We all know that shoppers today expect more ease, simplicity and personalization in their buying experience. It’s been a priority in the retail industry for years – reducing friction throughout the shopper journey. Reducing friction is key for long-term success, however a lot of the solutions are focused on fancy new toys, like in-store AI or Augmented Reality. But what if you could just be smarter with a tool you already have in your arsenal to combat friction? Well you can, with promotions and here’s how.

Did you know?

The top 6 coupon affiliates combined achieve 60.5 million in monthly organic traffic?


Promotions probably aren’t the first thought when trying to figure out how to reduce friction. However, we know that 87% of people begin product searches online (1) and a survey revealed that 97% of shoppers look for deals while they shop and 92% of people are “always” looking for deals (8). That’s a lot of people – and makes promotions a big player throughout the shopper journey.

Just how big? We reviewed organic results and found that the top 6 coupon affiliates have a combined monthly organic traffic of over 60.5 million visits. Some of this traffic is further down the funnel, but millions of these visits are during the Awareness stage stemming from “Non-brand + Discount” or “Product/Category + Discount” search terms. These shoppers don’t know where they will buy, but they mostly have the category or product narrowed down.

Instead of letting shoppers fumble around in the not-so-glamorous land of coupon affiliates, be the brand they find. By creating an SEO strategy around discount keywords, brands can win these searches, create a better shopper experience, and move shoppers more quickly to the next stage of the funnel. This doesn’t mean that you have to give away the farm; use promotions, deals, and sales that are already running as content to win that traffic.

Below is an example of a brand winning these “ “Non-brand + Discount” or “Product/Category + Discount” searches and a category that is open for the taking.


As shoppers consider their options, they are still heavily influenced by deals and promotions. This is why so many brands consistently have deals and discounts. On the flip side, we often hear that most brands are trying to be less promotional. So what’s one to do with these contradicting ideas?

Studies show that 77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand who offers a personalized experience (2). This gives brands a great opportunity to delight customers with personalized experiences while being less promotional. 

Try utilizing personalized promotions to make the flow from consideration to purchase more fluid. Making customers feel like something is just for them can improve conversion rates by more than 300% (3). This can be done through segmentation, hidden/special offers based on shopper attributes, and designated “For You” offers to give the appearance of personalization. For a more sophisticated solution, brands can leverage machine learning to understand shopper preferences as they browse to deliver deals based on relevancy, frequency and monetization. 

In addition to personalized promotions, shoppers are also looking for mobile in-store coupons. In fact, 67% of shoppers choose a store based on the availability of mobile coupons (4). There are several proven ways to attract these shoppers and make it more friction-less for them to shop: 

  • utilize Apple Wallet to make mobile coupons easier to distribute and manage
  • add coupons to local store pages on your site 
  • mobile-friendly codes and barcodes that can be easily scanned at checkout


Decision and Purchase

You’ve got them. Items are in their cart and the shopper is headed for checkout. But then, they vanish – nearly 70% of them (5). Across the e-commerce landscape, cart abandonment is a huge problem. Many reasons you already know – unexpected shipping costs, the length of the process, having to create an account – but eMarketer shows that over 27% of cart abandonment can be attributed to shoppers who wanted to look for a coupon code (6). We can also safely assume that many more search for a coupon code and either find one to use or purchase anyway. 

That “One Little Box”, as Neil Patel puts it, sends shoppers looking for a coupon code and straight to coupon affiliates, unsure if they are finding the best deal. Or worse, finding your competitor’s deal. Instead, brands like Macy’s, who give shoppers a link directly to available coupons, see larger than expected incremental sales (7). This solution keeps shoppers on your site and gives them the peace of mind that they have the best deals available. Another method used by some brands is to minimize or collapse the coupon code box to reduce distraction during checkout. Both options reduce friction in the checkout process and allow shoppers to complete their purchase with more ease. 

As backup, and in line with the recommended Awareness strategy , we recommend also creating an SEO strategy around “Brand Name + Coupon” or similar search terms. Now even if a shopper goes on a coupon expedition, they land right back on your site with fewer clicks, pops and confusion. 

Many brands also implement exit offers when it looks like a shopper is leaving the page. These can be highly effective, however if you’re looking to be less promotional, we recommend the direct link to offers. This way those shoppers who are looking for offers will self-select to view offers, but those who don’t need an offer to convert are less likely to use one.


Reducing friction throughout the shopper journey is definitely not a simple task. Incentives are a tool that almost all brands already use and with the right strategy and implementation, they can be a very effective in reducing friction and getting shoppers to become customers. Here’s a recap of strategies to implement:

  • Awareness

    Utilize existing promotions content to create a winning SEO strategy around non-branded discount keywords.

  • Consideration

    Implement personalized promotions and mobile in-store offers to drive higher conversion.

  • Purchase

    Visually update promo code box for desired affect and implement SEO strategy for branded discount keywords.