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How to ramp up your sales with email coupons (with 7 examples)

· 17 min read · E-commerce,Email marketing · Jan 12, 2022
Video Project Manager, Ericka

Looking to boost sales? Email coupons might become the star of your campaigns. Plus they can build your brand and ramp up engagement when used correctly.

Remember when people clipped vouchers out of magazines, cereal boxes, flyers and newspapers?

Nowadays, people love getting coupons, exclusive offers and promo codes online. On average, they redeem a whopping 31 billion e-vouchers per year—which no doubt has digital marketers and retailers dancing on the rooftops! So if you run a business, email coupons should be on your radar.

Let’s find out more about the different types of email coupon codes and their benefits, before exploring how you can craft your own effective email coupon campaign.

Email coupons are vouchers or codes that you can send to your subscribers. They hold a special offer to entice your audience to make a purchase. You’ve probably seen these in your inbox before, just like this email coupon from Uber below:

Email coupon example from Uber
Image credits: Uber

Fact: Your customers will often spend more with a coupon than they would otherwise. When they know that they are saving money with a promo code, they’ll be ready to spend a little extra for their online purchase—like with these tasty treats from UberEats!

Other offers, such as free delivery, will also make customers more willing to reach for their credit card, because they know they will save money on shipping. Coupon codes make your product or service even more desirable.

Did you know? 💡

You can sell digital products and subscriptions with MailerLite, thanks to our Stripe integration!

If you’re selling a product or a service, then couponing can be a powerful tool. Email marketing coupons are a great way to drum up sales and drive interest in your business. Here are a few benefits to consider:

  • Boost your sales: Thanks to coupons and discounts, 38% of customers have bought more than they were planning on, because they felt they were saving money 

  • Convert abandoned carts: You can encourage people to revisit their shopping carts with a personalized offer straight to their inbox

  • Build brand awareness: Businesses can set up ‘refer a friend’ programs, along with coupons that can be shared across email and social media

  • Create urgency: You could add countdown timers to your coupon newsletter to drive quicker conversions

  • Get feedback for your business: A coupon or gift card could be used as a reward for completing an email survey

The golden rule of couponing: Less is more 👉

It’s easy to get excited about how awesome email coupons are (we don’t blame you), but just remember—don’t overdo it!

If your email subscribers feel that you’re firing off promotions all the time, then they’ll wait for a special offer before buying anything. This could delay your e-commerce sales, or, people might experience coupon-overload and unsubscribe.

The best rule of thumb is to save your coupons for major holidays, and/or when you really need to drum up sales. Occasional promotions are a great way to build brand loyalty and awareness. But if you overdo them, they can backfire. 

There are a few different types of email coupons. Before you choose one, think about your audience’s desires and pain points. Would they like a discount when they make a purchase? Or would they get more excited about free delivery? If you are not sure, you can test them! We’ll talk about testing down below.

But first, take a look at the different types of coupon code ideas and examples.

These are the most commonly used email coupon type. They allow your subscriber to pay a reduced price for your product, using a special link or code. For some inspiration, take a look at this Skillshare coupon code example below, offering 30% off with a promo code. Notice how the limited time offer creates a sense of urgency.

Email coupon from Skillshare
Image credits: Skillshare

TIP: If you offer single-use email promo codes, avoid people signing up for the discount multiple times with disposable email addresses by filtering them out with the email list verification API.

Sign-up coupons are a great motivator for people to join your email list. Set up a form or pop-up on your website that promises a special discount or free delivery for the first order, then watch the subscribers come flooding in! This email sign-up coupon from No.7 Beauty does just that, offering a special email offer in their welcome message.

No.7 Beauty sign-up coupon
Image credits: No.7 Beauty

If you want to build loyalty, reward your VIP customers with an extra sweetener like a free product or free sample coupon. It is a great way to show your appreciation. A free coupon can be used as an incentive for people to spend more, such as in this special offer from The Body Shop, whose members will get a freebie when they spend £25 or more on their next order.

Email coupon idea from the Body Shop
Image credits: The Body Shop

Free shipping after a certain price threshold is a popular buying incentive. Did you know that 65% of online retailers offer free delivery on at least some of their products? That’s because conversion rates go up when there’s free shipping! It gives your customers an extra incentive to head on over to the checkout. Take a look at this coupon code idea by Esquire, which includes free delivery in its special offer. 

Email coupon by Esquire
Image credits: Esquire

If you want to make your email subscribers feel extra special, then why not offer them a VIP discount code for their next purchase? VIP loyalty programs can go a long way in ramping up those sales, especially as it gives your customers that feel-good factor, showing them how much you value them.

Using the subject line ‘VIP Access Granted: Save NOW’, Joybird offers its customers an exclusive sneak peek at their July 4th sales.

Joybird VIP discount email example
Image credits: Joybird

Yep, it’s a funny word! ‘BOGO’ stands for ‘Buy One, Get One.’ This high-value coupon rewards customers with a free product when they make a purchase. The coupon code example from Starbucks offers a free drink to its customers when they buy a qualifying item, giving them even more value for their money. 

Email coupon by Starbucks
Image credits: Starbucks

If you want to boost your revenue even further, you can increase the discount in proportion to how much your customers spend—just like this Cyber Monday promotion from MeUndies.

Email coupons GIF from MeUndies
Image credits: MeUndies

Are you ready to start couponing? That’s great! Here are some best practices to remember:

Coupon marketing strategy #1 - Start with a powerful discount email subject line

When it comes to discount email subject lines, you need to write short, clickable copy that will make your subscribers want to open the newsletter right away! Here are some examples and ideas to get you started…

BOGO email subject lines:

  • A free gift, just for you {$name} 🎁 Details inside…

  • Get [x] when you buy [y]

  • Two for the price of one - today only 🎉

  • How about 2x [product], {$name}?

