What are Email Coupons and How to Use Them in Email Marketing

Email coupons

Email coupons are vouchers or discount codes you can send to your subscribers to capture their attention, drive engagement, and boost sales. Studies show that 91% of coupon redeemers will revisit the retailer after the offer. And 57% of the shoppers say they wouldn’t purchase from a brand without the coupons.

Everyone loves a good deal, and coupons can be a great way to create an impact on your subscribers. So, let’s explore the world of email coupons, what they are, how you can use them, what the best practices in coupon promotion are, and check out coupon examples from popular brands.

Email Coupons Explained

Email coupons are digital vouchers and discount codes delivered directly to your subscribers’ inboxes that provide different purchasing benefits to the recipient. These discounts hold the power to transform a window shopper into a loyal customer. Since they provide an immediate incentive for your subscribers, you can expect a surge in sales soon after sending them out.

79.8% of consumers use coupons regularly, which makes coupons a great way to attract new customers and encourage price-sensitive customers to purchase. The exciting part is you can use different types of coupons to entice subscribers and increase sales.

The different coupon types are:

  • Percentage-based discounts,
  • Fixed amount discounts,
  • Free shipping coupons,
  • Buy one, Get one offers,
  • Limited time offers.

These coupons can be used by any business to expand their customer base and increase the chances of purchases. Coupons are not merely for customers looking to save money. Even the high-earners are looking for discount codes —  research shows that 92% of people earning over $100,000/year want coupons too!

That’s not all — around 40% of people share deals with their friends and family, making coupons an irresistible email offer.

Let’s see how coupons can make a difference to your brand revenue.

Benefits of Using Email Coupons

Coupons are simple to create and track, and their benefits are abundant:

  1. They can help grow your email list: Discounts act as an incentive in return for your subscriber’s email address. This give-and-take method helps you grow your email list filled with interested subscribers.
  2. They create a positive brand association: When there’s a reliable offer, your customers are more likely to trust your business. It’s because the exclusive offers give subscribers more room to explore more products and understand your brand in detail.
  3. They help customer retention and encourage loyalty: Coupons are a great way to reward loyal customers and encourage repeat business — around 68% of people say coupons generate loyalty.
  4. They enable cross-selling opportunities: Discounts and coupons can be strategically used to cross-sell and up-sell complementary products, encouraging subscribers to consider more products.
  5. They give measurable and trackable results: Often, it’s simple to measure the redemption rate and other email metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversions. This can help you make data-driven decisions in your email marketing. 
  6. They contribute to enhanced customer satisfaction: Good deals and offers create an enjoyable shopping experience for the customers. This, in turn, creates a positive brand reputation and trust.
  7. They help you get a much better Email ROI: Emails with discounts see a 27% higher transaction completion rate than normal marketing emails, translating to a higher email ROI.

The versatile nature of coupons makes them a unique opportunity to engage subscribers and convert them. And there are 5 ways you can achieve that.

5 Types of Email Coupons You Can Use — with Examples

There are more than 10 ways you can use coupons in your emails, but for now, let’s go over 5 of them with examples. 

1. Percentage-Based Coupons

Percent-off coupons help you reach more people and increase your email list size; 15-20% off is a good start to capture your subscribers’ attention. Plus, you can also use these coupons to generate holiday sales, send abandoned cart reminders, and encourage inactive customers to purchase again.

Simply Be uses a discount code by bolding the message and immediately offering 30 euros off on the subscriber’s next order. This is a good way to make your subscribers act instantly. However, be sure to mention the terms and conditions for this offer — just like how this brand points out that the discount code is valid on the purchase of products above 60 euros.

Simply Be Email Coupon Example
Simply Be Email Coupon Example. Source

2. Free Shipping Coupons

Free shipping coupons offer a simple pricing structure, increasing the perceived product value. Brands offer free shipping to make their products look like a better deal and gain a competitive advantage over other businesses. 

You can offer free shipping by including all costs in the price of each item. But remember to calculate these costs as soon as you have the inventory. This will give you more space to focus on up-sells and cross-sells.

