In this world it may seem that change is the only constant – but there is one other thing that appears to right up there with change – the attractiveness of coupons to consumers.
Coupons have always been popular but since they became available electronically their use has exploded. Emails that provide a printable coupon for in-store redemption, banner ads that offer discounts to new customers, onsite coupons for immediate discounts on online purchases and even coupons delivered via text messaging to cell phones are among the most popular forms of electronic distribution. And the great thing is that they are working better than ever.
Consumers hurting from the economic downturn are increasingly turning to online coupon offers to slim their spending. They’re economical marketing for your business too - no postal cost and any printing cost is borne by the user (who prints the coupons) rather than the issuing business.
There are two prongs to an online coupon marketing strategy. Put coupons on your own site of course. But also submit them to some of the myriad coupon aggregator sites that have sprung up in recent years to display in one place the thousands of coupon deals on offer. Coupons.com, a site that allows consumers to select and print coupons that can be redeemed at stores offline, had 8.5 million visitors in November 2008 alone. Focus on submitting your coupons for listing on some of the product/industry specific sites first, then on these general directories. These sites are easily found using terms such as ‘your industry sector name’ plus ‘coupons’ or ‘coupon site’ in your search engine.
Good for more than just immediate discounts
While coupons most commonly offer a discount on the immediate purchase they can be used to encourage repeat shopping by making the discount available on the next sale.
Getting the most from online coupons
If your shopping cart doesn’t already support coupon purchases get it modified (or buy a cart system that does). Offer the code on the page the consumer is purchasing the item from so that they can enter it at checkout.
Customers who might otherwise be wary of supplying their email address to receive your promotions may well feel comfortable about providing it in exchange for a coupon code and more inclined to allow you to add them to your email permissions list to receive future offers. New customers can be asked to create an account before they can make a purchase and their email can be part of the information gathered. If they are that interested they are likely to respond favourably to an offer to receive email notification of future offers. You can also use a coupon offer to get current customers to market on your behalf. An offer delivered by email that contains a printable coupon for 25% off for friends and family will quickly be forwarded to those people giving you access to a previously unreachable bunch of prospects. When you do send emails with a coupon offer in future, include the words ‘coupon offer’ or something similar in the subject line. Knowing there is a coupon offer increases the opening rate considerably.
Consumers love coupons
Many people, in any economy, simply love hunting for bargains. When financially strapped consumers using internet shopping to stretch their budget join the parade, the benefits for the small businesses are considerable. What’s more, coupons represent a truly affordable and effective marketing strategy. If you're not using coupons in your marketing mix, you're definitely leaving money on the table.