last Updated 27 October 2019

Why a Discount Code Box Could Be Killing Your Sales

For the past couple of months I've been working with a client who is having a new website built. They wanted to work with me so as they had someone on their side who could keep an eye on the web agency and make sure they designed and built the site in a way which would maximise conversions.

Today we received the final prototype showing the design of all the pages. Because the site will include an online shop, one of these pages is the checkout page.

Here's what it looked like (I've blurred out the product to protect the guilty!)

discount code boxes - Why a Discount Code Box Could Be Killing Your Sales

Click to enlarge

What's the problem?

Like many checkout pages that I come across, this one has got a prominent box where you can enter a discount code. And I bet it was one of the first things your eye was drawn to.

There's nothing wrong with discount codes as a way of rewarding loyal customers or encouraging people to make a purchase if they are wavering.

But, as I said to my client, if you make the discount code box really obvious like this you'll end up with people leaving the site to go off and search on Google for a discount code.

If they don't manage to find a discount code they may feel a bit cheated and a bit resentful - why should I pay full price if other people are getting a discount? And that might put them off buying from you altogether.

Or perhaps when your would-be customer searches for your discount code, Google will end up showing them an advert for one of your competitors. And they might go and buy from them instead.

Either way, you'll have taken a person who was just about to buy from you and turned them into someone who either doesn't buy from you or who buys but feels like you've ripped them off a bit. 

What should you do instead?

The first question I asked my client was whether or not they actually issued discount codes. It turns out that they don't. So I told them they should simply get the web designer to completely remove the promo code box.

But what if the client had been in the habit of issuing discount codes to their customers?

In that case I would have suggested they replace the big discount code box with a very discreet link instead. That would make it harder for people to find, but I believe that the people who do actually have a code won't mind if they have to make a little bit of extra effort to find where they have to go to enter it.

Here's an example of how to give people the option to use a discount code but without it being so glaringly obvious:

discount code boxes - Why a Discount Code Box Could Be Killing Your Sales

Click to enlarge

Another option, which is slightly more complicated but even more effective, is to use campaign codes instead of getting customers to enter a discount code (hat tip to Gajus Kuizinas for this one). 

This simply means sending your customer a link to your site that has a code in it - something like - that will automatically apply a discount to their order without them having to do anything.

Next steps

Do you have a discount code box on your checkout page? Get rid of it and then comment below to let me know what effect it has on your sales.

About the author 

David Miles

As a digital marketing consultant, author and trainer, I specialise in helping businesses in the financial services sector use the internet to get more enquiries and increase profits.

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