Levain Bakery offers a simple code to avail of free shipping at checkout. Notice how the brand uses compelling copy along with offer details, making it clear for the subscribers.

Levain Bakery Email Coupon Example
Levain Bakery Email Coupon Example. Source

3. BOGO Offers

Buy one get one offer allows brands to make sales on the extra products. For example, if you make a $10 shirt and sell it for $30, after BOGO, you will still make a $10 profit. 

You can either give away the second product for free or use a discounted price on it. The price of two items for one creates a strong positive experience for your customers, encouraging them to return to your brand for future purchases.

Red Clay Hot Sauce does a great job with this email coupon type — it shares the benefits of using the sauce and then moves into a BOGO offer. The brand shows that the offer stands for a limited period, encouraging customers to act quickly.

Red Clay Hod Sauce Email Coupon Example
Red Clay Hod Sauce Email Coupon Example. Source

4. Free Gift With Purchase

Brands usually offer a gift over a product of a certain value. You can also use this method on larger purchases to incentivize customers and increase the average transaction value.

YouTube’s gift coupon acts as a reward for being a premium member. The simple layout and to-the-point messaging make it easier for customers to act. 

YouTube  Email Coupon Example
YouTube Email Coupon Example. Source

5. Automatic Coupons

Automatic coupons are the best kind — they automatically get added during the checkout process. This way, customers don’t have to search through their emails to find a coupon code. Automatic coupons are also known as triggered or automated coupons. For example, when a customer joins your email list, you can send an automated welcome offer, making a positive first impression.

Automatic coupons can be used for:

  • Abandoned cart recovery,
  • Post-purchase thank-you coupons,
  • Birthday or anniversary discounts,
  • Reactivation coupons,
  • Referral program incentives.

Coupons allow customers to save money and give them the smart-shopper feeling. They can then use the extra money to buy another product, probably from the same brand. 

When you create a compelling email coupon, your customers are sure to take the offer without hesitation. Let’s learn how to create click-worthy coupons. 

How to Set up and Send Irresistible Coupons

According to a study, consumers prefer to pay extra and avail of the coupons rather than buying the same product at a lower price. That also means they are not afraid of trying new brands when the offers are exclusive and immediately redeemable. Creating a coupon is a thoughtful process and requires an understanding of your audience, your marketing goals, and the overall customer experience. Take note of these prerequisites to set up great coupons:

Define Your Coupon Strategy

Decide on your coupon strategy — why do you want to send coupons? How will your business deal with it? And how does your audience react? Ensure your coupon costs are covered in the products and align with your audience’s preferences and behavior.

Choose the Right Type of Coupon

84% of the people choose stores and brands according to the discount. When you offer the right deal, shoppers are more likely to stay with your brand long-term. Studies show that planned coupons perform better than everyday low prices. Select a coupon type that matches your brand goals as well as benefits your audience.

Set Coupon Parameters

Determine the terms and conditions, such as coupon expiry dates and product or category restrictions, and clearly communicate them in your emails. 

You can set coupon parameters for each audience group based on segmentation methods. Segment your audience according to previous purchases, preferences, and location. For example, you can send free shipping delivery coupons to subscribers in the US (if you’re a US-based seller), or BOGO offers for existing customers.

Create Eye-catching Designs

Your email coupon design is the first element subscribers notice. 

Here are design tips to help you create great-looking coupons:

  • Use your brand colors: Emails with your brand elements and colors help your audience immediately identify and resonate with your brand.
  • Position your CTA well: Use a clear link or button to inform readers on how to redeem the coupons. Place your CTA where people can easily see it.
  • Use a legible font: Use a simple background and incorporate your brand colors and font styles to highlight the deals. 
  • Use contrast: You can use contrast to grab subscribers’ attention and make your coupons more readable.
  • Keep your emails simple: Utilize white space and spread out your body copy to enhance your coupons. 

