Part of a series of Top 10 Branding/Pre-Sales Mobile Marketing Strategies Mobile Coupon Marketing entails sending electronic coupons to customers using a number of techniques such as e‑mail, SMS text, Twitter or mobile app. “A recent independent survey from ABI Research shows that 63 percent of consumers felt that a coupon would be the most effective incentive to get them to respond to a mobile marketing message… ABI also found that 52 percent of consumers would use mobile coupons for a discount at a local store.”[i] Furthermore, 73 percent wish they could get an instant coupon as they walk past an item in a store.[ii] As a result, mobile coupon usage has almost doubled recently.[iii]Six thousand customers have signed up for Subway Restaurants’ regional My Subway Mobile campaign, with 150 new customers signing up every week. By expanding the promotion nationally, Subway hopes to ramp up to 20,000 new registrants every week. Subway’s incentive is two dollars off or buy one get one free. It also made a promotional family offer during an NFL game, great timing for capturing large orders for the whole family.
Subway has been getting a redemption rate of five to six percent on its mobile coupons – double to triple the redemption rate for its physical coupons.[iv] The redemption rate of mobile coupons should reach eight percent by 2016. This is much higher than the redemption rate of other coupon channels. Moreover, printed coupon redemption rates have dropped by about 40 percent in the past few years.[v]
A&W implemented a mobile coupon campaign for a free burger that resulted in a 20 percent increase in revenue in some stores. The campaign was promoted in the stores, radio and TV. It even went viral on social media resulting in over 50,000 customers opting in to receive A&W coupon codes via SMS text. By building this database and establishing a direct connection with its customers, A&W can now make last minute promotional offers to customers that are near a particular store.[vi]
Retailer Target launched an opt‑in Text to Get instant coupon promotion; enrollment in the program quickly doubled. Five to ten mobile coupons are sent to customers every couple of weeks as well as when they are in the store. Benefits to Target include an increase in sales and improved customer loyalty. More importantly, analytics can be used to push targeted coupon offers to customers for products that they wouldn’t normally buy – a very compelling approach for increasing sales through cross-selling.[viii]
Watch the Video: Mobile Coupon Marketing – Target: Mobile coupons can save money on a wide range of goods, as we can see from this demonstration at Target.[ix] <goo.gl/O9eo6> (Duration: three minutes)
Mobile Coupon Platforms
In addition to creating their own branded coupon apps, companies can also consider promoting their products through multivendor coupon platforms such as GeoQpons, Shopkick and Thumbprize. The GeoQpons app lets consumers access thousands of coupons, deals and offers from their favorite retailers. This type of platform may be a sound strategy for companies that prefer not to create their own branded coupon apps at all.[x]
Shopkick has created an app that can instantly send coupons to customers as soon as they step into a mall or walk past a particular store. Shopkick doesn’t use GPS to determine their location like other systems. “Instead, it relies on retailers installing small speakers at the entrance to their stores or the mall. The speakers emit an inaudible sound that can be picked up by cell phone microphones. The sound contains a code that identifies the store.”[xi]
Thumbprize is a mobile platform that goes beyond mobile coupons to also manage contests and sweepstakes.[xii] Thumprize is also intended to fully integrate with traditional marketing channels.[xiii] In fact there are several popular readily available mobile coupon platforms in different countries.[xiv]
Coupon Expiry Considerations
An important aspect of mobile coupons is the validity period of the offer. A&W’s mobile coupon was valid for five days, driving traffic to stores rather quickly after the promotion started. Subway’s coupons are valid for two days. Hotel Tonight’s app offers mobile flash deals that are only valid for that evening – it’s now or never. This strategy is a great way for hotels to sell off vacant rooms that are unlikely to rent that evening at full price.[xv]
Some companies such as Dazbog Coffee utilize an even more restrictive time limit for its mobile coupons – 30 minutes! This is a powerful approach to driving in‑store traffic during slow periods, generating business dynamically as needed.[xvi]
The nature of mobile usage is simply different than traditional laptop usage. There is strong evidence that mobile devices are used much more frequently during the latter stages of the sales cycle – when buying decisions are being made. For example, a high proportion of mobile users book hotels at the last minute, even waiting until after they have arrived at their destination city before booking a hotel room.
Last New Year’s Eve, research showed that 42 percent of mobile users actually waited until after 5pm before making their last minute hotel reservation.[xvii] This points to the importance of using a mobile marketing strategy to reach consumers when they are making buying decisions.
Consider industries and services that would benefit greatly by being able to sell off last minute tickets such as airlines, trains, buses, movie theatres, plays, musicals, concerts and sporting events. An empty seat is lost revenue that can never be recaptured. Now imagine a scenario whereby a theatre with vacant seats sends this message to customers that are currently in the mall – “Popcorn and a large pop for only two dollars with every movie ticket purchased in the next 20 minutes.”
Or visualize a stadium with thousands of empty seats for the game that is about to start, sending this message to customers within a one kilometer radius – “Here’s a $20 off coupon if you purchase a ticket to the game right now.” These are potentially powerful last-minute approaches for minimizing lost revenues.
