Discounts and Coupons in eCommerce Email Marketing

Eradium discount and coupons in-ecommerce email marketing

Discounts and Coupons in eCommerce Email Marketing

Which promotions discount is more effective: Free Shipping, X Dollars off or Y% discounts.

This article is from the weekly series of posts about eCommerce Email Marketing Best Practices.

There is nothing more iconic than a sale sign in a retail store. Sales are the number one reason people will buy items that they do not necessarily need just because they think they are getting a good deal.

Offers with Discount Coupons in eCommerce Email Marketing are very popular among online and traditional retail brands. Every day I open my email box it is flooded with emails offering anywhere from 10% to 90%, $10, $50 off, and so on.

How do you stand out with your incentive from the crowd when everyone around is offering some sort of discount?

There is no one winning formula of the promotional discounts in email marketing. The guiding principle is to tailor your offer to the products you sell and your customer audience.

For example, there is no point offering a bundle discount on winter boots but a bundle deal is great for a product that is used frequently such as shampoo.

Based on the latest statistics (3) there are a number of factors to be considered when you plan promotional discounts for your next email campaign:

 Coupons are the key

  • About 93% of Shoppers Use a Coupon or Discount Code Throughout the Year. Online coupon codes are very effective way to increase sales, they are easy to implement and shoppers are actively seeking them.
  • 75% of Consumers Report Scouring Their Inboxes Just to Look for Relevant Discounts
  • Seven Out of Ten People Reported Using an Emailed Discount in the Previous Week
  • 50% Increase in Quantity Is the Same as a 33% Discount
  • You Can Sell Up to 73% More if You Offer a Bonus Pack
  • 30% of People Purchase to Gain Something and 70% Purchase to Solve a Problem. In discount marketing, this means you must strategically word the discount. Instead of offering 50% off, opt for “buy one get one free.” Consumers love to get (or think they’re getting) something for free. (3)

When it comes to the types of digital promotions most likely to influence purchase decisions, coupons beat out sales and daily deal vouchers by a wide margin, according to a survey of 500 US consumers who used a digital coupon, offer, or online promotion code in the prior 3 months. The study was conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of RetailMeNot. (2)

Which promotions discount incentives are the most effective? (1)

Eradium discount coupons in ecommerce email-marketing incentives statistic

The important question is what works better for your customers: free shipping or a discount offer? (1)

Eradium discount coupons in ecommerce email marketing free shipping-statistic

We can see from the research that for age segment 25 -34 discount offers outperform free shipping, but free shipping is more important for 56 – 65 age demographic.

Because of that we have to consider who is our prime customer segment and personalize our offers by demographic to maximize promotion success rate.

This week we are reviewing e-commerce emails with coupons and promotional discounts from the following retail brands: Macy’s, Layla Grayce, SHOEme Saks Fifth Avenue, The Bay.

All emails will be rated from 1* to 5*, where 1 means poor and 5 is great.
We review on a weekly basis:

  1. Colors – colors have good contrast, consistent
  2. Typography – fonts have readable size, clear titles
  3. Images – clear, visible, easy to understand
  4. Formatting – blocks follow each other in an easy to navigate pattern
  5. Mobile Optimized – all elements are visible and formatted correctly on the mobile phone


  1. Subject line – signals urgency and clear main offer that will be found inside the email
  2. Clear offer – one main offer with clear call to action
  3. Urgency to purchase – time, stock, shipping that motivates the buyer to purchase
  4. Product highlights – clear description of the products to evoke the interest of the reader

Winer – 1st Place

Email 1: Macys

Subject Line: Just for you anna: extra 20% off, even on designer names!‏

Eradium-back-to-school-email-marketing First Place
Eradium discount coupons in ecommerce email marketing Macys 1
Eradium discount coupons in ecommerce email marketing Macys 2


  1. Colors: 4*
  2. Fonts: 5*
  3. Images: 5*
  4. Formatting: 5*
  5. Mobile Optimized: 4*


  1. Subject line: 5*
  2. Clear offer: 5*
  3. Urgency to purchase: 5*
  4. Product highlights: 4*

Overall rating: 4.7*
This email is one of the best coupon promotional emails. It has a very catchy and personalized subject line. It has VIP Coupon promotion with link directly to the products on sale and a clear indication that the offer just for me, which makes the shopper feel more connected to the brand.
The remaining sections of the email link to other promotion so there is no confusion on which promotion is a priority.

