Don't bet against mobile coupons

Matt Silk
Matt Silk

Time and again, mobile coupon redemption rates have proven to be exceptional when employed as part of both pilot and real-world marketing programs.

As Mobile Marketer concisely put it, “According to Forrester Research, 30 percent of consumers would like to receive mobile coupons….Redemption rates for mobile coupons range from 5% to 15%, which is much higher than typical print coupon rates of 1% or less.”

Thus I'm a little puzzled by a survey from Honeywell and Harris Interactive that eMarketer has teed up with the headline “Consumers Slow to Take Advantage of Mobile Coupons.”

Really? According to the survey, 50% of 18-to-34 year-olds said they would be willing to share their mobile numbers with retailers in order to receive coupons. To me that screams “green light.”

Maybe the issue is how the questions were phrased – something that has been shown to substantially impact polling in political campaigns. Obviously, if you ask somebody if they want more advertising in their lives, they'll probably say no.

But as this generation ages, digital life, specifically organizing one's activities, shopping and entertainment through mobile devices, will become the norm. In fact, it already has. What's lagging is significant participation by major brands, which will drive mobile coupons as an established marketing channel.  

  • Mobile couponing can take several forms:
  • 2D bar codes
  • QR codes
  • Text coupons
  • Calls-to-action driving customers to mobile Internet sites
  • Calls-to-action driving customers to mobile apps
  • Mobile sites that are themselves coupons
  • Mobile apps that are coupons
  • Some combination of all of the above

I've already moved past the question of “whether or not mobile coupons will catch on.” They will. Trust me. The real horse race is which of these competing technologies, and factions within the ecosystem, will win the day to power mobile couponing and other marketing efforts for major brands.

One last thing to watch out for: The killer app that could permanently dispense with any confusion in this arena will be cloud-based “closed-loop redemption systems.” These systems will allow a retailer to redeem a coupon from any of the above listed channels within their cloud, and will also give retailers the opportunity to seamlessly push coupons out to multiple channels.

Happy couponing, everybody.

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