Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Dave Gilbertson, vice president & general manager of SaveLocal.
“Smart Computers Chose These Deals For You,” rang out the subject line of an email I received recently from one of the big daily deal companies. “Ok, I’ll bite,” I thought, curious to see how close their “smart computers” could come to my tastes.
The first offer was for a local Indian restaurant which had fantastic reviews and was highly recommended by friends. Unfortunately, I grew up in North Dakota and my taste buds are the same as those of a typical six year old. Toothpaste is a bit too spicy for me. I doubt this one was chosen just for me. “Unfortunate guess,” I thought, “the computers couldn’t have known about the North Dakota thing.”
The next offer was for discount toenail fungus removal. “They knew about that?” would have been an interesting first thought. Alas, my feet aren’t going to win any beauty contests, but fungus isn’t one of the problems. The real question is what link did I click on at some point during my online life to have a “smart computer” bring together a million data points that connect “Gilbertson” with “toenail fungus issues”? Hard to give the computers the benefit of the doubt on that one, they were just plain wrong.
Over the last several months, consumers have heard every daily deal site touting their “targeting” and talking about the ideal of sending you the exact deal you want when you want it. This sounds fantastic, but we have yet to see any indication that we are getting any closer to this aspiration. Rather, my inbox is being flooded with even more deal emails, all seemingly less targeted than before.
Perhaps it is a good time to take a step back and think a bit more simply, without the use of “really smart computers.” If I buy something from a local business, that alone says a lot about me. It tells the deal provider that I probably live or work pretty close to the business, it tells them the type of business I am interested in and it might even tell the deal provider approximately how much disposable income I have. All of these are very useful pieces of information to a savvy marketer. Send me more deals in this area, in this category and in this price range and there is a pretty high likelihood I’d be interested.
For all you read about “big data,” deal targeting doesn’t have to be complicated. As an industry, we owe it to our consumers and we owe it to our local merchants to make deal targeting as simple as possible. The more we complicate it, the more quickly both will flee. That is something we can ill afford at such a critical moment in the industry’s evolution.
And please, no more toenail fungus deals. I don’t care how deep the discount, I’m not interested.