How To Use Coupons as a Marketing Tool For Your eCommerce Store

(Updated 3-4-22)

Coupons are a great way to get your eCommerce sales rolling along. This article serves as your complete guide for why, when, and how to use the coupons as a marketing tool for your eCommerce store. 

Why does your eCommerce store need coupons?

No matter what type of eCommerce store you run, coupons can instantly boost your sales and set a better brand image for you in the market. It is a sophisticated marketing tool that also builds customer loyalty while simultaneously helping you boost sales.

Today, coupons can be used not only for boosting sales and generating customer loyalty but also allow you to source the tracking data for your CRM to understand your customers more deeply. This helps you to continuously improve your marketing efforts.

If you still have not used coupons in your marketing efforts, you are missing out on major opportunities for your eCommerce business.

How do coupons benefit you and your eCommerce customers?

Coupons are beneficial in many strategic ways, that can lead to increased success for your business. While some businesses are hesitant to offer coupons because they worry it cuts into their margins, it’s actually the opposite. You ultimately boost your sales and create longer-lasting relationships with your customers that lead to more business.

These are a few of the benefits of using coupons for your eCommerce store.

  • It gets you to your sales goals faster
  • You gain more return customers
  • It helps in bringing more traffic to your website
  • Clears out old inventory
  • Helps you compete with stiff competition in the market

Now that you understand the benefits of using coupons in your promotional strategy for your eCommerce business, let’s look at 10 of the top ways you can use them to achieve desired growth.

1. Offer Coupons For First Time Buyers

Offering coupons for first-time buyers to grab a discount on your products works to introduce new customers to your products, and if they love them, they’ll come back for more. It’s one of the most effective coupon types to work into your marketing campaigns. According to our good friends at DiscountCodez, first-time coupons or special coupons build your brand fan following.

First-time coupons drive new customers to your store. And once they are in, you can continue to send targeted messages through channels like email to transform your new customers into returning customers. This can lead to a significant increase in sales for your eCommerce business.

To use the coupons you give them, ask new customers to either sign up with their email to receive the coupon or ask them to enter their email address when they use the coupon and add items to a cart. Then, you can add them to segmented lists and send personalized content to build loyalty.

2. Use Coupons During Holiday Seasons

Holiday seasons are a great time to ramp up your marketing and boost sales. So, why not take advantage of the power of using coupons during these times and generate an increase in sales for your store. Create coupons that are holiday-themed so grab attention and then offer a discount that’s too good to turn down.

While this isn’t an example from an eCommerce store, this holiday coupon from Applebee’s gives you an idea of the type of design you can create to grab people’s attention and convince them to use the coupon on your website.

Image: Holiday coupon example from Applebee’s – Source

Christmas, Halloween, the 4th of July, are all great examples of holidays where you can benefit from coupons. You can also create coupon campaigns that are seasonal. Let’s say, for example, you are running up into the summer season. Set up a coupon that’s good for use on any of the products in your store that increase in popularity when summer rolls around.

3. Offer a Minimum Price To Increase Your Average Sales

As an entrepreneur, you’re always looking for new ways to boost your sales and grow your business. Coupons are a great way to do just that, and another way you can leverage coupons in your marketing is to set a coupon that can be used for purchases over a certain dollar amount.

Set your coupon to activate when a customer adds more than $25, for example, to their cart. In this scenario, your coupons say, “Get 15% off if you spend more than $25.”

Now you’ve hooked your customer. If they want to use the coupon and reap the benefits, they need to spend the full $25. Generally, customers don’t like wasting their coupons. A 15% off discount is incentive enough to keep items in their cart until the total reaches the required amount. This helps boost your sales as your site visitors end up typically buying more than they originally intended to.

4. Buy One Get One Free Coupon

BOGO coupons are great in that they help you move out less popular or overstocked items from your store. When certain items just aren’t selling, and you need to make room for the inventory of more popular items, you can use the BOGO coupon option, allowing your site visitors to buy one product and then get another (from a select group of lower-priced items) for free.

Buy one get one free coupons are basically for such products which have been holding space in your store for way too long. These products are taking up space, and no one seems to want them.

Since these products aren’t selling anyway, why not use them to entice your customers to make a purchase on another item that they may not otherwise have made. Obviously, you want to be sure you still get a positive margin, but if you set the pricing right, you’ll be fine.

Require that your visitors buy a higher-priced item to get the second item free. This way you still make money on the deal.

