12 creative ways to elevate marketing with unique coupon codes
Enabling shoppers to gift a subscription can be tricky for Shopify stores. Sometimes, software platforms just don’t sync the way you want.
Such was Tiny Earth Toys’ predicament. Gift memberships are a significant portion of the toy rental subscription business, according to Vice President of Operations Catherine Bhattachar, so figuring it out was vital.
Gift memberships, Bhattachar says, “help more families find our solution. So it's an important part of our growth strategy.”
The workaround? Unique discount codes.
The Tiny Earth Toys story (more about them later) is just one of many use case examples for unique coupon codes. They’re a versatile tool for attracting, delighting and retaining customers.
Read on to understand how. But first, a necessary pit stop to examine what unique coupon codes are and why they’re a best practice for every Shopify store.
Why send unique coupon codes?
Shopify merchants don’t want to make their customers jump through hoops.
Logic says that discount codes should follow a generic and memorable formula. SPRING20, for example, is much easier to type and get correct than a random sequence.
But ease of use can stamp out the good. A promo code — or discount voucher, whatever you want to call it — built for convenience is comparable to a weak email login password.
Such reckless behavior is like knocking on the door of trouble.
OK, we’re being a tad extreme. The point is that guarding margins is critical to profitability. A code that goes viral through a coupon-sharing site like Honey or RetailMeNot can cause a lot of damage.
Unique coupon codes are a safety guarantee. They eliminate the threat of such deal-finder sites and stop coupon abuse. Each code has its own alphanumeric sequence, meaning no two are identical.
Or, you can create a unique code and share it with many but limit the number of uses.
Security aside, a unique code can make recipients feel special and that they have importance. From their vantage point, you tailored a code specifically for them.
12 use cases for unique coupon codes
Let’s get to the meat of the blog: various ways unique discount codes can help turn shoppers into customers and customers into devotees. We’re starting with the obvious before leaping into use cases that veer toward the less common.
#1 Promote a sale
You can’t discuss unique coupon codes without mentioning sitewide, seasonal and product-specific sales. One-of-a-kind coupon vouchers are perhaps the most widely used in promotional pricing strategies.
The two most popular ways for distributing coupon codes:
1. Email marketing. It’s often quoted and bears repeating: email produces the highest return on investment of all marketing channels. The 2023 Consumer Trends Index cites that globally, 52% of consumers made a purchase “directly from an email they received in the last year.”
See how Your laundry basket does it.
2. SMS. No surprises with the following data insight. According to one study, 60% of consumers can’t resist the lure of their text message notifications for very long. They check them within one to five minutes of receipt, making SMS marketing a viable option for reaching subscribers with a unique coupon code. Be careful with your cadence, though, so as not to annoy. Withhold it for special occasions — like a discount valid at an in-person event — or for notifying the VIP community of an exclusive early access offer.
#2 Incentivize a newsletter signup
Every successful Shopify store continually infuses its audience list with new blood. Among lead generation options, growing your email and/or SMS list is easiest to control through your website.
So where do unique discount codes come into play?
There’s a give and take when you ask someone to hand over their contact information. You should return the favor with something of value.
That “something” is usually a discount on a purchase.
All too frequently, Shopify merchants dole out an easy-to-guess, easily accessible generic code like WELCOME15. Worse, we see merchants blatantly advertising the code within their website popups. There’s no reason for someone to follow through with a newsletter signup if they only want to save money on a purchase.
The wise move is to:
- Reserve the code for a welcome email automation
- Ensure that the code is a unique string of letters and numbers
Bravo to CUTS for following best practices and adding a human element with the personal note approach.
#3 Win back a customer with direct mail
Old-school marketing is making a comeback. Direct “snail mail” never disappeared, but its star is seemingly rising. A survey found 58% of marketers plan to increase spending on direct mail in 2023.
Print marketing performance is challenging to analyze if it lacks customization. If you don’t have the means to track resulting actions, you can only piece together assumptions to form a hypothesis.
