What Not To Do When Running a Coupon Code Promotion

6 years ago by in Promotions Tagged: ,

We can add Best Buy to the list of brands that need to refresh on how to do coupon marketing 101.

For example:  Best Buy recently ran a promotion where they sent an email to a specific segment that said  “Save $50 when you spend $100 in-store and pay with a MasterCard”.  Unfortunately, there were several bestbuythings wrong with this promotion:

– The code was not unique, so many customers could use the promotion

– The coupon did not exclude gift cards. (What a great deal!)

Within 10 minutes of receiving the email, sites like SlickDeals went gang buster.  Within the 1st day of promotion, SlickDeals had 800k views of the original post.  The result, Best Buy is trying to not honor the promotional document and killed the promotion on the 1st day that it launched.

The good news for this promotion is that MasterCard share of credit card purchases this week has gone up, bad news this is a very expensive way to acquire customers to use their MasterCard.

Coupon code promotions best practices:

After running coupon code promotions for brands like Expedia and Amazon, here are some best practices that I recommend to brands:

– Use one time use – unique codes. This is the best practice out there.  As a brand, it allows you to ensure that the right customer is using the right promotion

– Always have someone else on your team check the code.

– Always check your terms and conditions.  This should be a no brainer.

Coupon code promotions are not complicated and are a great tool when used correctly.  On the other hand, when ran improperly, they are a very expensive exercise and a bad customer experience.

Update 9.13pm 1-21-2013:

Well, it appears the marketing guys at Best Buy saw the deal threads and were overwhelmed by the customers coming to their store with this coupon.  So, when you thought it couldn’t get worse, it just did. They updated the T&Cs for the promotion.  I am not quiet clear what you can buy as the same items are listed in both product inclusions and product exclusions, for example Blu-ray players.  Here’s a quote from a customer on one of the forums which pretty much sums it up.


You know why Best Buy has a bad rap? It’s because of stuff like this. People are not stupid, yet their marketing people are complete idiots. Put a one week deal and then come out later saying it’s only 1 day? Then, say of we forgot to exclude things? That’s bad business and why Best Buy has earned the title Worst Buy…and don’t get me started on the mangers that don’t know or won’t even abide by Besy Buy’s own policies and the poorly trained associates. Just one more example of a big company that thinks they can consistently lie to customers and get away with it.

Katya Constantine is a seasoned online marketer with over 11 years of experience. She has developed a uniquely comprehensive background in email and omni-channel marketing for large online brands. Most recently, she was at Expedia and Amazon, leading projects ranging from behavior-based programs to increasing customer acquisition and conversion with great results. Katya has successfully worked to bridge mobile, email, search and social channels to increase online performance at many large web properties and ecommerce startups. Presently, Katya is the CEO of DigiShopGirl Media. She is also a marketing mentor for technology startups via Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator program and an active blogger/speaker on topics ranging from mobile email to effects of the visual web on online marketing. You can follow Katya on Twitter @digishopgirl