Free shipping subject lines:

  • Don’t worry about delivery. It’s on us

  • How does free shipping sound? 🤩

  • Free delivery on all orders over [x]

  • Did someone say free delivery? 😮

Flash sale email subject lines:

  • 30% off all products, today only 🙌

  • The big sale ends in 10… 9… 8…

  • Your offer expires in 1 day, {$name} ⏳

  • Tick tock… tick tock… Sale ends in 12 hours

Coupon marketing strategy #2 - Segment your subscribers

It might be tempting to create a promotion and send it to everyone all at once, but the best practice is to make your email coupons as targeted as possible.

The more relevant your coupon is, the better your conversion rates will be.

You can segment your subscribers by factors such as their location, previous purchases or interests, which will then allow you to send more personalized promotions. 

For example, you might want to send an email coupon specifically to new customers, or you might only want to offer free delivery in the US. With subscriber segmentation and groups, the possibilities are endless. 

Tip 💡
  • A segment is a list of subscribers that are defined by a ‘rule’, such as those who have joined in the last 30 days. This list will update itself automatically, based on the rule

  • A group is not defined by a rule, and you can add and remove subscribers in the group however you like

Check out this article to learn more about using MailerLite segments and groups.

Coupon marketing strategy #3 - Write text that grabs their attention

You want to write text that gets your audience all fired up, and the key to this is to create a sense of urgency. Maybe the coupon is only available to the first 100 people, or perhaps there’s a time limit. Make your subscribers want to take immediate action, so that they don’t miss out on your special deal. 

It’s easy to overthink your email copy, but the best approach is to imagine you’re talking to a friend. How would you explain your coupon to them?

The more conversational and authentic you are, the more your writing will resonate with your audience. 

And finally, remember to check your coupon several times! It’s easy for typos to slip through the net, so use a free tool like Grammarly to stay on top of your writing, and ask a friend or colleague to give it a final readthrough, just in case. 

Tip 💡

To learn more, check out our ultimate guide on writing email marketing content.

Coupon marketing strategy #4 - Make it visually appealing

Unfortunately yes, we do judge the book by its cover. You can have the best discount in the world, but if the coupon design doesn’t catch your subscribers’ attention, then it’s going nowhere. Here are some design tips to create a showstopping email coupon:

  • Think about your colors: Choose a color scheme that is consistent with your brand, and that’s easy on the eyes

  • Make the deal and the CTA (call to action) stand out: You have about 2.5 seconds to catch your subscribers’ attention, so the coupon should be the main visual element

  • Pick a clear font: Something that people can read quickly and easily

  • Keep it simple: Too much clutter, and you could drown out the discount 

  • White space is your friend: Healthy spacing will make your coupon stand out even more

If you’re not sure about the end result, show the coupon to someone you trust, and ask them for their opinion. A fresh pair of eyes will help you to spot anything you were missing before. 

Tip 💡

For more inspiration, check out our article on newsletter design tips.

Coupon marketing strategy #5 - Use A/B testing

You can fine-tune your email promo codes with A/B testing. This allows you to send two versions of the email coupon to a small sample of your subscribers. The “winner” will be sent automatically to all of your audience. 

For example, if you’re curious to know whether your subscribers prefer discounts or free delivery, you can test both. Go to your MailerLite dashboard and select the A/B test campaign type. Choose to test by ‘Email content’, and create 2 versions of your email: one with free delivery, and one with the discount. 

The winning version (we advise choosing this by the most clicks rather than the most opens) will be sent to the rest of your email subscribers.

Tip 💡

For a more in-depth explanation, check out our ultimate guide to A/B testing.

Coupon marketing strategy #6 - Set up automations

Once you have your subscribers segmented and grouped, you can set up automated email coupons that will reach them at the perfect time. Email automations allow you to program when your emails are sent, based on different triggers (e.g. welcome emails, onboarding sequences, etc). 

You can use this to your advantage when sending email coupons. For example, if some of your subscribers have spent more than $300 on your products, you could send them an automated VIP coupon with a special offer just for them. 

Tip 💡

To learn more about setting up automated emails, check out this article on automation triggers.

Feeling excited to launch your own email coupon into the world? Here’s how to do it with MailerLite:

  1. Sign up or log in to your MailerLite account.

  2. Create a new campaign using the drag & drop editor.

  3. Select the Coupon/Voucher block and drag it into the desired position in your newsletter.

  4. Hover your mouse over the block and select the pen icon. 

  5. You can then edit the coupon settings in the right-hand column of your editor, including the headings, text and coupon code.

GIF showing the email coupon block in the MailerLite builder

The days of newspaper coupons and collecting flyers are long gone, and email coupons are here to stay. Stay ahead of current email marketing trends by incorporating discounts and vouchers into your newsletters. Your subscribers will be over the moon! 

Have you tried using email coupons in your newsletters, yet? 

Editor's note: This article was originally published in January 2021. It has now been updated with new insights and examples to help you create the ultimate email coupons!

Jonas Fischer
Jonas Fischer
I'm Jonas, Content Manager at MailerLite. I’m not the 4th Jonas Brother, but I do write content (which is similar to being a teen heartthrob). After writing for a bunch of companies over the years, I discovered my professional passion—helping add some humanity to B2B marketing. Email is the perfect place to start!