Who does not love coupons?
There was once this show I used to watch—moms who cut coupons from various magazines which they used when shopping.
These moms saved thousands of dollars in grocery shopping, but hunting for coupons have become almost a day job for them.
Still, it was worth their while.
What does this tell us? It tells us that coupons work and that customers favor merchants who give discounts than those who don’t. As a dropshipper and online entrepreneur, you need to capitalize on this preference to make more sales.
Today, I will show you 11 of the best ways to increase online sales through discounts.
But before that, let us discuss some elements of using coupons. Also, coupons, promotions, offers, and discounts are the same things as far this blog post is concerned.
Today, we will cover:
- Pros and cons of offering discounts
- The right target market for coupons
- 11 ways to increase online sales through discounts
- Different types of offers
Let us get started!
Pros and cons of offering discounts
Coupons are great, but they come at a price—they reduce your profit margin. However, they can also bump up your overall revenue due to the high volume of sales.
Pros of offering discounts
Easy to implement – whether you are using Shopify or WooCommerce, there are applications that allow you to offer discounts. In both Shopify and WooCommerce, both of which I use, there are native applications that are already built inside the platform to offer discounts.
Lots of apps – if the basic discount mechanism of Shopify and WooCommerce are not enough for you, there are many apps on both platforms that you can download and install.
Customer loyalty – customers who save money will stay loyal to you; they will come back for more, knowing that they get the best value for their money.
Increased conversion – it is much easier to acquire new customers if you offer discounts; the discount offer itself is your marketing magnet, and you do not have to spend so much in follow-throughs. They either use the coupon now or never.
All these benefits result in moving your inventory—if you keep your inventory—and also increase your revenue. With discounts, you make a profit because of the volume, which you need to account for carefully.
Always calculate your profit margin after the discounted price. Will you still make money after taxes and expenses?
Cons of offering discounts
Making a sale or offer with a discount is not always rosy. There are some things you need to carefully assess before you offer promotions.
Low profit margin – this is fairly obvious. The trick here is to bump your price at a level where offering discounts is not going to hurt your target profit margin.
Brand damage – discounted prices often make people think that your product is of low quality.
Low sales volume if there is no offer – this can happen because you may attract customers who are not exactly loyal to your brand—customers who will only buy because of a sale.
While these bad things can happen, they do not outweigh the benefits of offering discounts. What you have to do is to carefully select the products that you will offer on sale, and then minimize your sale periods, so it does not hurt your brand a lot.
The right target market for coupons
Who should you offer your discounts to?
A discount is targeted at two groups. The first one is your existing customers, and the second one is for new customers.
You have to craft a discount based on who you want to target. If you want to be known as a high-end brand, you want to offer discounts to new customers.
The discount is your hook and bait. Do this if you have confidence in your product—that the customer will buy again even if there is no discount because your product delivers what is expected of it.
If your goal is to keep on making sales with no regard to your brand or image, then, by all means, use discounts as much as you want. You can offer daily deals or weekly sales on top of your monthly or quarterly promotions.
Existing customers appreciate discounts that are ongoing—you can even make this promise and keep a discount of 5% or 10% forever.
New customers would want a huge discount, like 20% or 50%. This discount is one of the ways to get their foot on the door.
11 ways to increase online sales through discounts
Now, let us talk about 11 of the best ways to ways to increase online sales through discounts. It is up to you to choose just one or implement several at the same time.
It will take some experimentation from your end to find out what works best for you and your customers.
This is a type of offer where you take pre-orders before your product goes out. To make a sale, you need to offer a discount to a limited number of people. In some cases, entrepreneurs offer it for free. In return, they ask the recipients to rate the product.
These are offers that you do on a regular basis, like weekly discounts or monthly deals. Some online stores even offer a daily deal. Discounts like this make your store appear busy, efficient and organized.
You need to plan this ahead and make sure that people who go your site can see these deals—the ones happening now and the ones happening in the future.
This way, they have a reason to come back, or you have bait to get their email address—tell them you will notify them if a sale happens or commences.
Abandoned cart offers
There are many reasons a customer will abandon his shopping cart, from changing his mind to a disconnected internet. Whatever the reason is, you made no sale.
One of the things you can do to make the customer proceed with the purchase is to make an exclusive offer. Give him a discount which only applies within a matter of hours or days.
