The number of “deal-of-the-day” websites has exploded on the internet since the launch of the Groupon in 2008. Since Groupon, there have been over 700 similar websites offering discounted deals from retail stores to online markets. The category of businesses that use this service is lengthy and covers a wide variety of services and products. So how do you know if a coupon service is working for your business? When should you use a coupon? And how successful was your coupon?
Let us start by examining the deal itself. When using a service like Groupon a typical deal offers 50% off a product or service. For this example let’s use a restaurant. So, right out of the gate you are offering $50 worth of food for $25. Depending on the deal you negotiated or the service that you chose to use, an additional 40% or so will be paid to the coupon company. Now your $50 food offer brings in around $15, which is paid to your business (normally in installments) after your deal has expired. When you look at these numbers it seems crazy to ever use this type of service. But let’s examine how, when and why to use a coupon service.
Most consumers, who use a service like Living Social, are looking for products or services that they would normally buy. The goal of your coupon will be to bring in new customers, but do not be discouraged when regulars to your business use the coupon you are running. If you are an established business, running a coupon should be done during slow times. This will create an immediate boost of customers to your business. While most customers during this time will strictly use the value of the coupon, your job will be to upsell them. Sticking with our restaurant example, be sure to offer wine and dessert. If you are in the service industry, create offers that allow you to tie in other services. Most importantly treat all your customers with the same level of service. The last thing you want is for people to feel different than customers not using a coupon.
Coupons are probably best for new businesses. Most coupon customers are looking for deals and are willing to try out a different business simply to save money. While this customer may not have store loyalty, not all coupon customers fall into the penny pinching category. Many are just looking for something new to try. Since online coupons do come at a great expense to the business, you have to look at these dollars as a marketing expense. Simply put, you are paying for the data base of customers that your business has not already generated. It is now your job to make these leads work for your business.
- Be prepared!
- Have your staff ready for the customers and remember to stress the importance of each customer that walks through the door. These are potential lifetime customers and should be treated as so.
- Collect information!
- Since you are paying for these leads, you should make then work to your advantage. Emails are an easy simply way to stay in contact with your new clients.
- Track your Transactions!
- While there are those people who will try to use a coupon twice, you also want to track sales. This will help determine if your offer brought in only the coupon amount or if you were able to upsell
- This will help you to adjust your next offer and choose if and when to run your next offer.
It is important to let these coupon sites work for you! You are paying them to find you new business and potential lifetime clients. Pushing your coupons in other places will not help achieve this goal. Do not advertise your coupon deal on your Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Your social media sites are filled with your current customers who are already willing to pay full price. Advertising your deals on social media is just taking money out of your own pocket.
Evaluating your deal is a long term investment. Daily deal websites will send you statistics about your deal and how successful it was but I would ignore them. While these sites can measure feedback from customers and how many coupons were purchased, they cannot measure the money in the register. Your real money is made in each dollar over the coupon amount and the number of customers that return to the store. This cannot be measured by the coupon company and is the real measure of success. It’s not difficult to measure the dollars spent over the coupon price and harder to measure the number of returning visitors. In the restaurant industry, try a punch card. Hand out a punch card to all coupon customers that offer another deal. (Example: dine 5 times and get a free appetizer) This is a relatively cheap way to track if these coupon customers are returning. If they are not, the deal did not work as planned.
Remember that your goal is always longevity with your new customers. While it is great to see new people walk through the door, the price of the coupon is made up when that customer comes in a second, third and fourth time.
– Matt Wilkos
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