How to Build a Digital Coupon Marketing Strategy: 8 Creative Ideas That Work

Young woman shopping on mobile phone

Today’s customers are looking for deals, especially as they cope with inflation. According to RetailMeNot, 78% of Americans believe coupons add value to their purchase and 59% use them regularly.

While discounts benefit consumers and help them keep more of their money, they can also benefit your business. According to Valassis, 61% of consumers say coupons or discounts can inspire them to try a new brand, 54% said it would lead them to make an impulse purchase, and 60% indicated receiving a coupon or discount speeds up their decision to pull the trigger and buy. 

What is digital coupon marketing? 

Digital coupon marketing is different from traditional coupon marketing in one simple way: Digital coupon marketing leverages online platforms, such as social media, email, and your website, to share digital discount codes. On the other hand, traditional marketing focuses on touchpoints like print, radio, and television ads. 

Digital coupon marketing can provide several benefits. First, it’s cost effective. Traditional campaigns, such as direct marketing mailers, can be expensive, especially if you want to target a broad region. Digital campaigns, however, fit into nearly any budget with an ability to pinpoint your ideal customer based on demographics. 

In addition, measuring your return on investment with traditional marketing can be difficult. Unless a customer mentions that they heard your radio spot or received your flyer, you won’t know if the campaign generated sales. With digital marketing, it’s easy to track conversions with analytics.

Digital coupon marketing also creates an opportunity for engagement. Customers can connect with your business by leaving comments or replying to emails. And they can easily become brand ambassadors by forwarding and sharing the discounts with their friends. 

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8 digital coupon marketing strategies to use

To stand apart from your competition, you’ll need to go beyond basic coupons. Creating a digital coupon marketing strategy can help you leverage techniques that can inspire purchases. Here are eight creative ideas that work.

1. Customize your coupons.

Shopping isn’t one size fits all and neither are discounts, so be sure to design offers that are personalized to the recipient. According to Epsilon, 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase if a brand personalizes the experience. 

To customize your digital coupon marketing, you can create campaigns for select audiences, events, or promotions. For example, you can send customers discounts based on their purchase history or loyalty program enrollment. If you collect personal information, you can provide special discounts for your customer’s birthday or anniversary as a loyalty program member.

Another way to create a personalized discount is to create campaigns for customers who haven’t made a purchase in a while. You can send disengaged customers a digital coupon to entice them to reconsider your store, or take advantage of abandoned cart marketing to motivate a customer to come back and complete their transaction. The goal of personalizing discounts is to acknowledge your customers and make them feel like they’re getting something exclusive.

2. Set a deadline for savings.

Limited-time offers are more likely to spur customers into action than discounts that can be redeemed at any time. The reason is that they create “anticipatory regret,” or the fear of missing out (FOMO), according to Psychology Today

By putting a deadline on your offers, you create a sense of urgency that can motivate consumers to act right away. Campaigns that have a short redemption window, such as a pop-up sale that lasts just few hours or a code that expires in a day, can be especially effective for encouraging customers to make a purchase. If your offer lasts a few days, you can also send a follow-up email reminder on the expiration date.

3. Add an element of fun.

Most people love to play games, and by turning discounts into a challenge, you can boost engagement and drive sales. Certain gamification techniques are a perfect fit for digital coupons: For example, you can run a mystery reward campaign, providing a link that must be clicked on to reveal its value. You can also limit your coupon to the first 100 people to click on it, combining urgency with a challenge. 

Loyalty programs can also include game elements. You can award discounts after a customer earns a set number of points based on their spending, or you can deliver surprise discounts that feel like a windfall and keep shoppers coming back to test their luck.

4. Use referral marketing. 

According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations. You can tap into this marketing engine by giving your customers digital coupons they can share with others. For example, offer friends and family discounts with coupons that give “15% off for you and 15% off for a friend.” Be sure to include the “forward this to a friend” link at the bottom of any of your email marketing campaigns.

Another form of referrals is influencer marketing. Reach out to bloggers, YouTubers, and local celebrities — or even people in your community — by giving them special discounts to share with their followers. You may have to pay influencers for the referral, but the strategy could easily pay for itself. According to HubSpot, 58% of marketers rank influencer marketing as the most effective marketing trend.

5. Add discounts to lead forms.

An effective way to leverage digital coupons is to use them as incentives. For example, you can offer a discount code when someone signs up for your email marketing campaigns or newsletter, giving a percentage off in exchange for their email address. 

You can advertise this incentive on your homepage, with wording such as “Sign up for our newsletter and get 15% off,” or take advantage of pop-ups that advertise your discounts as customers browse your online store. A study by Google and Boston Consulting Group found that 90% of customers are willing to share their email address in exchange for something of value.

6. Give insider-only discounts.

Reward your existing customers by creating deals that are only available to them. Determine which incentives will resonate most with this audience, such as a certain percentage off of their purchase or free shipping.

Insider-only discounts can also work hand-in-hand with your loyalty program. For example, you can use coupons as incentives and rewards for loyalty members to recognize them for being part of your loyalty program. The Square Future of Retail report found that customers enrolled in a Square loyalty program were twice as likely to be repeat customers and spent 37% more than those who weren’t.

7. Mix up distribution channels.

While email is an effective way to send coupon codes, it’s not the only option. You can also explore text discounts. Text messages have an open rate as high as 98%, compared to 20% for email, according to Gartner. According to a survey from SimpleTexting, 50% of respondents would opt into a business’s text messages in exchange for flash sales and time-sensitive promotions.

Another way to share digital coupons is via social media. Customers often follow brands to get access to coupons and deals only available to followers. Post and share discount codes to encourage followers to engage with you on your social channels and to entice customers to explore your online store and make a purchase.

Finally, you can share digital coupons on non-digital vehicles. For example, you can create QR code coupons to place on your checkout counter, window, or receipts, as well as in marketing emails, to give customers a physical method to access your digital coupons.

8. Track the success of your coupons.

As you distribute digital coupons across different channels, it’s helpful to track which coupon codes drive the most engagement and sales from customers so you can replicate your most successful coupon strategy.

Creating unique, single-use coupon codes not only helps you customize your coupon marketing for customer engagement, but also allows you to determine which of your coupons are the most successful by tracking their performance over a period of time.

Start creating your digital coupon strategy.

When your customers feel like you provide good value, they’re more likely to value your business. So, share some love and start creating discount offers with digital coupons. 

With Square Marketing, you can create full digital coupon campaigns through email and text or generate simple, single-use codes to share across social platforms, on websites, and in person. You can even track the performance of individual coupon codes in your Square Dashboard to get a better understanding of how your coupon marketing strategy is working for your business. 

If you’ve used digital coupons for your business or implemented coupon marketing tactics that have worked, share your experience with other Square sellers.