Although the economy is obviously not in the best condition right now, the holiday season is upon us, and while people might not be spending as much money this year as they have in previous years, people are still going to spend money on presents for their loved ones.
Since you are smart enough to spend your valuable time reading this blog, if you are a small business owner, I’m going to assume that you have a website for your small business.  If this assumption is correct, I want to say congratulations, because you have a huge advantage over many of your competitors.  While it seems obvious to me and everyone else who is involved in the Internet marketing industry, a large percentage of small businesses still don’t have websites (and even fewer have properly optimized online presences).

So, because we know people are using the Internet to shop for Christmas presents, and you have a website that you want to use to attract more customers for your small business, what’s the single most effective way to accomplish this goal?  Not only is there a single method that is truly the most effective, but it is a simple, seven letter word: coupons.

Now, at first glance, you may be disappointed that this entire post is focused on coupons.  However, let me clarify that I’m not talking about the “Save $0.25 on Toilet Paper” coupons that some people still clip out of newspapers .  I’m talking about one or more coupons that really grabs people’s attention and makes them want to buy your product(s).

(this is the type of coupon that gets people’s attention)

To get you on the right track, let’s look at three key reasons why coupons can be so powerful:

The Viral Effect: People like to share useful things with their friends and family, and a great coupon falls right into that category.  Instead of having to do all of the promotion on your own, you can begin promoting a coupon to customers, and then they will continue promoting it for you by emailing it to their friends and family.

Automatic Link Builder: Tying in with the point above, if you have a coupon that gets people’s attention, it’s going to be linked to by bloggers and other Internet users who want to share it with their readers.  Instead of spending your time getting a hundred low quality directory backlinks, wouldn’t you rather make one coupon and then let it automatically build links for you?

The Ball’s in Their Court: Since coupons have an expiration date on them, you are putting subtle pressure on customers’ to make a purchase before time runs out.  This can be a great way to persuade people who have been hestiating to make a purchase to actually pull out their wallets and complete a transaction.

Keep in mind that in order for people to take the desired actions in relation to your coupon, it needs to have substance behind it.  So, whether it’s an amazing offer that no one will be able to turn down, or you take a more creative approach (such as donating to a charity every time that a coupon is used), make sure that you get a couple of honest opinions about the attractiveness of any coupons before you publish them on your website.

If you have any other tips for effectively using coupons to increase your sales, or you have a coupon success story, be sure to share with us in the comments below!