Marketing Advice

The Beginner's Guide to Using Coupons and Promotions

By Ryan Gilmore on October, 12 2015

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 Everyone loves a good deal. It lets the consumer feel likes they are getting the best bang for their buck, and that's a great feeling. Naturally, business owners understand the value of these efforts on their own end, as well. But if you're new to the realm of eCommerce, you may not know exactly how to go about taking advantage of such campaigns, or precisely what value they have to offer to your store.

With that in mind, here is a beginner's guide to using coupons and promotions for your online business. This piece should help to set you on your way toward benefiting from these efforts. 

The Pros of Using Promotions and  Coupons

The most important first step in any coupon or promotional campaign is determining whether or not this is actually a good strategy to pursue for your business at this time. 

In most cases, the answer will undoubtedly be a resounding YES! After all, these efforts provide a clear and immediate incentive for on-the-fence consumers to become customers, and for lapsed customers to return. Coupons will help to encourage your customers to add more inventory to their cart, try new products, and help manage their costs. 

Question to ask yourself:

  • What do I hope to achieve by giving my customers a discount?

The Cons of Using Promotions and Coupons

It's worth pointing out that there are some potential drawbacks to keep in mind. Coupons will obviously cut down on profit margins, so it's wise to avoid using them to promote products and services that can't handle this dip. Additionally, promotions will likely (and hopefully) lead to a surge in purchase orders. That means your company needs to be prepared to handle the uptick. It's a good problem to have, without a doubt, but that doesn't mean that it's always ideal. In some cases, waiting for better circumstances before launching a promotion campaign is the way to go.

Questions to ask yourself: 

  • Can my business afford providing customers with a discount?
  • Can I handle a major increase in my purchase orders?

How to Use Promotions Within Your Store

Still, all that being said, it's almost always worthwhile to incorporate coupons and promotions into your business. Here are just a few options as to how to pursue such a goal:

  1. Stop cart abandonment
    Speaking to Mashable, entrepreneur Pablo Palatnik asserted that small eCommerce firms should consider targeted promotions and coupons geared toward shoppers who have abandoned their carts. Cart abandonment is a headache for just about every online retailer, but coupons can encourage consumers to go back and actually make the purchases they were obviously considering.
  2. Measure impact
    A key component of any successful eCommerce coupon campaign is accurate tracking, according to Phil Frost. Also speaking to Mashable, Frost emphasized that businesses can use different coupon codes for different outlets. This way, you'll discover both which types of coupons and which marketing avenues yield the best return on investment, leading to improved promotional efforts down the line.
  3. Different types of coupons
    There are many different types of coupons available to eCommerce leaders, each with its own benefits, as Big Commerce contributor David Callaway noted. These include:
  • Free shipping - This is an extremely popular option, and one which works particularly well with anti-cart abandonment campaigns. 
  • Discounts - These can take the form of either percentages or a specific dollar amount. Either way, it's an extremely direct, effective approach.
  • Focus on loyalty - Callaway noted that coupons targeted toward established, loyal customers can have a higher success rate than other campaigns, since the recipients will not need as much of a push to make a purchase.
  • Time-sensitive offers - The holidays are the obvious option here, but any time frame can work to lend a sense of urgency to your coupon campaign.
  1. Coupons as rewards
    Finally, it's worth noting that coupons can provide an incentive not just for customers to make purchases, but also to engage with the business in other ways, as well. 

Question to ask yourself: 

  • Which type of coupon should my business focus on?
  • What expectation 

With the right strategy - and with an eCommerce platform that can support such a strategy - coupons and promotions can play a powerful role in any online retailer's success.

For more information on why you should or shouldn't use coupons for your business - check out this article from Investopedia.

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