What baffles me about the online shopping environment is how street-smart some consumers can be in stores, but only in stores. I’ve seen it numerous times: people who will haggle until they’re blue in the face but will blindly enter their credit card information when prompted.
If you’re new to online shopping, or your check-out process typically takes less than 2 minutes, I’m going to save you money with a simple tip:
Before you buy anything online, search for promotional codes.
The search can be as simple as [name of company or website] and “promo code”.
A lot of companies have yet to embrace the fact that their promotional codes travel online faster than Nick Cage at a Hollywood job fair. But why? Many offer up exclusive codes and discounts to their social media followers. The nature of social media is to share, how could you be surprised when consumers are using the medium as intended?
Perhaps the most refreshing brand I’ve recently come across is TorontoVaporizer.ca. And yes, I’m aware it’s ironic to call them ‘a breath of fresh air’.
They don’t only make it prominent on their site that promotional codes exist, they help you find them.
What’s particularly clever about this strategy is that it allows TorontoVaporizer to track through coupon codes the various levels of reach that each of their social platforms has. For example, if they release Coupon 1 on Facebook and Coupon 2 on Instagram and Coupon 1 is redeemed 100 times and Coupon 2 is redeemed only 10 times, it could be indicative of the strength of this brand’s network on the site (could be, but not always).
The social media coupon strategy could also shed some light on who your power influencers are, what products are just above the purchase threshold for many customers and what type of content is going to make liking/following worth their click. There are a lot of consumer insights you can gain from adding even a modest coupon component to your social strategy, and TorontoVaporizer.ca is gaining brand advocates with every promotion.
The real reason this approach is refreshing is because they’ve embraced the behaviour of shoppers. They know we’re looking online for these codes. They know we won’t have to look past the first three results on Google to find them. By acknowledging the existence of their discount structure, they’ve gained trust. And in a market where price differentiation is often hard to come by, this could be the reason you shop with them vs. a competitor.
Here’s hoping more online retailers follow this example and help customers save money. It may net you less on this particular transaction, but I can almost guarantee that they’ll be back for more.
Amendment to the article:
A few people emailed me wanting more information on how to search for promotional codes online.
Here are some tips to help lighten your wallet:
1) In addition to the search suggestion above, try [company] and “coupon” or “offer”.
2) Check popular coupon code sites like RetailMeNot
3) Regularly check deals forums such as RedFlagDeals to find out how others are saving money or ‘hacking’ the system
4) If you shop regularly at an online store, sign up for an account and their mailing lists. This is another coupon distribution strategy, one that you’re probably familiar with.
5) Create dummy accounts on Twitter, Facebook and a dummy email. This will be especially useful to qualify for the offer communication, but not have your regular email bombarded with promotional info. Just make sure to check your dummy accounts regularly.