Coupon marketing (or coupon advertising) is a promotional strategy that incentivizes customers to redeem coupons in order to get discounts on products or services. To create a successful coupon ad campaign, you need to develop a coupon marketing strategy, create attractive coupons, form a distribution plan, and then optimize and track the results of your campaign.
1. Determine Your Coupon Marketing Goals & Strategy
Coupon ads can be used for a number of other purposes. For example, using an exit-intent pop-up coupon can decrease abandoned carts and potentially save a lot of lost revenue. Exit-intent pop-ups usually convert around 15%, especially if you turn off the email capture. Other common coupon advertising objectives include:
- To build brand discovery
- To increase impulsive purchases
- To stay top-of-mind (reminder advertising)
- To generate loyalty
- To incentivize an action, such a review
Once you have identified your goals, you can then define your coupon marketing strategy. This involves choosing which of the various types of coupons, which include print coupons, digital coupons, and discount codes, will best support meeting your goal.
For example, a business trying to increase email campaign open rates as a goal might adopt a digital coupon strategy to incentivize their target audience and increase conversion rates. This strategy works well for this goal because 81% of online shoppers enjoy getting emails announcing promos and other discount offers.
Each type has their benefits and drawbacks. Physical coupons come with costs such as printing and distribution costs, while digital coupons can be sent through text messages, email, and social media. Digital coupons are quite easy to send but they can get lost in the saturated sea of emails in most inboxes nowadays. Luckily, business owners use free email marketing tools like HubSpot to send this type of coupon and track conversion rates.
Pro tip: If you are planning on offering more than one type of coupon as part of your marketing strategy, add a unique promotional code on each coupon type. This will help you identify which coupons are converting best. Voucherify has a free tool that lets you create personalized coupon promo codes that feature unique number/letter series that can then be printed on whatever coupon type works best for your marketing strategy.
2. Ensure Your Coupon Design Is Enticing
According to Statista, 89% of millennial consumers would try a new brand if they were offered a coupon or discount. However, the best-performing coupons feature several key components in their design besides offering a value to the consumer. Here are a few things to consider when designing a coupon ad to make them more enticing, which will increase your campaign’s chance of success:
- Features eye-catching visuals: Coupons depend on people seeing them, and in a noisy world flooded with adverts and stimuli coming from every direction, you need to create an eye-catching and visually appealing coupon. In many cases, it’s worth it to hire a graphic designer to ensure your coupon does just this. If you’re on a budget, try Fiverr.
- Contains a clear message: On top of looking good, it also needs to have great copy. It’s key to have one clear marketing message. In short, people need to be able to quickly understand what your coupon is offering at a glance.
- Includes a single call to action: OK, you’ve been reeling your audience in and now it’s time to seal the deal. Include a call to action (CTA) to get people to take the next step, whether that’s a live link to the product you’re promoting for a digital coupon, a coupon code, or directions to show the ad to a cashier the next time they visit your business.
- Lines up with an event: Running relevant holiday promotions is a good business move. People love a good holiday sale, no matter when it is. Keep an eye on upcoming events and create a coupon code to send out during those celebrations. Take advantage of the opportunities to run holiday promotions that your customers will look forward to year after year.
- Creates a sense of urgency: In order to incite action, coupons are meant to be a short-term offer—otherwise, they would just be a pricing strategy, not a form of advertising. There are two main ways to create a sense of urgency: either by offering the coupon for a limited time, or offering a certain number of coupons.
- Suggests exclusivity: In addition to scarcity, exclusivity is another common component in coupon advertising. For example, a business may offer special coupons to its followers or loyalty program members in order to make others to want to become followers or members.
When designing your coupon, try to put your target audience first. Think about which coupon distribution method (e.g., email, Groupon, website pop-up, social network, etc.) will best reach them, how your coupon can stand out within said distribution channel, what would be compelling to them, and what would get them to take advantage of your offer. For more insight, check out these coupon advertising ideas.
Coupon Design Sources
A well-designed coupon can make or break your campaign. Depending on your advertising experience and resources, you will ultimately choose to design the coupon in-house or outsource to the pros. If you or your team has design experience, then designing your own coupons will be the obvious choice. If not, or if you’re not overly confident in your own graphic design abilities, hire a freelancer or use a design platform.
The most popular sources for advertising coupon design include:
- Design your own: Even if you’re not a Photoshop expert, if you have an eye for design and some experience, you can easily design your own coupon using tools like Canva. Alternatively, VistaPrint has premade postcard ads ready and waiting for you to add your branding and send to your target audience.
- Hire a freelancer: If you don’t have the time to make your own coupon, but you’re on a tight budget, hire an ultra-affordable graphic designer for your project using a site like Fiverr.
- Hire a pro designer: For a more professional design, you can use sites specifically dedicated to offering graphic design expertise, where you can submit your design request and receive dozens of design submissions from experts. To get the best designs for a flat fee, choose 99designs or DesignBro.
Coupon Graphic Design Examples
3. Plan for Distribution & Coupon Advertisement
As more and more companies use coupons to help sell their products, so too have the number of available distribution channels. The best place for distributing your coupon will depend largely on the type of business you run, your audience, your advertising objective, and overall coupon marketing strategy. As with any form of advertising, you want to choose the distribution channel that best aligns with your target audience and your advertising goal or objective.
