Business Strategies / Business / Power Lunch

Power Lunch: How to Be Successful in the New Digital Coupon Era

Learn how food and beverage processors can use consumer data to their offer valuable discounts.

By Josh Perlstein, Response Media

Discounts are a great way to encourage consumers to try a brand for the first time or reward existing customers for their loyalty. But 55 percent of consumers say they would be more willing to use those discounts or coupons if they were available digitally.

Coupons hold the same appeal they’ve always had; the only difference is that, in the digital age, you’re able to target coupons on the basis of consumer behavior.

With digitization and the abundance of consumer data available to companies today, coupons and respective discount value can be tailored to people with various behaviors and interests. This tailoring makes it easier for companies to effectively drive trials and reduce the likelihood of cannibalization.

But if you haven’t already started a digital coupon strategy, where do you start? Your best bet is starting where your consumers are — and partnering with a trusted rebate app is the best way to find them.

coupon graphicTaking Coupons Directly to Consumers

The popularity of rebate apps, which offer consumers a variety of discount options, is growing exponentially. Rather than creating your own app, it’s much more effective to work with an established app, which already has an installed user base.

For example, mobile shopping app Ibotta has been downloaded more than 10 million times, with almost half of its base using actively.

Participating in a rebate app will deliver your coupons directly to a large consumer audience that is most likely to use them. Rebate apps also offer myriad benefits for consumers beyond savings.

Digital coupons are frictionless, meaning consumers don’t have to physically cut them out of the newspaper or hunt them down and print them off a brand’s website. They don’t have to hold up the checkout line sifting through a stack of physical coupons (it’s OK; we’ve all been there).

Most rebate apps can also be linked to retail shopping cards for further convenience. Members of programs like Kroger Plus can link their apps to their loyalty cards or scan their receipts and automatically receive rebates.

But not all coupons and discounts are store-specific. Consumers often receive more universal rewards, like cash back for purchases, regardless of where they shop. Because the app is on mobile devices, it’s already an accessible tool people take with them everywhere they go.

How Companies Benefit From Rebate Apps

Partnering with a rebate app eliminates the printing and distribution costs associated with physical coupons. The app is its own form of distribution, and it also handles tracking and fulfillment for you.

For companies that worry about coupon fraud, digital coupons reduce that concern, too. It’s much more difficult to forge a digital coupon on a rebate app than to photocopy a paper one.

Rebate apps also help reduce cannibalization of your own customers by targeting consumers with specific brand purchasing habits. This helps you target coupons at consumers who don’t already buy your product, allowing them to try it for free or at a discount.

5 Ways to Deliver Savings

With a diverse array of rebate apps emerging in the digital coupon sphere, each has its own system and group of followers. Once you’ve selected the right fit for your company, ensure the success of your campaign with these five steps:

1. Be selective about the coupons you give out.

In particular, be selective about both how often and for which products you give out coupons. You don’t want consumers to become so accustomed to coupons that they don’t buy your products without them. If a consumer knows she’s likely to get a coupon for $20 off at Bed Bath & Beyond soon, then she’s also likely to wait for that coupon again before shopping there (it’s OK; we’ve all been here, too).

2. Reward loyal behavior.

Freestanding inserts are still popular, but the information you can glean from a rebate app allows you to observe the behavior of loyal consumers and reward them for it. For example, if you notice that customers have left an especially positive review, reward the time and effort they put in with a special discount — behavioral targeting allows for this today.

3. Analyze what’s working and what’s not.

The consumer data that rebate apps provide not only helps eliminate concerns about cannibalism, but also tracks how successful your coupons are. You can review what users of your coupons bought before, during, and after your coupon campaign to find out what drives sales and converts consumers to your products.

4. Enhance consumer targeting.

With all the information they can reveal about consumers, rebate apps give you a more comprehensive ability to target coupon campaigns. You can have the app target only frequent competitive product purchasers with a specific, high-value coupon while targeting infrequent product purchasers with lower-value discounts. Brands can also share information with one another and build relationships with loyal brand consumers.

5. Send customers relevant content, too.

If you want to avoid acclimating consumers to waiting around for coupons to arrive before buying your product, provide them with more value than just coupons. Allow consumers to sign up to receive messaging directly from you through direct channels such as email and social — and utilize those permission-based channels to deliver value beyond coupons, such as educational tips, a sense of community, recipes, co-marketing content with a relevant brand and humor, and other content that creates a valuable relationship between your brand and your consumers.

Leverage the immense audience, comprehensive tracking information, and targeting benefits that partnering with a rebate app can deliver. Your brand will get the most out of the new age of digital coupons, and so will your customers.