16 Types of Mobile Coupons You Can Use Today – Definitive Guide to Discounting


SMS providers work with retailers, restaurants and other companies who love to deliver coupons. Delivering offers to your customers is one of the strongest ways a brand can acquire new users and engage existing ones.

The most effective offers balance engagement and profit margin. Engagement is measured by the efficacy of a campaign; for example, the percentage of people who complete a desired goal, such as coupon redemption. Profit margin is how much money you will make on each offer. As a general rule of thumb, the lower the profit margin, the better the offer for consumers, and therefore the higher the engagement.

It’s also important to measure and optimize your campaigns. To efficiently track and increase redemptions, mobile coupon types are a must; with 91% of consumers interested in receiving mobile coupons, higher redemption rates than email or print, and low-cost to deliver– sending coupons to a phone is essential for any modern promotional campaign. And with mobile wallet apps growing in popularity, SMS also is a great way to deliver coupons through mobile wallet passes, which can be branded and updated dynamically.

Promotions come in all shapes and sizes, but we’ve broken them down into five categories: discounts, spending, buying, free and other.  Here is a list of the offer types we like best:

Discount Offers

1. Discount Percentage on Purchase Total: This is one of the simplest offers to distribute. Simply discount a percentage off the total purchase price. The offer could be 10% off, so it does not matter if customers spend $100 or $5: same discount. Example:

Get 20% off your purchase

2. Discount on specific item: Just like the previous offer, except instead of the purchase total, the discount only applies to a specific item. Example:

Get 20% off one Krusty Burger

Spending Offers

3. Spend $X and get a percentage discount on total purchase: Very common in offer in the retail space. If you spend a certain amount of money, you’ll get a certain percentage off the total purchase. This is an offer that can help bump up cart size significantly. Example:

Spend $100 and get 10% off your entire purchase

4. Spend $X and get a set amount of credit: Spend $X and get $X is an excellent way to get customers to purchase another item. Example:

Spend $100 and get $20 of credit

5. Spend $X and get an item free: Great way to increase cart size by offering an item that a person would like but may not buy. Example:

Spend $100 and get a free scarf

Buying Offers

6. Buy X, get X free: Any variation of Buy 1 get 1 Free performs well. For retail apparel, it often makes sense to offer Buy 1 of an item to get a second free since the customer might want the same piece of clothing in different colors. Example:

Buy one polo shirt get a second one free

7. Buy X, get Y free: Another variation of the BOGO that is usually suited more towards restaurants. Example:

Buy one Krusty Burger and get a free order of fries

8. Buy X get Y discounted: Not quite a BOGO but still great. This works well whether the first item is more or less expensive than the second one. Great for apparel retailers who want to potentially sell items that generally go together. Example:

Buy any 2015 winter coat and get 15% off boots

Free Offers

9. Free Shipping: Free shipping is such a treat. The value is often small but it removes a significant headache from customers. Example:

Free Shipping if you order today

10. Free consultation: This is common offer for B2B businesses. I have seen this used quite frequently in the research space where, if I buy a report, I am offered a free consultation. This is a great way to get in touch with customers. Example:

Free consultation if you purchase this report

11. Rebate Coupon: Rebates are not my favorite offer type because they require more work on the customer’s part, but the margin is generally higher because not 100% of people will mail in the rebate coupon. Example:

$100 back with mail-in rebate

12. Totally Free item: This is a very rare offer type and is mostly used as a PR move, such as McDonalds offering free coffee in the morning, or Ben & Jerrys offering free ice cream. Example:

Come in this Tuesday for a free coffee.

Other Offers

13. Loyalty Special: Many of the items above can be used in a loyalty program, but consider offering specific rewards for people who can show some sort of membership or status. Example:

All VIP Club members get 20% off their purchase this week. If you’re not a member sign up here:

14. Personal Information offer: Some of us had this experience when we turned 21: walking into a bar and telling them it was your birthday, showing them your ID and getting your first free legal drink. Sharing information in return for an offer is a great way to incentivize customers to share preferences, location and more. Example:

Reply with your email address to get an additional $20

15. Refer a friend: Granting people credit or additional services for each person they refer has been enormously successful for brands like Dropbox and Uber. Whether it’s more storage space, money or entries into a sweepstakes, referring people is a sure-fire way to generate interest. Example:

Refer a friend and $5 credit for each person who signs up

16. Dynamic coupons: This is the cutting edge of coupons: offering coupons whose value may shift. This includes mobile wallet passes, which allow you to put dynamic content in your customers’ mobile wallet apps; gamified coupons, such as scratchers or spin-to-win games; time-based coupons where the user has a clock countdown to use the coupon, with the offer changing every second. Example:


Whether you send offers through promotional codes, mobile wallet passes, or even gamification techniques, mobile messaging involves consistently delivering offers like these to customers. Not only do we believe that varied offers are key to having success, but ensuring that you can track these offers from start to finish is imperative. Next week, we will be covering the best way to track coupons across multiple channels.

Want to learn more about using SMS to send coupons? Awesome! Check out a quick demo of our platform.

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