8 Tips to Effectively Leverage Coupons and Turn Visitors Into Leads and Leads Into Customers

When was the last time you used a coupon? Think hard. Can you remember how you got it? What was it about the coupon that made you want to use it? And if you did use the coupon, how and when did you use it and why?

If you can’t remember the answer to these questions, congratulations, you’re human! From a marketing perspective though, these questions matter because they have to do with what goes through a consumer’s mind when deciding whether a coupon is worth it or not.

Coupons Are Worth More Than the Savings

A common mistake marketers make is thinking that a coupon’s value to the consumer is only in the savings: Coupon A didn’t work because we didn’t give a big enough discount. But this is simply not the case. When assessing the value of a coupon, most consumers subconsciously go through a mental checklist that is much more complex than a simple measure of how much they will save. And it’s the result of this checklist that ultimately drives a consumer’s decision to redeem the coupon or dismiss it.

So how can you effectively leverage this mental checklist to create coupons that capture leads and turn those leads into customers? Here are some simple tips to follow when you’re working on the delivery, design and follow-up of your next coupon campaign.

It’s All In the Delivery

One of the biggest reasons consumers end up not using coupons is that they can’t find any for the products they want. Conversely, one of the most compelling features of a coupon is the ability to redeem it instantly or at least on the next purchase. As they say, it’s all in the delivery, and this is especially true when it comes to coupons.

Tip 1. Make the coupon find the visitor, not the other way around

You have only 15 seconds to capture the attention of your website visitors, so why would you force them to hunt around for coupons? Instead, it’s coupons that should “find” the visitor by being available in the right place, at the right time. And even if your site does engage a visitor long enough for some items to end up in the shopping cart, there’s a 75% chance that visitor will never check out.

Exit Intent Lightbox. Display the coupon in a popup lightbox that’s triggered when a visitor exits your site.
Abandon Cart Lightbox. Display the coupon in a popup lightbox that’s triggered when the visitor abandons their shopping cart.
“Sticky” Banner or Lightbox. Display the coupon in a header, footer or lightbox that remains visible as the visitor scrolls up or down the page.
Redisplay at Checkout. When a visitor redeems a coupon and goes to check out, re-display the coupon on the checkout page with the code in prominent text. Make the display sticky, so the code is visible when the customer is prompted to enter it.

Save 20% on Your Order

Tip 2. Offer incentives that are relevant to the visitor’s interests

No matter how good you think a deal is, a coupon’s value is ultimately determined by the consumer. To create a coupon that is relevant and compelling, use what you can learn about your visitors as they navigate and browse through your site.

Relevant Offers. Display coupons with incentives that are related to the contents of the page
Complementary Offers. Offer coupons for items that complement what they’ve already added to the cart (in a pinch, offer a coupon for free shipping).

Good Coupon Design = Good Customer Experience

As we already mentioned, the true value of a coupon is determined by the consumer and goes beyond mere savings. When designing your coupons, you need to stop thinking about just discount rates and expiry periods and start thinking about emotional engagement.

Tip 3. Customize coupons to make visitors feel they’re getting an exclusive deal

Each visitor on your site is there for a reason. Remember that they may have picked your site over your competition. So make them feel special by recognizing who they are and giving them incentives tailored just for them. One way to do this is by creating customized coupons for each type of visitor entering your site. Using site statistics, you can target visitors based on past visits, referrers, and even geolocation.

First-Time Shoppers. Create a coupon that offers a discount or free shipping to first-time visitors to your site. This is a fantastic way to make new visitors welcome and, hopefully, turn them into return customers.
Return Customers. Create coupons for first, second, or third-time return customers, letting them know you appreciate their return by offering them a promotion.
Referrer Traffic. Create a coupon for visitors coming from a particular referrer such as Facebook or Twitter. For example, offer a discount to visitors coming from Facebook as an incentive to liking your page.

Like us on Facebook and get a coupon for 20% off

Tip 4. Make coupons persistent, relevant and actionable

If a visitor dismisses a coupon, it is often because he or she does not see its immediate value. But as visitors continue to navigate your site and browse its content, their appreciation of what you’re offering increases, and this translates into a significant increase in the likelihood of a conversion. There are several ways you can take advantage of this gradual change.

Persistent Teasers. When visitors close a lightbox without redeeming the coupon, display a teaser that follows them across all pages that are relevant to the coupon’s offer. This will allow them to redeem the coupon the minute they realize its value.
Clear Calls to Action. Make sure the coupon teaser has a clear call to action (e.g., Don’t miss out! Click here to save 10% now!).

Tip 5. Prevent coupon fatigue

Coupons should be a pleasant surprise offered to the right people at the right time. We find that offering the same coupon for more than a month results in diminishing returns. That’s because people are much more likely to ignore the message when they know what to expect. Here are some ways to prevent coupon fatigue by varying appearance and messaging.

Location. Vary the look of your coupons by toggling between lightbox and sidebar display.
Appearance. Apply different sizes, images, colors and fonts to the same coupon at different times or in different locations.
Message. Periodically change a coupon’s message and call to action.

