Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hey retailers, it's time to step up your coupon game!

Hate to be the bearer of bad news retailers but I can't find your coupons online.  I've run countless coupon related searches (on all of the major search engines) for some of your largest brands such as Staples, Target, McDonalds, Home Depot, and CVS to name a few. To be quite honest, it's a lousy consumer experience.

All I see are countless affiliate sites that claim to offer me coupons from the retailer but RARELY deliver.  Sites like serve up links which you think will provide you with a coupon but all they do is redirect you to the retailer's home page.  I invite you to try it.  Click on one of the green 'Activate Coupon' buttons to access the particular coupon:  It tells you to 'Please wait while we activate your deal' as it downloads who knows what to your system.  Just when you get excited about being presented with a coupon that you can print out and take into the redirects you to the retailer's home page.  That's some kind of bargain folks!  Really?  If I wanted to visit the retailer's homepage guys, I would have typed in their brand URL directly.  Lousy experience.

Where are the real coupons online retailers?  You know, the coupons that we all get bombarded with in our mail boxes each and every day at home but get tossed away only to realize that we probably should have kept some of them for later use?  The ones that come directly from the retailers themselves where they spend millions on design, packaging, and postage?  Those 2-for-1 offers??  Why is it so hard to get access to those same coupons directly from the retailer's own web site instead of being taken on some kind of wild treasure hunt all over the web?  By searching for your coupons, I'm actively telling you I want an incentive to visit your brick and mortar store.  Problem is, you're not delivering!  Missed sale opportunity.

Perhaps retailers just haven't done their due diligence in researching the online and mobile coupon opportunity vs. the offline coupon market.  Here are some key data facts they ought to be aware of:

- Mail paper coupons deliver a redemption rate of 1%-5% on average while online click-to-print and mobile coupons offer redemption rates of 10%-20%

- The projected total redemption value of mobile coupons globally by 2016 will be $43 billion (yes, that's billion).  Just to put that in perspective, the revenue forecast for "big data" (the hot topic in the online world of late) by the same date (2016) is supposed to be $48 billion 

- 51% of consumers print out the offer or promotion after opening, looking at, or reading deals online via PC  (Yahoo! study)

- $10 driven offline for every $1 spent online (Google study)

- For every $1 generated in online sales for coupon related search terms, $6 were generated in offline sales (RevTrax study)

- Of those that have used a QR code, 87% have accessed it to get a coupon, discount or deal (MGH study)

- Percentage of mobile coupon users worldwide is expected to jump to 35% by 2014 vs. 2.7% in 2010 (Yankee Group study)

- Huge spike in coupon related search request on Yahoo! starting in March 2011 through the end of the year (Yahoo! Clues)

- Growth in coupon related search requests on Google from mid 2008 through end of 2011 (Google Trends)

Perhaps retailers don't realize that coupons that are served from online ads and redeemed in-store can be traced back to the online ad it was referred from.  There is a fabulous company out of New York, named RevTrax that is in the business of providing online-to-offline redemption analytics for some major retailer brands.  They can take any coupon or offer that is driven through a search, display, email, or social ad and map the in-store redeemed coupon/offers back to the ad to help the advertiser/retailer better understand the effectiveness of their online advertising efforts.  The myth of not being able to track online-to-offline is over.

Whatever the issues are, retailers are missing the boat when it comes to moving online consumers to their brick-and-mortar retail stores.  Coupon redemption is a monster business (as you can see by the data above, the quick growth of daily deal sites and extreme couponing).  Those who do the best job of spreading their coupons across multiple channels such as snail mail, social, display, search, email, and tv (yes tv.  think of opportunities like pushing a coupon from your brand's prime time commercial through Yahoo's Into Now mobile app) will win.

Come on retailers, it's 6pm I'm hungry and I'm armed with either a PC, a mobile phone, a tablet, or a television.....entice me with your best offer!