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Hot off the press

Do coupons in ads still work?

Back in the day, every direct response ad had a coupon but the growth of online sales has seen more and more advertisers removing them – are they always right?

Leaving out a coupon has a number of benefits:

  • The ads looks nicer (coupons have to be quite large to be easy enough to fill out and therefore pretty ugly)
  • You have more space for product and sales messages
  • You don’t have to manually process the order – online orders process themselves
  • You get your results faster – no waiting for post to arrive or cheques to clear
  • You get better customer data – email address, phone number etc. for re- marketing

On the flip side there are also benefits to having a coupon:

  • It is clear that the ad is DR and that you order direct
  • It gives the consumer another call to action, preferred for those not on the internet and/or who don’t trust handing over credit card details
  • Unlike phone numbers they don’t require opening hours so customers can place orders 24/7
  • You can include upsells which increase the average order value
  • You secure the sale there and then; when people go online they often price compare and shop around.

So, are coupons a thing of the past or do they still have their place? 

Our client Velo put it to the test…

Advert 1 – Half page: phone number and online order only….60% of sales online and 40% phone – ROI index 100

Advert 2

Full page: phone, online and coupon options – 40% of sales online, 25% phone and 35% coupon – ROI index 120 (they got more than double the sales to the Half page)

Advert 3 – Half page: phone, online and coupon options – 0% of sales online 35% phone and 35% coupon – ROI index 60 (they got 40% fewer sales to the Half page with the coupon, to without)

So, do coupons actually work?

In short the answer is yes, but there is certainly a time and a place.

  • They are only important if your product is bought by the 70+ market
  • They should only be added when you have the room; don’t squeeze it into a half page and compromise the content and key selling points of the ad because what you take out has greater value than what you put in.
  • If the sales are worth it: you have to hand-process bank cheques etc and you don’t gain the same data as you would with online and phone as you generally only get their address, but the uplift is sales can be up to 30%. 

So, smaller ROI-focused businesses who are looking to make profit from a single ad can gain a lot from a coupon; a larger business who is driven by building a customer base and selling more in the future would almost certainly argue that using a coupon would not be the best route to take.

We’re always happy to offer advice and share our thoughts, so if you are having a coupon dilemma of your own, we’d love to help. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with:

Lesley Bowman, New Business Director –