Thursday, March 12, 2009

Online Coupons Clipping Along

MARCH 12, 2009

Don’t clip—click!

With the recession in full swing, US retail shoppers are looking for ways to save, and are finding deals through online coupons.

Not surprisingly, retailers are finding online coupons effective for bringing customers to their stores.

According to coupon processor Inmar, 13% of online coupons were redeemed in 2008, versus only a 1% redemption rate for print coupons.

Online coupons are growing at a furious pace, too, posting a 140% growth rate over 2007’s previous high. Unfortunately, online coupons represent only 1% of the 2.6 billion coupons offered annually in the US.

comScore data showed that most consumers still get their coupons from paper sources, such as Sunday papers, receipts or in a store. Less than 30% of consumers claimed to go online to find coupons.

What are some best practices for merchants looking to ride the momentum of online couponing?

“First, transparency,” said CEO Steve Boal. “Tell the consumer what they’re getting. Don’t hide the coupon behind a scheme.”

“From a coupon point of view, the most important best practice on the Internet is to treat everybody the same,” added Mr. Boal. “Give all consumers the same value and coupon, except where geography makes a difference. Don’t give different coupons to different people based on things like behavior or demographic data.”

Mr. Boal did recommend changing the message for different audiences, however. In couponing, as almost everywhere else in marketing, targeting matters.

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