Building a coupon marketing strategy

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With more shoppers making the most of their purchases online, many focused on finding the best deals, coupon marketing is becoming more important. 

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Consumer behavior is rapidly shifting, with mobile becoming the primary device for online purchases. Meanwhile, 92% of Americans always look for the best deal when shopping, with 80% willing to go out of their way to find the best price.  

Coupon marketing is a simple strategy that can garner strong results, whether you’re looking to increase sales, improve customer retention, gain new customers or all of the above.  

Here, we’ll explore what coupon marketing entails, its major benefits, how to leverage coupon marketing when working with affiliate marketers and how best to approach your digital coupon marketing strategy.  

What is coupon marketing? 

Coupon marketing has been a powerful tool for brands to increase sales since as far back as the 1880s – well before we were ever buying products online. The use of coupons and vouchers to offer customers special discounts is a fantastic way to attract new customers and retain existing customers. The concept is simple – offer a special deal to entice a purchase. These coupons might be found in print on mail pamphlets, newspapers, magazines and more, but nowadays many shoppers save big by using coupon codes found online.  

Offering coupons to your audience is a wise way to gain conversions; they encourage potential customers to take action.   

Leveraging coupon marketing for customer retention 

Oftentimes, retaining your existing customers is just as, if not even more important, than acquiring new ones. Expanding your customer base can be a costly, laborious endeavor that might take a bit of extra time and effort. On the other hand, focusing on keeping the customers you’ve already got can be far more beneficial. You’ve already sold them on your product or service, so you don’t need to raise brand awareness and persuade them to purchase.  

Instead, customer retention can mean reminding your existing customers why they bought from you in the first place, and digital coupon marketing is a fantastic way to do so. The customer already knows and enjoys your product, so offering a special deal is a great way to convince them to come back.  

If you’re using coupon marketing to attract new customers, introducing them to your brand with a discount is a good way to make sure they remain loyal. For example, you might use coupons for offers like a one-month free trial to your product or service, influencing them to make repeat purchases down the line if they’re satisfied with the trial.  

Getting the most out of your coupon marketing strategy 

Coupon marketing isn’t just the creation of coupons, it’s ensuring that they’re seen, and of course used, by the right audience. To make the most out of offering discounts, ensure the offer reaches the customers you think are most likely to make a transaction but need that extra incentive to purchase. This involves targeting customers across different mediums and formats.  

Devising the most attractive coupons 

You need to be pragmatic about the discounts you’re offering and always ensure your bottom line remains top priority.  Sure, you’ll certainly attract a lot of customers by offering 70% off your most expensive products – but it’ll be counterintuitive if it interferes with your profit margins.  

The same goes for reach; while it’s great to attract a wide audience to the product, too many shoppers using too high a discount will be detrimental.  

Furthermore, how frequently you offer coupons and how you frame those coupons makes a difference. If you offer new, wide reaching coupons every week, they might start to lose their appeal. Imagine a store that constantly advertises a 50% off sale, week after week.  Eventually you begin to think that ‘sale’ isn’t much of a sale and is more of a marketing ploy. If it’s 50% off all the time, the sale price simply becomes the regular price. Your customers will likely be more interested in a deal if it feels legitimate, so diversifying your offers is super important for coupon marketing.  

How long you offer your coupons is another important factor. A potential customer is more likely to commit to a purchase if there’s a sense of urgency – so setting a short time limit for your coupons to be used is a smart approach. You might have some coupons only available for a few days, or even just a few hours, to persuade customers against hesitating.  

Coupons don’t have to be for a percentage-off discount – you can offer anything you feel would encourage your desired conversion. It could be a buy-one-get-one-free deal, free shipping, a free trial or otherwise. You could create abandoned cart coupons to offer special discounts on items a potential customer left behind. Another great coupon marketing idea is to offer special rewards to encourage customers to refer you to friends and family.  

