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Digital vs. Print Coupons

Monday January 25th, 2016

Digital coupons are the present and future. Thanks to technology, finding digital coupons is possible for anyone with an internet or data connection. Websites where you can find coupons make it possible to access discounts wherever you are. Stores are even accepting digitally presented barcodes over print codes, making paper coupons seem irrelevant. However, print coupons aren’t dead; they simply play a slightly different role in marketing today.

The Rise of Digital Coupons


Ever since the digital age, it ‘s become easier than ever to market coupons. With just a few clicks, it’s possible to alert customers all over the world about the benefits of retail discounts. For that reason, coupon use has risen nearly 30 percent since 2008, according to a Knowledge Networks trend report. One of the biggest reasons for this is a rise in awareness that coupons exist. This has driven businesses to make more coupons and consumers to seek them out.

Digital coupons have revealed several things, both about the way business works and the consumers that use them. Studies have shown that coupons are very effective at bringing in new customers, boosting last minute sales in commerce, increasing return on investments, and increasing the demand for certain products.

One of the most revealing aspects of this trend report is that coupons increase a consumer’s desire to purchase a product. According to the data that was analyzed, 46 percent of those who redeem digital coupons have not purchased the product or service previously. When they receive a digital coupon, it encourages spending on something they normally wouldn’t purchase.

Another important thing to note about coupons is that redemption rates have spiked since digital coupons became big. On average, the redemption rate of digital coupons is approximately 77 percent, significantly higher than print coupons. This can be both good and bad for companies. On the one hand, higher redemption rates mean that more people are taking advantage of the sale, increasing the amount of sales. For most companies, however, this is a worthy sacrifice, because on the other hand, digital coupons are increasing brand awareness and the number of customers that purchase items.

Digital couponing can be quite an expense for companies, however. Most companies will tell you it’s entirely worth it for them to create and market coupons, but it’s something they need to prepare for in their budget. Before beginning a digital coupon campaign, companies should be able to handle the reduced return on investment that comes with online coupons.

The Performance of Print Coupons


Print coupons have been deemed highly effective ever since Coca Cola issued the first coupon in 1887. Since then, billions have taken advantage of the sales provided by retailers and manufacturers each year. However, with the invention of the iPhone in 2007, smartphone use took off, making the ability to search and use coupons in a digital format much easier. With this sudden shift to the digital age, many companies began to believe that print coupons were on their way out.

However, that’s proven to be untrue. In fact, according to the Knowledge Network trend report, print coupons still represent 44 percent of the coupon market. More importantly, most businesses find that print coupons return a higher investment than their digital counterparts. This makes them a common choice for retailers and manufacturers alike.

They haven’t lost their popularity among consumers either. According to a study featured recently on PR Newswire, 70 percent of consumers still look for and use traditional print coupons in their subscription newspapers, magazines, and in the mail. This shows that the millennial generation isn’t quite ready to give up their Sunday paper coupon inserts.


The Verdict: Digital or Print Coupons?


The answer to which format of coupon is most effective is a little complicated. It depends on a number of factors including your company budget, marketing strategy, and target audience. To sum it all up, there are a few key differences that will help you make that decision for yourself.

Digital coupons perform better than print. Besides the fact that they’re better at building brand awareness, they help to attract more customers than print. On average, digital coupons tend to perform 35 percent better than print in bringing in new customers, retaining existing customers, and raising brand awareness.

Print coupons typically provide a higher return on investment. Digital coupons typically receive a lower ROI by 18 percent. This is mostly due to higher redemption rates, which make it so that more people use the coupons, resulting in reduced revenue per sale for you. With this information, it’s important to consider whether spreading your brand and gaining customers is more important to you than receiving more revenue per transaction.

Digital coupons are easier to distribute. Digital couponing eliminates the need for printing and mailing coupons to your mass audience, collecting physical addresses here and there, and hoping that your magazine or newspaper coupon will be seen. Big data makes it easy to collect email addresses, and with a simple email marketing strategy, social media, and monthly newsletter, you can reach a larger number of people with less effort.

Print coupons are cheaper. The cost of printing and shipping coupons is historically cheaper than collecting addresses, paying social media geniuses, and developing digital marketing strategies. However, when compared with the higher performance of digital coupons, this fact is often contested.

Both print and digital coupons have their pros and cons. Most businesses try to use a healthy balance of both, in order to get the best of both worlds. The coupon business is booming more than ever, and it doesn’t look like they are going anywhere anytime soon.

However, it’s important to note that the use of coupons will continue to progress in a digital age. As of now, print coupons are considered equally as effective as digital, but that statistic could fluctuate as technology progresses. It’s important to keep an eye on couponing trends and adapt accordingly to stay on your game with couponing.


Contact Mandlik & Rhodes

Monitoring the current couponing trends can be difficult, and it may not be something your company is equipped to handle. At Mandlik & Rhodes, we can help. We’re a leader in the couponing industry and interested in helping your company make the most of their sales with coupons and discounts. We can help you create and distribute coupons and keep you informed on the most current strategies. For more information about how Mandlik & Rhodes can help your company specifically, contact us today!