The recent record-breaking sales and profits numbers from Amazon illustrate how competitive the global online marketplace has become. Many retailers who have been in business for generations are facing tough times as the internet and ecommerce change the people search  for and buy the products they need. A recent report highlights some of the ways businesses can use deals and promotions to attract new customers and keep them loyal to a particular store or online retailer.

A new survey from RetailMeNot shows deals have substantial influence on customer acquisition, brand loyalty and brand perception among consumers, especially among millennials. The idea that coupons drive sales shouldn't surprise anyone, but the power of promotions to improve a business can be underestimated.

The survey found that two-thirds of consumers have "made a purchase they weren't originally planning to make solely based on finding a coupon or discount". Similarly, four out of five (80 percent) said they feel encouraged to make a first-time purchase with a brand that is new to them if they found an offer or discount. This is why it's a good idea to use new customer special offers to attract consumers in online ads. Seeing a good special can encourage people to buy when they otherwise wouldn't have.

Besides being helpful at luring a consumer's attention, deals and coupons play a large role in what consumers decide to buy. The RetailMeNot survey found that nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of Americans say offers are a top factor when deciding where and what to buy online. And four out of five (81 percent) Americans say finding a great offer or discount is on their mind throughout the entire purchase journey.

There's an argument to be made that online retailers should have their current specials listed in a way that's easy to search for on Google. Nearly all of the consumers (94 percent) in the RetailMeNot survey said they search for a deal or offer when shopping online. Three out of five (62 percent) consumers agreed with the statement "they cannot complete a purchase before searching for an offer." And even if someone makes it through the sales funnel to the checkout screen, coupons can help the 75 percent of Americans who have abandoned an online shopping cart have done so due to issues with cost.

"Today's consumers want to feel as if they have spent their money in the smartest way possible, and to do so, they leverage deals throughout the shopping journey, including when deciding where to shop and what to buy," said Marissa Tarleton, chief marketing officer at RetailMeNot, Inc. in a press statement. "These discounts and promotional levers continue to be critical for retailers who want to reach new shoppers to drive incremental sales."

The survey results also suggest that millenials and young adults are the most effective by promotions-based marketing. Just over half (53 percent) of millennials aged 18 to 34 say they always search for a deal before making a purchase online, compared to 40 percent of baby boomers aged 55+. In fact, nearly seven in 10 (69 percent) millennials surveyed by RetailMeNot say they cannot complete a purchase without first searching for a deal or offer. And eight out of nine (88 percent) say that finding an offer for a brand or retailer that is new to them would encourage a first-time purchase.

So as the online marketplace grows in competition, business owners and marketers need to aggressively push their promotions to target demographics. This will capture the attention of potential consumers, encourage them to shop with specific retailers or buy certain products, and keeps checkout costs low to prevent abandoned carts.

For more recent information that can help business owners and marketers, read this article on consumer expectations for communicating with brands.