by Phil Chow

As you probably already know, coupons are a great way to generate extra business. People love to save money whenever they buy and coupons help them do this.

Coupons are a common marketing strategy. They’re found in flyers, newspapers, direct mail, etc. but you don’t see them as much in the online world.

Part of the reason for this is because creating online coupons is not obvious.  But did you know you can readily create coupons by using most word processing programs?  Microsoft Word, Apple iWork’s Page or Google Docs online all can create coupons. 

Creating Online Coupons

Here’s a video on how to create online coupons using Microsoft Word 2010.  The steps to creating online coupons with Apple iWork Page or Google Docs or an earlier version of Word are similar:

Once you’ve created your coupons, you can print them off and place them into your website and social media. 

Before You Create Your Online Coupon Considerations

Here’s some things to consider though before you start creating online coupons for your business’s coupon marketing strategy.  Considering these points beforehand maximizes your online and offline coupon campaign chances of success:

  1. Ideally, pick a high profit margin product or service to discount on your coupon.  You can then give customers significant savings on that product or service and still make a profit. For example, potential customers will likely not be attracted to 5% off on a $25 item.
  2. Along with the above point, another way to choose which product or service to discount on you coupon is to select a product or service that you have excess inventory of, or to introduce a new product or service.
  3. Segment your customers with your coupons.  Consider having one set of coupons for first time buyers and another for repeat customers, etc.  That way you don’t cannibalize  your sales and reward loyal customers with bigger savings over those who are not.
  4. See if there are up sell items that complements with the product or service you’re discounting on the coupon. You can then offer the up sell item when customers redeem their coupon. You could also offer a discount on the up sell item thus potentially increasing your total sale per coupon redeemed.
  5. Make sure you have enough inventory and employees on hand to support your coupon campaign if it becomes popular that many people start redeeming them.
  6. To control for the above, consider placing conditions on your coupons such when the coupon expires, can same person redeem more than once, minimum spending condition to get the discount, etc.
  7. Provide a good coupon redemption experience. This means providing excellent customer service and discount on a quality product or service, etc.  You want to convert these “coupon customers” into happy customers who’ll do repeat business with you regardless of coupons.
  8. If customers are happy redeeming your coupons, don’t lose this opportunity. Offer them to sign up to your email list for future sales and news related to your business (i.e. product announcements, info about your business, etc). Also, get their testimonials, whether that be a video, picture or written testimonials to display on your website and store. Don’t forget to also ask them to like and review you on Facebook, Yelp, and on other social media, etc. as well.
  9. Set up a tracking system so that can measure how successful your coupon campaign is (i.e. how many coupons distributed versus redeemed; how many people signed up for your email list; how many became repeat customers, costs incurred versus revenue generated, etc.)

 

General Points on Designing Your Coupons

You want your coupons to look good and attract customers. Here are some design considerations you should think about in designing your coupons:

  • Include a logo to brand your business.
  • Use a clear, concise headline on the benefits customers get with your coupon (percentage or amount of savings, any bonuses, premiums, etc.)
  • Use white space effectively to make your coupon easy to read and not cluttered so that customers can quickly understand what your coupon offers when they read it.
  • Include an image of the product or service offered on the coupon, space permitting on the coupon.
  • Include a code such as “#save20%” so that customers who forget to bring a copy of the coupon can still redeem when they visit your store to use the coupon.

 

Types of Coupon Specials

To give you some ideas, the following are some examples of what specials your coupons could have:

  • Save X% or X dollars on your next purchase to encourage repeat business.
  • Three for the price or two or two for the price of one.
  • Free X product when you buy [number inserted here]
  • X% or X dollars off when you buy first [insert product here].
  • X% or X dollars off couples purchase (for spa, etc).
  • X% or X dollars off entire purchase when you spend X dollar or more.
  • X% or X dollars off when you buy one at regular price.
  • Free upgrade to _________ when your purchase [insert product here].

 

Suggested Coupon Marketing Strategies to Market Your Business

Once you have designed and created your coupons, you’re ready to use them to market your business in various ways including:

  1. Add them to your website where visitors to your site can print them off or present them on their mobile devices to later redeem them at your business.
  2. Post them to your Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus pages or any social media account for that matter where your friends and followers can see them, share them and print them to also redeem them at your business.
  3. Print them to give away at time of sale to encourage repeat business.
  4. Print them to give them away to potential customers to convert them into first time buyers.
  5. Ask customers to subscribe to  your email list for coupon deals that are only available to customers on this list to also encourage repeat business (Mailchimp (opens in a new window) is free to use for your first 1,000 subscribers).
  6. Email coupons to your customer email list to encourage repeat business.
  7. Give them to select customers to thank them for being loyal customers.
  8. Coupons when redeemed as entries into a draw for a prize, etc., etc.
  9. Upload your coupon into your business’ category on Craigslist, an overlooked channel to market your business.
  10. Hold a coupon only event where the coupon is an admission ticket to your store. You could then advertise this event and post it on your Facebook Business, Twitter and Google Plus Business Pages, etc. and upload the coupon there.
  11. Some local business directories allow you to upload coupons, videos, images, etc. to your business listing such as on VancouverEyeGuide.com.  Google your “name of city business directories” and claim or submit your business there and then upload your coupons as another way to market your business.

The above are just some of the ways you could market your business by using coupons.  Just use your imagination and you’ll come up with many other ways to further market your business by using coupons. If you would like coupons done for you, contact us as we can create great looking coupons for your business.
 

Resources

Online Coupons are slowly becoming more popular as a marketing strategy. Here’s an article with infographics on the state and rise of online or digital coupons (opens in a new window).

Here’s a New York Times article on the Renaissance of Couponing (opens in a new window) in general.
 
 

What are your thoughts on this post? If you have any comments or questions, please write below. We welcome and appreciate your opinion!
 

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