Running an online deal or promotion is simple enough for businesses.
There are plenty of channels to host, distribute and spread the word about offers. But how can businesses and marketers really shore up their tactics and ensure better results, beyond casting out a big discount into the great unknown and hoping for the best? We talked with a few experts who shared their advice on this topic.
First things first: businesses have to ensure that they have a high-quality offer. “A quality offer with mediocre form will still win against a weak offer with great form,” says Hassan Bawab, CEO and founder of digital marketing agency Magic Logix. “Even if in the short term the weak offer wins, the strong offer will generate goodwill and continued business, where the weak offer made well will be a one-time win or a flash in the pan.”
To know if an offer is quality or not, businesses should consider A/B testing before distributing the offer, Bawab adds.
Offers need to clearly communicate their value to consumers. This means using simple, clear and intuitive language, according to Bawab. This can also include graphics, sounds and interactive links, he says.
Bawab adds that merchants should invite consumers to accept offers, rather than merely making an offer. They should also know that time limits “make offers more urgent and likely to be accepted and not forgotten about.”
When conveying the actual discount of the offer, businesses should understand when to use percentages and dollar signs. “As far as copy, don’t use percentages unless they are close to 50 percent,” says David Moore, president of City Rewards Network, a national network of local coupon sites. “If a consumer sees a 15 percent-off coupon or deal, or $5 off the purchase of two lunch entrees, the consumer is more apt to use the dollar amount than 15 percent of the unknown.”
The key to promoting deals via email messages is to focus on the customer, according to Melissa Fudor, marketing manager at inSparq, a referral-marketing suite. She points to email marketing platforms like Sailthru and Rapleaf to help businesses collect interest and behavior profiles.
“Analyze key data points like geolocation, devices used, pages read, product or topic interests, or past purchases to craft emails to specifically tailor to those groups,” Fudor says. “For example, a daily deal promoting a mani-pedi bundle can be promoted more effectively to a male audience who is married by changing the copy to read, ‘Here’s our gift to you: next time you’re in the gutter with your wife, have this bundle handy to get you out of the doghouse.’”
To foster loyalty, businesses should implement programs that use a points- or status-based system to keep customers engaged, according to Fudor. “Retailers can chose to either convert points into money values, or use status to give out rewards or perks like free shipping, discounts, cash back or early access to a new line or sales.”
Social media is an effective tool for every stage of the consumer loyalty lifecycle, according to Mona Askalani, director of social marketing at loyalty-management firm Aimia. She says the old model of building loyalty through post-transactions efforts is taking a step back as a new model emerges. This model involves relationship marketing, rewards and conversations throughout the purchase cycle – from awareness to advocacy, and from pre-purchase to post-purchase.
“Social media provides an invaluable set of tools to build relationships both before and after the core transaction,” Askalani says. “Marketers can look for ways to connect customer interactions with their social media channels to other data sources that provide insight into customer behavior.”
Merchants should also make sure that consumers can easily share deals through whatever channels they prefer. “A good offer network will allow consumers to quickly share favored offers manually, such as via email, as well as seamlessly via integrated access to social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter,” says Tom Romary, senior vice president and general manager of Deem Offers. “Once on a social networking platform, offers can then be easily re-syndicated to an even broader audience.”
Consumers might get excited at the prospect of getting their paws on a business’s huge discount, but that’s for naught if their experience redeeming the deal at the establishment is poor. This is an especially important point because these voucher-redeeming customers may post their reviews online, according to Hunter Boyle, senior business development manager at email marketing software firm AWeber.
“It’s not about treating them better than other customers, but making sure that staff is prepared to handle the increased business, process deals smoothly — including on mobile apps — and not let any less-than-stellar customer experiences (for example, not tipping on the full, pre-discount amount) create a bias against other deal redeemers.”
Boyle also tells businesses to keep a “measured pace” to effectively test deals and analyze their true impact. “I’ve seen local businesses run deals on different sites almost back-to-back, which is harmful because it trains customers to expect constant discounts,” he says.
Businesses should let one deal run its course then assess the results by looking for an increase in profit – not revenue – that outlasts the deal, along with repeat customers who were initially drawn to the business via a deal, according to Boyle. Once these things are taken into an account, a business can weigh the pros and cons before deciding whether to run another deal or not.
By Jason Hahn