Mobile Coupon Benefits
Companies using mobile coupons can achieve several potential benefits including:
- An increase in customer visits
- Greener solution than flyers and mailers
- An ability to ramp up customer visits during slow periods (e.g., bad weather)[xviii]
- Ease of tracking campaign effectiveness and adjusting execution midstream if needed[xix]
- Built‑in features such as directions to the nearest store based on your exact location to make them more effective, and
- An integration of physical and virtual worlds to enable real‑time offers to customers at the point of purchase.[xx]
Mobile Coupon Marketing Best Practices
- Ensure that customers have agreed to opt in to receive your coupons.
- Select a coupon expiry that makes sense for your offering.
- Use location-aware coupons to reach nearby customers and encourage instant foot traffic and sales in your stores.
- Enable a broad range of options for signing up to your coupon program via the web, mobile web, mobile app or even a simple text message.
- Create coupon redemption processes that are simple and paperless (e.g., imbed barcodes or QR codes into your coupons).
- To manage mobile coupon marketing campaigns, consider using coupon marketing cloud platforms (such as those from Coupons Inc.).[xxi]
- Promote your mobile coupon program in multiple places such as your flyers, print ads, TV ads, social media and in‑store signage.
The key to an effective mobile coupon strategy is timing. Change your mindset from sending coupons to prospects midday when they are in the office or in the evening at home, to a Saturday afternoon when they are at the mall or walking past your store. A timely offer for a discounted ice cream cone while they are in the car on a hot summer day would be irresistible.
Mobile Coupon Marketing Strategies: Will a mobile coupon marketing strategy help you achieve your business objectives? What are your priority objectives? How can you reach your target market? Can you exploit built‑in smartphone sensors to make your coupons even more compelling?
[i] Mickey Alam Khan. “Mobile coupons work for Subway franchisees.” Mobile Marketer. February 27, 2008. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/commerce/595.html.
[ii] Bill Siwicki. “Shoppers would rather use smartphones than consult store associates, survey finds.” Internet Retailer. December 6, 2010. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.internetretailer.com/2010/12/06/shoppers-would-rather-use-smartphones-store-associates.
[iii] Chantal Tode. “Mobile coupon use almost doubles during the holidays: report.” December 21, 2012. Accessed December 24, 2012. http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/mobile-coupon-use-almost-doubles-during-the-holidays-report.
[iv] Giselle Tsirulnik. “Fast-food chain Subway launches mobile ordering system.” Mobile Marketer. February 6, 2009. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/commerce/2593.html.
[v] Mickey Alam Khan. “Mobile coupons work for Subway franchisees.” Mobile Marketer. February 27, 2008. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/commerce/595.html.
[vi] Chantal Tode. “A&W burger chain drives 20pc increase in revenue with mobile coupons.” Mobile Commerce Daily. June 29, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/2012/06/29/aw-burger-chain-drives-20pc-increase-in-revenue-with-mobile-coupon.
[viii] Chantal Tode. “Target tests instant offers as mobile couponing program grows.” Mobile Commerce Daily. July 22, 2011. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/2011/07/22/target-tests-instant-offers-as-mobile-couponing-program-grows.
[x] Rimma Kats. “GeoQpons targets on-the-go consumers with localized mobile deals.” Mobile Commerce Daily. June 21, 2011. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/2011/06/21/geoqpons-targets-on-the-go-consumers-with-localized-mobile-deals.
[xi] “Shopkick Beams Coupons to Your Phone as You Walk Through the Mall.” Digital Trends. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/shopkick-beams-coupons-to-your-phone-as-you-walk-through-the-mall/.
[xiv] Stephanie Miles. “6 Mobile Coupon Platforms for Merchants.” Street Fight. April 12, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://streetfightmag.com/2012/04/12/6-mobile-coupon-platforms-for-merchants/.
[xv] Lauren Johnson. “HotelTonight broadens scope with Europe addition.” Mobile Commerce Daily. June 25, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/2012/06/25/hoteltonight-broadens-scope-with-europe-addition.
[xvi] Lauren Johnson. “Dazbog Coffee Co. adds mobile coupons to mix to reward users.” Mobile Commerce Daily. January 12, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/2012/01/12/dazbog-coffee-co-adds-mobile-coupons-to-mix-to-reward-users.
[xvii] Rimma Kats. “Priceline: 42pc of consumers waited until 5 p.m. to book New Year’s Eve mobile travels.” Mobile Commerce Daily. January 30, 2013. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/priceline-42pc-of-consumers-waited-until-5-p-m-to-book-new-year%E2%80%99s-eve-mobile-travels.
[xviii] Mickey Alam Khan. “Mobile coupons work for Subway franchisees.” Mobile Marketer. February 27, 2008. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/commerce/595.html.
[xix] Steven van Zanen. “Making the case for SMS marketing over email.“ Mobile Marketer. July 18, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/opinion/columns/13323.html.
[xx] Gregg Stewart. “Mobile Coupons Offer Multiple Benefits.” Search Engine Watch. July 24, 2009. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2066449/Mobile-Coupons-Offer-Multiple-Benefits.