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Deal or Coupon: These Are the Questions (You Should Ask First)

Constant ContactEditor’s note: The following is a guest post by Dave Wachtendonk.  Dave is the Product Manager of SaveLocal from Constant Contact. Follow Dave @Wachtendonk

You find yourself at a crossroads.

Behind you are hours of research spent examining different deals providers, talking with other businesses about their experiences, and trying to determine whether you stand to profit by offering your products or services at a lower price than usual.

Ahead of you are two clear, diverging paths along the “road of offers.”  One path takes you to a local deal, which you’ve probably seen lead to huge success, or huge failure, for other businesses. The other path takes you to a coupon, and you may wonder if the traditional circulars and mailed flyers are still relevant. Thankfully, when done right, there are innovative ways to use both types of offers – and get the business results you want.

By answering the following three, simple questions, you will be in a much better position to go ahead in the right direction.

1. Coupon? Local deal? Is there a difference?

OK, so I guess that’s actually three questions right off the bat, but for my sake, let’s group them into one. Two of the most popular types of offers being used by small business today are coupons and local deals.

You’re probably familiar with coupons – special discounts your target audience will love. You get the word out and wait for people to redeem them. However, if your first thought is the person holding up the store line searching for a clipping from the circular, think again. With the arrival of digital and mobile coupon options, there are new, effective ways to offer coupons.

With a local deal, on the other hand, a customer has to pay for the offer up front. So, rather than redeeming a 10 percent coupon when making a purchase at your store, they will purchase a “$10 for $20” voucher ahead of time and use it toward a future purchase. Local deals generally come with a steeper discount than traditional coupons as a way to incent customers to buy it ahead of time.

Both coupons and deals are great for bringing customers into your store, but what type of offer  is best for you will really depend on what you’re hoping to achieve, bringing us to our next question…

2. What do I want to get out of it?

What are you looking for: an instant revenue boost or an increase in foot traffic over a longer period of time? There is no wrong answer, only a strategy that may be implemented at the wrong time.

If you are looking for a quick boost, try a local deal. You can even make it time-sensitive to further increase immediate revenue.

Coupons, as you may be aware, are usually used by customers with a completely different mindset. They are not paying for anything upfront and will use it at their leisure. They may even come into your store and simply look around, waiting for when it makes sense for them to buy something.

Understanding your goal from the start will make it much easier for you decide what kind of offer to run.

Of course, running any kind of offer, even if it makes sense to your business, would be pointless if no one knows about it, hence the final question…

3. How are you going to let your customers know?

One way to promote an offer is to work with a third-party provider. Depending on your budget, this can be expensive and you will need to work with their schedule and requirements. That being said, in today’s digital world there are a host of ways to easily and economically promote deals, including:

  • Send a targeted email to your email subscribers
  • Share your offer on Facebook and encourage fans to share
  • Promote it on your website or blog
  • Offer it to customers in your store

There’s so much confusion with offers and how to run them properly, that it’s understandable to be hesitant before becoming involved in one. Hopefully these three questions provided a little clarity for you, allowing you to gauge whether a deal or a coupon is the right fit for your business at this time.

So go on, take your next step, and take it with confidence!

Want to learn more?  Find out how one retail business found success with coupons and local deals

Dave Wachtendonk

Dave Wachtendonk joined Constant Contact in 2012. He is a product manager for SaveLocal, which is dedicated to putting control of local deals back in the hands of small merchants. Prior to Constant Contact, Dave founded MobManager in 2010, a SaaS startup that provided redemption, analytics, & loyalty tools for small businesses managing local offers. MobManager was acquired by Constant Contact in 2012.
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