Traditional Coupons

Digital vs. Print Coupons

Digital coupons are the present and future. Thanks to technology, finding digital coupons is possible for anyone with an internet or data connection. Websites where you can find coupons make it possible to access discounts wherever you are. Stores are even accepting digitally presented barcodes over print codes, making paper coupons seem irrelevant. However, print coupons aren’t dead; they simply play a slightly different role in marketing today.

Print Performance

Print coupons have been deemed highly effective ever since Coca Cola issued the first coupon in 1887. Since then, billions have taken advantage of the sales provided by retailers and manufacturers each year. However, with the invention of the iPhone in 2007, smartphone use took off, making the ability to search and use coupons in a digital format much easier. With this sudden shift to the digital age, many companies began to believe that print coupons were on their way out.

However, that’s proven to be untrue. In fact, according to the Knowledge Network trend report, print coupons still represent 44 percent of the coupon market. More importantly, most businesses find that print coupons return a higher investment than their digital counterparts. This makes them a common choice for retailers and manufacturers alike.

They haven’t lost their popularity among consumers either. According to a study featured recently on PR Newswire, 70 percent of consumers still look for and use traditional print coupons in their subscription newspapers, magazines, and in the mail. This shows that the millennial generation isn’t quite ready to give up their Sunday paper coupon inserts.

The Verdict?

Digital coupons perform better than print. Besides the fact that they’re better at building brand awareness, they help to attract more customers than print. On average, digital coupons tend to perform 35 percent better than print in bringing in new customers, retaining existing customers, and raising brand awareness.

Print coupons typically provide a higher return on investment. Digital coupons typically receive a lower ROI by 18 percent. This is mostly due to higher redemption rates, which make it so that more people use the coupons, resulting in reduced revenue per sale for you. With this information, it’s important to consider whether spreading your brand and gaining customers is more important to you than receiving more revenue per transaction.

Digital coupons are easier to distribute. Digital couponing eliminates the need for printing and mailing coupons to your mass audience, collecting physical addresses here and there, and hoping that your magazine or newspaper coupon will be seen. Big data makes it easy to collect email addresses, and with a simple email marketing strategy, social media, and monthly newsletter, you can reach a larger number of people with less effort.

Print coupons are cheaper. The cost of printing and shipping coupons is historically cheaper than collecting addresses, paying social media geniuses, and developing digital marketing strategies. However, when compared with the higher performance of digital coupons, this fact is often contested.

Both print and digital coupons have their pros and cons. Most businesses try to use a healthy balance of both, in order to get the best of both worlds. The coupon business is booming more than ever, and it doesn’t look like they are going anywhere anytime soon.

However, it’s important to note that the use of coupons will continue to progress in a digital age. As of now, print coupons are considered equally as effective as digital, but that statistic could fluctuate as technology progresses. It’s important to keep an eye on couponing trends and adapt accordingly to stay on your game with couponing.

Learn more about consumer promotionsin-store couponsdigital coupons, or coupon redemption tactics.

Or, check out the following blogs focusing on consumer promotions:

Digital Coupon Redemption Rates

Consumer Promotions Tactics & Techniques

Online Coupons

Coupon Redemption Tactics

Mail-In Rebates


RAVEN5 is a contest marketing agency, that works with clients in developing and administering consumer programs in Canada and the United States. RAVEN5 works with clients to develop strategies and tactics with a focus on both traditional, digital and online coupons as well as redemption solutions that work for both B2B and B2C consumers. RAVEN5 Ltd. are leaders in Consumer Promotions that produce results.