Coupon Code Should Not be a Field on Payment Forms

Today, I made the decision to upgrade to a paid account for a web application that I use and love. Pressing the appropriate button I am taken to the payment form and start entering my information. Then it happened, I saw an empty text box taunting me, because I am not special enough to fill in the box.

The label for the text box? Coupon code

Thoughts start racing through my head. “Should I email the application creator asking for a code?” “Is there one on their Twitter account?” Thoughts turn into action, Chrome tabs start multiplying as I start trying to hunt down a coupon code that I can put in the box. I become obsessed with trying to find a code for THAT DARN BOX.

The obsession does not last. I have to attend a meeting. Upon return I have forgetten all about my pre-meeting mission. It is not until a browser crash 3 hours later that I even remember wanting to pay for that application. I go back to the payment page and complete the form. I hesitate just before pressing the submit button, looking at the barren Coupon code box.

I begin having doubts again. I really could just email the guy, or ask him directly on his Tumblr blog…

I start imagining what I could be missing out on, to gauge how much effort I should really be putting into this search. Out of the corner of my eye I see my notebook open to my todo list. I take a deep breath and press submit.

A few hours ago I was happy to pay full price for an application that I use for my business. Now I am feeling a little bitter and unappreciated.

Payment Page Lesson

Do not show the Coupon code field unless you absolutely need to do so. When sending marketing and promotional materials, send them to a different version of your payment page that reflects the discount you are offering. Having the same payment page for your discounted and full price purchases just invites Google searches for “(app name) coupon code” and resulting abandoned cart.

192 thoughts on “Coupon Code Should Not be a Field on Payment Forms”

  1. I completely agree Rachel. As a fairly frequent online shopper, you can guarantee that on any purchase over $50 with an option to enter a coupon code I will spend at least 30 seconds on Google trying to hunt down a code.

    1. Which is 30 seconds where you can be re-thinking your purchasing decision. Glad I am not the only one that immediately starts going on a Google expedition.

      1. Oh you are definitely not. I bet a ton of people do it (myself included)!

        Thanks for writing this blog post.

      2. Oh you are definitely not. I bet a ton of people do it (myself included)!

        Thanks for writing this blog post.

      3. Oh you are definitely not. I bet a ton of people do it (myself included)!

        Thanks for writing this blog post.

      4. Oh you are definitely not. I bet a ton of people do it (myself included)!

        Thanks for writing this blog post.

      5. Oh you are definitely not. I bet a ton of people do it (myself included)!

        Thanks for writing this blog post.

      6. Oh you are definitely not. I bet a ton of people do it (myself included)!

        Thanks for writing this blog post.

    2. If I have the chance of saving any money at all then I’ll gladly Google around for a few minutes. Sometimes you come up empty, but fairly often you can find a valid coupon code. Lots of coupon sites out there.

  2. Glad I am not alone…I too go through the exact same experience every time I see the coupon code in payment page. Starts with google, retailmenot making it a 10min search…

  3. Glad I am not alone…I too go through the exact same experience every time I see the coupon code in payment page. Starts with google, retailmenot making it a 10min search…

    1. A great way to find a coupon is to go to their Facebook page and like them, when you like a page, it gives you access to great deals, promos and more….and it can keep you updated on coupons for the future  or special deals. It often happens that when you like a page, you have access to deals only Facebook fans have access to, so you get VIP treatment!

  4. Glad I am not alone…I too go through the exact same experience every time I see the coupon code in payment page. Starts with google, retailmenot making it a 10min search…

  5. Glad I am not alone…I too go through the exact same experience every time I see the coupon code in payment page. Starts with google, retailmenot making it a 10min search…

  6. Glad I am not alone…I too go through the exact same experience every time I see the coupon code in payment page. Starts with google, retailmenot making it a 10min search…

  7. Glad I am not alone…I too go through the exact same experience every time I see the coupon code in payment page. Starts with google, retailmenot making it a 10min search…

  8. Glad I am not alone…I too go through the exact same experience every time I see the coupon code in payment page. Starts with google, retailmenot making it a 10min search…

  9. Glad I am not alone…I too go through the exact same experience every time I see the coupon code in payment page. Starts with google, retailmenot making it a 10min search…

  10. Very good observation. I’ve often thought “why don’t I get a coupon — is everyone but me getting the better deal?” Leaves one feeling a little slighted right at the point where we should be encouraged to follow through with a purchase.

