How to Design Effective Coupons

From the classic printed newspaper insert, to digital deals, to apps discussing lifestyle enhancers on smartphones—coupons are everywhere. Distributing coupons prior to a product launch helps familiarize consumers with new merchandise, especially for value-conscious shoppers. New research shows that during a new product release, digital coupons increase awareness. For the products tested, the brand recall rose 36.3 percent for food; 11.9 percent for household and 7.2 percent for beverage.clipping coupons

In terms of customer behavior, Coupons.com research revealed that 59 percent of people browsing online coupons plan to visit a grocery store within two days and 43 percent plan to shop within the next 24 hours. Some 51 percent of consumers who rely on coupons admit to using them more today than they did five years ago, according to results of the Shopper Trend Report from RetailMeNot. According to a research by Gfk, digital coupon users spend 42 percent more annually than average shoppers—up by 7 percent as compared to 2011.
Let’s look at some basic rules for designing coupons that produce better results:

Present offers that create excitement:

Your coupons will inspire purchases if they feature deals with real value. Today’s savvy consumers can immediately determine if your coupons are worthwhile. Use a specific hook while planning, such as:

  • Tie deals to occasions (e.g., 2-for-1 for movie nights, discounts on prom dresses, etc.)
  • Highlight seasonal deals (e.g., basketball court marking kits around NBA season, etc.)
  • Target specific products (e.g., sleepwear at 50 percent off, wool scarves, etc.)
  • Make offers around holidays (e.g., Easter sales, etc.)

Coupons.com offers sports movies as an interesting alternative in the summer when it’s too hot to be outside for long periods of time or bad weather takes over.

Coupon for summers

Choose headlines that are direct and targeted:

Because they have so many options and are constantly barraged by ads, consumers have little or no patience. Use your headlines to grab attention. Give them maximum prominence in coupons, as they will encourage customers to read more. Drive home what people stand to save or how they will benefit by from your offers. Product information alone does not do the trick.

Keep the language simple and use minimum text:

In your copy, specify:

  • Product highlights
  • Deals
  • Audiences targeted (e.g., families, couples, school children, pregnant women, etc.)
  • Time-frames for offers

Keep the message concise and to the point, removing words that aren’t needed. As Kelly explained in her blog post Do-It-Yourself Marketing for Small Businesses is Risky Business, it takes special skill and practice to use only a few words to communicate. So getting the help of experts is a good idea.

Avoid clutter:

Coupon designs with white space attract more views as customers interpret them as premium offers. If they have too much text and loud images, it is the visual equivalent of being in a room where everybody is shouting. Present a clean look by following some simple rules:

  • Use bullet points instead of lengthy sentences
  • Consider white backgrounds so visuals stand out
  • Choose fonts that are clear and easy to read
  • Stick with a maximum of two or three font styles
  • Balance the text and images by giving equal margins on the sides
  • Do not highlight or underline text unnecessarily
  • Pick colors that complement your logo colors

Add a sense of urgency in customers’ minds:

Coupons with expiration dates immediately get people thinking more seriously about how much they want your products for two reasons:

1. If they plan to buy, they want the best possible price—this works especially well for products with very little quality differentiation like groceries.

2. Products might be sold out if they wait too long—which is effective for big-ticket deals like spa treatments, travel discounts and so on.

This coupon by Dominos makes an irresistible offer for a Friday night hang-out with friends.

Coupon (Dominos)

Time-sensitive coupons drive sales within specified time-frames. They also help in tracking responses generated by each promotion, interpreting their effectiveness.

Plan online coupons with goals:

Before designing digital coupons, treat them like any other marketing project and set goals. They could have objectives like:

  • Launch products and entice first-time buyers
  • Increase purchase volume during a special season
  • Drive traffic into stores

This coupon provides incentives for online referrals to multiply their reach.

Coupon (GAP)

Reward online actions of customers:

Beyond offering discounts, you can ask viewers to like your Facebook page, tweet about your latest promotions or pin their favorite images from your summer collection. Another call-to-action for redeeming coupon deals is submitting email addresses. Capturing data in this way will help you send offers tailored to buyers’ preferences to their inbox. It works to make promotions more effective and helps you become your customers’ favorite brand. Last, but not the least, it supports your e-mail marketing strategy by growing your list.

Reach younger customers with mobile coupons:

As mobile usage goes up, everyone from major brands to small businesses are using them to drive sales and reach customers with interesting deals. The responsive coupons can be promoted across mobile display ads, mobile apps, mobile websites and social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and Pinterest.

FunMobility mobile coupons can be saved to Passbook through links sent via email, SMS, and mobile apps.

Mobile Coupons (FunMobility)

Be sure you cover the following details while designing mobile coupons:

  • Stick to simple designs due to the small screen size
  • Use high-quality images that are easily recognizable
  • Feature small amounts of copy that include the promotion name and key benefits
  • Issue a clear and concise call-to-action, which can include a bar code or website address and coupon code

How do you use coupons to promote your brand? What advice do you have for increasing coupon redemption and driving sales?

About Kriti Adlakha
I have been working in the field of marketing and brand development for more than eight years. My experience ranges from hospitality to media and IT products to outsourced services. During my journey, I have worked with print and new-age media and have enjoyed developing content. I have also learnt and worked on marketing tools like adwords marketing, analytics, CRM and the list is steadily growing. Having acquired post-graduate diploma in business management from IIM, Calcutta, I love new challenges and learn from each experience. In my blog, I share marketing strategies that enable small and medium businesses to market in a small budget. I also discuss how to use different online tools that can help businesses to monitor returns of their marketing investments. Above all, I love to hear back from my readers!

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