Online coupons
In 2009, Americans redeemed over 3 billion coupons. While many of these coupons were found in newspaper circulars or distributed in stores, some 8.6 million households reported regular use of online coupons. While the average redemption rate for print coupons is about 1.2 percent, recent studies have indicated that online coupon redemption rates are upward of 10 to 15 percent.Increased redemption isn’t the only benefit to offering them online: Online coupons allow for highly targeted distribution, ease of use for both the consumer and business, and reduced costs in production and distribution of coupons. If you’re looking to drive web traffic, build customer loyalty or just give people another reason to buy, an online coupon strategy might be for you.

Sounds intriguing? We’ve got a few tips on how your business or organization can get coupons out to the interested masses today:

Distribute coupons online for redemption in-store
Coupons or discounts are distributed for in-store redemption via e-mail, on a business’s website, online ads, social media mentions or third-party coupon websites. Often “free gifts” or other giveaways are associated with the coupon as a means to drive this in-store traffic. Popular giveaways include merchandise or swag items, like T-shirts or logo’d beach towels. This tactic is recommended for businesses that do not have e-commerce capabilities on their websites, offer services instead of products, or that have customers who have been found through previous market research to be more likely to make a purchase in-store than online.

Distribute coupons in-store for redemption online
Many stores, particularly clothing retailers, have found success in distributing coupons with codes (also called coupon codes, promotion codes, discount codes, etc.) at the point of sale that can be redeemed both in-store or online. Many retailers add these codes to receipts or have them printed on shopping bags and magnets.
Another fun option that more and more businesses are catching on to is the use of QR codes (personalized bar codes) imprinted on items like Coffee Mugs or Keychains. When scanned using a smartphone camera, a software application reveals a coupon code or links to discounts on your site.

Distribute online for redemption online
Arguably, the most popular tactic used by retailers, this option combines a little bit of both of the previous methods. Coupons or coupon codes are distributed via e-mail, on the web or a third-party coupon site and can only be redeemed online. This tactic can be broken down further to encompass two specific types of online coupons: Embedded coupons—which is a coupon in a link that when clicked on takes a consumer directly to the online storefront and where the discount is applied automatically; or Code coupons—which were mentioned previously and require the user to enter the code at checkout in order to redeem the coupon or apply the discount.

No matter which way coupons are distributed, their overall effectiveness is undeniable. Everyone loves the opportunity to save. Coupons offer incentive to buy while at the same time enabling your business to see less shopping cart abandonment, to measure web traffic and to improve the effectiveness of communication channels.

Beyond these distribution methods, there are many creative ways to develop online coupon strategies that benefit your business plan and your consumers’ pockets. Check out our Blue Paper® to learn more.

Inmar. “Inmar Consumer Study: Consumer Coupon Usage Findings.Inmar. 01 Nov. 2009. Web. 15 Feb. 2010.

MarketingProfs. “E-Coupons Gaining in Popularity.MarketingProfs: Marketing Resources for Marketing Professionals. 29 Sept. 2009. Web. 13 Feb. 2010.

Grasse, Nicole. “Once just a fad, online coupons are catching on big with retailers and shoppers.InternetRetailer.com. Web. 21 Feb. 2010.

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