  11. Very good observation. I’ve often thought “why don’t I get a coupon — is everyone but me getting the better deal?” Leaves one feeling a little slighted right at the point where we should be encouraged to follow through with a purchase.

  12. Very good observation. I’ve often thought “why don’t I get a coupon — is everyone but me getting the better deal?” Leaves one feeling a little slighted right at the point where we should be encouraged to follow through with a purchase.

  13. Very good observation. I’ve often thought “why don’t I get a coupon — is everyone but me getting the better deal?” Leaves one feeling a little slighted right at the point where we should be encouraged to follow through with a purchase.

  14. Very good observation. I’ve often thought “why don’t I get a coupon — is everyone but me getting the better deal?” Leaves one feeling a little slighted right at the point where we should be encouraged to follow through with a purchase.

  15. Very good observation. I’ve often thought “why don’t I get a coupon — is everyone but me getting the better deal?” Leaves one feeling a little slighted right at the point where we should be encouraged to follow through with a purchase.

  16. Rename the field “Gift Certificate Code”. No one will give it a second thought if they don’t have a gift certificate.

  17. Rename the field “Gift Certificate Code”. No one will give it a second thought if they don’t have a gift certificate.

  18. Rename the field “Gift Certificate Code”. No one will give it a second thought if they don’t have a gift certificate.

  19. Rename the field “Gift Certificate Code”. No one will give it a second thought if they don’t have a gift certificate.

  20. Good observation, but point is where we should keep coupon code tab. 
    One time u can send different payment link page to customers, but what if a coupon customer comes directly to website & don’t find option to enter discount code i think that could also be annoying.

    Tip: Website can tell users with a coupon code that you have to use particular link otherwise your coupon will not be validated if u don’t use that link.

    1. Am writing about this in part of an upcoming article for Smashing Mag. One way is to diminish importance by a link or button that is not very prominent.
      If your business regularly sends out promo codes by email or catalog – I like the way Officemax handles it (look at their cart page) – just below the prominently featured promo code field, they have a link “How do I get these?” that entices users to sign up for email newsletters or the mail catalog!

      1. Lyndon,
        Thank you for stopping by, I am a big fan. I do want to point out that there is a difference between purchasing items from Officemax – and deciding to go from a free service to a paid service. Once I pay for a monthly fee web application I am mostly locked in, my price point is never going to be LESS. Officemax has customers that buy today, and then will come back next week to use that code.

  21. Good observation, but point is where we should keep coupon code tab. 
    One time u can send different payment link page to customers, but what if a coupon customer comes directly to website & don’t find option to enter discount code i think that could also be annoying.

    Tip: Website can tell users with a coupon code that you have to use particular link otherwise your coupon will not be validated if u don’t use that link.

    1. Am writing about this in part of an upcoming article for Smashing Mag. One way is to diminish importance by a link or button that is not very prominent.
      If your business regularly sends out promo codes by email or catalog – I like the way Officemax handles it (look at their cart page) – just below the prominently featured promo code field, they have a link “How do I get these?” that entices users to sign up for email newsletters or the mail catalog!

      1. Lyndon,
        Thank you for stopping by, I am a big fan. I do want to point out that there is a difference between purchasing items from Officemax – and deciding to go from a free service to a paid service. Once I pay for a monthly fee web application I am mostly locked in, my price point is never going to be LESS. Officemax has customers that buy today, and then will come back next week to use that code.

  22. Good observation, but point is where we should keep coupon code tab. 
    One time u can send different payment link page to customers, but what if a coupon customer comes directly to website & don’t find option to enter discount code i think that could also be annoying.

    Tip: Website can tell users with a coupon code that you have to use particular link otherwise your coupon will not be validated if u don’t use that link.

    1. Am writing about this in part of an upcoming article for Smashing Mag. One way is to diminish importance by a link or button that is not very prominent.
      If your business regularly sends out promo codes by email or catalog – I like the way Officemax handles it (look at their cart page) – just below the prominently featured promo code field, they have a link “How do I get these?” that entices users to sign up for email newsletters or the mail catalog!

