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How to Increase Sales with Email Coupons

April 3, 2022
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Whether you carefully clip the glossy ads that arrive in between your bills or save digital deals on your smartphone, you can probably agree that coupons aren’t going away any time soon. According to a 2021 survey by Statista, digital coupon usage amongst consumers in the United States is 88%.1 

With all that influence, the question for brands is how to leverage the power of the coupon to increase sales on their own terms. As it turns out, directing discounts to customer inboxes is one of the most effective ways to leverage the power of coupons.

When combined with a smart email marketing strategy, the ability to reach a customer directly means that email coupons can provide a substantial boost to your sales and customer loyalty. So, what’s the key to making email coupons effective? In this guide, we’ll cover proven strategies for increasing your odds of success.

#1 Try Different Coupon Formats

Just like your emails themselves, the specifics of your coupons can vary—and so can the purpose they serve. Unless you’re offering 50% off everything all the time (a deal we’d definitely take up), using the same coupon format every time you need a sales boost won’t suffice. 

To maximize your reach, decide what shape each special offer takes and customize your email depending on the reward. Some of your coupon format options include:

  • Item or category-specific coupons
  • Holiday discounts
  • End-of-season sales
  • Clearance sales
  • Loyalty rewards program
  • Free or discounted shipping

Using a variety of formats may also help keep customers interested and increase the chances of relevant offers reaching the right customers. On the other hand, sending out the same promo code for 15% off handkerchiefs every week could end up leading to buyer fatigue.

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#2 Master Email Frequency

One essential factor in any email marketing strategy is how often you send them—and for coupons, this is an especially important consideration. 

For example, say a flower company offers daily discounts for 20% off custom floral arrangements. While this sounds like a fantastic deal, sending out coupons for the same item every day could ultimately decrease the perceived value of your offer—and your product.

Meanwhile, limiting your offers’ availability can help you boost sales even further and create a sense of urgency. In Forbes, marketing executive Michael Plumber notes:

 “Customers don’t want to miss out on a valuable chance to make a purchase at an appealing price point…Limited-time offers can also create a buzz on social media, which can raise brand awareness and reach a large audience.”2

Instead of making offers constantly available, you can incentivize customers to take action on promotions you do send out by limiting how long they’re usable.

#3 Know When Offers are Most Effective

A smart email coupon strategy also means sending out offers at the times your customers are most likely to use them. 

Say, for example, you have data showing that most of your shoppers make their purchases on Saturday mornings. If your email coupon goes out on Tuesday, it may either be too early or too late to impact the purchasing decisions of potential buyers.

Once you determine the peak shopping times and weekdays for your brand, you can use that data to time your coupon offers more effectively. Email list management is key and for best results, be sure to segment your list by time zone so that emails arrive at the appropriate time no matter where customers are located.

#4 Curate Personalized Coupons for a Specific Audience

Relevance is crucial in all matters of marketing, and the same is true for coupons. Imagine, for example, that you live in a tropical climate where temperatures rarely dip below a balmy 75°. You come in from a day at the beach and open an email containing a coupon code from your favorite clothing brand—only to find that it’s only good for arctic-ready puffer coats for dogs. And you don’t even have a dog.

Meanwhile, the brand wonders why such a large portion of its email subscribers never clicked through to their site.

Segmenting emails to target specific subsets of your audience not only helps to ensure your coupons reach the right people, but also makes those offers feel more personalized. Your segmentation may vary depending on the products and services you sell, as well as the general audience you appeal to. Beyond time zone, some broad categories to consider include:

  • Location
  • Demographic
  • Purchase history

Even when an email contains an unbeatable offer, understanding how to best reach a certain audience can take some experimentation. To maximize the effectiveness of your email promotions, you can implement the same strategies you use for other emails, like A/B testing, to gain insight on what works best.

#5 Use Email Automation

Perhaps you’ve done the research, gathered data, and know exactly when you should send out email coupons to reach the right customers at the right time. If you’re not using automation, however, you could still miss opportunities to reach customers at key moments—such as when they’re on the fence about a purchase, but might consider moving forward if they had a discount.

In fact, surveys show us that sending a discount to customers who’ve abandoned items in their cart can increase the likelihood of them returning to make the purchase. A 2020 poll by the American Marketing Association (AMA) found that four out of five shoppers would be more likely to complete their checkout if the brand followed up with a discount or coupon.3

The AMA also found that 21% of customers who left items in an online cart did so because they were waiting to find a discount or sale. Thus, your customers may even expect coupons and consider them a major factor in their shopping experience.

