Mobile Marketing

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Sorting Through Couponing in the Mobile Age

by Susan Zweibaum on October 21, 2015

Once upon a time, consumers would clip their coupons from their Sunday FSI circulars, take them to the store and turn them in for their discount. Consumer goods manufacturers incented their consumers to try new products, buy multiples or use the FSI as another form of advertising.While the idea of the coupon has not gone away by any stretch of the imagination, how consumers want to interact with them has. Mobile has changed everything – sort of. People want to use their phones for everything including cashing a coupon.

They assume because they can pay for their Starbucks with a swipe of their phone or use a coupon on their phone when they shop at the Gap that they can do the same with coupons in the grocery or big box store. Manufacturers want to take advantage of this trend and deliver mobile coupons to their consumers. Unfortunately, reality makes things a bit more complicated. Consumers and manufacturers are moving faster than the redemption agencies and retailers can keep up and this has made the coupon landscape confusing especially for those either just entering or trying to re-enter after an absence.

So, let’s start with the issue of technology. Retailers and manufacturers work with redemption agencies to be the financial go-between these two entities for coupons. Retailers collect the coupons and send them to the manufacturer’s agency who records and then bills the manufacturer for the coupons redeemed so that the retailers are refunded for the coupon. This is all based on a physical coupon that can be audited and checked for fraud. Simple, right? Not so much when you involve the mobile coupon. The retailer would theoretically scan the mobile coupon and take the discount as they would with a printed coupon. But then what? They don’t have a physical coupon to send to the agency and there is no way to account for fraud. How does that discount get communicated back to the manufacturer? It can be done in theory, but at this point there is no consistent technology that all of the retailers can use. Internal systems are different and while the redemption agencies are working them to come up with a solution there currently isn’t one. What this means is that the product manufacturer needs to come up with alternatives to get mobile coupons to their consumers that want them. You may be asking – why can the retailers do mobile coupons for their stores? The answer is simple, it is their store and/or product so if a mobile coupon is used there is nothing that goes back to the manufacturer, it is just treated like a sale price.

What are the manufacturers to do if they want to engage in mobile coupons? There are options out there and the key is to determine which best meets your needs.

Coupon Apps
There are many coupon apps out there. Some names you may have heard of and others newer – RetailMeNot, Coupon Sherpa, Ibotta. These work by providing coupons to retailers such as Gap, Aeropostal and Babies R Us. The problem here is that it doesn’t support manufacturer’s coupons. A new company, MobiSave, is coming out with an app that allows you to choose your offer and then scan your receipt within the app. The consumer will then get refunded the coupon amount via PayPal.

coupons incLoad-to-Card
Coupons, Inc., News America and a number of others now have deals with the grocery and big box manufacturers to load special offers/coupons directly to your frequent shopper card. When you scan the product at check-out it deducts like a coupon.

Store Coupons
One way to bypass the coupon redemption issue is to create a joint partnership with a retailer such as CVS, Babies R Us, Target, etc. You create an offer that is pushed out to consumers so that it is downloadable onto their phone. The consumer scans the coupon at the register like they would any other retailer coupon.

The Future
One only hopes that the retailers and the redemption agencies get their act together and figure out a solution so that consumers can use their phone for manufacturers coupons. Until then, consumers will have to print coupons from their computer or clip them from the Sunday circular.

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Social Media is More Than Facebook and Twitter

by Susan Zweibaum on March 8, 2011

Like almost everyone else I am a member of Facebook and recently I started posting on Twitter as a way to drive interest and views to this blog.  I post on LinkedIn.  Yes, I am engaging in social media and I am using it to promote myself and my business.  As an entrepreneur with a small consulting practice this works for me.  However, after reading the article below (that was posted on my Facebook page because I “Like” another business) I realized that there is something missing in the conversation. 

 

 The reality is, for businesses that are trying to reach consumers and not other businesses, social media should go way beyond Facebook and Twitter.  Most businesses still don’t understand how to use social media and they equate it with just being on Facebook and Twitter.  Having a good Facebook and Twitter strategy should come after they develop a strong social media strategy.

Social media is not a strategy, but a serious of tools.  You need a cohesive strategy of how social media fits into your marketing plan and how you are going to use it to drive your business.  To engage consumers, speak to and with them and turn them into advocates you need a complete strategy that takes into account the multiple layers of social media and not just Twitter and Facebook. 

  • Establish an Integrated Marketing Plan:  A solid marketing plan and a great promotional idea will incorporate as many marketing vehicles and tools as your budget can afford and will achieve your goals.  This will include a digital strategy, social media, retail, PR, promotion, etc.  Even if we are focusing on the digital and social media strategy here, we need to have ways of driving our consumers to where the messages and conversations are.  We need to surround them with the message in all the places they consume media.  You can’t go on the assumption of “if you build it, they will come.”  Make sure that your social media campaign is properly incorporated into your broader plan.
  • Use Bloggers to Promote Your Brand:  Influential bloggers are an added resource to drive a conversation and create awareness for the brand or company.  They can highlight new products, new uses and promote a positive image for your brand.  They are often the ones to develop the viral campaigns that brands love.  It takes a bit of research to contact the right bloggers and often a bit of effort to recruit them to your cause.  However, once you do, it can go a long way to broaden your social media message.  Remember, you are not looking to “pay for play” with the bloggers, but an unpaid endorsement.  One way is to offer product samples and information about your product.  Believe it or not, these bloggers are often looking for new content or a way to engage their readers (i.e. sample giveaway).  For service products, it can still work as you provide information and special offers to the consumers vs. a sample. 
  • Don’t Forget Your Own Brand’s Website:  Social media can start at home.  Create a blog on your brand’s website.  You can post white papers or other information about product usage.  You can ask for opinions from your users.  You can create a dialogue with your customers in an environment where they will also be surrounded by your brand message.
  • Consider Mobile:  One could say that mobile marketing is a different set of vehicles from the social media applications of Facebook and Twitter.  However, nothing is more social than your phone.  Use phone apps, texting, etc. to drive engagement and viral activity.  It can then link back to your website or Facebook pages.
  • Don’t Limit Yourself:  OK, no one can beat Facebook for sheer number of members, but make sure that your target audience isn’t engaging on other social media sites that you are may be ignoring.  Explore where else can you start or participate in a conversation where your specific target audience is sharing information.  Once upon a time it was all about MySpace before Facebook become the big idea.

Facebook and Twitter are great tools when used properly.  The important thing is to make sure that as a marketer you think beyond them and develop a social media strategy that is best for your brand.

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A New Definition for Mobile Marketing

March 2, 2011

Years ago when I first started working in marketing and promotions mobile marketing meant literally a mobile event, often a truck or promotional vehicle.  I worked on many of these traveling exhibits that delivered an interactive experience for the consumer.  We handed out samples, supported PR events and delivered unique and interesting experiences for the […]

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