Restaurant.com Tracks Menu of Online Coupons

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Restaurant Web site Restaurant.com uses online promotional codes to entice new customers and to monitor the success of various offers.

The site at www.restaurant.com features $25 gift certificates costing $10 to more than 8,000 restaurants nationwide. Through aggregate discount site CouponCabin.com, the company has expanded its reach and used the discounts to test the strength of its offers.

"We regularly provide a number of different savings codes, unlike other retailers who only offer one a year," said Cary Chessick, CEO of Restaurant.com, Arlington Heights, IL. "We can track how many people came through that particular channel. We look back at all the variables and analyze the results."

CouponCabin is a database of searchable coupons and offers. About 700 consumers are signed up for its weekly e-mail. Site visitors are mainly female heads of household who are working professional mothers. It also has an online community aspect that includes a forum and "tell a friend" and "share a coupon" features.

"It's really a place for shoppers that are very, very price conscious," said Scott Kluth, owner and founder of CouponCabin.com, Chicago. "They share things on the forum like if they get a coupon that we don't have and catching loopholes that they find and share with the group."

Aside from its placement on CouponCabin.com, the restaurant site uses word of mouth and natural traffic resulting from its domain name. Mr. Chessick declined to share what percentage of new customers CouponCabin generated for Restaurant.com but called the platform an important partner.

Fifteen percent of marketers that CouponCabin works with have offers unique to the site. The majority run standard promotions but get results due to the unique community and extended reach.

"The value proposition is even higher for brick-and-mortar companies," Mr. Kluth said. "You as a consumer are more likely to go to a Web site like Sears.com, and if you have a coupon it then becomes worth it for you to go to the mall. The coupon entices, the coupon is that extra push."

Mr. Chessick said that much of Restaurant.com's success comes from giving small discounts to new customers. Promotional codes entice customers to take an action because of the low threshold to try a new product or service.

"This may sound simple, but people love a sale," he said. "People say, 'It's so inexpensive I might as well try it.'"

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