Coupons can be a blessing and a curse. Here’s the right way to use them in your sales strategy.
Sales are slow, and you’re looking for a good way to close a few more to bring up your revenue for the month. You’re looking at your options, and one choice seems obvious: offer a discount! After all, everyone loves a good deal—right?
Well, yes. Most learners, if given the option to pay less for your course, will gladly jump on an opportunity when they see it. Furthermore, sales and limited discounts create a sense of scarcity. With a limited time in which to make a decision, many learners will sign up for fear of missing out.
That said, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about offering coupons and running sales. If you want to get the most out of your coupon marketing strategy, here’s where to start.
1. Use them sparingly.
Coupons can be addictive. If you learners expect there to be a coupon or an upcoming sale, they will hold off on signing up for your course until they can get a better deal. In fact, an over-dependence on sales and coupon offers has been the bane of many a retail store. Buyers becomes used to the low price, such that it becomes the new “norm.”
When used well, coupons and sales are meant to introduce urgency to a sales strategy. But there seems to always be a sale on, it turns the tables: instead of getting a good deal on a sale, buyers perceive paying full price as a rip off. So, don’t let your learners become hooked.
2. Look to the seasons.
Almost every industry goes through busy seasons and off seasons. For online courses, these sometimes correspond to the school year, but not always. Depending on the course you offer, you may find demand for your course stronger at the beginning of the year, when everyone’s busy making their New Year’s Resolutions. Or maybe you see a small bump late in the fall, when businesses are trying to wrap up projects for the fiscal year.
Either way, these can help dictate when the best timing is for a sale. If you’re in a hot field, those busy seasons may be good times to offer a sale to beat out the competition. Or, you may want to offer them when business is otherwise slow to boost sales. The answer will depend on your market, so try out a few strategies to see what works.
3. Offer a deal for first-time learners.
Some learners need a little extra incentive to get off the fence and sign up for a course. This is particularly true for a first-time learner who hasn’t had a chance to experience your product yet. Just like trial periods for subscription services, a discount on a first course can help that learner get a taste for your product. If they like it, they’ll be more likely to come back.
Remember that returning customers often spend more than first-time customers—making more frequent and higher value purchases. Accordingly, whatever discount you do offer that learner is likely to yield a handsome return on your investment.
4. Show loyal learners some appreciation.
Speaking of returning learners, there’s a lot you can do with coupons to cultivate loyalty among your customer base. For instance, you can offer them early access (along with a special discount) to new courses, or you can create a point system that gives them a coupon code off a new course once they’ve achieved a certain level.
One especially effective strategy is to institute a buddy system. Invite your learners to share a special coupon code with friends and coworkers who might be interested in taking the course with them. For any referral that signs on, your learner gets their own discount. It’s a great way to encourage word of mouth sharing, and because everyone feels like they received a good deal, everyone walks away happy.
5. Create course bundles and premium content.
What if there was a way to sell more, while still offering a discount? Effectively, that’s what course bundles are for. You wrap several related courses together, and sell them for, say, 20% off their total value. Learners get more bang for their buck, and you up-sell your materials.
Similarly, creating a special, high-value content can be another way to boost the value your program and encourage sales. In this case, your focus is on adding an extra incentive to a purchase. That premium content could be an extra ebook, a one-on-one video tutorial session, or access to a special webinar. The point is, you can frame that piece of valuable content as a limited-time offer, and sell your course at full price for what feels like a discount.
The best coupon marketing strategies create a win-win for you and your learners.
If there’s one golden rule to an effective coupon marketing strategy, it’s that your learners have to value what they receive. When learners spring for a sale and later come to regret their purchase, they won’t remember the great deal they thought they were getting when they signed up. Instead, they’ll remember the value they hoped to receive, and will be disappointed to find it under-delivered.
Put your learners at the heart of your sales strategy, and focus your offers around what will be most valuable to them. If you think they want premium content or course bundles, go for that. Or, if they seem most drawn to the idea of a learning buddy program, make that your focus. Offer the deal your learners want, and you’ll all come out ahead.