Coupons: a tried and tested marketing technique that customers love

by Kristof Maletzke, 17.03.15

By offering coupons you give your customers an attractive incentive to place an order in your shop – or to order more than they planned to.

Please note that some of the functions presented below are not included in every shop package. Ask your provider for more information.

It all started back in 1887 with Coca-Cola. The then owner of Coca-Cola’s secret recipe, Asa Griggs Candler, was convinced of his product’s virtues. But how could he convince a large number of people to try his new drink?

Candler’s idea was as simple as it was clever: he gave away little vouchers that people could exchange for a free glass of Coca-Cola. This campaign – probably the first coupon campaign in history – was a resounding success. By 1913 a total of 8.5 million coupons had been redeemed. This meant that, from a statistical point of view, 11% of all Americans had taken advantage of the offer.

Since then things have really moved on. Coupons are among the everyday marketing tools that many people use without a second thought. In the world of e-commerce, digital coupons in particular are an attractive option for a number of reasons. For example, they incur none of the production costs involved with paper vouchers and they can be distributed to thousands of customers in a matter of seconds.

How do coupons work within ePages shops?

If you’d like to distribute coupons to your customers, you first have to set up a new coupon campaign in the administration area of your shop. There you’ll find a number of setting options that enable you to target your campaign precisely. For example, you can restrict the use of coupons to particular products, set a minimum order value, or specify a precise time frame for the campaign.

Setting up coupon campaigns in the administration area

Setting up coupon campaigns in the administration area

Once you’ve created your coupon codes either manually or automatically, you can distribute them to your customers. This can be done in hundreds of different ways. Some tried and tested methods include:

  • Presenting the coupons directly within your shop.
  • Running an online ad campaign (banners, Google AdWords, etc.).
  • Sending coupons by email. In just a few clicks, you can include your coupon campaign in a newsletter and have individual codes automatically created for every person receiving it.
  • Using traditional media and placing ads on the radio and television or in newspapers and magazines.
  • Creating flyers for mailing out by other retailers in their packages.
  • Cooperating with coupon sites that list different suppliers’ current offers. This is a particularly good way of finding price-conscious new customers.
  • Starting social media campaigns. Both Twitter and Facebook are good vehicles for publicising coupon codes.
  • Leaving out coupons in your bricks-and-mortar store, if you have one, thereby alerting your customers to the fact you also have an online shop.

Once your customers have a coupon, they’ll find them really easy to use. If one or more coupon campaigns are currently underway in your shop, the customers will see within the basket an input field where they can enter the coupon code. The discount will then be automatically applied and displayed.

What kind of objectives can be achieved using a coupon campaign?

Every campaign will have a different set of aims. These are some of the objectives that are well suited to a coupon campaign:

  • Gaining new customers.
  • Converting visitors to your online shop into paying customers.
  • Persuading customers to order more than they’d planned.
  • Increasing sales of specific products to which you’ve restricted the coupon – for example, in order to promote seasonal items or sell off end-of-line stock.
  • By restricting the coupon to certain delivery or payment methods, you can encourage your customers to use the methods you prefer, such as paying by credit card.
  • Solving a constantly recurring problem in e-commerce: the fact that visitors to online shops frequently leave products in their basket but then for a variety of reasons fail to complete their order. Such interrupted purchases offer significant potential, since the products are already in the basket and simply need to be ordered. According to one US study, 63% of those surveyed said they would complete previously interrupted purchases if they had an attractive coupon for the online store involved.
  • Simply making your customers happy about the fact they can save money using coupons. Ideally, they’ll also take away a positive memory of your shop thanks to the money they’ve been able to save.

What advantages do coupons offer?

  • If properly implemented, coupons work very well in most cases. They have a very good reputation and are well received by customers.
  • Coupons can speed up the sales process. In particular, coupon campaigns that are limited to a specific time frame or, for instance, to the first 100 people using them can encourage customers to act quickly.
  • Coupons can also encourage certain customers to order from you in situations where they would not otherwise have done so.
  • Coupons offer fantastic opportunities for up-selling and cross-selling – in other words for promoting products that the customer had not originally thought of purchasing.
  • The results of coupon campaigns are easy to measure. On this point, it’s worth remembering the words of the American marketing pioneer, John Wanamaker: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” So while you can make only an approximate assessment of the sales that result from traditional print or TV campaigns, with coupons the opposite is true: you can see which vouchers were redeemed and in what quantities.

This leads to a classic win-win situation in that coupon campaigns enable you to increase your sales and help the customer to save money. Even so, it’s important not to overdo it. For example, if you run a never-ending stream of coupon campaigns, the customer can get the impression that you only offer cut-price products or services – and don’t necessarily care about quality.


Settings of a coupon campaign

Settings of a coupon campaign

Coupon settings for your ePages shop

To enable you to run precisely targeted coupon campaigns, the administration area of your ePages shop includes a variety of settings for you to adjust:

  • Type of coupon: Here you can specify whether the coupon should have an absolute value (e.g. “£10 off”), a percentage value (e.g. “10% off”), or whether it provides the customer with free-of-charge delivery.
  • Minimum order value: Under this setting you can specify that a coupon can only be redeemed when the value of the customer’s order reaches or exceeds a designated level. This can help you avoid the kind of situation in which customers order just one product worth £10 using a £10 voucher and thereby get it free of charge. The option is also very useful for encouraging customers to buy more than they’d actually planned to buy. If, for example, you identify that the majority of your customers are ordering goods worth £30, you can run a coupon campaign with a minimum order value of £40. Ideally, this will result in some “£30 customers” being persuaded to increase the size of their order so as to reach the £40 mark and therefore redeem the coupon.
  • Time frame: Here you can specify a time frame for the campaign – a sensible idea in most cases. In addition, you can use this setting for themed campaigns (in the run-up to Christmas, for instance) or to encourage your customers to purchase quickly (along the lines of “Today only: £10 off!”).
  • Number of valid coupon codes: Here you can specify that only a limited number of coupons will be redeemable. This number can be different from the total number of coupon codes issued. A popular scenario where this might apply would be a campaign that specifies “The first 100 customers to order product X will get £10 off.”
  • Allow coupon codes to be used multiple times: You can specify whether customers can use your coupon codes just once (for one-off coupon codes) or on more than one occasion (a sensible option for coupon campaigns publicised on flyers).
  • Restrict validity: Coupons can be limited to particular products, delivery methods or payment methods. This setting can help you to sell off specific products or encourage customers to select the delivery and payment options that benefit you as a merchant.
  • Creation of coupon codes: Here you can choose between having individual coupon codes created automatically by your shop system or entering your own codes (such as “Christmas2015”).

About the author

is Communications Manager at ePages.

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