January 12, 2012

5 Things You Didn’t Know About How to Market With Coupons

Filed under: Ecommerce — Tags: — Meredith @ 9:27 am

Did you know not all coupons are created equal? A smart marketer uses different kinds of coupons in different ways, depending on her goals. While discounting your products may sound like a money-loser, it can actually be a great way to boost sales and grow your business if you use them properly. Here are four ways that you should be using coupons in your business:

1. The Upsell
An upsell coupon is designed to get customers to increase their average order value. The thinking is that you can give them a better deal because they are buying in volume. You can test a variety of offers such as free shipping on orders over $50, 10% off orders over $100, etc.

As a marketer, I love this coupon type. If you’re running an offer like this, shout it from the rooftops. You can put it on your website’s “current specials” page (which you can link as a pop up next to your coupon field on your check out pages). You can post these deals to coupon sites like RetailMeNot. You can advertise these deals with your newsletter and social media accounts. You can even put them all over your home page, product pages and shopping cart pages. You want customers to know they’ll save money if they buy more stuff. Your goal is to get them to spend more than they might without the coupon.

2. The Limited Time Offer
Limited time offers are a great way to create urgency. The idea is that if the customer doesn’t use this coupon right now, they’ll lose the opportunity to save money. When promoting a limited time coupon, be sure to stress that the offer expires today or tomorrow or this weekend, etc. The customer should be aware that time is running out to get the deal.

The limited time offer works well for getting your mailing list subscribers to buy now. It’s also great for boosting sales during slow periods. Deal-a-day sites like Groupon use this strategy, offering a deep discount for 24 hours only.  I also like to give limited time coupon codes to bloggers who might be covering my business. It gives their readers a reason to shop today since the offer will run out shortly.

3. The Scratch-My-Back-I’ll-Scratch-Yours
Coupons can be used as a carrot to get customers to do something. You can use these types of offers to get customers to join your newsletter, like you on Facebook, refer their friends, etc. I think this kind of offer works especially well with Facebook reveal tabs.

To benefit from this type of offer you’ll need to decide what action you want your customers to take and then set up the coupon offer in close proximity. For example, if you want newsletter sign ups then say “Get an instant 15% off coupon code when you sign up for our newsletter” and put that copy right above your newsletter sign up box.

4. The Ego Boost
Customers are more likely to use a coupon if they think the offer is being made to them exclusively. You can use these type of coupons as a follow up to a customer service snafu or to acknowledge a customer birthday. You can set up a separate list for your top customers and offer them exclusive access to special coupons your other newsletter subscribers don’t get.

With this type of coupon, the goal is to make sure your customer is aware that not everyone is getting the coupon. They are only getting this offer because they are special. Giving a customer what feels like special treatment increases the likelihood that they’ll make a purchase.

5. The Gift Card
Using gift cards as coupons is a strategy that’s unlike free shipping and percent off deals. You can use a gift card in any of the four situations above (instead of percent off or free shipping), but gift card offers pack a special punch. When a customer receives a gift card the psychology at work is “I have free money to spend, if I do not spend this free money I’ll lose it.” Even if the net result in terms of cost is the same as other coupons, gift card offers feel like better deals and are likely to be used.

If you haven’t experimented with offering a free gift card for a desired action, test this out. The results might pleasantly surprise you.


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October 14, 2011

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week


Just got back from an awesome vacation in Australia! I’m now super busy catching up on stuff, but more blog jamz will be forthcoming. In the meantime, check out my suggested reads from around the web this week.


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April 15, 2011

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Filed under: Link Love — Tags: , , , , — Meredith @ 7:23 am


Thanks to all the SB readers who’ve helped my online shop raise funds for homeless animals. Today is the last day of the fundraiser. If you want to help details are here!

Don’t forget, I’m de-stashing some craft supplies I’ve amassed over the years and the prices are CHEAP. All items ship for free within the US. If you’re outside the US and want something let me know and I can check into how much shipping will be.

Here’s what I’ve read this week that I recommend checking out:


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January 7, 2011

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Filed under: Link Love — Tags: , , , , , — Meredith @ 8:54 am


Every day I check out the 100s of subscriptions in my RSS feed about marketing, PR, advertising, branding, social media, and a host of other topics of interest to small businesses that sell online. Most of what gets posted isn’t earth shattering but I reserve Fridays for the best reads of the week. So here you have it, the most valuable things I read in the business blogosphere this week:

Reminder: The Valentine’s Day co-op is about to get started. If you’re thinking about joining, sign up today! Our ads start running Monday and our newsletter goes out to over 3,500 subscribers on Friday!


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November 2, 2010

3 Clever Things You Can Do With a Facebook “Reveal” Tab

Filed under: Social Media — Tags: , , , , — Meredith @ 8:16 am

In a round up last month I posted a link that explained how to create a Facebook reveal tab. If you glossed over that tutorial, today I’m going to try to get you to take another look. It’s a really neat feature that you can use to help grow your Facebook following and reward customers who like you on Facebook. Here are a few neat things you can use a reveal tab for:

1. Coupon Codes
I use my reveal tab to offer coupons to Facebook fans only. You can see it in action here (like the page to see the image change to show the coupon code). My website has coupon codes published on the product pages (see the tab on the lower right) and I tell visitors they should check out the Facebook fan page to see more offers. This helps drive people to follow my brand on Facebook and makes coupon codes accessible between newsletter mailings.