      1. Lyndon,
        Thank you for stopping by, I am a big fan. I do want to point out that there is a difference between purchasing items from Officemax – and deciding to go from a free service to a paid service. Once I pay for a monthly fee web application I am mostly locked in, my price point is never going to be LESS. Officemax has customers that buy today, and then will come back next week to use that code.

  23. Good observation, but point is where we should keep coupon code tab. 
    One time u can send different payment link page to customers, but what if a coupon customer comes directly to website & don’t find option to enter discount code i think that could also be annoying.

    Tip: Website can tell users with a coupon code that you have to use particular link otherwise your coupon will not be validated if u don’t use that link.

    1. Am writing about this in part of an upcoming article for Smashing Mag. One way is to diminish importance by a link or button that is not very prominent.
      If your business regularly sends out promo codes by email or catalog – I like the way Officemax handles it (look at their cart page) – just below the prominently featured promo code field, they have a link “How do I get these?” that entices users to sign up for email newsletters or the mail catalog!

      1. Lyndon,
        Thank you for stopping by, I am a big fan. I do want to point out that there is a difference between purchasing items from Officemax – and deciding to go from a free service to a paid service. Once I pay for a monthly fee web application I am mostly locked in, my price point is never going to be LESS. Officemax has customers that buy today, and then will come back next week to use that code.

  24. Yep, bin there and done that. And actually pretty successfully, I would have easily paid full price, if I wouldn’t have seen the coupon code field … 

  25. Yep, bin there and done that. And actually pretty successfully, I would have easily paid full price, if I wouldn’t have seen the coupon code field … 

  26. Yep, bin there and done that. And actually pretty successfully, I would have easily paid full price, if I wouldn’t have seen the coupon code field … 

  27. Too true!! Users do start hunting for codes on other sites and search engines when presented with an obvious box like that it’s just too tempting to rush off and try to find a discount and that can result in lost conversions.

  28. Too true!! Users do start hunting for codes on other sites and search engines when presented with an obvious box like that it’s just too tempting to rush off and try to find a discount and that can result in lost conversions.

  29. Too true!! Users do start hunting for codes on other sites and search engines when presented with an obvious box like that it’s just too tempting to rush off and try to find a discount and that can result in lost conversions.

  30. BTW I couldn’t read this on my Android phone because the blue “Rachel Baker” box on the left kept moving itself to appear over my page every time I scrolled.

  31. BTW I couldn’t read this on my Android phone because the blue “Rachel Baker” box on the left kept moving itself to appear over my page every time I scrolled.

  32. Sorry Rachel, but for my product I have to totally disagree, and this is based on checkout and analytics data. If your customers main goal is to buy your product at the cheapest tier, and they will be dissatistified otherwise, you are doing something very wrong.

    For those obsessive price discount shoppers, why not take this as a SEO challenge. They are searching for “(app name) coupon code”? You should OWN that query and use it to drive hits to YOUR website where you can control the conversion. If you know they are a price concious shopper your messaging should change and INCREASE conversions.

    I think the meta-lesson is that it can be dangerous to make assumptions based on a single person’s behavior – measure, measure, measure and act based on data.

    1. This is a good point.  If you set up another site where you hand out coupon codes for your product, you can easily give the coupon-hunter immediate satisfaction and a positive feeling about the sale.

  33. Sorry Rachel, but for my product I have to totally disagree, and this is based on checkout and analytics data. If your customers main goal is to buy your product at the cheapest tier, and they will be dissatistified otherwise, you are doing something very wrong.

    For those obsessive price discount shoppers, why not take this as a SEO challenge. They are searching for “(app name) coupon code”? You should OWN that query and use it to drive hits to YOUR website where you can control the conversion. If you know they are a price concious shopper your messaging should change and INCREASE conversions.

    I think the meta-lesson is that it can be dangerous to make assumptions based on a single person’s behavior – measure, measure, measure and act based on data.

    1. This is a good point.  If you set up another site where you hand out coupon codes for your product, you can easily give the coupon-hunter immediate satisfaction and a positive feeling about the sale.

  34. Sorry Rachel, but for my product I have to totally disagree, and this is based on checkout and analytics data. If your customers main goal is to buy your product at the cheapest tier, and they will be dissatistified otherwise, you are doing something very wrong.

