriber reads your email, there’s a chance they’re already familiar with your brand and moreover, you get their full attention. That’s why it should be your first priority to entice them to join your list. While you can do this by delivering good content on your website and blog, you can add extra spice with an interesting coupon.

How to find out what constitutes an interesting coupon? We can try testing discount offers or experimenting with expiration dates. You can drop the minimum cart value limit but narrow the group of applicable products, or vice versa. A specific coupon assigned to a customer gives you the possibility of defining the number of coupon redemptions - your customers might be more willing to join the list if they know they can redeem it 3 times.

Popup

Recently, in the e-commerce world there has been something of a popup avalanche. Some sites display two popups, one after another. Nothing is more annoying than a generic, irrelevant popup. But you can change this, regardless of the message you want to get across. Add a coupon code in the visible element, preferably a relevant one. If the shopper is already identified, you can show a promo related to their segment, e.g. a premium customer might get a better deal if they are about to abandon the cart.

The “FREE” word

The number of channels in which you can place this magic word is countless. However, if you want to keep control over the “FREE” offers, it’s better to hide such a deal behind a specific coupon. It’s easier to track and also easy to turn off when the aftermath doesn’t look like you expected. Finally, you can run several FREE coupons with various offers as A/B tests and figure out customers’ preferences.  

Price match guarantee

This one is strong. If you can allow such compensation, you’ve already doubled your chances of conversion. But how about getting more out of this? What if you could put a difference on a coupon with a minimum cart value?

Social media

Want to build a strong list of followers? There’s no better way than running a regular coupon day on your social profiles. To make the incentive even more engaging, you can limit the number of coupons in a campaign and put a week as an expiry date. The coupon codes in particular campaigns might have different prefixes so that you can see which media performs better at a glance.

Intermediate

(might require coupon management system)

Contests

Providing that your coupon management software is in place, you will be able to organize contests with the prize pool comprised of numerous coupons. The more diversified discounts you offer, the more parts of the community you’re going to engage. With proper segmenting machinery, you would be even able to reward every participant with a surprise consolation deal. And in case the winner happens to be the same person over and over again, you might want to tweak the coupon rules so that it’s valid only for a first-time shopper.  

Cart abandonment

This is one of the most critical processes in every e-commerce business. The CRO experts are chasing each other to come up with new tactics which initially try to prevent the abandonment. That, of course, is a good thing, but this still happens on such a massive scale that the stats gained their own place on Wikipedia. Therefore, it’s worth trying to recover these shoppers afterwards. Personalized coupons with short expiration dates are just great for this! You already know the cart structure, so you can come up with laser-focused promotions and even upsell with a tad of creativity. You schedule an email, then a reminder. It doesn’t feel that spammy if you get reminded about the expiring coupon deal, does it? But it’s not only about email. You can detect a leaving customer on your site and show them a personal coupon offer right at the checkout.

SMS/MMS and push notifications marketing

You can also support your cart management and other marketing processes with mobile technology. Contextual SMS/MMS or push notifications with an easy to scan QR code fit today’s customer preferences and habits. They are also perfect for geo-located campaigns and offline promotions targeting brick and mortar shops.

Paid Ads

Adwords and Facebook ads have earned an indisputably strong position on the list of efficient marketing channels. Yet it’s often the case that top keywords are monopolized by ecommerce giants and it’s hard to compete with them without wasting your budget. So, you have to figure out a way to compete with relevancy. One way is to apply super specific, long-tail keywords. The other one might be a convincing coupon deal. Because of the nature of ad engines, you can’t personalize the coupon for each lead, you’re forced to use general codes like “blackfriday2018”. So, it’s good to cap the number of coupon usages and the total promotion amount, just as you limit your adwords budget. This should be customizable in your coupon management tool.

Product reviews

Social proof has ruled over sales techniques since the beginning of commerce. While shoppers eagerly share negative feedback, it’s not the same for the positive experiences. Marketers use surveys and NPS to find and expose happy customers, but the form completion rate is declining, even if it’s just a one-click endeavor. To counteract this phenomenon, you can incentivize surveys with a well-targeted promo offer. Imagine you detect a customer who buys the same product for the 5th time. You can assume she’s going to do it again so, why not to offer her 5% off for this product variant in exchange for a short feedback note and a high chance for a 5-star rating?    

Related products

The efficiency of this channel is highly dependent on how closely the related products fall into customer’s preferences. While it might be hard to predict this for every customer segment, it’s quite simple to entice this section with a product bundle discount option. You don’t even need a coupon code for that, the discount will auto-apply when the customer adds new products to the cart.

Anniversaries

Birthday, a year since the first order, 20th order, Valentine’s day but also local holidays - any anniversary is a good opportunity to offer your customers a personal touch offer. If you can warm it up even more by discounting their favorite products, they’re going to remember it forever.

Advanced

(requires coupon system API integration with e-commerce infrastructure)

Shipping status updates

Market research shows these emails and SMS’s to be one of the most welcome messages. However, they are usually littered with nonrelevant generic content. If your shipping vendor provides an API to personalize the shipping updates, you can think of a nice coupon plug - it’ll be appreciated especially when the delivery is delayed.

Retargeting

More and more people are getting tired of ads which track them on every possible website they are visiting. Thus, shoppers became more aware of trackers and simply block them. Also, GDPR and Google and Apple plans will significantly reduce the efficiency of this channel. Nonetheless, for now, you can come up with some tactics to regain the interest. Not only can you display a general discount code for every shopper, but you can also appeal to the ones who already bought something. There’s no better way to close a returning customer than a super specific landing page and a tailored coupon offer. The key thing here is making your coupon system aware of a visiting customer’s attributes. In this way, you can control the coupon usage accordingly.

Live Chat

Social media made shoppers want real-time replies. That’s why in-app chats have conquered shop websites. Livechats offer a pretty broad range of activities for improving the customer experience. Apart from helping the customer with their issues, you can leverage the visibility of the live chat widget to increase the customer lifetime value. Think of a personalized upselling offer right when the customer is about to go to checkout. Or, imagine an eye-catching promo deal in an opening message asking some basic questions to create a marketing qualified lead. There’s a myriad of options. But the more personalized deals you want to offer, the more advanced software integration is necessary. Fortunately, an increasing number of modern livechat applications are prepared for connecting external tools including coupon management software.  

Invoices

Along with the shipping status updates, invoice emails are another not-considered-spam-by-default type of message. You can use them in two ways; firstly, you can put coupon content in the email itself and secondly, if your infrastructure is flexible enough, you can put the coupon right in the PDF. The ability to engage with customers within the order confirmation email isn’t that popular yet, so this channel has a great chance to perform well in future.

Google Analytics integration

Some Google Analytics setups often look like profound conversion laboratories. The amount of tracked events and A/B experiments is really impressive. If your GA looks the same, adding the redeemed coupon information shouldn’t be too much hassle. In this way, you can quickly include how various coupons impact customer behavior. Of course, this isn’t limited to GA, other customer analytics tools will do it as well.  

Summary

The effectiveness of basic lead generation channels has been dropping since marketing automation platforms became more popular. The answer to this lies in more personalized content. With our coupon-related ideas, you can achieve this in a short time frame. Let us know if you have any questions on how coupons can be integrated with your marketing strategy and e-commerce software.

Tagged:
coupon, discount, coupon marketing, best practices
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