Unique coupon codes are a perfect antidote for gauging the impact of direct mailers. Target whatever customer segment suits you, but we suggest taking a stab at winning back the MIA customers.
An experiment shared through the Facebook Ads Experts Academy makes a convincing case. Though the report doesn’t indicate if he used unique codes, Leonardo Plebani made nearly $54K in sales by sending 4,380 direct mail pieces to lapsed purchasers.
You could even try a one-two punch. First, send a lapsed purchaser automation with a limited-time offer. Elevate the incentive by mailing a postcard with a unique code if that falls flat.
#4 Support influencer marketing campaigns
Influencer marketing is increasingly accessible to brands of all sizes. There’s a proliferation of content creators out there. According to a HubSpot survey, 40% of 25- to 34-year-olds label themselves as such.
Companies are jumping at the opportunity to engage with such social influencers — sometimes called brand ambassadors — and reach a larger audience. Predictions indicate the average influencer marketing budget share will rise to 12.7% in the next three years, compared to 7.5% in 2022.
Partnering with social media influencers typically means providing the influencer’s network with an exclusive offer. Unique coupon codes provide secure code management, whether you’re collaborating with a macro-influencer with a 20K following or a 1K-audience micro-influencer.
As previously mentioned, the beauty of unique discount codes is the possibility of distributing a single code but limiting its use. For example, you can create a customized string of numbers and letters, program the maximum times used to 100, and have your influencer share a single redemption code.
Similarly, unique coupons can help record and track referrals from partners or affiliates.
#5 Soothe customer grievances
Placating customers from time to time comes with running a Shopify store. You’ll undoubtedly face angry and even-tempered customers who expect a concession for the troubles they experience with your brand.
Deal with issues poorly, and you risk losing customers for good. Consider that customers who receive a prompt resolution of their complaints have a purchase intention rate of 82%.
If giving discount codes is part of the repertoire for appeasing customers, then it’s in your best interests to arm customer service reps with a unique discount code set to use at their discretion.
Also, think about customer service in proactive terms. Sometimes it’s better to address a problem before it escalates into a headache.
For instance, imagine that shipping complications cause unexpected delivery delays. You might prevent a surge of calls, emails and chatbot activity by notifying customers through email, apologizing, and offering a unique coupon code toward their next purchase.
#6 Bolster a review request
You can make all the noise you want about your brand and its glories, but it will never equal the authenticity of a customer’s words.
Hopefully, you’re dedicating some marketing efforts to gathering reviews because validation of your Shopify store and products matters. About 70% of online shoppers read up to six customer reviews before making a purchase.
It can be tough to ask customers for a favor. After all, they’ve already financially invested, and now you’re requesting their time.
Jessica Thompson, CEO of Yogo, created several hundred discount codes to use as a review incentive. She asks customers who purchased yoga mats and other gear through a third-party marketplace to leave a review in exchange for a store credit.
"Great reviews are critical to establishing listing quality," Thompson says. "And this way we can incentivize them to shop in our own store, where there are better margins."
Review requests are one kind of helpful email automation to have on hand. If you’re new to email automations, it's best to start with the welcome and cart abandonment emails.
#7 Foster easier sales account transactions
Unique coupon codes don’t always have to be consumer-facing. They’re also a solution for B2B sales and business account managers.
Say you’re a sales rep for a craft beer company tasked with boosting swag shop sales. You ask your marketing manager to devise unique discount codes. The parameters:
- The recipient can take $100 off a purchase
- The offer expires at the end of the month
Then, give that code to contacts at the restaurants and bars in your territory, encouraging them to load up on new merch.
#8 Reward loyalty program customers
Of all rewards program benefits, discounts claim the highest esteem. Per a report from Merkle, 79% of respondents like receiving deals as a loyalty program perk.
Part of a rewards program lure is knowing that the benefits aren’t available to just anyone. Unique coupon codes demonstrate you’re committed to ensuring exclusivity.
