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Discount Codes That Actually Drive Sales: 10 Creative Strategies to Try

Hey there! Are you looking to use discount codes and promo vouchers to boost your ecommerce sales?


As an online seller, I totally get the struggle. Coupon codes seem so simple in theory - just offer a % or $ off, share it, and watch those orders roll in right?


Well, not so fast. Generic coupon codes flung out into the abyss of the internet often go ignored and unused. But crafted and distributed thoughtfully, discount codes can be powerful tools for attracting new customers, incentivizing bigger purchases, launching viral campaigns, and promoting loyalty.


In this post, I'll share 10 creative discount code tactics that go beyond the basics. These strategies have worked for other savvy ecommerce owners to hook shoppers and drive real sales.


Take a look at these outside-the-box ideas to engage customers and sell more with discount codes done right!



Name and Brand Codes for Maximum Shareability

Let's start with the code itself - those magical letters and numbers that unlock sweet savings for your customers. Seems simple enough to generate, but put some thought into naming codes with viral potential.


For example, sustainable clothing brand Everlane launched a highly successful Earth Day promo. The code was catchy, tied to the promo theme, and designed to be Instagram-friendly.


Sample word-based code names could be:

See how those are relevant for seasonal or holiday promotions? They also use language likely to be shared on social media, which expands your reach.


You can take a branded approach too. For example:

  • JEANiacs

  • MakeupJunkie

  • CandleLover

Codes like these incorporate your brand identity or play into your target audience.


Either way, create codes that customers genuinely want to spread - not just generic 10%OFF ones.


Distribute Via Influencers for Credibility

Influencers are a smart way to distribute your codes to wide audiences organically. Rather than blasting promos yourself, collaborate with an influencer who authentically aligns with your brand.


This strategy capitalizes on influencers' engaged niche audiences. It lends credibility, as followers treat influencer recommendations as trusted advice. The influencer also benefits from providing their community with something of value - savings!


Consider micro-influencers in your product niche who can organically integrate your codes into posts. Nano-influencers with under 10k followers often have the highest engagement.


Message influential customers asking to collaborate on a code share as well. They'll feel valued, and you could gain new brand advocates.


Give 'Shelf-Help' Codes to Drive Bigger Baskets

Rather than a generic site-wide code, offer targeted discounts that incentivize larger purchases.


For example, headphone retailer Padrino created an email code called SHELF-HELP, which gave $50 off purchases over $200. This motivated customers to add more items and hit the minimum.

Some ideas for basket-building codes:

  • Spend $50, get $10 off

  • 15% off $100+ purchases

  • Buy 2, get 1 free

See how these reward bigger hauls? The codes start at reasonable minimums but encourage customers to spend more to maximize savings.


You can also tailor minimums to higher price points for luxury goods. The key is setting an amount that feels within reach but still drives up order values.


Surprise Post-Purchase With 'Thank You' Codes

Here's an opportunity to delight customers after they buy. Send special discount codes in post-purchase emails to incentivize repeat orders.


For example, boutique Granville sends a "Come Back Soon" code for 15% off the next order. This small surprise and incentive earns goodwill with new customers.


Some ideas for post-purchase codes:

  • Welcome10 (for new customers)

  • ComeBack15

  • ThankYou20

Keep these generic for wide use but make sure customers know it's a special offer only for them. This VIP treatment makes them more likely to purchase again.


You can even create tiered codes to reward loyal return shoppers. For example, 15% off for second purchases, 20% off for third, etc.


Post-purchase is the perfect time to build relationships with customers. Small personalized codes go a long way in making shoppers feel valued.


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Scratch and Reveal for More Code Longevity

Here's an interactive approach to make codes more exciting - and less disposable.


Tactics like scratch-off cards and reveal wheel games create an experience around finding the code. This builds anticipation and makes customers more likely to actually use codes later.


For example, Havana Banana Club prints scratch-off cards with hidden discount codes to hand out at festivals. Recipients can scratch to reveal a code for 10-30% off online orders. The novelty makes people hold onto cards rather than tossing flyers.


You can also create digital scratch and reveals. For example, have influencers share an Instagram post that says "Scratch here for a discount code from [Your Brand]" with a swipe up animation over the code.

Or, you could make a spin the wheel style game on your site where visitors can click to reveal a randomized discount.


Make revealing codes feel rewarding for customers rather than just handing them out plainly. This extends the lifetime of codes.


Offer Stackable Discounts for Maximum Value

Sweeten the savings by letting customers combine and stack coupon codes! This makes discounts more enticing.