    For those obsessive price discount shoppers, why not take this as a SEO challenge. They are searching for “(app name) coupon code”? You should OWN that query and use it to drive hits to YOUR website where you can control the conversion. If you know they are a price concious shopper your messaging should change and INCREASE conversions.

    I think the meta-lesson is that it can be dangerous to make assumptions based on a single person’s behavior – measure, measure, measure and act based on data.

    1. This is a good point.  If you set up another site where you hand out coupon codes for your product, you can easily give the coupon-hunter immediate satisfaction and a positive feeling about the sale.

  35. Sorry Rachel, but for my product I have to totally disagree, and this is based on checkout and analytics data. If your customers main goal is to buy your product at the cheapest tier, and they will be dissatistified otherwise, you are doing something very wrong.

    For those obsessive price discount shoppers, why not take this as a SEO challenge. They are searching for “(app name) coupon code”? You should OWN that query and use it to drive hits to YOUR website where you can control the conversion. If you know they are a price concious shopper your messaging should change and INCREASE conversions.

    I think the meta-lesson is that it can be dangerous to make assumptions based on a single person’s behavior – measure, measure, measure and act based on data.

    1. This is a good point.  If you set up another site where you hand out coupon codes for your product, you can easily give the coupon-hunter immediate satisfaction and a positive feeling about the sale.

  36. This is a good assumption I never thought about. Though I agree with you and has already felt the same way when seeing the coupon box. But I never thought about it as a trend.

    Probably a multivariate test somewhere could give us a better picture of how much a difference can it make.

  37. This is a good assumption I never thought about. Though I agree with you and has already felt the same way when seeing the coupon box. But I never thought about it as a trend.

    Probably a multivariate test somewhere could give us a better picture of how much a difference can it make.

  38. This is a good assumption I never thought about. Though I agree with you and has already felt the same way when seeing the coupon box. But I never thought about it as a trend.

    Probably a multivariate test somewhere could give us a better picture of how much a difference can it make.

  39. This is a good assumption I never thought about. Though I agree with you and has already felt the same way when seeing the coupon box. But I never thought about it as a trend.

    Probably a multivariate test somewhere could give us a better picture of how much a difference can it make.

  40. Makes total sense, I am sure payment pages with coupon code will delay the sales cycle if you do not lose the customer.

  41. Makes total sense, I am sure payment pages with coupon code will delay the sales cycle if you do not lose the customer.

  42. Makes total sense, I am sure payment pages with coupon code will delay the sales cycle if you do not lose the customer.

  43. Makes total sense, I am sure payment pages with coupon code will delay the sales cycle if you do not lose the customer.

  44. This is horrible advice. You can use their Google search to your advantage by creating coupon codes that promote upselling. The people that are agreeing with you are thinking about this from the standpoint of a consumer. Consumers want to save money, even if they have to spend more money to do so.

  45. This is horrible advice. You can use their Google search to your advantage by creating coupon codes that promote upselling. The people that are agreeing with you are thinking about this from the standpoint of a consumer. Consumers want to save money, even if they have to spend more money to do so.

  46. This is horrible advice. You can use their Google search to your advantage by creating coupon codes that promote upselling. The people that are agreeing with you are thinking about this from the standpoint of a consumer. Consumers want to save money, even if they have to spend more money to do so.

  47. This is horrible advice. You can use their Google search to your advantage by creating coupon codes that promote upselling. The people that are agreeing with you are thinking about this from the standpoint of a consumer. Consumers want to save money, even if they have to spend more money to do so.

  48. I’ve seen an alternative which only displays a link saying ‘I have a coupon code’ and when clicked it reveals the full coupon box. A nice half way house for those that don’t have the resources to use separate payment pages for different marketing.

  49. I’ve seen an alternative which only displays a link saying ‘I have a coupon code’ and when clicked it reveals the full coupon box. A nice half way house for those that don’t have the resources to use separate payment pages for different marketing.

  50. I’ve seen an alternative which only displays a link saying ‘I have a coupon code’ and when clicked it reveals the full coupon box. A nice half way house for those that don’t have the resources to use separate payment pages for different marketing.

  51. I’ve seen an alternative which only displays a link saying ‘I have a coupon code’ and when clicked it reveals the full coupon box. A nice half way house for those that don’t have the resources to use separate payment pages for different marketing.