It may also be worthwhile to use more than one channel of distribution for more ad exposure. For example, if you’re promoting your ad to serve as reminder advertising to an existing customer base, promote your coupon to your social followers as well as via email.
Keep in mind that no matter where you choose to distribute your coupons, there needs to be timeliness, relevance, and perceived value in every offer in order to maximize exposure and boost customer follow-through.
Places to Distribute Coupon Ads & Discount Codes
There are a number of options when it comes to distributing print or digital coupons to promote your small business. The most common are:
- Website pop-ups: Coupons displayed in pop-up boxes on small business websites convert browsers into buyers by giving site visitors a reason to make a purchase immediately to take advantage of a limited-time offer. They are often deployed when a visitor appears to be leaving a product page or to reduce shopping cart abandonment. Businesses see a lot of success with this strategy—some report as much as a 2X sales conversion rate from using exit intent pop-up coupons on their website, for example.
- Website splash pages: Similar to pop-up boxes, website splash pages are commonly used to extend discount codes to site visitors. But while pop-ups are used when someone is leaving, splash pages are introductory pages site visitors need to navigate to get to other content. They’re commonly used to promote sign-ups to email and text marketing lists, and usually extend a special offer for a percentage off the first purchase.
- Mobile apps: If your business has a mobile app, you may be able to display digital coupons to your audience in multiple ways. These include app pop-ups and splash pages, push notifications, and text or email marketing.
- Coupon books: Coupon books can be distributed through direct mail, at events, or given away as part of a customer loyalty program. Coupon books are also a great way to build brand awareness, especially in local communities.
- Email campaigns: Coupons sent via email marketing can be used to generate new business, reconnect with lapsed customers, incentivize repeat business, or reward customer loyalty. In fact, 45% of consumers want to get promotions for food and groceries via email. If you go this route, make your life easy and use one of the best email marketing platforms to automate and track performance.
- Social networks: Two of the top reasons people follow brands on social media is to learn about new products and get special offers. So share your coupons and discount codes on your Facebook Business Page, in Facebook Groups, on Twitter, Instagram, and the other social platforms you use. You can include them in organic posts, but distributing them via social media ads is the best way to get them into the hands of your ideal customers using advanced audience targeting.
- Newspaper: Print coupons have been widely used since Coca Cola issued the first coupon in 1887 and, yes, newspapers are still used to distribute coupon advertisements today. Newspapers provide local businesses with a great way of reaching customers in their area through coupon marketing. Learn more about newspaper ad costs and what factors are involved.
- Direct mail: Direct mail is another classic coupon marketing strategy. For example, postcards are a great medium to deliver coupon ads that are cost-effective and eye-catching. Get instant pricing for your postcard specs by visiting VistaPrint, or for more information, check out our article on direct mail marketing ideas.
- In-person: Of course, every business with a physical location—or selling products in one—should also consider distributing their coupon in-person. This too can be done in a number of ways, depending on your business, but can include anything from coupons on receipts to coupons on product packaging (e.g., the $1 off sticker or tag on grocery store products).
- Coupon websites: If you’re looking to build brand visibility, consider using a coupon site such as Groupon or LivingSocial. People are visiting these platforms—24 million active users on Groupon alone—to find deals from businesses and brands they’ve never heard of. What’s more, this includes local businesses, such as a restaurant or hair salon giving brick-and-mortars a way to leverage coupons online to attract new customers.
Popular Coupon Websites
Click on the drop-downs below to learn more about some of the top coupon websites.
Best for: Incentivizing purchases with a cash-back reward
Rakuten is a great way for businesses to sell coupons with cashback offers. Rakuten is one of the world’s largest online marketplaces, with over 190 million users. It’s a great way to get your business in front of a large audience and increase traffic to your website. When you create a coupon campaign on Rakuten, you can choose to embed the campaign on your website or promote it through Rakuten’s social media channels.
Best for: Getting actionable data from customers
Ibotta has a powerful redemption engine. When a customer redeems a coupon from a business, that coupon is automatically shared with that business’ social media followers. This helps to drive traffic back to the business’ website or storefront. Customers get paid based on their level of engagement while retailers gain customer insights that can help them bolster their sales.
Best for: Getting feedback from consumers through paid surveys
Swagbucks allows businesses to sell coupons to their customers to drive traffic back to their website and increase sales. It also offers a wide variety of ways to promote coupons, including emails, social media, and even printable coupons.
Swagbucks members earn points (called SB) for things they are already doing online, like taking surveys, watching videos, and shopping. Members can then redeem those SB for free gift cards to places like Amazon, Walmart, and Starbucks.
Best for: Introducing a brand or its products or services to new customers
Groupon is a coupon website brands can use to sell products or services at a discount. Items are purchased on Groupon (and Groupon receives a share of the revenue) and the purchaser can then proceed to the business to get the item or enjoy the service they bought.
