How to make a discount code worth more than just a discount

Here, we look at how discount cards can be a good way of developing a better relationship with your customers.

Offering discount codes to customers both new and old is a great way of encouraging them to engage with (ie buy from) your business. But the aim of a discount code shouldn’t be to simply make a single sale; it should be to help develop a relationship with your customer that leads to them coming back to you time and time again. If that sounds like a tall order for the humble discount code, you might not be using them correctly.


The idea that a discount code could help develop a relationship with a customer might seem a bit odd at first – after all, how could a code sent out in an email or a tweet say much about your business? The truth is that often they can’t. Someone browsing through their inbox is unlikely to make much of your discount code squashed between offers for products they don’t want and newsletters they can’t remember signing up for.

While people might not look twice at a discount code in an email, if they’re given a physical plastic discount card their reaction will be altogether different. Of course, this will incur additional costs – you’ll want to hire a designer to create an eye-catching and engaging card and you’ll need to pay a printing company to manufacture these cards. But while discount cards are a more expensive way of distributing discount codes, they can be much more effective and when used correctly they come with a host of additional advantages, which will hopefully convert your new customer into a loyal customer.

Eye catching

Give your discount card an inspiring, humorous or edgy design and the card becomes something that people don’t just use, but something they think is cool. They tell their friends about it, tweet about it, and keep it long after they’ve used the code, just because it looks enticing.

In the mind of your customer your company doesn’t just send out a mass email hoping that someone will take a bite; your company has a brand full of character that isn’t afraid of making a personal touch. Whether you directly mail the cards to people, offer them in print publications, or just hand them out on the street, make your discount card a visual knockout and you’ll inevitably leave a lasting impression.

Don’t waste space

Take a look at the reverse side of some of the cards in your wallet. It’s likely that a lot of them largely ignore the space on the back – you might find a telephone number if you’re lucky, but there won’t be much else. Wasted space is a wasted opportunity. You could be using that space to advertise some of your business’ lesser known services, or even to promote a local business that you partner. Even simply using the reverse side to state your company’s motto would be better than nothing, as it helps to reinforce your company’s values.

Money can’t buy love

As you can see, a discount card is so much more effective than a simple code in an email as it does so much more than just offering a reduced price. It can tell the story of your brand, help you make a personal connection with your customers and be the spark that helps transform them into long-term loyal customers. Of course, a discount card won’t do that on its own – the service and products you offer have to stand out from the crowd as well. But every loyal customer was at some point a new customer – and discount cards could be just the thing that helps you capture the imagination of that new customer.

These tips were written by plastic card expert Matt Payne, owner of the plastic card printer Oomph.

Further reading on discounting

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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