📺 Stream EntrepreneurTV for Free 📺

4 Ways to Reach Customers with Coupons in a Digital Age Customers are more inclined, of course, to buy or use a service when there's an incentive involved. But how do you approach that digitally?

By Dan Steiner Edited by Dan Bova

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Everyone loves a deal. Realizing this, businesses have long used print-based discount offers such as coupons in newspapers to sell products. But, as consumers have increasingly obtained information online, businesses have seen an increase in consumers' demand that these businesses shift all their marketing strategies to digital.

While there are still customers who clip paper coupons before heading out to shop at a brick-and-mortar, many more prefer to save while purchasing online. This has driven a gradual shift in the way businesses reach customers. Here are a few ways businesses use the internet to attract consumers looking for a deal.

Coupon codes

Online customers can't present a paper coupon to a cashier at checkout, which drives the need for a way they can get the deal virtually. This is done through issuing exclusive "coupon codes," which customers then paste into a field before entering their payment information. As a result, coupon code sites have emerged that allow customers to share coupon codes with anyone else visiting the site.

While some big brands may fight the public sharing of coupon codes, these sites can actually be great allies. Deal-seeking customers frequently search these sites for coupon codes they can use to get a great deal. Consider creating a generic coupon code with a longer expiration date that customers can share online, making your customers-only deals slightly more lucrative but with a shorter turnaround time.

Deal sites

Now that 81 percent of all customers research online before making a purchase, businesses can't afford to be invisible online. Not only should retailers have their deals clearly visible on their websites, but they must find a way to make sure they show up on the deal sites customers use every day. The savviest of couponers usually have some of the most popular deal sites bookmarked, visiting them on a regular basis.

Look for deal sites that have a large follower base, along with regularly posted deals from major brands. The best sites also let customers sign up to receive deals in their inboxes on a regular basis, since this will capture those consumers who forget to check the site every day. Once you're listed on deal sites, make sure your coupon codes remain active so you can avoid being reported and removed.

Loyalty cards

The value of loyalty cards goes beyond offering your customers a way to save money. The biggest benefit is that you'll be able to collect data on each member's habits. You'll know exactly what those customers bought, which can be connected to whatever demographic information you collected at signup. In the end, you can use that data to inform your business decisions.

Loyalty cards can also generate an incentive for customers to choose your business over the competition. This is especially true if you have a points-based reward system. When customers know that each purchase helps them accrue points toward a future reward of some type, they'll be more likely to choose to have lunch at your restaurant or buy from your online shop.

Group coupon sites

Group coupon sites seemed like an ingenious concept, at first. The goal was to require a minimum number of customers to "buy into" a deal before it could go live. This encouraged participants to forward the offer to their friends and family members on social media, which boosted the offering company's exposure.

Over time, however, many brands found group coupon sites problematic, since they didn't generate repeat business. If a customer participates solely to take advantage of a great deal, the business rarely sees a profit from that particular sale, and sometimes even experiences an accumulative loss. Group coupon sites can be a way to introduce your business to a wider customer base, but make sure your deal is set to allow you to make at least a small profit.

Coupons remain a great way to get the word out about your brand, whether you're an online-only business or you have a local presence. It's important to learn as much as possible about each option and choose the one that best fits your own business goals. Search for a route that will yield the most long-term customers at a minimal temporary loss to your business.

Dan Steiner

CEO of Elite Legal Marketing

Dan Steiner is an entrepreneur, Internet-marketing expert and author from San Luis Obispo, Calif. He currently serves as Co-Founder and CEO of Elite Legal Marketing, a company offering law firm web design and SEO for lawyers. He has been published in a number of media outlets, including HuffingtonPost, Inc and Yahoo, among many others.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Side Hustle

These Coworkers-Turned-Friends Started a Side Hustle on Amazon — Now It's a 'Full Hustle' Earning Over $20 Million a Year: 'Jump in With Both Feet'

Achal Patel and Russell Gong met at a large consulting firm and "bonded over a shared vision to create a mission-led company."

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

These Are the 10 Most Profitable Cities for Airbnb Hosts, According to a New Report

Here's where Airbnb property owners and hosts are making the most money.

Side Hustle

How to Turn Your Hobby Into a Successful Business

A hobby, interest or charity project can turn into a money-making business if you know the right steps to take.

Starting a Business

This Couple Turned Their Startup Into a $150 Million Food Delivery Company. Here's What They Did Early On to Make It Happen.

Selling only online to your customers has many perks. But the founders of Little Spoon want you to know four things if you want to see accelerated growth.