It’s an effective way to attract new customers; however, the deep discounts have been known to attract one-time deal seekers more so than loyal customers. So if you choose to extend a Groupon offer, make sure you have a plan in place for turning the new customer into a repeat customer, such as ensuring they sign up for more offers via your email marketing newsletters.
Best for: Attracting customers looking for active deals on products or services they want to buy
Savings.com is a great resource for businesses to sell coupons and discounts. The website offers an easy-to-use platform for businesses to post their deals, as well as a variety of promotional tools to help drive traffic to their deals.
Savings.com also has a large audience of consumers who are actively looking for deals on the products and services they need. The website receives over 8 million visits per month, and the average Savings.com user saves $272 per year.
Best for: Connecting with new customers through corporate social responsibility
CouponCause is the only coupon platform that donates a percentage of every sale to a charity of the business’ choice. Businesses can feel good about themselves for running a coupon campaign because they are also donating to a good cause. CouponCause also has a very large and engaged user base. When businesses run a coupon campaign on CouponCause, they are reaching out to millions of potential customers.
4. Track Your Coupon Marketing Campaign Performance
In order to ensure your coupon advertising or marketing campaign is performing at its best, you need to be able to track each coupon’s performance. This activity helps you examine which part of the campaign is helping boost your sales and the aspects that are not performing as expected so that you can adjust spending accordingly.
To do this, you need do the following:
- Monitor and compare your budgeted costs with the actual costs
- Compare the profits gained with the planned results
- List how many products or services were sold throughout the campaign
- Analyze the demographics of the customers you attracted during the campaign
Analyzing your demographics helps make sure that you are targeting the right audience with your coupons. Use demographic data to identify your target consumers and create coupons that appeal specifically to them. Secondly, make sure that your offer is compelling and relevant to your target audience. And finally, use effective marketing channels to spread the word about your coupon campaign.
How to Know if Coupon Marketing Is Right for Your Business
The main aim of coupon marketing is to increase sales and attract new customers. There are both pros and cons to using coupons as a marketing strategy.
|Low-cost form of advertising||Customers may associate your product or service’s value with its sales price|
|Attract new customers and subscribers||If your only selling point is the lowest price, you’re unlikely to generate long-term sales|
|Reduce abandoned cart rates|
|Build brand loyalty and incentivize repeat purchases|
|Can be used to acquire capital (e.g., with Groupon)|
Coupon marketing allows businesses to distribute coupons to potential and current customers to entice them into buying a product or service. It is a great way to drive traffic and sales to your small business, build customer loyalty, and generate both new and repeat business. But not every business is a good fit for coupon marketing.
Relying too heavily on discount coupons could backfire since it can potentially affect your brand by making it look cheap and less desirable. You also have to consider your target audience and their motivations as well as their stages in the buying cycle.
To determine if coupon marketing is right for your business, ask yourself these questions:
- Would a coupon make someone more likely to buy my product or service?
- Do I have a good offer that’s worth a coupon?
- Can I generate enough traffic with coupons to make it worth my time?
- Do I have the resources or tools needed for customers to redeem coupons?
- Do I have the ability to track redeemed coupons?
- Does extending coupons or discount codes diminish the perceived value of my product or service?
Coupon Marketing Statistics for Small Businesses
Coupon marketing is a cost-effective way for small businesses to drive traffic and sales. In fact, according to data provided by Statista, 88% of American consumers used coupons for shopping in 2020. Here are the top coupon statistics to keep in mind to learn more about consumer behavior and see how this industry has evolved over the years:
- Juniper Research forecasts that the value of digital coupon redemptions will surge to $91 billion by the end of 2022, up from $47 billion in 2017.
- This same study also indicates that by the end of 2022, mobile will account for almost 80% of all coupon redemptions.
- During the second quarter of 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the redemption of digital coupons in the United States surpassed the redemption of paper coupons for the first time.
- Business owners should consider creating more coupon advertisements because online shoppers who use coupon codes are projected to spend 24% more than shoppers who don’t.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I get customers to use my coupons?
Encourage more customers to use your coupons by making them easy to find on your website and social media pages. Email your customers about new coupons and discounts, or post them on your blog or in your store. Make sure to offer bonus points or rewards for customers who use your coupons.
How do I create a coupon on my Facebook Business Page?
Facebook Business Pages have a ton of features and capabilities, one of which is to create a coupon or discount that can be shared with your followers. To do this, log in to Facebook and navigate to Ads manager. Then, begin the process of creating a new ad, and when you find the section labeled “Offer,” switch the toggle button to on. Follow the steps from Facebook, or if you don’t yet have a business page, start with learning how to create a Facebook Business Page.
How do coupons attract customers?
Coupon marketing attracts new customers by creating an incentive for them to try your business. Offering promotions or discounts at strategic moments can dramatically increase conversions. They can also be used in tandem with referral lead generation as part of your small business’ marketing strategy. For example, service-based businesses like salons often extend a new client coupon with a matching or comparable reward for the referring client.
Just about any type of business can use coupon advertisements to grow sales and gain new customers. Your success will depend on the quality of your campaign, its timing, and the extent to which you can get customers to redeem your coupons. If you need help implementing a successful coupon marketing strategy, reach out to an affordable freelance expert on Fiverr.