Everyone likes a good deal. That’s why coupons are so effective, especially on Small Business Saturday, when people are planning their shopping route well in advance. Used well, coupons can be a great way to grow your business, reward loyal customers and lure curious first-time visitors. It all depends on how tactical you are about using them.

With that in mind, here are some do and don’t tips to consider when creating a coupon campaign for Small Business Saturday—and beyond:


Use coupon codes

They are a must for tracking which sales channels and which ads are working best for your business. It is the difference between winging it and hoping for the best and using data to inform your marketing decisions. If you apply unique codes to the social or traditional media platforms you use, it’s easy to see which channels are drawing in the most revenue and where to concentrate efforts in the future.


Try split-testing

Split-testing is the process of distributing multiple offers to the same target audience and gathering data about coupon redemption rates. Try it with your existing customers for Small Business Saturday to see what brings them back in and buying. You might find that the response to one coupon is much higher than for another. Two coupons could even have the same monetary value but different headlines and copy (i.e., 50% off vs. buy-one-get-one), resulting in varied response rates. Discovering the right coupon triggers for your customers on Small Business Saturday will help you boost sales all through the year.


Experiment with new platforms

Twitter and Facebook, for sure. But maybe it’s time to broaden your horizons and try new venues. Consider sites such as Groupon, LivingSocial, Yelp Deals and Angie’s List, which all are location-based platforms and may reach prospects you can’t reach anywhere else. And don’t pooh-pooh direct-mail options merely because they are offline. Valpak and Money Mailer also target by location and have the capability to reach large numbers of households.



Bury the details

Put the discount right in the headline of your ad, flyer or poster and put it in the subject line of your email. Be as specific as possible, including expiration dates. It frustrates customers to have to dig to find the true value of an offer. And it can turn off customers when they read the fine print only to find out that your discount is good for only two items.


Bombard customers with coupons

Coupons work best by creating scarcity and offering something special. They should make customers want to come to be first in line when the doors open on Small Business Saturday. However, if you bombard customers with coupons every week or month, it can numb buyers to your offers. They figure another coupon will be coming around the bend any day now, so there’s no need to rush in. With constant coupons comes a risk of normalizing sale prices, which means that your customers will come to expect a discount and be less likely to buy without one. Coupons and discounts are an effective strategy to drive traffic throughout the year—just apply them thoughtfully.


Make an offer that is too limiting

A 20% discount on home furnishings is not nearly as enticing as 10% off anything in the store. A broader offer gives customers more latitude to choose, which is why it is likely to outperform a product-specific offer. Use more specific offers at other times of year to move excess inventory. But for Small Business Saturday, create your coupons with the goal to lure existing and first-time visitors into your store and onto your email list for future marketing efforts.


Print this article