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Coupon marketing tips and strategies

I love coupons.. both as a consumer and as a marketer. If you're not using coupons in your marketing mix, you're definitely leaving money on the table. Go to a search engine, type in the product or service you're selling followed by the word "coupon" and you might get a shock as to how many of your competitors are using them.

While coupons have always been popular with people, they are even more so now given the tough economic times we've been experiencing. For example, Traffic to coupon sites increased an incredible 38% from March 2007 to March 2008; whereas overall Internet traffic growth was only 5% during the same period. The availability of a coupon can really make or break a sale. 

Aside from the money saving aspect, people enjoy the feeling of gaining a bargain and being treated as special - it's part of the thrill of the hunt of online shopping as much as any financial benefit.

If your shopping cart doesn't support coupon functionality, lean on the software vendor to implement the function, or switch to shopping cart software that does - it's just such a powerful feature. 

Shopping cart questions? Try our articles, guides and reviews!

Shopping cart software

Learn more about shopping carts or read our reviews of some the best shopping cart software around!

Need to learn more about merchant accounts or payment processors? Read our reviews & guides

Here's some tips on using coupons:

Consider raising your standard prices

If your margins are already tight, consider upping your prices as a trial in combination with an intensive coupon offer. This might sound a little odd, but the success lies in the implementation and getting the coupons out there, which I'll discuss further below. If this feels a little too risky, trial it just with a couple of items. 

Offer a coupon signup on your site

If you make it very clear on your site coupons are available, many people will happily give you their email address in order to gain a coupon code. This is particularly effective when using popups.

This gives you the added advantage of running an autoresponder series or adding these people to an email newsletter for follow up marketing. Don't make people wait for the coupon, remember that they may be on your site with cash ready to purchase. Offer the code on the page that presents after they've provided their email address and also follow up with an immediate email containing the information.

Set expiry dates

Like any form of marketing, a call to action is needed sometimes in order to get people to purchase. It's ok to have an open ended coupon with no expiry, but for added punch, perhaps send out those who have those coupons a better coupon deal that expires on X date.

Use memorable codes

Coupon codes like TB87977VBN are really hard for people to remember, which cuts down on their viral potential; i.e. being handed around via word of mouth. Use terms like MAYSPECIAL or SAVE25BUCKS. There's also a psychological element in doing this - it's a reminder to people of the offer, e.g how much you can save or how long the offer is for.

Submit to coupon sites

A myriad of coupon sites have sprung up in recent years; some will focus on your sector, others will contain offers from all sorts of merchants. Focus submitting your coupons for listing on some of the industry specific sites first, then on the general directories. These sites are easily found using term such as

<industry sector> coupons
or 
coupon site

Affiliate program

If you run an affiliate program, be sure to give out coupon codes to your affiliate partners - they absolutely love them as coupons help with their conversions. 

Recommended affiliate management software 
Used and recommended by Michael - Post Affiliate Pro.
Amazing range of features, economically priced, quick and easy to implement!
Read my review

Deferred discounts

The most popular use for a coupon is to offer a cash back on the immediate purchase. Another way to use them is to offer one as a discount on the *next* sale, helping to ensure repeat business and minimizing the bite into your profit.

Not just for cash discounts

Another way to use a coupon aside from cash discounts is as an "admission ticket" of sorts to free reports or other services.

Use in PPC and banner

If you publish a coupon code on a pay per click ad or banner, this tends to really attract the eye. Additionally, it can also help cut PPC costs as the viewer may not even bother clicking on the ad, but go straight to your site armed with the coupon code.

Improve landing page conversions

If you're not able to use the coupon code on an ad for whatever reason, be sure to include it, or a coupon offer on any landing pages you set up in conjunction with campaigns.

Press release tips

Press releases aren't just for big companies - small online businesses can benefit too! Free tips on how to write a press release, learn where to submit them and grab a free press release template.

Be patient

When you use coupons, you'll also grow to understand how long it can be between click and sale. Especially with high ticket value items, it may not be that you'll get increased sales straight away; particularly if you're using coupons without an expiry date, so hang in there for a couple of weeks.

Related:

Shopping cart overview
Shopping cart software review
Email marketing software
Optimizing landing pages
Affiliate program software
Using popups to boost subscriptions

Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast
http://www.tamingthebeast.net 
Tutorials, web content, tools and software.
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In the interests of transparency and disclosure, please note that the owner of Taming the Beast.net often receives goods and services mentioned in reviews for free, or may receive payments or affiliate commissions for advertising or referring others to merchants of products and services reviewed.

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