Coupons – They Are Back in Business!

J.C. Penney announced last week that the company is going to go back to its earlier practice of offering promotional pricing. The company had discontinued that policy for a period as they tried the strategy of permanently discounted prices. However, the idea did not fly with shoppers and there was significant drop in the stores’ sales figures. Penney’s pricing evolution is a reminder to all of us that coupons and sales still matter. Even the promise of regularly discounted prices does not take away the lure of the short-term sale.

Cutting coupons is a long-standing habit for cost-conscious shoppers. The thrill of the deal and the excitement of the sale is part of the shopping experience for many consumers, and retailers who understand this have made promotional pricing a part of their marketing strategy for a long time now. The challenge with adopting a promotional pricing strategy is to ensure that it is cyclical enough to be exciting but not so repetitive that it cuts deeply into profits. If all your consumers wait for sales all the time, then there is likely to be minimal non-discounted sales. Some simple models of successful promotional pricing are:

  •  Offering a 10% off on a first purchase – great tool to getting the visitor to opt-in to your email list
  • Offering coupons targeted at repeat customers based on shopping patterns – like the one for specialty soaps that Bed Bath & Beyond offers for customers who have shopped at their store
  • Offering a fixed amount off, such as $5.00 off an order of $25.00 – like CVS
  • Offering coupons for special-occasion purchases such as Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day

The question in recent years has been how to integrate this promotional pricing approach to email marketing and online marketing in a successful manner. Timely emails targeted at loyal customers and carefully placed links in websites are simple measures that every e-commerce retailer should adopt as the basics of marketing. Here are some other ideas that have a high success rate in online promotions:

  • Make coupons boldly visible on your landing page or on the website header. It would be a pity to offer a promotional deal that the customer does not get to see. Placement is critical in online promotions.
  •  Consider the idea of single use coupons as this will make the offer feel more special. Yahoo ! Small Business offers single use coupons and this is something you can check with your ecommerce platform provider.
  •   If your checkout page offers customization, make sure that you remove the coupon box, making sure it appears only for people on your email list. It can be aggravating for a customer to reach the check-out page and notice a coupon box with no promotional code in hand.  If the point of promotions is to build brand loyalty, it is crucial to manage the program in a way where nobody feels left out!
  •  You must leave your coupon box intact on your check-out page, you can offer a side bar of all the coupons available for your site on the checkout page. This will make sure that a browsing customer will stay and shop rather than leave your site to browse for coupons on the World Wide Web.
  •   Online shopping is all about conversions. So make sure that you make the shopping experience with coupons simple and easy. Complicating the promotional pricing may well lead to losing customers. Be sure to do SEO for your own company name coupon code, this will ensure that not only does your coupons made available to your customers and not limited to your affiliate partners.

Coupons are all about winning new customers and encouraging returning clientele. Keep your promotions short and sweet making deals feel special – this will make sure that you attract customers without giving away the store!

By: Shirley Tan


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