Defining Your Digital Coupon Strategy

Amy ChubbuckRaise your hand if you’ve recently broken out in tears at the checkout counter at the grocery store. Raise your hand if you’ve recently started using coupons. Raise your hand if you’ve experienced the following scenario:
You're clipping or clicking for coupons and see a coupon that will save you $0.55 off the purchase of 5 {brand} yogurts. Perfect, I buy yogurt. I gather all my coupons and head to the grocery store. I get into the store, start shopping and realize I’ve left my coupons in the car. I abandon my cart and go get my coupons. I finish my shopping, get in line and hand the cashier my coupons. But, guess what? Half of them don’t work because I didn’t meet all the qualifications in the small print. Here’s some example small print: (must purchase on Tuesdays. Offer good only on 25.5oz vanilla flavor with an expiration date prior to April 11th. Must be related to store clerk.)

Okay, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you know what I’m talking about. It’s exhausting. It’s aggravating. (Did I mention all the while I have a 2-year-old with me?)

This same scenario can be applied in the online realm. You see a coupon, click through to the website or landing page, you select the item(s), get to the checkout and you didn’t write down the coupon code. You have to open another browser and search for the coupon again. You enter the coupon, only to find out, again, you didn’t meet all the qualifications contained within the small print. (Oh, and that same 2-year-old is now crying.)

It’s Monday morning and your client wants to execute an online coupon campaign. Do you hang up on them (probably not) or do you take what you know/experience as a shopper, leverage your marketing experience, and incorporate it into a successful campaign for them? Yes, that’s an obvious answer.

So, let’s figure out what we know about coupons.

First, for fun, let’s start with some history. The coupon was born in 1895.The first coupon offers $0.01 off Grape Nuts Cereal. Since that time, consumers have saved over $4 billion with coupons, yet fewer than 3 percent of available coupons are ever redeemed. Obviously, coupons can be an effective marketing tool – when done right.

Now, what makes a digital coupon campaign effective? First, look at your offer through the eyes of a consumer. What would make you act on a coupon offer? Just think about a straight forward, easily redeemable and enticing coupon offer. It’s that simple. Tell your target customer what you’re offering them. Don’t make them jump through hoops to redeem it, and make it an offer worth acting on right away.

Second, look through the eyes of the marketer- what is the objective? Do you want to attract new customers, promote new products, or reward/upsell existing customers? What can you afford to offer? How will your offer be promoted? Banners ads, email, dynamic website content, a mobile program? Establish your objectives, develop your strategy, know your customer, know your limit, and then tailor your offer accordingly.

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