Coupons as an Online Marketing Strategy
Coupons are experiencing an explosion in popularity—among consumers and marketers alike. For the former, the attraction is clear: coupons are a quick and simple way to save money; if they are available, there is no reason not to put them to use. For the latter, it can be a little more complicated. Coupons offer a juicy incentive for new customers, but coupon-based promotion campaigns can be risky business. Here are some of the elements to take into consideration in order to decide if this sort of strategy is the right choice for your website:
Finding a Target Audience and a Product to Promote
- Online coupons should be tailored for new, potential buyers: Generally, the objective of any marketing campaign based on coupons is to attract new customers. In the case of online marketing, the idea is to up the website’s conversion rate—in other words, to turn visitors into actual buyers. Therefore, promotions should be put in place where casual viewers will readily find them. On the other hand, too many people making use of coupons can seriously dent profits.
- The established customer base should not be using online coupons: From a marketing standpoint, it’s a bad thing if proven buyers are finding and using the coupons meant to bring in new patrons. These are the people who would likely buy a given item even without that 50% discount. So—somewhat paradoxically—online coupons work best when they are advertised in such a way that only new buyers find them. There are a few ways to avoid a loss scenario and insure that a couponing campaign reaches the right people:
- Offer a discount on a very specific, niche product—this way, the buyers using the coupons will be customers with a legitimate interest in the item, not just all-consuming bargain hunters.
- Use coupons to get rid of excess inventory—items that are beginning to serve only as a drain on resources are always great candidates for discounts
Methods of Distribution
Once you know what you’re discounting and who you want using the coupons, you can figure out a strategy for distributing them:
- Major players: Vendors like LivingSocial, Google Offers, and Groupon are devoted to the circulation of coupons. However, relying on these third-party players can be risky—once you’ve made a coupon available to a vendor, you lose control of how many customers ultimately end up discovering and redeeming it.
- Video couponing: Video ads are safer than third-party vendors because they allow you the freedom to disable sent-out coupons after reaching a goal without having to take down the ad and lose the associated boost in visibility.
- Social media: The brand new Facebook Deals presents yet another avenue for a couponing campaign. The benefits of advertising through Facebook are already well-known to marketers: a massive base of potential customers who are already categorized by their likes and interests is something of an advertisement dream come true. Only time will reveal the true effectiveness of Facebook Deals as a coupon distributor, but for now it looks very promising.
Coupons can seriously boost business for a small company, but it’s important to remember that a poorly thought-out campaign can end in disaster. If you decide that coupons are the way to go for your own business, always plan your marketing strategy very carefully. Make sure you have a complete understanding of your current model, where your profits are coming from, etc. Avoid distributing coupons for proven sellers; focus on new products or less popular items. And give it some thought: is promoting your company and gaining new patrons worth the potential loss in profits? Plan ahead, maintain control, and you’ll be on the road to success. Good luck!
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