We’ve touted coupons and other incentives as a great way to grow sales here and here. Coupons are extremely effective at coercing customers to finish checking out after abandoning their cart, pushing them to place new orders and winning them back after a period of no purchase.
Thing is, not all brands believe in coupons or discounts because they’re not trying to give away the farm. At first you might be thinking, who doesn’t believe in coupons or discounting products? (See JC Penny) And what does giving away the farm even mean?
More on the farm later. In the meantime, let’s talk coupons.
Coupons can devalue brands
For many fashion brands and boutique eCommerce companies, coupons don’t fit into the brand strategy. Moreover, coupons are seen as damaging to a brand.
A FastCompany article published in 2013 argued customers, “don’t have a clear sense of what your products or services are actually worth” when they are bought with a coupon.
Blame it on Groupon
The same article also argues coupons make it difficult for brands to “increase their intrinsic value.” In other words, coupons are detrimental to a brand.
So let’s get down to it. Your store wants to make your customers feel good and make a purchase, but you don’t want to coax them to do so by emailing a coupon. How are you going to do it?
Grow sales without coupons
Let us explain, because there are four things you can do.
- Send personalized email
- Offer exclusive perks
- Consistently follow up
- Be more creative
There’s more to personalization than putting a first name in the subject line of an email. Personalized emails should be based on how a person is shopping on your website.
But that’s not all.
Emails should be based on the products customers are buying and the products they are not buying.
Think about it.
Let’s say you sell apparel and one of your customers buys a dress and sandals.
The perfect follow up email would be sending recommendations based on those items.
Which subject line do you think will be more effective, “Belts perfect for your new dress and sandals!” or “Newest belt arrivals!”?
Those recommendations can be curated manually or if a store is using an email platform like Remarkety, these recommendations can be automatically generated.
If the incentive isn’t a coupon, what is it going to be?
Send select shoppers a “sneak peek” of new arrivals or products and give them access to buy before anyone else.
Ask shoppers to help choose the products your store should sell. Make them feel involved or a part of a community.
An exclusive perk to loyal or consistent shoppers is the kind of strategy to really make shoppers feel like they’re a part of something.
Host a party or event like Burn Rubber. Even better, partner with another brand to increase reach.
Give shoppers free shipping. Already offer free shipping?
Give shoppers free two-day shipping. Already offer free two-day shipping?
Give shoppers free returns. Already offer free returns?
Consistent Follow Ups
Since your store isn’t sending coupons, it can be much more difficult to drive sales with a single email.
That’s why one of the biggest mistakes stores make is what I call the “one-and-done special.”
They send out a blast email touting store news, a new product line or something else. And that’s it.
The email is sent out once and in hours it is buried in a customer’s inbox. Like most marketing emails, over half of those emails will never be opened, clicked or lead to a purchase.
By sending a reminder email the next day and then another reminder a few days after that, the chances of getting in front of your customers is increased.
Take Bezar, for example. They send out a beautiful email everyday leveraging new products on their website and reminders about products featured from previous days.
Write more interesting emails and make them prettier.
Think about pulling out the old quill and sending a hand-written thank you note.
But first, it’s a good idea to have a general idea who your customer is before you go Hunter Thompson on your emails.
That’s why you want to test everything.
Test long subject lines and short subject lines.
Test long body copy and short image-heavy body copy.
Your emails should be so interesting that your customers want to open them – even when they aren’t in “shopping mode”.
In your efforts to get more creative, don’t forget to stick to the basics.
And by basics we mean double checking your spelling and ensuring your email looks good on all types of devices. Stuff like that.
For an example of amazing email writing, sign up for the Eat24 newsletter. Sure, they give away coupons, but their emails are hilarious.
Data doesn’t lie
Even if you decide to avert any and all coupon use, coupons will still have a place in many eCommerce stores. We’ve found in an analysis of nearly one thousand stores regularly offering coupons in emails, purchase rates grow over 10%.
In other words, one in every ten people will purchase a product when there is a coupon in the email.
Not bad, eh?
Now let’s move on to what everyone is waiting for.
Giving away the farm
This expression means offering too much service or too much of a product without getting enough in return.
Some stores believe discounting products and sending out coupons are essentially giving away the farm.
Yet, many eCommerce stores feel the opposite. In fact, they see coupons as one of the best strategies to turn one-time buyers into loyal and repeat customers.
How you choose to use coupons (or not), is ultimately up to you.