Troublesome Online Vouchers

Yesterday I was listening to a discussion on Radio Five Live about various companies getting into hot water over online vouchers.

Consumers had managed to work around a Hamley’s discount code which, if entered multiple times could get you up to 60% off. Hamley’s decided not to honour the orders, choosing instead to accuse these “customers” of fraudulent activity. Possibly not the best approach in terms of building goodwill but probably legally correct.

Lots of lessons to be learned:

  1. The boring one – Check your technology is functioning as it should when using promo codes – check they can only be used in the manner intended. Also make sure your small print is in check. This is probably what saved Hamley’s as I believe they stated it could only be used once per order.
  2. Rather more interestingly – be very aware of the power of internet word of mouth to drive large volumes of orders very quickly.

There are people out there looking for great offers and when they find them they can’t resist telling people about them.

Threshers were another company mentioned in the discussion as they have recently run a promotion offering 30% off. In this case, unlike Hamleys, Threshers intent was to give 30% off. The size of the offer caught the attention of some and they started spreading it by e-mail to their friends, posting in forums etc. Overall a successful campaign.

The trick of course is two-fold. Come up with an appealing sounding offer and then find the key influencers.

In Threshers case, 30% off was very achievable as Buy 2, get 1 free is so integral to their sales, that the majority of customers usually get 30% or so off anyway. They have simply priced at a point that leaves them a lot of margin.

Finding the key influencers is easier than it sounds. Simply do a search for something like “discount coupons” or “promotional codes”. All you then need to do is make them aware.

Discount Codes and Search Engine Advertising

Whilst the discount code can be seen as being a separate marketing channel, there is some cross over with search engine advertising. Not least advertising your offer under “promotional codes” etc.

However, there is opportunity beyond that. Discount codes can be incorporated into landing page strategies and even the copy in your search listings.

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