When executed correctly, a coupon marketing campaign can bring people into your business, but if it is not done well, it can go awry. 

Coupon marketing campaigns can be employed for a variety of reasons. They offer an easy way to build brand recognition if you have moved into a new area or have just opened your business. Coupons are also a successful strategy for introducing new customers to your products and/or services and then converting them to regular clients.

This article will explore the reasoning behind utilizing a coupon marketing campaign and tips for effectively deploying your campaign. It will also detail what you should look out for and potential missteps you can avoid to prevent the campaign from hurting your business.  

Why should you use coupon marketing? 

Shoppers like to save money. Many of them use coupons and discount codes to keep more of their money. Offering them ways to save is an effective method for introducing new customers to your products or services. New customers come into your business with a coupon, which then can expand your customer base. They might also be out shopping with friends who might otherwise walk right past your storefront.  

A coupon strategy can be deployed at any time, but it is a popular way to bring in new business following a grand opening, an introduction of a new location, or after a big shopping season when sales tend to slow down. Digital coupons are also a way to get in touch with old customers and bring them back into your business. 

The benefits of offering coupons

There are many reasons why your business should consider offering coupons to new and existing customers. 

  • Building brand recognition with new customers: One of the most effective strategies for any business is word-of-mouth advertising. While this is easier to accomplish in the digital age, there are other ways in which you can broaden your reach — such as offering coupons. 
  • It’s easy to track your success rate: Unlike other digital marketing tools, offering coupons and coupon codes makes it easy to measure your return on investment. When people redeem the coupon or use a coupon code online, you don’t have to ask them how they found your business. You can record the number of coupons that were redeemed to determine the success of your offer. 
  • Gives you the chance to upsell: While customers may be drawn into your business because of the coupon, getting them to your store offers the chance to upsell. There will be clients who only want to redeem the coupon and leave the store, but others might be open to learning about other products and services offered by your business. For example, you could offer a coupon for 20% off of a facial for new clients of your day spa. Once they’ve completed the facial, you can sell them the products that you used on their skin. 

Potential drawbacks of coupon marketing and how to avoid them

Since coupons allow customers to receive discounts on goods and services, they can eat into your profits. For this reason, they should be used as a component of a well-rounded marketing strategy. Some potential drawbacks of coupons include: 

  • Brings in temporary customers: Some people who love clipping coupons will only come to your store for the discounted merchandise. This particular customer is not usually brand loyal. When devising your strategy be sure to account for these customers, because they probably won’t come back. 
  • An influx of new business: One common criticism of coupons and coupon codes is that they can potentially generate more business than your company can handle. For instance, if your nail salon offers a coupon and is then inundated with so many new customers that you have to start turning business down, those who have been turned away could be disappointed and leave negative reviews. Before you offer a coupon, make sure that you have the proper inventory for the discount. If you run a service-oriented business, make sure that you are properly staffed to handle the increase in business. Retail stores should be mindful of the inventory levels and potentially increase staffing when running a coupon promotion. 
  • Training customers to expect discounts: If you use coupons as a marketing tool too often, then you may inadvertently train your customers to expect them, leaving them to turn away your regularly priced merchandise. You may also end up with customers who only shop with you when you are running a discount. Use the coupon marketing strategy sparingly to avoid this. 

How to develop a coupon marketing strategy

Once you have decided to utilize coupons to attract new business, it is tempting to offer a random discount or markdown a specific item without any strategy. However, you are more likely to be successful if you strategize first. Your coupon offer should be targeted and deliberate. If it’s not, you are more likely to encounter one of the setbacks discussed above. 

Set a goal for your campaign

Before deploying your coupon campaign, first, determine what you want to accomplish. Do you want to drive more foot traffic into your store? Do you want to collect information on potential new customers and build up your mailing list? Are you trying to offload excess inventory? 

When you have determined what you want to accomplish with your coupon campaign, you can start evaluating the market for your campaign. Research your competitors to see what kinds of discounts they are offering. Do some digging on your target market and where they tend to look for information, so you know where to advertise your coupon codes. 

You can also segment your email list and try out different offers to track which ones are more successful. Doing a test run with smaller segments of customers can help you determine which strategies are most effective. This can also help keep you from offering a discount that is too big and cuts into your profits, such as running a 20% discount when a 15% discount works just as well. 

Decide where you are going to offer your coupon

There are multiple methods of offering coupons. You can opt for traditional paper coupons, which you can place in the local newspaper or on fliers throughout the community. Or, you could choose to offer your coupons digitally through social media, SMS, or email. 

Print coupons

Digital marketing channels are easy to access, and they are cost-effective, but a lot of customers still use paper coupons. Spend Me Not recently reported that an estimated 91% of all customers still use paper coupons. They get noticed by potential consumers and serve as a method to drive foot traffic. 

You can use your paper coupons to bring people into your physical location or offer a discount code that can be used online. If you are solely interested in getting people into your store, make the coupon redeemable in person only. Requiring customers to redeem the coupon in person helps them become acquainted with your inventory. It can entice them to peruse all of your merchandise, and they might find something that they didn’t know they wanted. 

Michaels uses paper coupon marketing to grant the bearer 40% off of one regularly priced item
Paper coupon from Michaels


Sending coupons to the people on your email list is a way to build loyalty among your existing customers. Many people who sign up for a newsletter or other email marketing tools from a company expect to receive a benefit in return. Sending your customers a trackable coupon via email is a good way to build brand loyalty. 

