As more consumers turn to the Web for the convenience and ease of shopping from home and comparing prices among multiple stores, social media and the Internet are quickly becoming leading sources for digital coupons. According to research released June 1 by eMarketer, 88.2 million consumers will use digital coupons as an important part of their shopping experience in 2011. That's 47 percent of adult Internet users, a statistic that's destined to rise in the near future. eMarketer's study also revealed 92.5 million adult Internet users (48 percent) will use online coupons in 2012, versus 96.8 million (49 percent) in 2013.
That increase is partially due to consumer brands moving slowly away from promoting their products through magazine/newspaper inserts and store promotions as they learn the tricks of catering to online and social media addicts. Still, some shoppers remain confused as to where they can find electronic coupons. Here are seven tried and true and even a few unexpected places to look for online coupons.
1. Merchant e-newsletters
Many retail websites now allow you to sign-up for e-newsletters that deliver coupons directly to your email inbox. Most often these email offers include information about exclusive or public promotions and sales events. Some merchants also provide a check box on the registration page, so you can opt out of receiving less useful information.
2. Online Coupon Sites
When you see a box asking for a coupon or promo code on a retailer's checkout page, chances are there is a discount available somewhere in cyberspace. To save time when searching for such money-saving codes, aggregator sites like PromoCodes.us organize online coupons for thousands of stores including Kohl's, Sears and more. Simply click on the code to redeem the discount for your online order instantly or copy and paste it into the appropriate space in the "shopping cart."
3. Live Chats
Customer service departments allow you to chat online with a representative. Use this option to ask for any promo codes or free shipping coupons for which you could use toward future purchases. You might just be surprised at how helpful they can be.
4. e-Bank Statements
BillShrink is working with more than 2,000 banks to create something entirely new; Statement Rewards is half loyalty card and half daily deal coupon. The program monitors your bank statements for larger payments, such as $150 per month at Outback Steakhouse. That restaurant then could include a coupon for a corresponding amount directly under the statement's listing for the purchase. To make the coupon stand out the retailer's branding benefit, Outback Steakhouse might include their company logo.
5. Social Media Sites
"Like" or "Follow" a merchant on Facebook and Twitter for the latest information on coupon offers, as well as sales, promotions, sweepstakes and give-aways. While you're there, read user comments for additional savings tricks.
Don't forget to unlock special offers and in-store coupons by "checking-in" on Foursquare. Retailers and restaurants are luring consumers in with instant coupons and deals like 25-percent or free appetizer with every check-in.
6. Mobile Phones
Mobile apps are a convenient resource for in-store savings. For instance, Coupon Sherpa has a free application that allows you to search for mobile coupons on a smartphone while you're in a store.
7. Rewards Cards
These aren't your grandmother's rewards cards. While the cards still provide cents-off deals and special rewards on in-store and online sales, some merchants -- like Safeway and King Soopers -- now allow you to download coupons directly to your card for an easier redemption process.
With so many more convenient places to score coupons these days, shoppers have a greater opportunity to save.