With the large interest in daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, the email coupon is making a glorious return. Many email marketers in retail and other industries alike are re-evaluating the tactics and use of coupons. But are you getting the most out of your coupon emails? And what do you do with “abandoned coupons”?

When Is Your Coupon Email a Success?

To see how we can improve, we first have to see what defines success and how to measure it. What metrics would you use when evaluating a coupon email? The number of emails opened, links clicked or the number of coupons printed? While these numbers give some insight into how your emails perform, they don’t say anything about the end result of the campaign.

And as it turns out, a lot of retailers don’t measure the actual redemption of coupons, making the email statistics look good by themselves but not delivering insight into the redemption results.

Prints Don’t Equal Use

Using email stats only is quite misleading. From all the coupons that are printed, only a small percentage makes it to the store and gets redeemed. The number of coupons redeemed might be as low as 15-25%. The coupons get forgotten, lost and expire before being used, so don’t make the mistake of thinking printed coupons equal coupon use.

One on One Tracking Brings Opportunities

By measuring redemption and using personalized coupons to do so, you are able to track people’s redemption on a person by person level. When you stay digital (e-commerce) it is actually quite easily done, but when people go offline and in the real world it usually takes a bit of effort to track that data. Personalized coupons might include a customer number or a personal barcode – even the email address could be used to track individual redemptions.

Optimal Use

Email coupons can do very well as a promotional tool, especially when sent to your list of already interested subscribers. And even more so if the coupons offered are personalized by product preferences. You can offer a more attractive coupon if you know what your recipient likes. It is even possible to trigger coupon emails based on individual behavior. Did someone visit the website and browse through a certain product category? Why not send them an email three days later with a coupon for just that product category?

A lot of money gets left on the table though, as coupons are often used as a one email send, slipping through the attention or interest of the recipient.

Send a Reminder, Series or Abandoned Coupon Email

Sending a reminder in a series of emails can greatly boost coupon usage. A reminder might be in the form of an email asking for more attention to the original deal, usually with an extra emphasis on the deal expiring, which can create a feeling of urgency. The same mechanisms work with a post-minder, where you send an email after the deal would normally expire but with a time extension or a new (altered) deal.

Normally, reminder mails will be sent to the people that didn’t make use of a deal just yet. The non-openers, non-clickers and non-printers (in case of printed coupons). But that is actually not the most interesting group….

People that Abandoned Your Coupon

Remember that 75% to 85% of subscribers that printed your coupon but didn’t redeem it (yet)? They abandoned your coupon after taking the time and effort to print it. So they are very likely to be the most smoking hot prospects you will find, almost ready to buy. Use the tracking information you collected from individual coupon redemption to mine this golden group. Identifying the printed but not redeemed group brings the opportunity to execute your abandoned coupon program.

What to do with the abandoned coupon group? Send them a reminder, series or re-market them later. This can be as blunt as: “Did you forget to redeem your coupon?” or more subtle. The message also determines a huge part of the success, so use whatever works best for you and your brand. It is a great opportunity to boost the metrics that matter; in this case, coupon use.