Craft Compelling Copy

Subscribers are likely to act immediately when there’s urgency in your coupons. Perhaps your coupons are only available to the first 50 people or for a limited time. Make your email copy clear and straightforward; state the benefits of your coupons and how to redeem them.

Automate Coupons

Automation allows you to set up and distribute coupons without manual intervention. For example, if a customer shops for more than $250, you can automatically send them a gift card on their next purchase. 

Setting up triggers helps you send out vouchers through different email campaigns as and when a customer takes a specific action —- such as welcome emails after they sign up, abandoned cart emails once they leave the site, and post-purchase emails after a sale.

Creating coupons is as simple as throwing a few graphics and text together. But the real deal lies in personalizing the offer to suit your audiences’ lifestyles and needs. This is why you require a professional email marketing platform to design, segment, personalize, and automate your coupons. Let’s learn how to do that with Campaign Refinery!

How to Set up Email Coupons with Campaign Refinery 

Launching coupons can be an exciting journey for you, and Campaign Refinery is here to help you do that:

  1. Sign up or log in to your Campaign Refinery account,
  2. Choose a new campaign from the editor,
  3. Select the coupon/voucher option and drag it to the editor,
  4. Insert a countdown timer if need be,
  5. Include an image and link it,
  6. Click save and launch your email coupons.

If you have a special sale, you can insert a countdown timer to promote urgency. You can use our native countdown timer in the future (in the process). But for now, you can integrate it with a third-party countdown timer to highlight your deals. We recommend a free service called Sendtric for your timers. 

If you’re thinking big — we have the options for evergreen flash sales and gamification to increase your email engagement. Let’s save that for later because we still need to go over the fundamentals, like email coupon best practices.

5 Best Practices That Will Help You Optimize Automated Email Coupons

While printable coupons are still effective for many businesses, let’s focus on digital coupons because of their convenience. 

Follow these best practices to send compelling offers and gain more audience insights from your email marketing campaigns:

  1. Make a compelling offer: Start by rewarding subscribers for opting into your email lists. Gradually, send them coupons based on their activity and your marketing goals.
  2. Distribute through different channels: You can use website promotions, social media campaigns, and direct mail campaigns to reach more people. Multi-channel marketing is especially helpful if you’re handling print and digital coupons.
  3. Customize your coupons: Ensure your coupons align with your brand image and elements, including typeface and colors. 
  4. Limit your deals: Your coupons must provide value and convince subscribers to pay the original price in the future. Too many deals can make your subscribers think less of your brand or get used to the discounted pricing.
  5. Mobile optimization: Your coupon emails must be adaptive to different devices and be easy to read.
  6. Create urgency: Setting a deadline for your coupons will maximize the chances of subscribers acting immediately. 

Finally, line up your coupons with your email marketing budget. Let’s now focus on how to use your email coupons with different email campaigns.

How to Use Coupons for Various Email Marketing Campaigns

Although coupons serve a single purpose, they are built differently for each email campaign. Below, we show you the basic email campaign types and the coupon types you can use with them:

Campaign Type ObjectiveCoupon TypeStrategy
Welcome emails Welcome new subscribers and encourage purchasesDiscount codes, free shipping couponsAutomatically send a welcome email with a coupon to incentivize new purchases
Abandoned cart recovery emailsRecover potential sales Percentage-based coupons, limited time dealsSend a coupon after 3-4 days to encourage customers to complete their purchase
Post-purchase thank you emails Express gratitude and encourage repeat businessFixed-amount discount, loyalty pointsAutomatically send a thank-you email with deals after your customer’s purchase to increase the chances of repeat business
Birthday/Anniversary campaignsCelebrate special occasions and drive salesExclusive offers, free gifts with purchasesSend personalized emails with coupon codes to celebrate your customers’ special days.
Re-activation campaign Re-engage inactive subscribersSpecial offer, reactivation discount Automate sending coupons and deals to encourage subscribers to shop again
Upselling/cross-selling campaignsEncourage customers to explore more products and increase salesBundle offers, cross-sell discountsInclude coupons based on a customer’s past purchase history
Product launch campaignsPromote new products Launch discount, exclusive access couponsAutomatically send coupons with discounts for early access and launch deals.
Coupon types for different email campaigns

Rewarding your subscribers for their actions helps you build a list of loyal customers and gain repeat purchases. However, to be successful with your attempts, you must understand how your audiences are behaving with your email coupons. The best way to do that is to track them.

