Sorry for that title. But you know that no online marketing campaign – of any kind – gets those terrific returns unless you plan for it. You need to know your market and what you want to communicate to it before any tactic will work, coupons included. We have explored how online coupons can be used to ignite business, and what kinds of business models there are for using coupons. In this post, we review your planning steps to make sure the effort you put into an online coupon campaign is not wasted.
This is the fifth and final post in our online coupon series. You can find the first four at these links:
- The Web is Awash in Coupons
- 8 Good Reasons to Use Online Coupons
- 5 Great Coupon Networks – Plus 5 more
- Groupon Retools Online Coupons
Coupons can generate traffic and sales. Online businesses need to evaluate how using coupons fits into a strategic marketing campaign with benefits that exceed the costs of price competition.
While the strategic issues will be somewhat different for every business, the basic marketing considerations will shape how each business will implement the tactic. These factors are Marketing 101, but we too often hurry past them to launch a tactic.
Know Your Market
Enough said. But it is important to keep this front and center: the people in your market segment shape the way to make your offer, and this is nowhere more true than on the Internet.
Define the Objectives of the Online Coupon
Direct mail campaigns have been used for years to achieve a variety of marketing objectives:
- Market share
- Product introduction
- Customer acquisition
- Sales promotions
- Inventory clearance, and more
You might have similar objectives for your online coupons, but the tracking and communication tools of the Internet can help to make the coupons even more effective. The exact content of the offer, and the timing, duration and placement of the coupon will vary depending on the objective.
Analyze the Economic Value
All online coupons have costs. There are costs in creating them, distributing them, tracking them, and especially in funding the discounts they carry. Often, using coupons will put you in a loss position on those specific items, so the offer is worthwhile only if the longer run economic returns are there. One of the most important reasons to use online coupons is to acquire a new customer, so the lifetime value of a customer is an obvious basic consideration. Do you know the lifetime value of your customer?
Choose the Timing and Duration to Achieve Your Objective
We believe coupons are most effective for short-term boosts in traffic and sales. Using a coupon as a permanent tactic is just a unilateral price cut, and that cannot be good for your business in the longer term. That said, there are businesses that continuously offer coupons, but rotate the offer among products or services. Or, you might have a variety of offers in a variety of channels to reach your market in slightly different ways, while always building the brand.
Tracking and Analysis Always Required!
If you take the trouble to launch a marketing campaign, it is essential to learn from it. Even if it fails to hit your objectives, you will know something more for the next time around.
Coupons have grown up online. Even if you have not used them in the traditional marketing channels, consider them anew as part of your internet marketing strategy. As a source of new customers and new relationships, coupons may prove to be one of your most powerful tactics.