If you are marketing to mobile users, you’d do well to employ mobile coupons. Mobile coupons are used to:
- Encourage people to visit your store
- Invite people to an event
- Give personalized offers to people
- Offer a savings incentive
- Drum up exposure of new products and services
Eventually, these efforts will create a group of customers loyal to your brand, and a list of leads for marketing to at a later time.
Kinds of mobile coupons
There are several kinds of mobile coupons, for example:
- Text messages – SMS messages about special offers and events;
- Codes – barcode or QR code (to be scanned or already sent to the customers) for validation at the cash register or point of sale — usually for getting discounts and reward points (text messages can also be presented at the POS);
- “Push Notification” – a surprise popup on customers’ mobile screens (this requires that they have downloaded and installed your mobile ordering app — whether on or off).
- In-app Mobile Coupons – customers need to use your mobile ordering app, click on a menu item (which can be changeable), which takes them to your site where they can see the coupon. While this sounds rather roundabout, it does encourage people to use your app to discover new offers or tie in mobile coupons with loyalty program use.
SMS or Push Notification?
Which kind of mobile coupon to use? Go with text.
A new study by RadiumOne entitled “Improving The Performance of Mobile Coupons,” on the mobile purchasing decisions of women aged 35-54, reveals, among others that:
- Three-fifths (61.9%) of the women redeemed mobile coupons on their phone.
- Of this group, 42.4% preferred SMS/text messaging coupons vs 23.8% who prefer scannable codes.
- 51.5% prefer to display coupons to a cashier (only 23.8% prefer scan-based redemption).
- More than a third (36.4%) find push notifications on mobile coupons useful.
Note: SMS messages also appear as notifications. So why did the RadiumOne respondents prefer SMS coupons over those presented as push notification? It probably had more to do with people’s perceptions. When coupons are presented as SMS messages, people are confident they can always find the message in their inbox — they don’t feel rushed. Whereas, with push notifications alone, there’s no inbox to go to, just a very short-lived “don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it” message that you won’t have access to once the notification expires.
Kamal Kaur, vice president of RadiumOne, San Francisco also noted that consumers see push notifications as “more invasive than SMS” hence, they like text mobile coupons better — there’s nothing to scan, less steps to take, less hassle. Text messaged mobile coupons therefore make people feel more in-control on purchasing with coupons.
However, advertisers feel that SMS coupons are very limited (not even providing enough space for legal disclaimers), cannot be tracked, not feature-rich, unmemorable or downright ugly.
This is now where customers feel “misunderstood” (91% of the respondents in the RadiumOne study): Users want something easy to use (SMS coupons) while advertisers want to put in as much information as they can (aside from the mobile coupon) in one message.
But you can take advantage of SMS while also accomplishing your goal of tracking coupon redemption and being feature rich: just send text messages but don’t include the coupon itself: just the link to a landing page where you can put all the bells and whistles you want — just make sure redeeming said coupon is a lot less hassle than scanning, entering codes at a cashier and other hoops that shoppers wish to avoid. By using user-friendly tracking codes on the landing page, you can also track coupon redemption and even limit coupon abuse by making the coupon expire after a time period.
The best part of this approach is that you can also use SMS that links to your mobile ordering app where your mobile coupon is, and where you can do all sorts of tracking and coupon time-limiting. That way, thru SMS, users feel in control while advertisers also feel the same.