Using voucher codes to bring shoppers to your website
I was shopping online this morning. I got to the checkout, quite happy with the €30 total of my shopping basket, and then I stopped: there, just above the “pay us now” button, was a small box labelled “discount voucher?”
It hadn’t occurred to me up to that point to want a discount, but when I thought there might be one available, of course I went to look. Quickly, I opened another browser tab. Google. Voucher site. 20% off. Happy shopper.
It turns out I’m not alone in doing this. Half of Brits used vouchers for online shopping last Christmas. And earlier last year, a PayPal survey found that “looking for discount vouchers” was the reason that 25% of shopping carts were abandoned. The British love of a bargain is alive and well, and living on the internet.
No doubt at this point, some merchants are shaking their heads. I would have paid €30, so that €6 is money they needn’t have given me. But I don’t think that’s the point. People *do* abandon their shopping carts to look for vouchers. Merchants have a choice: say “tough” and let those customers go, or use that known behaviour to our advantage.
People love a bargain. More than the actual saving money, it seems to me that they love the feeling of having “won”, even of having got one over on the merchant. And people who feel like they’re ahead want to stay ahead: if they’ve got that voucher to use, they’re not going to abandon your shopping cart. So give them the voucher.
There are lots of ways to do this. Many forums have “share voucher” sections where your customers will quite literally do your marketing for you, spreading voucher codes to other shoppers. Dedicated voucher sites are all over the internet, and it seems like more spring up every day – and these, just like eBay, are populated with wannabe shoppers looking for a bargain. Many, like my personal favourites Retail Me Not and its British counterpart Voucher Hub are free to list on. Why wouldn’t you advertise your website to all those potential shoppers?
You can even post voucher codes on your own site to encourage shoppers to complete their purchase *now* rather than wandering off without checking out. French clothing site 3 Suisses, for example, often has a popup on its home page with a code for free shipping which is valid for 24 hours only.
If you’re primarily an eBay seller, it’s worth bearing in mind how much money you can afford to spend on getting new shoppers to your site. eBay’s take is typically 10% or more of your sale price, so you might consider that money better spent on bringing traffic to your website than on eBay FVFs.
Give me a reason…
For eBay sellers who want to move customers to their websites, a voucher is the perfect way to do that. Years ago, a simple note in with a package saying “we’ve got a website, come buy stuff” was enough: people with their own websites were unusual, and the novelty value would buy you clicks. Not any more: retail sites are three a penny, so people need a reason to bother looking at yours. I’ve found “free shipping on my website” vouchers particularly effective with this (even, bizarrely, when my eBay shop *also* had free shipping; there’s no logic in people looking for a bargain!).
Biddy’s top tips for voucher promos
- if you charge postage normally, you can make it free with a voucher (even an on-site one). If everything’s free shipping all the time, you can’t. This discount works better than any other.*
- fixed price discounts work better than percentages. Better to offer £5 off a £50 order than 10%* because people like to know exactly what they’re getting.
- shelf-life: always give vouchers an expiry date. Think about repeat buying patterns to gauge how long they should last: e.g. people probably buy beads or shoes more often than they buy large electricals or furniture.
- plan. If you’ve cut your margins to the quick, you can’t discount without it hurting you. Always leave room for manoeuvre.
* For my customers on my sites. YMMV.
Let us know your thoughts: do you use voucher sites? Do you give your customers vouchers? Does anyone use them? Leave us a comment.