  52. I think your point here is valid, and it’s something I’ll take into consideration for signalkit.  I never realized there might be a serious abandon rate because of the coupon box.But I also think it’s a situation where from the outside perspective things are always “easy”, where in reality the execution is usually more difficult.  You say in your post “When sending marketing and promotional materials, send them to a different version of your payment page that reflects the discount you are offering.”And yeah, that sounds easy.  Trivial in fact.  Actually, so easy that I just went to create a new payment page for my app – where I’m currently accepting coupons.  Ooooohh.  But wait.  What if one of the people I want to “reward” is an early adopter, and they’ve already been trying the app?  Now they not only need to remember a coupon code, they have to go dig up the actual promo url?  Even if they are sitting on the payment page?  Eh, that doesn’t sound too good either.Or what if I want them to be able to try the product, without entering a credit card?  And if they like it……again, they need to go back to the url I originally gave them?  Even though they’ve been trying the app for 30 days and forgot all about the “special”url? Not good either.These examples are of course only two of many criteria different app creators may have to take into account.So that means there’s programming involved. And it can of course be done. But that can be said about any piece of functionality you can imagine.  And this means it has to be prioritized against a MOUNTAIN of other things app makers want to do.Basically, I think you make a good argument that maybe we should just kill coupons for the greater good; maybe they don’t help. But trivializing the ease with which different payment pages could be implemented is off the mark.By the way, I just applied one of our coupons to your account with us.  ;)

  53. I think your point here is valid, and it’s something I’ll take into consideration for signalkit.  I never realized there might be a serious abandon rate because of the coupon box.But I also think it’s a situation where from the outside perspective things are always “easy”, where in reality the execution is usually more difficult.  You say in your post “When sending marketing and promotional materials, send them to a different version of your payment page that reflects the discount you are offering.”And yeah, that sounds easy.  Trivial in fact.  Actually, so easy that I just went to create a new payment page for my app – where I’m currently accepting coupons.  Ooooohh.  But wait.  What if one of the people I want to “reward” is an early adopter, and they’ve already been trying the app?  Now they not only need to remember a coupon code, they have to go dig up the actual promo url?  Even if they are sitting on the payment page?  Eh, that doesn’t sound too good either.Or what if I want them to be able to try the product, without entering a credit card?  And if they like it……again, they need to go back to the url I originally gave them?  Even though they’ve been trying the app for 30 days and forgot all about the “special”url? Not good either.These examples are of course only two of many criteria different app creators may have to take into account.So that means there’s programming involved. And it can of course be done. But that can be said about any piece of functionality you can imagine.  And this means it has to be prioritized against a MOUNTAIN of other things app makers want to do.Basically, I think you make a good argument that maybe we should just kill coupons for the greater good; maybe they don’t help. But trivializing the ease with which different payment pages could be implemented is off the mark.By the way, I just applied one of our coupons to your account with us.  ;)

  54. I think your point here is valid, and it’s something I’ll take into consideration for signalkit.  I never realized there might be a serious abandon rate because of the coupon box.But I also think it’s a situation where from the outside perspective things are always “easy”, where in reality the execution is usually more difficult.  You say in your post “When sending marketing and promotional materials, send them to a different version of your payment page that reflects the discount you are offering.”And yeah, that sounds easy.  Trivial in fact.  Actually, so easy that I just went to create a new payment page for my app – where I’m currently accepting coupons.  Ooooohh.  But wait.  What if one of the people I want to “reward” is an early adopter, and they’ve already been trying the app?  Now they not only need to remember a coupon code, they have to go dig up the actual promo url?  Even if they are sitting on the payment page?  Eh, that doesn’t sound too good either.Or what if I want them to be able to try the product, without entering a credit card?  And if they like it……again, they need to go back to the url I originally gave them?  Even though they’ve been trying the app for 30 days and forgot all about the “special”url? Not good either.These examples are of course only two of many criteria different app creators may have to take into account.So that means there’s programming involved. And it can of course be done. But that can be said about any piece of functionality you can imagine.  And this means it has to be prioritized against a MOUNTAIN of other things app makers want to do.Basically, I think you make a good argument that maybe we should just kill coupons for the greater good; maybe they don’t help. But trivializing the ease with which different payment pages could be implemented is off the mark.By the way, I just applied one of our coupons to your account with us.  ;)