For example, you can offer a 20% discount if the customer proceeds with the order within 24 hours.
If you do this, you are forcing the customer to make a decision now. Either he will buy or not. If he didn’t, there really is nothing much you can do.—he abandoned his cart at a regular price, and did not make the purchase even at a discounted price.
Seasonal deals are deep discounts that you offer when your country or the whole world is celebrating something.
It is during these seasons when people are willing to part with their money. Apart from offering discounts, make sure that you have enough in your inventory to sell.
If you are a dropshipper, add more products in your store, and use the season as an opportunity to upsell and increase the average order value of the customers.
Email subscription offer
Give something to the customer in return for giving you his email address. It can be a 20% discount or a dollar value discount.
The benefit of this is that if you have a huge email list, you can use that list for your marketing campaigns. The other good thing about this approach is that you are giving your subscriber a reason to buy.
If you have an auto-responder, what you can offer is a discount that is only usable within seven days. During this period, the customer is likely to decide to buy.
This one is also called a referral program. Here, you pay a commission to your customers or affiliate partners if they succeed in referring a client to you.
You need an affiliate program to do this. If you are using WooCommerce, just go to the plug-ins section and search for “affiliate manager.” Review the software and install it.
If you are using Shopify, you can read my review of the best Shopify affiliate apps below.
Social media incentives
You give social media incentives to people who engage in your social media channels. For example, those who like your Facebook page, or those who followed you on Twitter.
Generally speaking, the discounts are provided to a selected number of people, and this is based on a raffle. This is most especially so if you are giving free items.
On the other hand, you can turn this into a regular discount offer if you want, like a perpetual 20% off on selected items or on all items. Or, you can make it a one-time discount only.
First-time shopper offer
This is a discount that is offered to first-time shoppers. How it works is that you put a banner on your store to tell site visitors what the discount is about.
The banner also contains the coupon code, which the customers can use during checkout. The way an app recognizes a first-time buyer is through the email address used.
Customer loyalty programs
Loyalty programs are a little difficult to manage. You need to download an app, or create a manual tracking system, like a spreadsheet, to make it work.
In a loyalty program, you segment your customers according to groups. You can call it Bronze, Silver and Gold. You can also use other naming conventions.
In a loyalty program, a customer gets up in the ranking based on the points he earned. He earns a point for every dollar spent. Once a customer hits a rank, you can offer him a special coupon code that he can use once only.
Minimum purchase discount
This is a type of discount that only applies if a customer met a certain purchase requirement. As we have shown earlier, you can give a dollar value discount or a percentage-based discount to customers who order a specific amount.
Event attendance offers
The last on our list is rarely done. Most of the entrepreneurs who do this are active on social media. An event attendance usually happens in the physical world, or when a merchant hosts a watch party or live showing on YouTube or Facebook.
Different types of offers
There are four main types of offers that you can exploit. If you can, you have to diversify your offer types so as not to bore your customers.
These are the four types of offers or discounts:
- Percentage-based discount – a discount based on the gross price of the item. If you offer 20% and the cost of the item is $100, the customer only pays $80. The higher the discount, the better people will receive your offer.
- Dollar-based discount – a fixed dollar value, like $10 off on all items, or $10 off on selected items. This works best if you want to hit a dollar value amount for an order, like get $10 off if you spend $100.
- Free Shipping – customers love to order if they do not have to pay for shipping. Just be careful when offering this and make sure you do not lose money. The shipping cost must already be accounted for in your product price.
- Free item – an offer where you send a free gift to the customer if they met certain conditions. This works best for loyalty programs, or if a customer met a target order value.
We see this all the time in malls, and a great example is a free teddy bear if a minimum purchase requirement of $100 is met.
Choose which offers work best for your customers. Experiment and find out what resonates and brings in sales.
You can mix and match them, but always make sure that you still make a profit after the discounts were applied.
Use different ways to increase online sales through discounts. If possible, use a different one every month or quarter, so your repeat customers have a reason for coming back.
It is also a wise idea not have a lot of discounts all the time, as this gives the impression that your products are not exactly on sale—that you are just bumping up your prices to make it look like you are giving discounts.
Always take the time of year into consideration—use discounts on lean months, but most especially so during special seasons like Thanksgiving or the Christmas holidays.