Why and How to Use Coupons in Your Online Store

October 5, 2015


Online coupons can be a great way for your store to increase sales. After all, everyone likes a “bargain” and it’s super-easy to enter a coupon code when checking out. That’s why a recent study by Statista projects that the number of US adults redeeming digital coupons will grow from 112.5 million in 2014 to 126.9 million in 2016.

Time-limited offers can encourage impulse purchases, help move unsold inventory, and reduce the number of abandoned shopping carts. Coupons can also be an effective way to reward your loyal customers or encourage them to refer family and friends to your site.

You can also use coupons to track the source of your online customers. For instance, you could use one code for a Facebook offer, another for a Twitter offer, and a third for your email list. Everyone gets the same deal, but you can easily measure where your offer is getting the most traction, and adjust your marketing resources accordingly.

But before launching a new promotional program, you need to think carefully about your overall coupon strategy. For instance, if you offer coupons too frequently, you may discourage everyday shoppers, who put off their purchases until something goes “on sale.” And if you have a luxury brand, couponing could undercut that exclusive image that brings buyers to your store.

Here are eight tips that can help you build a successful online couponing strategy:

  1. Understand how to use the most popular social media channels. With Facebook, for instance, you might post a “warm and fuzzy” offer and encourage your followers to share the coupon with others. With Twitter, you might tweet the coupon code with a hashtag during the day to get immediate attention.
  1. Be sure your offers can reach customers’ smartphones and tablets. Today, more and more consumers are accessing the Internet through mobile devices. However, an eMarketer study estimates that only 44.5 percent of marketers will offer mobile coupons by 2016. So be sure that your store— and your coupons—are optimized for a convenient mobile experience.
  1. Consider offering a percentage discount on the entire shopping cart, perhaps after a certain dollar amount. This type of coupon encourages consumers to buy more products. In contrast, a coupon for $10 or $25 off a $100 purchase encourages consumers to check out as soon as they can get the discount.
  1. Use add-on coupons for product accessories or for inventory that isn’t moving quickly enough. This can help you manage your costs, but may not be as appealing to consumers as an overall discount.
  1. Surprise both new and loyal customers. You could give new customers an online code for free shipping on the first order, for instance, or you could create a “pop-up” offer when customers in your database visit your site.
  1. Depending on your brand, you may want to try an offer on an online couponing site that targets discount-oriented consumers. This can be an effective approach for new stores seeking to build market awareness and for stores having trouble expanding their customer base. But be prepared to pay for this service, on top of any discounts you offer to prospects.

Here are a few popular websites where you can market your coupons:

  1. Personalize your email offer. Deloitte found that 39 percent of customers who receive a personalized coupon, recommendation, or promotion spend more at a store.
  1. Before sending out an offer, be sure that it has a clear expiration date and complies with local, state and federal regulations. Don’t just cut and paste the “fine print”—check with a legal advisor to be sure you’re not exposing yourself to a future liability.

One of the greatest things about online coupons is their versatility. If something isn’t working, you just pull the plug on that promotion and try again. So, plan your promotional strategy and don’t be afraid to experiment. Before long, you’ll know what offers and channels will generate the best result for your store.