From online vouchers used as link bait for SEO or emailed discount codes used to reward loyal customers, businesses can use discounts to drive their marketing. So how can you use this tactic to increase your website’s traffic and what are the pitfalls?
Voucher codes are an easy way to offer discounts in online stores – most e-commerce checkout software should have built-in support for special offers, so you just need to create the code in your store’s admin panel, and specify how much of a discount it should give.
Be careful not to actually lose money on a voucher code – if it gets spread around the internet by word of mouth, you could find a lot of people decide to take advantage of it. There have been horror stories of offers bankrupting small businesses.
Of course, you do want to make the most of that word of mouth too, and you should be able to pick up quite a few extra customers, with the chance to make them into loyal brand advocates for the future.
Mailing lists give you the chance to keep non-converting customers so that you can have a second chance at getting some money out of them in the future. They also work as an effective extension of your website, allowing you to reach out to people without them having to find you in their search results again.
There’s real skill behind maintaining an email campaign, though – be careful with how many emails you send out, so you don’t find yourself going into the recipient’s spam folder.
Make sure your emails are interesting and engaging, which probably means including special offers and discounts each time. Strong brands can get away with simply revealing a new product ahead of launch, or some other insider information only available to mailing list subscribers.
Not many people like ‘like-gating’. It’s the dubious practice of forcing Facebook users to ‘like’ your page before they can access your online voucher, other special offer, or a special video or similar content. Sure, it increases your number of ‘likes’ and looks good to other users, but none of them really like your brand; they just want something for free.
It’s much more effective to create a truly compelling offer that can be spread by word of mouth, without hiding it from the world behind an electronic wall. Put it on your news page, put it on your homepage, put it in your email newsletter, and you’ve got the potential to reach a much larger audience than you can on Facebook alone.
Good SEO always has one eye on building organic search traffic to your website, rather than driving it through other means – and online offers of all kinds can double as a way to create extra web content.
Reproduce your email newsletters on your website in normal HTML form, and if your recipients can’t view your fancy formatting in their plain-text mail client, you can link them through to the online version. This has the added advantage that all of your newsletters remain on your site as a search-visible archive full of tasty keywords.
When you launch a special offer, blog about it. And if it’s really good, consider putting a press release on your site’s news or PR section, too. Again, these extra pages should be carefully keyworded and search-visible, but can also earn you some traffic from RSS subscribers or press contacts.
At its core, online marketing is about a joined-up approach that coordinates all of the ethical techniques you might want to try, without straying into the murky methods that can be damaging to your business.
Publishing decent discount vouchers on your site will encourage inbound links, boosting your presence in the search engines and building customer loyalty at the same time. Used well, customer discounts will more than pay for themselves in increased traffic and purchases.