How to Use Coupons for Online Sales and Engagement

How to Use Online Coupons Without Cheapening Your Brand

Most businesses want more customers but may be concerned about using coupons. The common fear is making a brand look “cheap” or that customers will begin relying on coupons to make any purchase.

However, coupons don’t have to weaken a company’s brand or make them look desperate.

When done right, coupon strategies can still drive regular-paying customer engagement while increasing brand loyalty. Used sparingly and without a predictable pattern, customers will stay vigilant for special deals from companies without relying on them. It’s a practiced marketing balance that can drive more business.

Coupons can be a great way to reward new and existing customers for their brand loyalty. Below are some different types of social media coupon strategies you can try with your own business.

Complimentary Products

In a promotional offer, often but not always, perceived value is greater than an item’s actual cost. A low-cost item could be the very thing that entices someone to make their first purchase, and second, and third. These are complementary items to your main services that actually cost less money to include a purchase, especially if bought in bulk.

Getting freebies is a thrill for most people. If it’s an offer or item customers will use or were meaning to do anyway, buying your product becomes a no-brainer if it’s included for free.

A few examples include:

  • Free no-tangle hairbrush with every haircut or color
  • Travel-sized shampoo and conditioner with the purchase of a full-size set
  • Air pressure check with all automotive oil changes
  • Free curb trimming with every lawn mowing service

Even if the example is a service (e.g., a free curb trimming) instead of a product (travel-sized shampoo), the actual monetary value of the service is, ideally, much lower than the perceived value to the customer.

Checking the air pressure in someone’s tires and then filling them up likely takes about 10 minutes, but customers appreciate not having to do such a chore. Same goes for checking and replacing a vehicle’s air filters or installing a customer’s new wipers. Think about what products or services you can offer with your bigger ticket items to make it a better deal.

Prepaid Services and Gift Cards

Buying something in advance to save money has been a long-time strategy for many types of businesses, especially concerts and other events. Advance pricing is often much cheaper than “at the door.” Harness this for your own business by offering discounts or coupons for products or services paid in advance. This not only can give you more up-front capital, but you can also get a better estimate of demand, which helps with staffing and inventory.

Along the same lines, gift cards are also a great way to get customers to buy something in advance. MarketWatch says about $1 billion in gift cards go unused every year, but they make a great gift. Offering discounted gift cards (e.g. a $50 gift card for $40) can entice customers to buy, and then it’s in their court to decide when to spend it.

“-about $1 billion in gift cards go unused every year, but they make a great gift.”

Offers That Promote Loyalty

Another long-term coupon strategy is to create discounted offers that create business loyalty. These usually come in the form of package deals that are cheaper than if the customer bought the package deal items one at a time. Personal training packages are a good example of this — personal trainers want customer retention over a longer period of time because they’ll see more benefits the longer they stick with it. When business and customer gain mutual benefit, package deals can build significant brand loyalty.

Positioning your package deals by featuring cost savings is essential to success. If you offer five haircuts for $100 and a haircut is usually $25, positioning that value in the best possible way will benefit the marketing campaign.

For example, the $100 deal is a saving of 20% OR they are getting one haircut for free. Focusing on this value perception can entice a customer far more than stating the actual value of the “free” haircut — a $25 service.

Occasional and Random Offers

One of the reasons why Bed Bath & Beyond’s (BBB) 20% off coupons aren’t working for them anymore is they’ve over-saturated their own market. Because customers on the email and postal mailing lists receive these coupons monthly, they’ve “begun to feel like a given instead of like a special treat” according to the Washington Post.

BBB’s stock has continued to drop, due in part to this reliance on their coupons by customers, which is bolstered even more by the fact that they accept expired coupons. With no urgency connected to the coupons, they have become a way of life for BBB’s shoppers.

This is why any coupons outside of the suggestions should be random and staggered as possible. Doing the same “buy one get one free” sale every holiday season will eventually become expected and not exciting to shoppers anymore. Consider shaking up your promotion schedule by celebrating fun holidays (e.g. a restaurant could celebrate “National Nacho Day” one year and “National Margarita Day” the next) or making your own holiday, like Amazon did with its annual Prime Day.

Setting up traditions like Prime Day works for Amazon because their deals aren’t the same each year. Consider celebrating community events (like a historic parade or festival that happens every year in your city) or cultural times of the year, like back to school or the first day of summer. As long as your deals don’t appear like clockwork, and are varied, you can keep customers’ attention.

“As long as your deals don’t appear like clockwork, and are varied, you can keep customers’ attention.”

Social media coupons are a great way to experiment with coupons and package deals while also growing your email list and social media following. Experiment with offering unique coupons just for your email list or social media followers and see what types of deals (free products, discounted packages) work best with your audience. Trying new things will help you find what works and also keep your audience engaged and curious to see what you come up with next.

Are you looking for an easy-to-use social media coupon solution? Woobox allows you to seamlessly integrate coupons in a variety of formats into your social media.