Coupons can act as advertisements for your business, but advertisements that lead customers straight to your products–and which make them pretty inexpensive. Nearly 90% of consumers claim to use coupons, and during the past several years since the onset of the recent financial crisis (as well as rising cost of fuel), online coupons alone rose almost 40% in popularity. E-coupons are a brilliant way to stay ahead of the curve of internet commerce, but if you think coupons may be the next marketing move for your company, there are plenty of ways to make your already innovative coupons more effective.
E is for Email, E is for Effective.
A great way to gain followers of your business and regular customers is through opt-in email mailing lists. People will get news about your company, your products–and they won’t forget if they are hearing from you once a week or so. What does this have to do with coupons, you ask? If you make it so your coupons are only available in the newsletter, you can keep customers’ attention to your business: customers who really need your coupons will also be updated about your new location, the midsummer sale and your business’s philanthropy and community services. They can forward your coupon to friends, even also print out emailed coupons to bring into your store. If you are going to require coupon recipients to sign up for your newsletter, though, you should try to always offer at least one coupon (even a small one) in every issue.
How Much Off?
Make it clear to your customers that the coupon is worth taking the extra time to use by showing them just how significant their savings will be. A good way to do this is, for less expensive items (under, say $25) do not give a percentage off, give a dollar amount: say “$5.00 off!”, not “20% off”. For more expensive items with considerable savings, percentages are fine.
Don’t forget that you can also use coupons for “buy one get one”, rebate and other types of great deals.
This is especially easy if you have total control of your web store’s design and transactions. You can use coupons to cross market with other businesses willing to partner with you in a joint marketing campaign. Find a business that offers a complement product to the one you are promoting with coupons. Give access to the online coupon for their product on the page where you sell yours, and have them do the same.
Another way to use third parties as a great coupon marketing tool is to get your company onto “coupon-clipping websites”, where businesses post coupons for customers to print off; some popular coupon sites are Groupon.com, where businesses post coupons and deals on Facebook, Twitter and other microblog newsfeeds for customers to clip for themselves, repost and forward to friends; CouponClippingMom.com, a blog style site where coupons for various businesses are shared as individual posts (best for chain, not local businesses); and CouponCabin.com, which offers online and printable coupons (separately from each other) for businesses ranging from the local to national scale. You can link to them on your own website, blog, or online store, and customers across town or beyond the sea will be able to find them.
You want your coupons to be as eye-grabbing and attractive as they can be. Make them stand out but remember that visual, non-verbal assets of graphic design can say just as much as the words you lay over them. The coupon’s overall design should be clean, not cramped with too much or vacant with not enough information. Noticeable colors are great as long as they are not an eyesore, and large, bold fonts work best, though the most pronounced words should be the ones that will first grab attention. Some of the most effectively designed coupons feature a cleanly drawn, realistic illustration or a photograph of the product being offered.