Why Tracking Your Coupons is the Best Strategy To Understand Your Audience

76% of consumers find coupons through social media. In this case, how do you track the coupon usage? It’s simple — you do it from your ESP dashboard. For example, Campaign Refinery allows you to track coupons from your analytics dashboard and other email metrics, such as open rates and click-through rates. For more information, here’s a breakdown of how to track coupons:

Tracking Element DescriptionTools/methods
Coupon code generation Unique code assigned to each coupon Automated email services platform/CRM software
Link tracking Monitoring clicks on coupon linksUTM parameters, link tracking tools
Redemption tracking Recording the coupon usage Point of sale systems, E-commerce platforms, ESPs
Conversion tracking Tracking conversions from completed coupon redemptionsE-commerce analytics, tracking tools such as ESPs
Open rate and click-through rate Measuring the number of opens and click-throughs of your couponsEmail marketing platform analytics
How to track email coupon usage

Each coupon is tied to a landing page that allows you to track the percentage of coupon redemptions. However, coupon tracking can be different for offline methods; let’s see how.

Printable Vs. Digital Coupons and How to Track Them

Printable coupons refer to grocery store coupons, event ticket coupons, and magazine cut-out coupons. Digital coupons are online vouchers typically sent through emails or displayed on websites.

Your customers can have different interests regarding coupons based on their comfort and preferences. In a survey, 43% of people pointed out their preference for paper coupons. Among these coupon users, millennials, Gen-Z, office-goers, and parents of children under 18 years preferred digital coupons. 

But should you use print or digital coupons for your business? The answer depends on your marketing objectives and budget. For example, printable coupons can be less expensive but more difficult to distribute. On the contrary, digital coupons are easier to create and track but can cost more than printable coupons. 

Whether your customers choose to use an in-store coupon or print out an email coupon, you can track them through the following methods:

Printable Coupons: 

  1. Manual tracking: Train your staff to record the number of redeemed coupons.
  2. Code verification: Use unique coupon codes and verify them at the point of sale.

Digital Coupons:

  1. Automated systems: Integrate your coupons with POS and E-commerce systems.
  2. Analytics tools: Use dedicated analytics tools platforms to track and measure coupon usage.

If you are using both simultaneously, be sure to implement secure codes and validation processes to prevent fraudulent activities. 

Personalizing coupons according to subscriber behavior and past analytics can be complex if you don’t usually use an ESP and automate your email campaigns. If you’re not sure where to start, an email services platform can guide you along the process.

Why Use Campaign Refinery to Set up Your Automated Email Coupons

Email coupons are not merely discount codes; they are a gateway to engaging your subscribers and growing your email revenue. While personalization and other marketing practices can help you foster customer loyalty, they cannot drive complete business growth.

To see results, you need a robust email marketing platform like Campaign Refinery with unique engagement features such as gamification, ever-green flash sales, and countdown timers.

Our gamification feature significantly boosts engagement by allowing your subscribers to accumulate points for opening your emails and redeem them in the future. The gamification feature is a great way to add coupons and encourage your subscribers to interact with your emails, increasing the chances of conversions. 

As for the perfect offer to promote urgency, you can use the evergreen flash sales feature that creates a scarcity effect to increase sales.

Imagine what these features will look like for your email marketing campaigns — they will naturally increase your subscriber’s curiosity and encourage conversions. We know because our clients have reported exemplary results after signing up with us. In fact, we took a client from $0 to $36m in only 12 months!

Keen to know how we can help skyrocket your email marketing revenue?

Apply now and become our client, and we’ll show you inside!

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