For example, haircare brand Briogeo lets customers combine sitewide codes, personalized codes, seasonal promos and referral codes for multiples savings on one order.


Some ways to structure stackable discounts:

  • Allow sitewide + referral codes

  • Sitewide + seasonal codes

  • Product bundle + % off cart total

Of course, you need to test what works profitably on your margins. But stacked savings feels like winning the lottery for customers and leads to extra sales.


Even the ability to stack just two codes feels like more bang for their buck and incentivizes bigger hauls.


Gamify Giveaways for Viral Sharing

Giveaway contests are another way to engage customers and spread codes creatively. You can gamify giveaways with fun themes for maximum sharing potential.


For example, Elf Cosmetics created an "Eyes. Lips. Famous." contest for customers to share an eyeshadow or lipstick shade that makes them "feel famous." Each entry included the code FAMOUS to score a contest discount.


The cheeky theme and contest element made the code spread across social media through user-generated content. Make your giveaway theme fun and on-brand for natural buzz.


Some giveaway ideas:

  • Share "shelfie" pics for a chance to win free products

  • Submit pet photos with your product for discounts

  • DIY makeup/craft contests featuring your supplies

Contests drive sales through both code sharing and incentivizing purchases to enter giveaways. Plus, you can repost user submissions as UGC!


Personalize Codes with Customer Name

Here's a simple but powerful tactic - personalize codes using the customer's first name!


People love seeing their name in print. It makes them feel recognized as an individual. Brands like Force of Nature send customized coupon codes like JENNIFER20 in dedicated promo emails.


You can dynamically generate these with email services like Mailchimp using merge tags. Make sure your ecommerce platform can accept customized codes too.


Segment and target groups with different personalized coupon amounts based on:

  • Past order amount/frequency

  • Abandoned cart status

  • Product category preferences

When you take a mass coupon code and tailor it to someone directly, they feel special and are more likely to buy.


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Partner With Complementary Brands

Team up with another brand to co-promote discount codes and reach new audiences. This turns codes into a cross-promotion opportunity.


For example, natural deodorant brands partner with eco-friendly subscription boxes to include discount flyers. The deodorant brand gains exposure to new green-conscious subscribers.


Some partnership ideas:

  • Co-create bundles: Offer package deals pairing your products

  • Cross-promote: Share/email each other's current promo codes

  • Give commission: Let partners share codes earning a % of sales

Choose partner brands that share your values and aesthetic but have different, complementary products. This lets you tap each other's audiences without direct competition.


Joint promos expand your visibility exponentially by combining forces! Both brands can share the spotlight.


Launch Flash Sales for Urgency

Flash sales build hype with their temporary, urgent nature. This tactic works well when launching new products.


For example, outdoor gear brand Peak Design will announce 24-hour first access flash sales when releasing highly anticipated new bags. Customers sign up for early discounts before new launches officially hit the site.


Some best practices for flash sale coupons:

  • Keep the duration 24 hours or less to create urgency

  • Use striking visuals with red bold countdowns on site

  • Announce the flash sale on social media to spread the word

  • Offer tiered discounts - higher savings for the first 100 people, etc.

  • Limit quantities at the flash sale price to maintain long term value

  • Require email sign up to access the code for email capture

Flash sales drive impulse purchases with their now-or-never pricing. Time your releases around new product launches for optimal exposure.


Seed Sneak Peek Codes With Loyalty Members

Here's one just for your VIPs! Give your most loyal returning customers early access to new codes before general release.


Fashion brand Reformation offers first dibs on seasonal promo codes to their top tier members a day before the main email blast. This makes these shoppers feel valued as brand insiders.


You can share insider codes via:

  • SMS text message

  • Direct social media message

  • Loyalty program group email

Then roll out the code more widely the next day. Beloved customers will feel special getting that prized early heads up. It also gives them a chance to take advantage of codes before masses of shoppers jump on sales.


This builds loyalty by treating your best shoppers like royalty!


Over to You!


There you have it - 10 creative ways to craft discount codes that captivate customers and actually drive sales! From partnerships to personalization, flash sales to loyalty perks, I hope these tactics sparked some ideas you can try for your own business.


The key is making codes feel special, not generic. Approach them thoughtfully, with campaigns tailored to your products and audience segments. When promos provide real value in a fun way, customers notice and engage.


Now I'd love to hear from you! What unique discount code strategies have worked to boost your sales? Share your stories and insights in the comments below! Let's keep the conversation going.


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