Tip 6. Create a sense of urgency

There’s a reason coupons expire. According to Robert Cialdini’s principle of scarcity (the sixth in his Six Principles of Influence), we like things more when there are less of them to go around or they’re available only for a short time. Take advantage of this social behavior by creating coupons that clearly let your visitors know a deal isn’t going to last forever.

Expiry Date. Make coupons valid for no longer than one week and set a clear expiry date.
Urgent Messaging. Use phrases that create urgency such as, “Today only,” “In the next 24 hours,” and “Exclusively for first-time visitors.”
Compelling Calls to Action. Use calls to action that drive immediate conversion such as “Redeem Now,” and “Shop Today.”

Tip 7. Ask for something in return

According to another of Cialdini’s Principles of Influence, the principle of reciprocity, humans naturally want to return favors and treat others as they themselves have been treated. This is a powerful bit of knowledge to have if you’re wondering whether it’s okay to ask your visitors for information about themselves in return for a discount or promotion. So, yes, require visitors to provide at least an email address before they can get that valuable coupon code.

As a general rule, always generate a lead after successfully engaging a visitor. Nowhere is this more important than here. With the average shopping cart abandonment rate at about 75%, you should assume that more than half of visitors who redeem a coupon will still leave your site before making a purchase. So when it comes to recovering that lost revenue, those email addresses acquired with very little effort become gold.

Collect. Collect at least an email address before handing out a coupon code. Consider asking for a name as well, but make it optional (personalizing lead follow-ups increases conversion rates).
Deliver. Use an email marketing service to automatically email the coupon code as soon as the visitor submits the redemption form. This can kick off a series of follow-up emails (see Tip 8) but also prevents visitors from providing invalid email addresses.
Nurture. If you have a newsletter, include an opt-in checkbox on the coupon form to invite visitors to sign up.

It’s Not Over Until You Follow Up

Follow-ups to leads die quickly but can be very successful. Here’s some help to get you started on the right path.

Tip 8. Use email to make sure your new leads convert

The bad news is that more than half of visitors will leave your site before they make a purchase, even if they’ve redeemed a coupon. The good news is that, if you turn that unused redemption into a lead (by getting that all-important email address), you can use email to recover the lost sale.

Recovery emails (also known as remarketing emails) are a highly successful way of recovering lost purchases. Nearly half of all recovery emails are opened (44% open rate) and more than 10% of them are clicked (11.6% click-through rate). Of those clicked, almost a third (29.9 %) lead to a recovered purchase back at the site.

To make the most of recovery emails, connect your coupons to your email marketing service so that a series of follow-up/recovery emails is triggered every time a visitor redeems a coupon.

Real-Time. Send the first email immediately after a coupon is redeemed. This email should contain the coupon code, a link back to the relevant page on your site, and a reminder of the expiration date. This first email is absolutely crucial because the chances of re-engaging a lead drop by as much as 10 times if the follow-up does not occur within an hour after the initial interaction.
24 hours. If there is no response within 24 hours, send a second email reminding the visitor they have an unused coupon pending. The open rate on these emails drops dramatically, so this is a good time to reiterate the value of the deal and stress the need for a response.
7 Days. If there is still no response after the second email, send a third and final email a few hours before the coupon is set to expire stressing the urgency of a response. The open rate on these emails is extremely low, so it’s a good idea to try and sweeten the deal by offering an additional discount.

Next Steps

Keeping these tips in mind, you can successfully leverage the power of coupons to turn visitors into leads and leads into customers. Offer the right coupon at the right time, make visitors feel special, create a sense of urgency, collect those well-deserved email addresses and don’t forget to follow up. It’s that simple.

Want us to show you how the Digioh Lightbox fits in with your successful coupon strategy?

Take a tour or book a demo with us today. We work with all major e-commerce platforms.


The Value of Coupons in Digital Marketing [Infographic]. Get Elastic Ecommerce Blog.
Penny Pinchers & Profits: How Coupons and Promotions Can Impact Your Business [Infographic]. Kissmetrics Online Marketing Blog.
55% of Visitors Spend Fewer Than 15 Seconds on Your Website. Should You Care?. HubSpot Marketing Blog.
How to Decrease Your Website’s Bounce Rate [Infographic]. HubSpot Marketing Blog.
Cialdini’s Six Principles of Influence: Convincing Others to Say “Yes.” Mind Tools Blog.
Q4 2014 Email Trends and Benchmarks. Epsilon Data Management.
Email Marketing is Changing – The Rise of Mobile and Triggered Emails [Infographic]. Kissmetrics Online Marketing Blog.
The Remarketing Report: Q1 2015 [Inforgraphic]. SaleCycle Academy.

Coupons image credit: Some rights reserved by Cameron Russell.

About Cecilia Farell

Cecilia Farell is a freelance writer living in Toronto, Canada. She does content marketing for Digioh and blogs regularly on inbound marketing, lead generation and conversion optimization. Follow Cecilia on Twitter @ceciliafarell.