Why Offer Coupons in Email Marketing

couponsMost people sign up for email newsletters from a company because they offer coupons, deals, and codes. While these give-aways or freebies alone aren’t enough to hold their ¬†interest over the long term, they are a significant bonus.

When creating your marketing campaign emails, you may wonder if coupon offers are a good idea. Should you offer something for free before a purchase has been made? Or, if you do offer codes, how best to format your emails to encourage conversions and return customers?

The best times to offer a coupon as a bonus could be:

  • As incentive for signing up to the mailing list.
  • Appreciation to your long term customers, such as a birthday bonus.
  • As apology for an order or shipping snafu.
  • Incentive to try out a new product.
  • To provide an ‘insider’ or elite level status to subscribers of your newsletter.

Some types of coupons or codes are more than a one-off, but will entice customers to continue interacting with your brand. Try using coupons tactically, such as:

  • Percent off entry to an event where they may purchase things once inside.
  • One free drink with purchase of a ticket.
  • Buy one get one (hopefully, they’ll buy one for a friend, who becomes a customer).
  • Buy one, get a coupon for your next order — use with caution, depending on the product, this may not be worth the initial purchase.
  • A coupon code that allows customers to try before they buy, such as one free month of subscription, a free sample, an hour playing your game before they buy it, free rental, etc.
  • A point system to build up for freebies, free shipping, or bonus items (good for stores customers shop at often, like restaurants and hobby shops).

Send your coupon emails on a steady schedule — once a month, bi-weekly — when you feel they will reach your customer at the best shopping time. Don’t forget prime shopping times like holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day.

Check your analytics and, if necessary, split your list along demographic lines to send specific coupons at the right time. Do A/B tests to determine if your customers prefer shopping online in the evenings, or taking your coupons into the physical store on the weekends, for example.

Beyond Couponing

Sometimes the coupon isn’t the point. Even if the deal isn’t right for your customer, the coupon email may provide a strong hook to open the email and view the rest of your message. They may see compelling images and links and visit your site to place an order for something else.

Always be sure your emails are formatted for a full introduction to your brand and link back to the right page to close the sale — your product page, or menu, or donation page. All interactions with your customers are an opportunity to drive traffic to your site.

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