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Meg · 12 min read · Tips and resources · January 8, 2021

How to ramp up your sales with email coupons

Wow, 20% off! We all love a good deal, and email coupons are a great way to deliver discounts while building your brand.

Remember when people clipped vouchers out of magazines, cereal boxes, flyers and newspapers? Everyone loves getting a good deal; over 90% of consumers have used a coupon at some point in their purchasing journey.

Nowadays, we get most of our coupons and promo codes online. People on average redeem a whopping 31 billion e-vouchers per year—which no doubt has digital marketers and retailers dancing on the rooftops!

If you run a business that sells stuff, email coupons should be on your radar.

Let’s find out more about the different types of email coupons 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 that will 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 from 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—like with these tasty treats from UberEats!

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

Did you know? 💡

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

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 coupons to get some ideas.

1. Discount coupons

These are the most commonly used email coupons. 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 email coupon below, offering 30% off with a promo code.

Email coupon from Skillshare

2. Free gift coupons

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.

Email coupon from the Body Shop

3. Free delivery coupons

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 checkout. Take a look at the email below by Esquire, which includes free delivery in its special offer. 

Email coupon by Esquire

4. 'BOGO' coupons

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. For example, 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
You can now create email coupons with MailerLite!

We’ve revamped our interactive newsletter blocks, so that your audience can tap, swipe and click through your content! Spoiler alert—your subscriber engagement will skyrocket 🚀

Show me the new features

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:

  • Increased ROI: Digital coupon redemptions are expected to exceed $90 billion by 2022, meaning that there are some serious profits to be made here

  • 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 email coupons to drive quicker conversions

  • Get feedback for your business: A coupon 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 customers 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, big time! Or, people will get annoyed 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.

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

Coupon practice #1 - Segment your subscribers

Now, 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 targeted and personalized 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 targeted promotions to their inbox. 

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 list however you like.

You can learn more about using MailerLite segments and groups in our knowledge base article here.

Coupon practice #2 - Write text that grabs their attention

Are you ready to write text that gets your audience fired up? The key 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 practice #3 - Make it visually appealing

Unfortunately, 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: No clashing fluorescents, please! You should use 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 practice #4 - Use A/B testing

You can fine-tune your email coupons 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. 

Tip 💡

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

Coupon practice #5 - 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.

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? 

Meg Bouton

I’m Meg, Content Writer at MailerLite. I was named after Megan Follows, the lead actress in ‘Anne of Green Gables’ (which tells the story of a budding writer). As fate would have it, I’m now following in her footsteps. When I’m not writing, you can find me sailing, skiing, or trawling through Parisian bookshops.