To reach new customers, you could collect email addresses through an event or through your website and include these new users in your coupon marketing campaign. 

Social media

A method with a broad reach is to offer your coupons through social media either directly through your feed or through targeted ads. Different strategies can be used through different platforms. 

  • Instagram: Post a visually appealing image overlaid with a discount code to reward your followers for their business. To gain a broader reach, use clever hashtags in the post to attract target customers. You can also promote your post to get it into more feeds. 
  • Facebook: Use Facebook ads to offer discounts to people who are scrolling the site. These ads can be targeted, and many are displayed to people who would be interested in them.
  • Pinterest: Using rich pins to tag your merchandise on Pinterest can also help notify people of any discounts or promo codes that you might be offering on select merchandise. Rich pins should automatically update whenever the price is modified on your website. 
  • Twitter: If you’ve linked all of your social media accounts, then your Instagram coupon post should automatically populate to your Twitter feed, assuming that you are using this platform. If not, you can create a clever post with hashtags to notify people about your coupon and/or discount code. It is tempting to jump onto a trending topic in order to increase visibility, but don’t do this without checking why a particular topic is trending. Otherwise, you may have to apologize later for being insensitive. 
  • Nextdoor: For small businesses, advertising on Nextdoor and other community forums are a good way to build your brand within your own neighborhood. This platform lets you create a business page and post offers such as coupons to people who already live in your area. Users of the platform are also notified of offers from surrounding areas. So, you can broaden your reach, but not at a level that is too big for your company. 

Partnering with an influencer

If you know of influencers who use your brand and can help promote it, look into opportunities to partner. When you are new and trying to build a customer base, using influencers to promote your products can be a successful strategy. Just make sure that the partnership makes sense. You want to look for influencers who would be a good fit for your brand and who would likely use the product anyway. 


People are increasingly advertising to potential customers through text messaging. SMS text messages feel more personal than email, and there is no filter that will end up sending your message into the trash. To enhance the chances of successfully using this strategy, write a message that feels more personal and intimate. Write copy that mirrors the brand voice that you use in your social media feed. Make sure that the message includes the discount so that people will be more likely to click and get the coupon. 

Partner Sites

For a broader reach, consider partnering with a site like Groupon or Living Social. These two companies and their competitors have a large database full of potential customers. Offering a coupon code or a discount on services through one of these partner sites is sure to increase your reach within the community. Since these sites are so popular, make sure that you can handle increased volume before deciding to offer your deal through these channels. Not being prepared for the coupon savvy customer can land you some negative online reviews.

What to say

Like determining your ideal marketing channel for your coupon marketing strategy, crafting your message takes finesse as well. You want to make sure that you are not tarnishing your brand, but that you are creating value for your customers. 

To promote your coupons, your messaging should be consistent with language used in your other marketing channels. Know your brand voice and use it to craft the copy that will accompany your offer. 

Make sure that your message is clear on all fronts. From the discount amount to the expiration date of the offer, your customer should come away from the message knowing everything that they will get with the coupon. All terms and conditions associated with the offer need to be clearly communicated to the customer. 

Using coupons as part of a loyalty program

One potential drawback to offering coupons is that they can diminish the perceived value of your product or service. Additionally, offering them too often or making the discounts too high can eat into your profit margins. However, coupons can also be used to build loyalty. 

If your business has a loyalty program, you can send out coupon codes and messages to existing customers as a way to bring them back into your business. Make lists of people who use punch cards and other tools. Reach out when they are close to earning the coupon and send them a reminder message to come back. Discounts are a great way to build value in the minds of your most loyal customers and they are a nice way to reward these people for their business. 

Tracking your return

As mentioned above, a good reason for using coupon marketing is that this strategy is easy to measure. When people redeem the coupon, you will know that it has worked. This marketing tool is also a good way to collect email addresses of new customers and add them to your mailing list. When they redeem the coupon, you can see who they are and what they have ordered. 

If you have offered coupons on different occasions, keep your data to determine which campaigns were the most successful. By tracking this information, you can see if the campaign is more successful during a certain time of year or for a certain product line and then duplicate these efforts later on. 

When measuring the success of a coupon campaign, you may also want to track the dollar amount spent by each person who redeemed the coupon code. You may find that some of the people who are using your coupon only bought one item or service, while others spent more. Tracking this information can help you determine which offers drove business up and which ones were merely successful in offloading surplus backstock. 

Getting the word out

Constant Contact offers email marketing tools that can be used to craft email campaigns to send out with your coupon codes. The professional templates let you craft an email that is noticeable and ties into your unique brand.  

Although coupon marketing has its drawbacks, when executed properly, a coupon campaign is a great way to draw new customers into your business. Whether you are giving a one time offer to new customers who try a product or service, discounting excess merchandise, rewarding loyal customers, or driving traffic to a new location, this tool is simple and effective to use.

By researching your target audience, coming up with a discount that appeals to them, and targeting your messaging you can improve your chances of successfully executing your coupon strategy. Additionally, there is a wide variety of options for distributing your coupons, from traditional paper mailers to influencer marketing via promo codes. Taking your time to think through your strategy and researching your target audience upfront can enhance your chances of success. 

Learn more about coupons and other email marketing strategies with The Download.