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?
Look, Coupons can be a great way to attract new customers and boost sales. But if you’re not careful, they can also get out of control and eat into your profits.
Here are a few tips to help you keep coupon usage under control:
- Set a budget. Decide how much money you’re willing to spend on coupons each month. This will help you stay on track and avoid overspending.
- Choose the right type of coupon. There are many different types of coupons, so choose the ones that will be most effective for your business. For example, if you’re selling a high-ticket item, a percentage-off coupon might be more effective than a buy-one-get-one-free coupon.
- Target your coupons. Don’t just give out coupons to everyone. Target your coupons to specific groups of customers, such as new customers, loyal customers, or customers who have purchased a certain amount of product. This will help you get the most bang for your buck.
- Track your results. Keep track of how many coupons you’re giving out, how much money you’re spending on them, and how they’re affecting your sales. This will help you see what’s working and what’s not, so you can make adjustments as needed.Be prepared for coupon fraud. There are people who will try to use coupons that are not valid or that have already been used. Be prepared for this and have a system in place to deal with it.
Here are some tips for dealing with coupon fraud:
- Check the validity of coupons before accepting them. There are many websites that can help you verify the validity of coupons.
- Set limits on the number of coupons that can be used per customer. This will help you prevent people from abusing your coupon policy.
- Monitor your coupon usage. Keep track of how many coupons are being used and by whom. This will help you identify any suspicious activity.
- Report any suspected coupon fraud to the appropriate authorities. This will help to deter future fraud attempts.
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 how you handle business.
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.
By following these tips, you can help to protect your business from coupon fraud.
The key is to be strategic about your coupon usage. Use them wisely, and they can be a powerful tool for growing your business.
So go out there and start using coupons! But do it the right way. With a little planning and effort, you can use coupons to boost sales, attract new customers, and reward loyal customers (if you need to).