Don’t Trip on the Goal Line

We’ve been joking a lot about the hype and overuse of terms like “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” in PPC and email this season. I’ve even officially named them both as zombies, since they just keep coming back! But, there is a reason these familiar phrases keep showing up – they have developed a very specific meaning for shoppers – great big discounts. And, who doesn’t love a great big discount?

But please, if you’re running these types of promotions, test them before your release them and make sure they work, ok?

Case in point,’s Cyber Monday do-over email from today. How thrilled was I to get an email from them offering me 15% off of pretty much everything on the site today? Quite thrilled, as there is an item I’ve been looking at on their site, but had not yet ordered. Offer me 15% off, and I was ready to buy. Great you say, good on Overstock for using an effective tactic, right? Well, it would have been if the coupon actually worked on the site…

As I tried, unsuccessfully, to complete my order using the discount coupon, I found that even though it said the discount had been activated, it was not showing in my cart. Bummer. I started a chat with customer service to figure out why (which, by the way is a step that MANY online shoppers will never bother to do!). Ten minutes later, I was being told that if I just placed the order and then told my chat rep the order number, she would apply the discount when the order shipped. Sorry, but no thank you. If you can’t give me a code that works when I am placing the order, I don’t have any interest in having to monitor whether you actually ended up applying the promised discount when I get my credit card statement.

So, what can we learn from this?

TEST, TEST and then TEST some more before you put things out into the wild. Especially discount codes that are designed to do what this one did for me – move me from looker to buyer. I was ready and the technical issue stopped me dead in my tracks. And, annoyed me to boot.

I know as marketers, we often don’t have a ton of control over our client’s web sites and/or internal commerce mechanisms such as this. But I really do think that part of our jobs is to help them be better at this stuff. Show them how we test things and help them to develop good methods to test their functionalities. Otherwise, just thinking about the resources that are thrown away when things like this happen that could have been really successful, makes me kind of sick to my stomach!

It’s now been over 3 hours since my failed order, chat with customer service, interaction with’s Twitter team and I still don’t have a coupon code that will work. Tick tock Overstock. I’m only one click away from buying this item somewhere else…

Have any tips to share from your experiences to help clients avoid this type of problem? We love hearing from you!

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