Aside from gifting discounts when loyalty members reach milestones, unique codes are appropriate for enabling other common perks:
- Free shipping
- Free products
- Free samples
Also, consider how you can tap unique codes when asking program members for support. Total Retail advises offering incentives for actions like subscribing to your email/SMS program, spreading the word about your brand on social media, or watching a product video.
Let’s return to Tiny Earth Toys to explain how unique coupon codes and subscription gifting go together.
The company, built on Shopify and subscription platform Recharge, was informed that the only way to make the gifting option possible was through a third-party app.
Tiny Earth Toys discovered a significant pitfall, though. It was only possible to apply the gift card at checkout, not within Recharge subscription accounts. Therefore, any current customer given a gift membership would have to cancel their membership and check out with a new one.
That was a no-go.
“Tiny Earth Toys promotes reducing consumption, waste, and clutter. So we want people to be able to receive a gift of time with rental toys,” Bhattachar, the company’s vice president of operations, explains. “We don't want them to be forced to redeem their gift for something outside of our rental subscription.”
With the Bulk Discount Code Bot, they could create unique discount code sets for each gift membership type (a 6-month membership of five toys per month, a 4-month membership of eight toys, etc.) Combined with GiftUp!, the codes apply at checkout or to a customer’s existing subscription.
#10 Boost word-of-mouth efforts
Social influencers aren’t the only people with swaying power.
Take a look at your customers. Maybe they’re uncomfortable with public proclamations but happy to sing your praises to personal acquaintances.
Indeed, everyday influencers — those we know in real life — possess a level of trust that’s hard for a social influencer to replicate. A Keller Advisory Group survey cites that friends, family and co-workers earn a resounding 91% vote of confidence concerning recommendations.
Use a unique code generator to generate referral codes that customers can share with their network. When it leads to a purchase, gift the referring customer a product or special discount. (OffCourt also sweetens the deal for the friend, too.)
You’ll more likely experience a trickle of new customers with referral marketing rather than a flood. But it can be an endeavor that pays off. A Wharton School of Business study found that referred customers average a 16% higher lifetime value than non-referred customers.
#11 Thank customers for their purchase
Unboxing can be a forgetful experience of breaking through bubble wrap and packing tape, or an enjoyable moment you savor.
Of course, any brand that wants to distinguish itself and make an imprint on its customers’ memories will strive for the latter. A small way to add a little delight: get them excited about continuing the relationship by sliding in a packaging insert with a unique coupon code.
Make the offer apply to whatever you want. Free shipping on the next order? $10 off a specific product that complements the purchase?
The idea is to express your gratitude. While the thank you email automation is commonplace, try switching things up with an insert. A hand-written note that sincerely conveys appreciation — paired with an offer — might spark extra sales.
#12 Drive foot traffic to your online store
If you dabble in popup events to gain a stronger foothold locally, then we’re guessing a sizable number of strollers exit your stand without making a purchase.
And if you’re not intervening with a business card or marketing flyer, how many will remember you? Perhaps your shop is a local superstar that’s well known. But for the rest, few people (if any) will search for you online.
Print materials can be the hero. Hand out small cards featuring your company information. Entice them to visit your online shop by adding a sticker with a unique discount code for a special offer.
Again, you’re steering visitors to your digital store and equipping yourself with the means to track subsequent sales.
How to make bulk discount codes
Now that we’ve provided some ideas, how do you make unique discount vouchers en masse?
Any merchant using Seguno email marketing already has access to creating and stylizing discount codes for their newsletters and automations within Shopify.
For merchants using other email service providers, there’s the Bulk Discount Code Bot. The tool is also ideal for anyone — Seguno user or not — who wants to use unique discount codes across other email marketing channels.
Watch the video below to get a peek at how it works.
Whether you use Bulk Discount Code Bot or another means, safeguard your margins with unique discount codes.
And let your creativity loose. We’re sure your brand’s image, sales and loyal followers will rise when you think outside the box.
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