How to Execute an Effective Mobile Coupon Campaign to Drive In-Store Traffic

Mobile has created a significant, new opportunity for retail and brand marketers and the way they deliver coupons to consumers. As 50 percent of Americans grow to have a smartphone by the beginning of 2012, and the hype around deals sites and apps like Groupon, Gilt Groupe and Shopkick continue to increase, more and more consumers are going to be turning to their mobile devices to find promotions and discounts before walking into a retail store.

This past holiday season alone, 41% of smartphone users planned to use their mobile device to find and use coupons according to Deloitte’s 2011 Annual Holiday Survey, and a new study by Juniper Research predicts mobile coupon redemption rates will exceed $43 billion by 2016. In order to take advantage of the opportunity this creates, retailers need to fully understand the benefits of mobile couponing and know how to effectively execute campaigns that deliver relevant, effective communication versus noise.

Benefits of Mobile Couponing

Drive store traffic by sending location and time sensitive promotions and offers.

A smartphone is the only piece of technology that travels with consumers at all times and has the power to know whether someone is at home, on the go, or near or in a retail store. Therefore, it is no surprise that with the exponential growth of smartphone adoption comes a drastically increasing interest in mobile couponing. Knowing the location of the consumer enables the retailer to send relevant, targeted mobile coupons to consumers based on time of day and location. “Deal of the day” type messages targeted to specific geographic areas are a perfect example of a mobile coupon that drives both mobile engagement and store traffic.

Engage with consumers inside the store, where 96% of retail sales still occur.

Once consumers are inside of the store, retailers should engage with shoppers through mobile marketing campaigns that send consumers relevant promotions and offers when they enter a store, check-in, barcode or QR code scan a product, and leave the store, allowing retailers to contextually engage with shoppers from the moment they enter a store to the time they leave.

Develop a deeper, more personal relationship with the consumer.

With the increase of daily deal sites, most consumers will preshop before heading to a store to look for those promotions and discounts. Mobile couponing enables retailers to start the conversation with the consumer outside of the store to influence their shopping behavior and continue it through the point of purchase developing a deeper, more personal relationship with the consumer. Retailers and brands benefit from mobile couponing because it allows them to effectively engage with consumers everywhere they are.

Executing a Successful Mobile Couponing Campaign

Mobile coupons need to be optimized for the mobile device to create an easy and enjoyable experience for the consumer.

While this may seem obvious, many mobile coupons are not optimized to fit properly on a mobile device screen. When executing a coupon campaign through email, keep in mind that many consumers will open the email from their smartphone, head to the store, and show the attached coupon to the sales associate to redeem the offer—and they expect that experience to be seamless. Coupons that are not optimized for a mobile device will easily frustrate the consumer, causing dissatisfaction with the brand or even abandonment of the effort. The same applies for mobile coupons through SMS or the app.

Realize how far many retailers have come in creating a rich mobile experience for consumers.

Mobile websites and apps are now full of vibrant, rich imagery and interactive design. The mobile coupon needs to keep with the look and feel of the brand and not be held to lower standards simply because the promotion comes from the mobile device. The mobile experience is designed to be rich, engaging and exciting.

Tailor mobile coupons to the unique use cases of mobile.

This relates back to utilizing the location of the consumer to engage contextually with them through mobile marketing. If sending a mobile coupon though the retailer’s own branded rich app to shoppers currently in lower Manhattan for 20% off everything in the SoHo store, the retailer needs to ensure the location-centric message is clear and sent during popular shopping peaks.

Find the right balance between effective, relevant engagement and noise.

When sending mobile coupons via the app, email or SMS, keep in mind that the consumers have already opted in to receive those messages and are typically the retailer’s or brand’s most loyal customers. They want to receive promotions and offers based on their location or past buying habits, but don’t want to be overwhelmed. Play around with frequency and time of day of the mobile coupon campaign to see which combination leads to the highest mobile coupon redemption rate. Also send consumers mobile coupons when they reach out by checking in to a store location or scanning a barcode/QR code—inciting interaction is a clear communication that they are looking for engagement from the brand.

Make the mobile coupon redemption experience as seamless as possible.

Within the retailer’s own branded mobile app, there should be an offer wallet that stores mobile coupons so all offers and promotions are easily accessible at checkout. When a coupon has expired, blur the offer within the wallet to avoid confusion for both the consumer and the cashier. For mobile email campaigns, make sure the expiration date is clearly displayed on the coupon.

Finally, retailers should heavily consider investing in point of sale technology that can easily scan the mobile coupon barcode directly from the device if they haven’t already. As consumers come to rely more heavily on mobile coupons, retailers want to ensure they have the technology to support 2D barcode scans so they are not bypassed for retailers that do. For those not ready to make that level of investment, use promo codes that work with the point of sale system and train employees how to use them.

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