2. Exclusive Content/Previews
If you don’t offer coupon codes, you might use your reveal tab to share exclusive content instead. You can use this tab to offer a free ebook download or let fans see an exclusive sneak preview of a line of products you’re about to release. Exclusive content is a great way to draw in fans and even keep them coming back to your Facebook page.

3. Pre-Sales/Exclusive Pricing
Another special offer to extend to Facebook followers is pre-sales and exclusive pricing. If you’re about to release a new product or collection, selling it on pre-sale (before it’s for sale to the public) at a special price to fans is a terrific way to build buzz. You can even use this pre-sale income to finance the production of a larger batch of your product.


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April 6, 2010

Boost Conversions by Offering Specials

Filed under: Ecommerce — Tags: , , , — Meredith @ 7:58 am

Over the weekend I realized I needed some new handbags to go with all my new spring clothing. So I took to the web in search of some new stuff. I found two options I really liked. One shop had several items I liked but they were more expensive. Another shop had items I liked (though maybe slightly less) but they were quite a bit less expensive.

I ended up buying from the second shop. The first shop could’ve had my business IF they’d had a discount available for large orders. (I was ordering 5 new bags.) They might’ve still been more expensive, but it’s a psychological thing. I’m well aware of this being the case but it’s still there. I want to feel like I’m getting special treatment for buying a lot of product. I’m probably much like the customers that visit your e-tail shop, and this is why I recommend you add a “specials” page to your website. I especially recommend offering specials for higher volume orders.

Here are some compelling reasons to consider this:

1. Show appreciation to super fans
In my example above, I described how I, as a potential new brand super fan, got turned off by the lack of special offers from a retail site. Offering a discount for large orders is a great way to make big spenders feel like VIPs.

2. Increase average order size
A discount for a larger order might nudge customers to buy a second or third item. Maybe they had a hard time deciding between two products and your 10% off deal is just the push they need to take them both.

3. Keep them on your site
Here’s a common scenario (I know I do this): Customer shops your site, they add items to cart, they get to check out and see there’s a coupon box. Now they feel like some customers are getting a deal and they aren’t because they don’t have a coupon. They open a new browser window, off to search for coupons. Doh! Now they’ve left your website and they might even run across a competitor’s website that has a better offer.

You can curb this behavior by adding a link to your current offers right next to your coupon field at check out. You need not share every single deal you have. If you sent a special to your mailing list that you only want those customers to see, you don’t have to put that out there.

Having any sort of offers there will help keep people on your site and make them feel like they’re getting the same deals that others are getting. You can offer things like a 10% off orders over $50.00 or free shipping on orders over $100.00. Offering a couple of different options is a good way to incentivize customers at different price points.


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March 22, 2010

5 Neat Things From Ecommerce Shops

Filed under: Ecommerce — Tags: , , , , , , — Meredith @ 8:03 am

For those that follow this blog regularly, you know I post a list of my favorite articles each week from around the web. I preface this by saying that I do a lot of reading, and only a small percentage of it is worthwhile, but that small percentage is really great. The same thing is true of surfing the web in general. I look at ecommerce sites all the time. I look at them for inspiration for Smaller Box posts. I look at them for ways I can improve my own ecommerce site.

So here are 5 things I’ve seen in recent travels that I thought were neat.

1. Scratch and win coupon codes
At Kir Devries shopping is an adventure because each visit is a chance to get a different discount code. You’ll see on their product pages (scroll down) they have a scratch and win graphic where you can virtually scratch a coupon to receive a discount. Neat!

2. Invoice optional
We had a great debate here recently about whether customers want to see invoices in their packages. Numsi solves this problem by asking customers at check out if they wish to receive their invoice in their package.

3. Product Options Above the Fold
Laying out a product page with a ton of information is extremely difficult. You need to convey a lot of details and make it all very easily scanned and digested by customers. I’ll probably be tweaking my product pages from now until the end of time. They’re never perfect.

That said, check out how the Olympics Store arranged their product pages. Their 3 column layout makes it so that both product description and product options are above the fold (meaning customer doesn’t have to scroll down to see either).

I liked this layout so much that I implemented one like it for my own site. It allows me to convey to customers that products are available in a variety of sizes, styles and colors as soon as they see the page. It eliminates the risk that customers will see a product page, not like the color on display when they land and leave before realizing that they can select a different color.

4. Spreading the word = discounts for all
I’ve seen this model on a few different Facebook pages and it’s an interesting idea. (If anyone’s used it let me know how it worked for you.) The shop owner tells fans that once a certain number of fans have been amassed a special discount code will be shared exclusively with all the Facebook fans. It gives existing fans incentive to get their friends to become fans in order to get a coupon.

5. Discounts with a sense of humor
I saw this list of discount policies on Passive Aggressive Notes. I know, it’s a funny source for ecommerce inspiration, but I take it where I can get it. The list outlines a long list of bizarre ways customers can get discounts. It’s amusing and memorable and maybe inspires you to think of a way to offer discounts for creative customer behavior (discount if you send a picture of yourself in my product, discount if you make a funny video about my product, etc.).

Seen something inspiring in the land of ecomm? Let us know about it.


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February 26, 2010

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Filed under: Link Love — Tags: , , , , , , , — Meredith @ 5:57 am


Every day I check out the 100s of subscriptions in my RSS feed about marketing, PR, advertising, branding, social media, and a host of other topics of interest to small businesses that sell online. Most of what gets posted isn’t earth shattering but I reserve Fridays for the best reads of the week. So here you have it, the most valuable things I read in the business blogosphere this week:

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