Some of the key strategic codes we suggest to trial are explained below: 

  • Stretch and save: ‘Spend $X and save $X’ This incentivizes customers to spend a little bit more, particularly if you set the threshold just above the average order value, and is a useful tool for boosting AOV if that is one of your objectives 
  • Free delivery: This is especially useful for highly price competitive products, giving you the edge over similarly-priced competitors. 
  • Generic: ‘Save X% off all products’ These are useful if you want to create interest during a specific season or event.  
  • Range specific: ‘Get $X off the last year’s top product’ These codes can help you clear stock for products that aren’t selling as well or are now out of season, or if you’re anticipating a new product launch 
  • Custom codes: Unique codes encourage customers to engage by promoting a sense of exclusivity. These can be given exclusively to individual affiliates or influencers to create an incentive for their user base to purchase. 
  • New customers sodes: These can be used to attract new users, rather than repeat customers, who may buy from similar brands or sit within your target demographic of a particular website or affiliate 
  • Incentivized: 'Buy any product using this code and get an entry into our competition/get a free gift' These codes are still attractive and can also invoke a sense of urgency or exclusivity, despite not actually offering any concrete price discount.   

Where to advertise coupons 

Where your coupons are displayed is hugely important.  

If your brand has an engaged audience through email newsletters, you could share coupons to your most valuable subscribers. If you have a strong social media presence, you can offer exclusive deals there. Knowing how to communicate with your audience to best serve their shopping habits is a huge part of making digital coupon marketing a successful strategy. 

There are plenty of sites online that exist solely for people to find coupons  and these can present strong targeting opportunities for new customers. Using search engine advertising (SEA) strategies with coupon sites is a good way to drive new customers to your site, because these users are primed and ‘savvy’ shoppers already searching for a discount. They can be more easily persuaded to shop by offering strong new customer codes to the right targeted demographic. 

To ensure your coupon advertising truly stands out and is served to the most relevant, viable audience, it’s wise to start building strong, ongoing relationships with experienced affiliates or publishers that work within your niche and advertising your coupons on their platform. Great affiliates have built trust with an audience that regularly engage with their platform, creating opportunities for brands to attract new customers.  

Combining your coupon marketing strategy with affiliate marketing  

You can partner with these publishers to help market your product or service, and affiliate marketing is a great tool to use alongside coupon marketing to maximize your potential for gaining new customers.  

Typically, affiliates, or publishers, influencers, bloggers, etc, own their own website where they market products on behalf of the brands they partner with. Using an affiliate marketing platform like Awin, affiliates can find brands that are a great fit for their audience and vice versa. When you connect with an affiliate partner, they can generate a unique link to place on their website, social media, or otherwise. The affiliate can then promote your brand to their dedicated audience through blogs, product reviews and guides, video content and so on.  

Whenever somebody clicks on the trackable affiliate link and a conversion is made, the affiliate is paid a commission. Depending on the goals of the business, the desired conversion might be click throughs, subscription sign ups, sales or other trackable actions in the customer journey. In most cases, the affiliate is paid commission whenever a user clicks the affiliate link and makes a purchase.  

This means that rather than maxing out your budget on major marketing campaigns, you can use the help of an affiliate as a more cost-effective means of gaining conversions as you only pay for results. On average, brands see a return on investment of $16 for every dollar spent in the affiliate channel. You’ll essentially be paying for the commission on any conversions from your affiliate, which in turn means your affiliate partners will be even more motivated to endorse your business well.  

A great affiliate website has a dedicated readership that trusts its recommendations and opinions. Many affiliates will focus on a specific niche to build a sense of authority and expertise, however coupon-focused affiliate sites are also key to the affiliate marketing ecosystem.  

So, where does coupon marketing come into it? Affiliates are a trusted source of information for their audience. They already have a well-established relationship with their readers or followers, so they’re a great tool for businesses looking to obtain new customers. Bringing coupon advertising into the mix only offers you a new avenue to draw  customers towards your brand. They’ll be intrigued about the product or service, having been enticed by the affiliate, while an exclusive discount offering special savings will help seal the deal.  

Affiliate marketers will be keen to utilize a coupon marketing strategy because helps them gain conversions, and in turn commission, while customers are thrilled saving a bit of money on an attractive new product. When bridging affiliate marketing and coupon marketing together, everybody benefits.  

Tools for affiliate coupon marketing  

There are many tools designed to help advertisers and publishers connect and succeed, including several that specifically focus on coupon marketing with affiliates. For instance, Awin’s coupon attribution feature is one of many tools for advertisers that can help you truly make the most of your efforts and help arm your affiliate partners for success. With this tool, you can distribute exclusive coupon codes to your affiliate partners that can be tracked and analyzed without a cookie or trackable link , and ensure these codes are not leaked. 

This helps facilitate strong partnerships between advertisers and affiliates. Affiliates and influencers can find your coupons and then connect with you. While many may reach out directly for exclusives, you’ll be able to control and manage your coupon advertising spend with ease.

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