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!   


Jeff Fagel said...

Hey Matt - I was one of those retail marketers & I agree with you...solid post
For this shift to online there are a few key things to consider. First, there is planning, wherein all marketers today are in the position of needing to step back to think, organize and communicate differently with their target audiences more than ever before. Secondly, making it relevant. With more choice in the marketplace, what data needs to be leveraged to cut through the clutter, differentiate your brand among the crowd and truly make an impact.

The overarching concept above all these considerations is simplicity. Everyone talks about fragmentation and the market being crowded. For every brand and marketer, no matter the industry, to succeed you must make it simple -for the consumer & marketer. Your example of RevTrax definitely a step forward but there still is a systems integration needed & internal resources to manage...
What if you could go from intent-to-purchase, to, as a marketer, paying only if a consumer walks into a store and makes a purchase? This direct line from online engagement to in-store sales is coming, and it’s what we at edo are driving forward now. Above all else, it has to be made simple for the consumer, where deals are tailored and relevant, and extremely easy to redeem. Making it simple for consumers, tailoring offers beyond likes and demographics to incorporate spending behavior, find and target new customers and lastly measure the impact, they will be able to close the redemption loop and be a force in the space. Jeff Fagel, VP Marketing, edo Interactive

Matt Lillig said...

Good points Jeff. Absolutely agree that it has to be a win for the marketer/advertiser/retailer and a win for the consumer.

For consumers, they want accessibility to coupons (as you can tell by the spikes in searches for coupons on both google and yahoo). They want to find it, print it or store it (on mobile), and redeem it. But a consumer can't do #2 & #3 without #1 which leaves a broken path to success.

For marketers, there definitely needs to be some planning ahead (for example, do they have the budget to run coupons at mass scale across multiple online channels?). But for implementation, it's not that technical. A marketer/retailer can leverage products like Yahoo's Rich Ads In Search or Smart Ads (which can deliver audience targeted display ads) to get the coupons out there. Or Google's Ad Extensions which is similar to Yahoo's Rich Ads In Search.

On the point of sale (POS) side, what's great about a company like RevTrax is that they can work with whatever the retailer offers at a POS system. Could be promo codes off a printed coupon or phone, or a scan off a mobile phone (like Target does), or a some kind of payment card. As long as the consumer comes in with some kind of physical offer, that offer can be matched back to the referring online ad. Sure, there is some upfront setup that has to take place (such as adding tracking parameters to your ad's destination URL or adding a click-to-print page on your web site to drive visitors there) but it's nothing that can't be knocked out in a couple weeks.

Great points Jeff. Thanks for the follow on Twitter. I'm following you now also. Cheers.

Mani said...
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