You can also use automated email coupons to entice customers in other ways, such as:

  • Welcoming new customers and encouraging first-time purchasers
  • Offering coupons in exchange for an email subscription
  • Reengaging with customers who haven’t purchased in a certain period of time
  • Encouraging repeat purchases with post-purchase discount emails
  • Sending automatic birthday discounts or rewards

Even among buyers who’ve never purchased from your brand before, coupons can be a powerful way to increase sales. A 2021 survey from Inmar Intelligence reports that an astounding 92% of shoppers said coupons influence their decision to purchase, including products from brands they’ve never purchased from before.4

#6 Make Coupon Offers Obvious

If you’re going to offer a coupon for your brand’s handmade Italian leather shoes, don’t hide it at the bottom of an email about how to apply shoe polish

Being upfront about the coupon offer your email contains may help increase your open rates. Consider the following:

  • According to a 2019 report on email marketing trends by the Data and Marketing Association (DMA), 75% of consumers consider discounts and offers to be the most useful part of emails they receive from brands.5 
  • The DMA also found that, compared to 70% of consumers who appreciate receiving discounts and promotions via email, only 22% found non-promotional email content useful.5 
  • A 2020 study reviewed by Business Insider also found that among U.S. consumers, 64% were more likely to open emails whose subject line included some kind of exclusive offer.6

For your coupons to be effective—and visible—it’s important to communicate the promotion from the get-go, using subject lines, headers, and pre-headers to ensure email recipients know there’s a special offer waiting within.

#7 Keep Your Coupons Accessible

Well-designed graphics that drip with visual appeal can add an edge to any email, coupons, or no coupons. So can eye-catching images of relevant products, especially when paired with catchy copy that inspires the shopping spirit.

However, it’s also important to ensure your emails are accessible—both across a range of devices and for those who might have difficulty reading them in image format. Even if a sophisticated design strategy helps you attract some customers, you don’t want to miss out on others because the color contrast and font pose challenges to other subscribers.

You may also lose out if your discount code isn’t legible on a smartphone. Business Insider predicts that by 2024, ​​42.9% of online shopping will take place on a mobile device.7 Ensuring your coupon emails work in all realms of digital technology can help you stay ahead of the curve.

The takeaway? Optimize any graphics for both mobile and desktop so that none of your coupon content gets lost in translation—and be sure to test your emails for accessibility.

Effective Email Offers Start With Power Digital

Whether you’re hoping to encourage new customers to try your brand, increase the loyalty of existing customers, or incentivize shoppers to follow through on purchases, email coupons can be a valuable tool in the quest to increase sales.

As you work to optimize your promotions, however, it can be difficult to get the insights you need to build an effective email strategy. To maximize your ROI, you need more than just a plan. You need the expertise of a digital marketing agency.

With Power Digital’s email marketing service, you can level up your email marketing strategy to reach customers in the right place, at the right time—so every new promotion sparks just as much excitement as the last.

 

Sources: 

  1. Statista. Digital coupons and deals – statistics & facts. https://www.statista.com/topics/2162/digital-coupons-and-deals/#dossierContents__outerWrapper 
  2. Forbes. Five Ways Coupons Can Help Your Business Attract Loyal Customers. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2020/10/08/five-ways-coupons-can-help-your-business-attract-loyal-customers/?sh=4076cf0d1bc0 
  3.  American Marketing Association. New findings reveal what US shoppers expect. How retailers, bankers, and travel industry pros can capitalize. https://www.ama.org/2020/02/04/new-findings-reveal-what-u-s-shoppers-expect-how-retailers-bankers-and-travel-industry-pros-can-capitalize/ 
  4. Inmar Intelligence. New Inmar Intelligence Data Show Strong Growth in Digital Coupons, Which Significantly Influence Shoppers’ Decision to Try New Brands https://www.inmar.com/blog/press/new-inmar-intelligence-data-show-strong-growth-digital-coupons-which-significantly 
  5. Data and Marketing Association. Marketer email tracker 2019. https://dma.org.uk/uploads/misc/marketers-email-tracker-2019.pdf 
  6. Business Insider. What Matters the Most to Consumers Regarding Email. https://www.businessinsider.com/what-matters-most-to-consumers-regarding-email-2020-11 
  7. Business Insider. Rise of Mcommerce: Mobile Ecommerce Shopping Stats & Trends in 2022. https://www.businessinsider.com/mobile-commerce-shopping-trends-stats

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