Coupon Clickers – Industry Trend or Event

Mark Kakkuri

E-coupons can Lure frugal customers to your site

WITH HOME-BASED E-BUSINESS BOOMing and online storefronts competing for your clicks and cash, it’s probably no surprise that discount coupons have found their way onto Web sites. Does it pay for you to use online coupons to spur business on your Web site?

Coupons can cultivate a goldmine of customers for your Web site, says Paige Dawson, vice president of marketing for ClipsCom, a Dallas-based application service provider that helps businesses with e-commerce technology solutions. Online coupons have several advantages over traditional, paper-based coupons. They have a lower cost of distribution, there’s a real-time ability to update offers, there’s an option to customize your site’s coupons for specific audiences, and they allow for tracking for future coupon campaigns.

Courting Customers There are other benefits to e-coupons, as well. Dawson says online coupons can provide a business with a variety of customized online coupons for existing and potential customers who visit a Web site. In addition, online coupons can be key in improving customer satisfaction when there’s a complaint about your service or product. “Online coupons aid in the customer-satisfaction process by providing consumers with a tangible offer to show that you’re concerned and interested in resolving a complaint,” she says.

Dawson says the cost of courting a new customer can be significantly higher than retaining an existing customer who happens to have a complaint with your service or product. “The online coupon effectively allows you to simultaneously rectify a complaint and expand into new customer territory at a much lower cost.”

Choosing a Format There are several good coupon models to use on your Web site to attract customers, according to Matt Abramson, strategic business partner of RealTIME Media, an Ardmore, Penn.-based provider of online instant-win and incentive-based traffic-building promotions.

E-coupons that can only be redeemed online are only issued to people who choose to receive offers, says Abramson. “This type of coupon is highly recommend for sites that experience high traffic and need to offer coupons to their visitors in order to ensure repeat visits,” he says.

Online and offline coupon service providers now have software so you can generate your own coupons in a secure and one-time printable offer. Additionally, says Abramson, the software tracks the coupon throughout its life cycle.

Easy Rewards, an online art retailer based in Chicago, has offered online coupons since the company’s launch in May 1998. According to Michael Kahn, director of marketing,’s coupons have taken many forms. “We send $5-, $10- or $20-offonline coupons to customers and prospects,” says Kahn. “We also send coupons customers to encourage them to buy from us again. And, we give coupons to customers at most of our special events.”

Kahn says the cost to produce online coupons is low. “Distribution of an online e-mail coupon to our user base is $10 per thousand or less,” he says. Distribution of a printed coupon is higher due to the cost of production. “We have seen sales increase over 1,000 percent during our most effective coupon promotions,” says Kahn. has consistently used coupon promotions throughout 2000 and plans to continue in 2001.

Seeking Value Coupons do well in places where value-conscious shoppers flock. ValPak, for example, typically mails envelopes of coupons serving local businesses. But now, the Largo, Fla.-based direct-mail coupon franchiser offers coupons online. John Manrique, director of market development for Val-Pak, says that online coupons work exactly like traditional Val-Pak coupons. “When a consumer prints a coupon they’re printing a valid Val-Pak coupon that’s customized to their specific geographic location,” says Manrique.

Although costs vary, based on coverage and features, Manrique says the number of small and home-based businesses that use Val-Pak coupons are growing because of the amount of traffic the Web site generates. In fact, has generated over 5.5 million coupon views in September 2000 alone, according to Manrique.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Freedom Technology Media Group

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group

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