  55. I think your point here is valid, and it’s something I’ll take into consideration for signalkit.  I never realized there might be a serious abandon rate because of the coupon box.But I also think it’s a situation where from the outside perspective things are always “easy”, where in reality the execution is usually more difficult.  You say in your post “When sending marketing and promotional materials, send them to a different version of your payment page that reflects the discount you are offering.”And yeah, that sounds easy.  Trivial in fact.  Actually, so easy that I just went to create a new payment page for my app – where I’m currently accepting coupons.  Ooooohh.  But wait.  What if one of the people I want to “reward” is an early adopter, and they’ve already been trying the app?  Now they not only need to remember a coupon code, they have to go dig up the actual promo url?  Even if they are sitting on the payment page?  Eh, that doesn’t sound too good either.Or what if I want them to be able to try the product, without entering a credit card?  And if they like it……again, they need to go back to the url I originally gave them?  Even though they’ve been trying the app for 30 days and forgot all about the “special”url? Not good either.These examples are of course only two of many criteria different app creators may have to take into account.So that means there’s programming involved. And it can of course be done. But that can be said about any piece of functionality you can imagine.  And this means it has to be prioritized against a MOUNTAIN of other things app makers want to do.Basically, I think you make a good argument that maybe we should just kill coupons for the greater good; maybe they don’t help. But trivializing the ease with which different payment pages could be implemented is off the mark.By the way, I just applied one of our coupons to your account with us.  ;)

  56. Ooh, was looking through your blog and just realized you’re the author! I read this off HN earlier and REALLY agreed with it – great point. The comment box definitely lowers my chance of registering by some decent percentage – half bc I feel like I’m surrendering by not providing a discount code, and half because I’ll get sidetracked while Googling for the code and start something else…

  57. Ooh, was looking through your blog and just realized you’re the author! I read this off HN earlier and REALLY agreed with it – great point. The comment box definitely lowers my chance of registering by some decent percentage – half bc I feel like I’m surrendering by not providing a discount code, and half because I’ll get sidetracked while Googling for the code and start something else…

  58. Ooh, was looking through your blog and just realized you’re the author! I read this off HN earlier and REALLY agreed with it – great point. The comment box definitely lowers my chance of registering by some decent percentage – half bc I feel like I’m surrendering by not providing a discount code, and half because I’ll get sidetracked while Googling for the code and start something else…

  59. Ooh, was looking through your blog and just realized you’re the author! I read this off HN earlier and REALLY agreed with it – great point. The comment box definitely lowers my chance of registering by some decent percentage – half bc I feel like I’m surrendering by not providing a discount code, and half because I’ll get sidetracked while Googling for the code and start something else…

  60. You know what? I do the very same thing.  Once I spent hours looking for a code.  After a few failed coupon code missions I just started e-mailing places and it has worked a few times.  Lesson here? it never hurts to ask!

  61. You know what? I do the very same thing.  Once I spent hours looking for a code.  After a few failed coupon code missions I just started e-mailing places and it has worked a few times.  Lesson here? it never hurts to ask!

  62. Oh you are definitely not. I bet a ton of people do it (myself included)!

    Thanks for writing this blog post.

  63. If I have the chance of saving any money at all then I’ll gladly Google around for a few minutes. Sometimes you come up empty, but fairly often you can find a valid coupon code. Lots of coupon sites out there.

  64. If I have the chance of saving any money at all then I’ll gladly Google around for a few minutes. Sometimes you come up empty, but fairly often you can find a valid coupon code. Lots of coupon sites out there.

  65. A great way to find a coupon is to go to their Facebook page and like them, when you like a page, it gives you access to great deals, promos and more….and it can keep you updated on coupons for the future  or special deals. It often happens that when you like a page, you have access to deals only Facebook fans have access to, so you get VIP treatment!

  66. A great way to find a coupon is to go to their Facebook page and like them, when you like a page, it gives you access to great deals, promos and more….and it can keep you updated on coupons for the future  or special deals. It often happens that when you like a page, you have access to deals only Facebook fans have access to, so you get VIP treatment!

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