In the highly competitive e-commerce market, voucher codes have become a key vertical in the performance marketing industry, generating billions in revenue. The use of vouchers is ever increasing, with Invesp estimating that 31 billion online voucher codes will be redeemed worldwide in 2019.

Nevertheless, despite the huge market potential, guaranteeing the success of a voucher code campaign is no small feat. The wrong strategy can make voucher codes go unnoticed or become a margin-squeezing race to the bottom. Thus, to help your strategy succeed here are four must-knows when planning your next campaign.

What’s the strategy?

Voucher codes are extremely effective in delivering incremental sales. The core consideration should be what the end goal is in mind with the use of voucher codes. Is it one or a combination of the following?

1. To leverage sales during a particular season or event (e.g. Christmas)

2. Drive new customer acquisition or re-engage with lapsed customers

3. Sell excess inventory and merchandise

4. Offer best in market prices and offers (margin permitting)

5. Increase basket size with stretch and save codes

Additionally, it may be important to understand the distribution strategy, and whether unique codes will be used to manage any leakage issues. It’s worth noting that some tracking platforms can combat leakage by paying the approved publisher commission for sales driven by someone else.

In the absence of voucher code functionality at checkout, an advertiser might think of offering alternative incentives such as digital gifting in order to convert a sale. The variety of gift cards on offer means creative campaigns can be implemented to achieve some of the above five business goals.

2. Combining content and coupons – media publisher partnerships

Savvy shoppers search for a specific product or service that best fits their needs. Where they end up purchasing from can have unintended results. In fact, Google has identified what they dub “the path to an unexpected retailer”. A deal seeker on this customer path might make a purchase in a previously unconsidered shop that was discovered whilst browsing.

To help these deal seekers’ need for information (particularly from trustworthy and reliable sources), premium media companies have entered the couponing industry by partnering with traditional voucher code publishers. This allows for the holy grail of overlaps: content and coupons, and allows advertisers to tap into a new and significant audience. The other advantage of such partnerships is the brand safety they offer. Where trust is important for brands, offering deals and discounts in an online broadsheet environment carries huge appeal and reassurance.

3. Driving offline to online

Printed voucher codes have been around since 1887 and will continue to assume importance for brands. Coupon plus content campaigns that include the placement of voucher codes in media publications allow advertisers to reach traditional deal seekers and drive them online to make a sale. Using QR codes in newspapers or magazines are examples of embracing creative technological means to engage readers with a view to redeeming an offer.

Conversely, mobile voucher codes can be used to drive sales in bricks and mortar stores. According to Google, 50% of consumers that conduct a local search on their smartphones visit a store within a day. In this context, marketers can implement near-field generation or geolocation voucher code campaigns on mobiles. Complying with GDPR, location-based or proximity marketing is still an effective way to persuade nearby customers to make a purchase in local stores through voucher codes or deals via SMS or push notifications.

4. The future is here

The future of voucher code is closer than we think. Developments using cookieless tracking, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain technology, chatbots, and proximity marketing have already started. Voice-activated voucher codes are an example of what the future is bringing us.

Virtual assistants have been entering all aspects of our lives. They’re in smartphones, homes and now, in the voucher code market. In 2018, Google released the first voice-activated coupon for Target orders placed on Google Express via Google Assistant. By typing or saying to Google Assistant “Spring into Target,” shoppers were able to obtain $15 credit valid for their next purchase for the retail brand Target on Google Express.

It might take us some time to see voice-activated voucher codes as a regular practice in our industry. Nevertheless, cookieless initiatives favour the development of creative performance marketing campaigns. It’s something that should be on any voucher code strategy radar given adoption could come about quicker than anticipated.

The final point to note is everyone is responsible for shaping future tactics within the voucher code industry, and it requires constant interrogation of business objectives and challenges. The voucher industry has embraced content, offline, mobile and other creative means to deliver revenue for advertisers. This ingenuity and innovation is vital for the health and continued growth and development of the voucher code industry.