Coupons are a great way to entice new visitors to purchase something from your site or to reward frequent customers. CouponsThe popularity of Groupon is a great testament to the power (and desire) of coupons.

But, sometimes coupons can backfire. Not for those who have them, but for those that don't.

Have you ever been to a site where, you've shopped around, found what you wanted, and when you went to check-out, they asked you to enter your coupon code number? WTH! You don't HAVE a coupon! But, you know that, somewhere out there, a coupon can be found!

Every business owner knows that, in this economy, there are far more money-conscious shoppers out there than there used to be. Many are pinching pennies to such a degree that they'll drive $1 out of their way to save $0.50 in gas (you know who you are!)

Even your average shopper may pause at the sight of a potential money saving opportunity that they may be missing. So, what's their next move? Knowing that a coupon may be available, some shoppers will abandon their purchase and start searching for a coupon, whether that is from your site or your competitor's. Or, they may simply realize that, if you can offer the item for less via coupon redemption, then it's possible they can get a better deal somewhere else, and off they go in search for greener (or in this case le$$-green) pastures.

In both of these scenarios, your coupon--which was designed to earn business--just cost you business.

So how do you beat that? How do you entice visitors with a coupon, without alienating potential customers for the lack of a coupon?

Simple: Don't allow for a "coupon" field on your order page.

I know, I know! You're asking yourself, how else do you accept coupons online if you don't have a coupon field? Well, let me answer that question with another question...

Who says you have to call a coupon a coupon? Why not call it an optional "transaction code"? You can call it anything you want really, just don't call it a coupon code.

The shopper who already has a "transaction code" on hand will know that what they really have is a coupon. And they won't be afraid to use it! The shopper who doesn't have a transaction code won't think they're missing out on a better deal, and will continue with the transaction without another thought. It's a win-win.

The trick to making this work is to make sure your coupons say something along the lines of "Enter transaction #123456" instead of "Enter coupon #123456".

That'll pretty much cover it. This simply change in terminology still allows you to pass out coupons willy-nilly while not making non-coupon holders think you're giving preferential treatment to someone else. This ensures you won't get penny-pinchers or better-deal seekers to bolt before they finish their transaction. Everyone walks away happy!

April 13, 2011

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


I have seen "Promotional Code" and "Rewards Code" used on some sites instead of coupon codes. Usually the field is flagged as "optional".

Simple yet effective! When I am ready to purchase, I often run into the "Coupon Code" box and wonder what I'm missing out on. If it had said "Transaction Code", I might not have stopped to search for coupons before making my purchase.

Some consumer will still search for discount with or without the field for coupon, you can see that from the increasing number of search query " PRODUCT discount coupon" while in fact some of them don't have any discount offer at all...

ha! So true, it happend to me yesterday, bought an item and at the billing stage it had a coupon field, I then wasted 20 min of my life desperately seeking coupon on the interwebz :) To no vail, damn that alluring "coupon field"..

I have seen some cleverly designed sites move the voucher code area away from the main focus of the page, making it hard to spot unless you're really looking for it. Provided you're giving clear instructions with your voucher codes then relegating the content can work.

It's also worth checking your natural search listings for 'companyname' vouchers and other alternatives every so often to see what your customers might be getting if they do run some searches - hopefully not a lot!

How long will it be before the consumer figures it out? Consumers don't let much past them for long.

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Search Engine Guide > Stoney deGeyter > ...But I Don't HAVE a Fracking Coupon!