5. Use Limited Time Offers

Limited time offers create a sense of urgency. For such coupons, customers will have limited time access to use the coupon you give them. You’ll find that a lot of your customers won’t want to miss out on the discount opportunity, so they’ll be sure to buy something from you before the coupon expires.

For example, you can set your limit time for a few hours or a few days. You can even try using a countdown timer to increase the sense of urgency even further.

Image: Example of a countdown timer from XLPlugins – Source

To make your store stand out from the competitors, get creative with the way you display the limited-time offer. Send it via email with an enticing subject line to build the urgency, and follow up as the time gets closer. Post a GIF on social media and pin it to the top of your profile to increase visibility. Finding creative ways to display your offer, rather than just stating it via text, helps to boost sales.

6. Offer Free Shipping Coupons

To compete with major eCommerce retailers like Amazon, it’s critical that you find a way to offer free shipping. This can make a big difference in your sales. If someone can buy the same product with free shipping, but they have to pay $6.99 to have it shipped by you, where do you think they’ll make their purchase.

If you don’t offer free shipping at all times, then you can work it into your coupon offers. Entice your site visitors to make a purchase by letting them know they can use the coupon displayed at the top of your website to get free shipping on anything storewide.

You can also offer free shipping coupons only when shoppers buy more than a specified amount of $$$. This will help to increase average order values and potentially boost profits with certain product categories.

7. Offer Discounts for Product Reviews

Businesses with a ton of 5-star reviews online are the ones that tend to thrive. People want to buy from a brand with a reputation of trust and quality. One great way to get your customers to both buy more and give you positive reviews is to offer discount codes in exchange for a positive review. Simple, right?

Image: Positive star ratings lead to improved business

You can push for reviews on Google Business, or you shoot for reviews on other channels, like Facebook, Yelp, or whatever other channels might be relevant to your business. Then, send your customers a coupon as a “thank you” for kindly helping you boost your reputation online.

8. Membership Coupons

Set up a membership system, and add in a referral component. When someone signs up for a membership with your brand, they can receive, let’s say, a 10% discount every time they purchase. Barnes and Noble’s membership program is a great example of this. By signing up, you receive 10% off of every order as a member.

The value is that it makes your customers feel like they’re a part of an exclusive club. They’re more likely to continue shopping with you rather than the competition once they become a member of your program.

Image: Barnes and Noble membership example

You can use this membership situation to another level and use it to your advantage by encouraging referrals. Members are gifted with promo codes to share with friends and family members. When a member sends a code and that referral signs up for a membership, the existing member who sent the code can receive an additional coupon.

This is a great way to get people buying. They sign up and get their discount to start. Then, they can bring more people into the mix and get a deeper discount or new offers. This benefits you because you gain more and more loyal customers (members) in the process.  

9. Give Freebies Coupons

Another great way to get customers to buy is to give away a gift. Give your customers coupons that allow them to purchase certain items or buy a certain dollar amount of your products, and when they do, they receive a free gift. Ulta does a great job of this.

You can see this in action on the beauty brand’s website, front-and-center on the homepage.

Image: Example of free giveaway coupon

.The customer perceives added value because their brain automatically associates a certain value with the giveaway. If they look at the giveaway and think, “Wow, that must be worth 40!”, they assume they’re getting a huge deal since they’re only spending $19.50 on the initial purchase.

10. Increase Sales with Cash Back Coupon

One of the best promotional machines today is the cashback coupon. With cashback coupons, you don’t need to discount your products. You simply offer a small amount of cashback when they purchase a particular product. Typically, you’ll need to ask the customer to use your store credit card so you have a way to give the cashback to them.

Cashback coupons help automate your everyday saving. Cashback coupons are easy to use and work in the background. These types of coupons are 100% free to use. 10% or 20% cashback is an enticing offer for buyers.

Wrapping it Up

Coupons are a powerful marketing tool you need to be leveraging for your eCommerce store today. And the great thing is that there are so many different options. You can test a few different types to see which resonates best with your audience.

Segment your email lists so you can break out your customers into the types of offers they prefer. You’ll have a lot more success if you’re sending offers to the right people, at the right times. Not everyone will love a cashback offer, for example. So, for those who aren’t sold on the cashback, maybe they’re more likely to use a BOGO option.

The point is, test, test, and test some more. Narrow things down, and you’ll find you get much more effective and drive more sales over time. Find ways to work coupons into your eCommerce marketing strategy, and you’ll drive tons of new business!

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