The art of using coupon codes instead of sales

Posted by on November 25th 2009 in E-Commerce

blog_postTheres a secret weapon sitting on most e-commerce platforms out there, it isn't plastered all over the site but sits rather snuggly between the cart and the checkout. I'm talking about the coupon code box...also known as voucher codes, promotion codes, discount codes - I think I've seen many more variations too! Don't be quick to dismiss it as something you just give to your friends, employees and family - it can actually prove to be a very powerful tool. Let's put our hands up - how many of us looking for a bargain, search around for a coupon code on discount sites when they see the box? The answer "yes" will be a frequent occurance - maybe even more than you think. Recent research conducted by Helen Legatt on behalf of Coupon Crazy has shown that 94% of adults have used a coupon code to make an online purchase. As soon as I see the box, I immediately check Hot UK Deals to see if I can get my purchase cheaper! So I've shown how it can be of massive benefit to you as a person when making a purchase, but what about your business? Whilst I still see sales as an effective tool and something you can target more to specific products, the coupon code also has a lot of potential - let me explain why.

Your customers do the publicity for you!

It's hard to believe that promoting your store can be this easy, but it is! If you have a good base of users already, it is likely that some of them are using discount sites already and will post your codes to these sites for your behalf - otherwise you may have to do it yourself. Send out a newsletter to your existing customers saying something along the lines of "thank you for shopping with us, here's 20% off your next order - the code is XXX-XXXX-XXX" - if you don't see your code(s) appearing on discount sites shortly after (a week or 2), just add them yourself. Even if your products are more expensive than your competitors, as customers think they are getting such a good deal straight away - they would be more inclined to make the purchase without checking price comparison sites.

Set an expiry date

Shoppers will always be more inclined to buy something when the pressures on. Set an expiry date for a month or two later - you can always run another promotion shortly after. The research mentioned earlier also shows that a staggering 95% of coupon codes are found to be expired when entered, however very surprisingly, 57% of these shoppers still go ahead with the purchase...the perfect crime?! Remember though, if you are promoting a coupon code to expire on a certain date - don't expire it sooner, or you could end up with many unhappy shoppers and bad reputation.

See an increase in returning customers

Customers feel more valued when you give them an offer that appears tailored to them - in addition to a newsletter, run special promotions for users on social media streams like twitter and facebook. Theres no doubt in my mind that this method of shopping has become more popular and we'll see many more companies adopting this technique in preference over standard sales - everyone does sales now, they are meaningless - get ahead of the game.
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