Get expert advice on every topic you need as a small business owner, from the ideation stage to your eventual exit. Our articles, quick tips, infographics and how-to guides can offer entrepreneurs the most up-to-date information they need to flourish.

Subscribe to our blog

Coupons, Sales, Promo Codes and Other Discount Strategies

Posted by Celene Robert

February 2, 2021

Do you like to shop using sales and other discount techniques? If so, you’re not alone — and that’s why you should consider employing these programs at your business.

In a survey published by Statista on Dec. 18, 2020, 88 percent of survey respondents in the U.S. stated that they use coupons when shopping. With so many consumers accustomed to benefiting from discounts and other offers, entrepreneurs need to implement a strong promotional strategy. Businesses can offer discounts via promo codes, coupons, sales and more, but it can be challenging to manage these. Here we've listed some of the best strategies, practices and tips that companies can use to handle the discounts properly and overcome challenges.

Strategize What Types of Deals to Offer

Offers and discounts can attract a large audience, but it’s up to your marketing strategy and user experience to convert them into customers. Therefore, create a promotional strategy that rewards your customers and your business for the long run. Here is what you can include in your strategy to make your promotions effective and increase sales.

  • Influencer offers

    By providing an exclusive offer to an influencer’s network, you’re more likely to convert their fans into your customers.
  • Holiday and seasonal deals

    With these deals, you can sell one item at the regular price, and a second one at discount, or free. It helps you clear out the remaining previous season’s merchandise and encourage shoppers to buy new items for the coming season. Events like Christmas or New Years are great opportunities to capitalize on seasonal deals.      
  • Coupons for purchasing in-person

    You can provide discounts or gifts to visitors if they buy from your brick-and-mortar location or in-person events, such as fairs, expos, trade shows, pre-launch events, etc.
  • A customer loyalty program or membership incentive

    A customer loyalty program provides special offers or milestone discounts to customers who spend a certain amount of money, make a certain number of purchases, or those celebrating their birthday or anniversary.
  • Email/newsletter subscription offer

    Ask your website visitors to sign up with emails to receive promotional codes. Then provide them with a welcome offer when they subscribe to your email newsletter to turn them into new customers.
  • Offer a gift on first purchase

    Consumers often perceive free stuff to be more valuable than discounts. By offering something free on the first purchase, you can bring in new customers who then stick around and buy more. Whether you are a new brand or looking to grow your customer base, first-time shopping offers can help you achieve your business goals.
  • Recurring sale

    Creating a recurring promotional event, like an anniversary sale, a seasonal sale, or a weekly/monthly offer encourages customers to act on a good deal.
  • Prepayment discount

    You may provide a discounted price on advance payments of a service, such as booking a hotel or car. These discounts promote sales of more expensive items, like furniture, jewelry or designer clothing.
  • Volume discount

    Minimum purchase discounts mean the more customers buy, the more they can save. This type of discount helps you incentivize customers to spend more and do more business on specific products.
  • Abandon cart offers

    To encourage your customers to purchase abandoned cart items, provide related offers through email.
  • Referral offers

    Referral offers can be a great way to encourage your customers to spread the word. Offer customers an exclusive promo code for every friend that converts via the unique link.
  • Limited-time discounts or single-use promo and coupon codes

    Many businesses provide limited-time offers on their products and services to entice people to buy. Websites like Groupon and Gilt offering time-sensitive deals have shortened the sales cycle, thus boosting companies’ revenue.

Best Practices to Effectively Use Offers

Before announcing a sale, businesses need to consider what type of promotion to offer, when to run it, and why they’re hosting it. There are many ways to execute promotional strategies to drive customer loyalty, acquisition, and repeat purchases, such as:

Personalize Your Coupons:

Understanding the behavior of people who have been on your site before or already registered can help you create a profitable promotional strategy. Offering promotions or discounts at unique moments during the customer journey can strengthen your customer experience and increase conversions.

Use Automation Software to Segment Email Recipients:

Leverage technology and tools to build an automated series of emails and segment recipients so you don't offer customers a discount on something they’ve already purchased.

Provide Offers on Unwanted Inventory or Poor Selling Items:

A buy-something-get-something offer can help you get rid of old products and poor-selling items. Sell one popular and another less popular product together under the buy-one-get-one-free strategy to sell more of your inventory.

Offer Exclusive Discounts With Purchase:

Offering a coupon or gift card with a purchase is a great deal for both you and your customer. While the customer gets a chance to save, you get another opportunity to make money, as long as the discount allows you a profit margin.

Consider the “Rule of 100” for Offering Discounts:

You can use the Rule of 100 to decide whether to offer a discount based on dollars or a percentage. If an item is over $100, provide customers with a discount in dollars. If it costs less than $100, offer a percentage discount.

Upsell or Cross-Sell Low-Cost Products:

You can sell low-cost products worth $20 or less, such as a book, piece of content or an online course in bundles or upsell to boost sales. Cross-selling can help you introduce new products to your customers that they may have not purchased yet.

Ensure Profitability When You Offer Discounts:

While incentivizing your audience, make sure your discounts do not exceed your customer acquisition expenses. When offering discounts, set your sales targets high enough so you maintain a good profit margin.

Offer Bundled Discounts:

You can increase customer retention by providing supporting offers on the products they’ve already purchased. For example, if a customer purchases a bed, offer a discounted bundle of the mattress, sheets and pillows. Bundling allows you to increase the total number of items you sell, thus increasing your average order value.

Free Shipping:

Customers are often willing to pay a few extra dollars for quick deliveries or wait longer for free shipping. Fast deliveries and free shipping are vital factors that influence customers' buying decisions. Therefore, try to provide these services in a way that boosts your promotional and pricing strategy.

A Few Discounting Tips

  1. Make sure your offer is easy to access and apply at your ecommerce store.
  2. Depending on your niche, size of business and budget, you can offer different types of discounts.
  3. Provide different discounts and coupons to different customer segments based on their value and engagement levels.
  4. Define the goals for providing discounts and free shipping before a sale. It can be attracting new customers, introducing new products, moving old inventory or more.
  5. Use different distribution channels, like text messages, emails, social media, website and your brick and mortar store to deliver discounts, coupons and promo codes or bundle offers.
  6. Use predefined templates and schedule your messages, emails and posts to save time.
  7. Use creative visuals, such as eye-catching graphics, colors, pictures and text for your discount offers.
  8. If you’re planning to market new offers, you’ll likely bring more visitors to your site and store. So prepare your website and staff for increased traffic to serve an optimal customer experience.
  9. Start promoting sale days in advance, and consider offering email subscribers the chance to opt-in early.
  10. Engage with existing customers on social media to garner feedback and communicate new offers or discounts to them.


Celene Robert
Celene Robert

Celene heads up the marketing at Escalon. Passionate about helping companies grow their business, she spends her days finding new ways to bring essential business services to startups, SMBs, and growth-minded companies. Based in the PNW, she’s the proud owner of 8 pairs of Birkenstocks and a sassy, cuddly cat.

We provide you with essential business services so you can focus on growth.