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5 Research-Driven Strategies for Maximizing the Impact of Mobile Coupon Offers

Dan Slavin
Dan Slavin

A new survey reveals important nuances that directly bear on retailers' success when it comes to using coupons to drive consumer behavior.

  • Almost half of all consumers prefer mobile coupons over printed paper coupons.
  • Mobile coupons delivered via text message drive high levels of purchases and urgency, with 25% redemption within three days and 60% redemption within one week.
  • Welcome coupons provide a great incentive to drive list sign-ups, with 68% saying that they are more likely to join a retailer's/brand's marketing list if they receive an instant coupon.
  • On-demand coupons drive purchases, with 78% saying that they are likely or very likely to redeem a coupon that they request in response to an ad. This is even higher than historical redemption rates of 30%-50%.
  • Single-use coupons can enable significantly higher redemption. Consumers clearly prefer coupons with a higher discount that they can use only once versus lower-value coupons that they can use multiple times.

Who doesn't like to receive a coupon offer? Despite the continued popularity of coupons for all types of products and services, CodeBroker's Mobile Coupon Survey reveals that there are some important nuances that can directly impact retailers' success when it comes to using coupons to drive consumer behavior.

Using the right strategies can ensure that you're reaching audiences – customers and prospects  – through the channels they prefer and maximizing profits by strategically framing your offers.

How retailers use coupons

Coupons have been used by retailers and marketers for decades, of course. Generations ago, homemakers eagerly looked forward to the Sunday paper where they could clip coupons for redemption at local grocery stores. And, of course, today's consumers still use hard copy coupons but to a far lesser degree. The emergence of digital technology, generally, and mobile technology, specifically, has caused a sea shift from hard copy coupons to the digital variety – the kind that can be delivered via text messages, emails or online advertising.

As redemption rates for traditional paper coupons have dropped, retailers have turned to other more viable alternatives to capture consumer engagement and spur action, like mobile coupons.

Mobile device use spurs mobile offers

In the 21st century, mobile phones are ubiquitous. According to the Pew Research Center, 95% of Americans own a mobile phone, and  77% own a smartphone. Retailers have quickly moved to leverage this new channel to reach consumers directly with digital coupon offers. The ability to literally show up in front of a consumer whose eyes are often glued to these devices captures attention more effectively than traditional channels.

Pew has also identified a segment of the consumer population that are smartphone-only users – they rely exclusively on handheld devices to access the internet, bypassing the need for cable service. In 2018, they represented 1 in 5 smartphone users, an amount that has doubled in the past five years. While smartphone dependency is strongest among younger users ages 18-29 years old (28%), they're not the only demographic drawn to these devices. This represents a great opportunity for retailers to connect with audiences of all types.

CodeBroker's Mobile Coupon Survey, based on responses from 1,204 U.S. consumers, shows that mobile coupons have tied traditional in terms of consumer usage and is poised to soon surpass their hard copy counterparts in terms of preference. The growth trend is showing no signs of abatement.

But not all retailers as equally as successful in terms of leveraging the power of mobile coupons to generate desired results. Here we take a look at the findings from the CodeBroker report, and how they can help you evaluate and improve your mobile couponing strategies.

Build your prospect lists

Retailers rely on their marketing lists to help them maintain contact with prospects and customers, but building those lists can be a challenge. Contrary to popular belief, the Mobile Coupon Survey suggests that by using "welcome" coupons and offers, retailers can prompt consumers to share their personal information and join retailers' marketing lists. This is most likely to occur, though, if they receive an instant coupon for doing so. In fact, 68% of respondents indicate that an instant coupon would provide enough incentive for them to join a retailer's list.

This can be an important strategy for retailers to test as a means of expanding their marketing lists and improving demographic and geographic data that can help them more specifically target various consumer segments.

Create a sense of urgency through text messaging

Text messages are intrusive and they demand attention. They can also prompt quick action. The Mobile Coupon Survey indicated that most consumers receiving coupons via text messaging will redeem them within one week (60%);  another 25% will redeem them within three days. Knowing this, retailers are in a great position to use mobile coupons strategically to create a sense of urgency and drive short-term spikes in revenue.

Respondents prefer to receive coupons through text messaging (57%). That allows them easy access to the coupon through a link. Others indicate that they're happy to access their mobile coupons via a mobile app or wallet (28% and 15% respectively). In addition, retailers should know that providing their coupons via SMS is an important best practice.

Drive more dales through higher-ticket offerings  

Retailers are well aware that consumers can be prone to "coupon fatigue." Send too many coupons that don't represent enough value and your prospects and customers will be quickly turned off. But this research suggests that consumers are highly likely to redeem a single-use coupon that offers a high discount – 77% of respondents indicate that this is the case.

These offerings must be well managed, of course, but technology can help with that. It's important for retailers to be able to accurately track coupon requests and usage so customers receive the same single-use coupon regardless of the channel used to request the coupon. In addition, it's important to ensure that the mobile coupon expires upon use across all channels so that it can't be used more than once.

Use in-store signage to strengthen the message

While retailers are wise to strategically adopt new technology to share their messages, they shouldn't overlook the continued power of traditional communication channels. For instance, 57% say that in-store signage is most likely to get them to respond to a coupon offer. That's followed by 23% who say online ads, and 12% who say Facebook ads are most effective.

That may seem counterintuitive, but think about it. If consumers are in your store and see a sign making a discount offer, they're very likely to respond to the offer. For modern marketers a multichannel approach to communication works best. 

Which of the following ads are most likely to get you to respond to a coupon offer?


Offer on-demand coupons

Here's another logical strategy that you may have overlooked: promote the availability of coupons through out-of-store advertising. Consumers who act on that offer are more likely to redeem the coupon. Why? Because they asked for it! In fact, more than three-quarters of respondents said they would be "likely" or "very likely" to redeem a mobile coupon they had requested.

When was the last time that your mobile device wasn’t within arm's reach? You're not alone. The proliferation and use of mobile devices across generations – not just among millennials – makes mobile couponing a very reliable way to reach audiences. Reach them with a strategically planned mobile coupon that addresses their preferences and you’re likely to see a big boost in campaign effectiveness.

For a more detailed look at what U.S. consumers really want from mobile coupons, you can read the complete Mobile Coupon Survey

Image Credit: mangpor2004 / Shutterstock
Dan Slavin
Dan Slavin Member
Dan Slavin is CEO and co-founder of CodeBroker, a provider of mobile marketing solutions. He was CEO of Framework Technologies, VP of Open Market, and CEO of International Testing Services. He earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from Yale and an MBA from Harvard.