2nd Place

Email 2: Layla Grayce

Subject Line: 15% off is fading fast!‏

Eradium discount coupons in ecommerce email marketing Layla Grayce 1
Eradium discount coupons in ecommerce email marketing Layla Grayce 2


  1. Colors: 4*
  2. Fonts: 5*
  3. Images: 4*
  4. Formatting: 5*
  5. Mobile Optimized: 4*


  1. Subject line: 4*
  2. Clear offer: 4*
  3. Urgency to purchase: 4*
  4. Product highlights: 4*

Overall rating: 4.2*


This is a great looking email. It has pretty colors and pictures. The discount code is clearly indicated at the top of the email. The colors chosen are great since they are gender neutral and can appeal to a wide range of shoppers.

3rd Place

Email 3:

Subject Line: Last chance! 15% off sale ends tonight‏

Eradium discount coupons in ecommerce email marketing SHOEme


  1. Colors: 4*
  2. Fonts: 4*
  3. Images: 1*
  4. Formatting: 5*
  5. Mobile Optimized: 5*


  1. Subject line: 4*
  2. Clear offer: 5*
  3. Urgency to purchase: 5*
  4. Product highlights: 0*

Overall rating: 3.7*


This a very simple design of a discount email with no visual assets. It is clear and straight to the point. Such promotions are more for a direct purchase based on a specific need versus a more impulse purchases based on emotions.

4th Place

Email 4: Saks Fifth Avenue

Subject Line: Starting Today: SALE, Up to 70% OFF‏

Eradium discount coupons in ecommerce email marketing Saks Fifth Avenue


  1. Colors: 3*
  2. Fonts: 3*
  3. Images: 2*
  4. Formatting: 4*
  5. Mobile Optimized: 4*


  1. Subject line: 4*
  2. Clear offer: 4*
  3. Urgency to purchase: 3*
  4. Product highlights: 0*

Overall rating: 3*
The biggest issue with this email besides style is the fact that there is no promotion code and a specific product that might be on sale. Such promotions usually have low conversion rates since the shopper does not really know what he will get once he/she clicks the link.

5th Place

Email 5: Hudson’s Bay

Subject Line: FINAL HOURS: 30% off dresses, including special occasion‏


  1. Colors:3*
  2. Fonts:3*
  3. Images:3*
  4. Formatting:4*
  5. Mobile Optimized: 4*


  1. Subject line:3*
  2. Clear offer:3*
  3. Urgency to purchase:4*
  4. Product highlights:2*

Overall rating: 2.9*


The dark background makes the font hard to read or clearly see the image. There is no promotional discount code and I am really confused why sleepwear and lingerie are part of the dress sale. This an example of a promotion that is not very clear in terms of setting expectations for a shopper based on the subject line which will have low click through rate.

Just for Fun

I did not even know that the site had issues but received this email. It is a bold move to notify all their customers about their store having issues.   People that were actually affected by this outage might not be impressed by this offer.

Eradium discount coupons in ecommerce email marketing Neiman Marcus


How to prepare effective promotional discounts campaigns:

10 Proven Tips!

  1. Integrate with instore– make sure that the coupon code used online and in store available in digital format. The last thing you want is to make people print coupons.
  2. Integrate with social media – promote coupons on all social channels to get the word out to as much audience as possible. Include sharing and likes links for all promotions.
  3. Include great visuals– Include pictures of products that are sharp with bright colors and fonts that will intrigue consumers.
  4. Target consumers based on location – With geo-targeting able to take advantage of consumer location to deliver coupons when they’re nearby.
  5. Make it time sensitive – all coupons must have an end date
  6. Do not overuse – do not include more than 1-2 offers per email. There is nothing worse than being confused by what the offer that is applicable to the purchase really is.
  7. Do not repeat – do not use the same type of coupon every week as they will lose their appeal very quickly.
  8. Personalize-Include personal information such as name, location or other information will help appeal to the emotions of shoppers. Try not to send offers that might be offensive to certain demographic groups unless you have a well-segmented list.
  9. Make coupons discount specific – make sure that discounts are relevant to the products you are selling. Experiment with bundles, multiple discounts or free offers if those are applicable for your store type.
  10. Manage your stock – Make sure you have a good stock of the item being discounted – otherwise the sale will be insufficient, as shoppers will get bad customer experience based on unavailability. It does not matter how big the discount is if you cannot buy it. 

Let the coupon wars begin!


  1. Online Discounts vs. Free Shipping,
  2. Coupon marketing: facts and usage statistics,
  3. 10 Important Statistics Your Company Needs to Know About,
Anna Battrick

Anna Battrick is Eradium’s Director of Ecommerce Services, has an extensive background in retail marketing and project management. With over 10 years of managing complex projects from inception to completion while always maintaining “it can be done” spirit. The world of retail is not only a professional interest but also a personal hobby which lets Anna see the other side of retail, from a shopper perspective. This helps create engaging marketing programs that speak personally to the shoppers interests and engage them in a conversation.

To start a dialog about your next eCommerce initiative