It’s something of a conundrum; on the one hand you want to attract new customers, reward existing customers and move lingering merchandise. But on the other, you want to protect your profit margin and avoid training your customers to “wait for the sale”.
What’s a proprietor to do?
There are a number of proven strategies you can employ for keeping coupon usage under control. Among them are hiding the coupon box from shoppers who weren’t referred from one of your promotions. Here are some others.
Limit Distribution & Usage
Rather than issuing “blanket” coupon codes, tie them to a specific user from a specific source. In other words, program your site to accept each code only once and to make sure it’s from the email address to which it was sent—or the affiliate through whom the promotion was issued. Further, program them to be automatically applied, so anyone trying to use them manually will be denied.
Another strategy is to issue them directly when a customer engages in a desired behavior. If a customer spends $50, they get a coupon code for a 15 percent discount on their next purchase. Deliver the code with their order confirmation and tie it to their account so others cannot use it.
Make Customers Work to Find it
Even you do have a visible promo code window on your checkout page, you can caption it with a link casual users have to click to go find out how to get the coupon code. If you’re considering how to sell ebooks online, or any other product for that matter, ecommerce platforms like those provided by Shopify offer this functionality built in. This way, shoppers who come with it in hand can use it, but those for whom is wasn’t intended will have to take a few extra steps to get it. Some may decide it isn’t worth the trouble.
Decay Them Quickly
If a coupon aggregation site scrapes your code, but you have a limited time usage on it, odds are the expiration date will have passed when people do find it. This also gives the shoppers for whom it was intended incentive to use it more quickly.
“Act now to get 25 percent off your next order. Coupon expires in 24 hours.”
Don’t Bother With Them at All
If your game is strong, you might not need to offer coupons. Zappos keeps things close to home—and can get away with it because of its reputation for having an outstanding value proposition.
“Zappos.com does not offer coupons or promotion codes to the general public. Our shopping experience is based on providing the highest level of service while offering a large selection. We add value by offering free shipping and free returns, a 365-day return policy, and speedy fulfillment once an order is placed. Customer service is available 24/7/365, and you’ll always be greeted by a friendly voice, chat, or email.”
What’s more, they go on to say if you find somebody claiming to offer a Zappos coupon code, they’re lying. And, they encourage consumers to report the purveyors of any fraudulent offers they encounter to the Better Business Bureau.
“Keep in mind some sites may claim to offer “Zappos.com Coupons”… we ask that you either avoid the websites or report them to the Better Business Bureau.”
Now that’s gangsta right there — we don’t care who you are. That’s gangsta.
Anyway, there you have it; keeping coupon usage under control in this fashion allows you to attract new shoppers and reward loyal customers—even while circumventing would-be usurpers.
And, if you’re really good, maybe you don’t need to bother with them at all.