Consumers are inundated these days with special offers including online codes and social coupons. For small business owners, discounts can be great for luring new customers or retaining current ones. They can also be helpful in moving slow inventory.
The flip side is that discounts also tend to attract customers who are strictly bargain hunters. So, while group-buying sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial may offer exposure to a broader audience, they do not necessarily help with up-sell or generating repeat customers, marketing experts say.
Running your own coupon campaign puts you in control, not to mention saves you money on hefty commissions since sites such as Groupon keep up to 50% of the revenues from each coupon deal. It’s about leveraging your business for a profit, not running a campaign at a loss, says Luke Knowles, founder of Kinoli Inc., an Internet marketing firm.
Entrepreneurs must determine if coupons are the right tactic as part of an overall marketing plan along with how they are using Facebook, Twitter, Google AdWords, and so on. When crafting your coupon, remember that consumers look for specific deals, says Knowles.
Here are some tips that will let you make a deal that’s right for your business.
1. Offer a percentage or dollar amount off each purchase. Instead of promoting a particular service or product, promote a dollar amount, says Knowles. In other words, offer $50 worth of services for $25.
2. Run coupon deals online. eMarketer estimates that 92.5 million Internet users (48%) will redeem digital coupons in 2012. This can include having a small clickable banner on your website or offering a discount via e-mail that is redeemable online or in your store. CouponFactory.com lets businesses create and track coupons.
3. Tweet discount codes and daily deals. Offer special discount codes to your Twitter followers. Make them good for one day only, or do flash sales—25% off anything in your store for, say, the next three hours. Or offer a discount code for every 10 retweets.
4. Use your Facebook fan page for discounts and flash sales. It’s an effective way to engage new and existing customers at a very low cost, says Knowles. Also, put links to offers on your website.
5. Include mobile marketing. According to a study by ForeSee Results, 11% of visitors to top e-retailer sites made a purchase using their phone during the holiday rush last year. Knowles says entrepreneurs can try submitting their coupons to mobile sites such as CouponSherpa.com and Foursquare.com.