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Customer Retention. Automated

Alternatives to Coupon Discounts in Emails

Posted by Chelsea Holland on Jun 6, 2018 9:34:45 AM

Best practices for ecommerce advertising dictates rewarding customers’ purchases with coupons and offers. Because we now live in a world where Amazon Prime offers free two day shipping, cheaper prices, and easier ordering mechanisms, brands have to work harder to acquire and retain customers. Realistically though, not every brand can give discounts across the board. One of the most commonly asked questions across the Client Success team is “what can we do instead of using coupons?”, so we’ve decided to share some of our best strategies.

01. Leverage Customer Interaction

Consider asking for customer feedback instead of sending your customers coupons. Many retailers send a general customer satisfaction survey, but try something bigger. Bobbi Brown recently sent a great email previewing their most “liked” products on Instagram, where they showcased real customers, not professional models, wearing the products. At the bottom of the email, they ask readers if they would like the chance to be featured and directed them to a page to submit photos. Savvy brands, like Bobbie Brown, are realizing the value of posting on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook and are actively working to harness the power that comes from influence marketing. Plenty of customers who are excited about their products will gladly share a fun picture and tag the brand in the photo.

Alternatives for your Coupon Strategy using Social Media


Another retailer with really fun and engaging emails embracing this strategy is Chubbies Shorts. They recently sent an email asking customers to send in ideas for creative, on-brand chalkboard signs. The winners will have their signs selected and displayed in a Chubbies brick and mortar store. This email was 1) extremely unique and innovative, and 2) it made me excited to read not only this content, but also the future email that would announce the winners of the contest. I now check their emails daily, am aware of new product releases, and, in general, have a very positive opinion of the brand. Engaging customers and asking for a picture or video of them using products works across all different industries, helps increase email engagement, and promotes stronger omni-channel marketing strategies.


02. Educate The Customer On How Your Brand Is The Best

Reach out to customers and arm them with knowledge about your customer service policy, shipping offers, gift orders, and more. Informing a customer in advance of policies can prevent future bad reviews, churn, and overall dissatisfaction. Nordstrom excels in the art of informative emails. The creative and content are simple and tailored for rewards members, but the email still sends a powerful message: Nordstrom wants you to be a happy customer. The subject line stating “The Answer Is Yes” immediately sets the tone for being a valued customer. The email details the multitude of shipping options, try on & reserve in store features, access to professional stylists at no cost, charitable gifting, and more. Essentially, this very simple email made me feel like I really had my life together by joining Nordstrom’s membership program.

Alternative to using coupons - show case your customer service

Another great opportunity is to further educate customers on the breadth of your product line. Send customers an invitation to your blog! Niche brands can excel by identifying very engaged readers who will most likely make continued purchases. I personally love reading cosmetic and style blogs that teach me how to best use the products I’ve purchased as well as educate me on other products available.

Alternatives to Coupons in Emails - Education

03. Invite Customers To Engage Offline

While this suggestion might not work for all e-tailers, it’s certainly one of the most unique and up and coming strategies to increase customer engagement. Running a pop-up event and inviting customers to view new product lines might seem daunting. It doesn’t have to be! More and more retailers are jumping on the pop-up bandwagon. Pop-up events can be as simple as setting up a table or booth in a public venue or as elaborate as renting a brick and mortar store temporarily for promotions. If your brand already has established brick and mortar locations, it’s still great to invite online customers to engage in-store, whether it’s a new opening or a special event. One e-tailer that sent a really interesting email encouraging customers to attend their pop-up event was Bando. Bando designs unique and fun planners at an affordable price. The appeal of attending their pop-up event was access to the amazing artists, customization (even if you already owned a planner), and door prizes and swag. The majority of the content in the email promotes the event, but at the bottom readers are encouraged to “pre-shop.”

Alternatives to Coupons - Pop up Shops


While customers generally respond well to coupon offers, it’s not the only option. More importantly, these alternatives are more memorable and provide additional opportunities for cross-channel marketing. Interacting with customers, seeking feedback, and actively engaging with customers on and offline give brands opportunities to acquire new customers and retain existing customers without relying on promotional discounts.

Topics: Customer Retention, Best Practices, Email Marketing

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