An old-fashioned promotion — the coupon — is making a comeback online in a much more targeted and effective way. Brick-and-mortar retailers are using tools such as Google AdWords and gift cards to drive buyers to special landing pages on their websites with coupon offers.
For instance, a retailer might send out a gift card worth $25 off of $100 spent in-store with an invitation to double the offer if the recipient goes online and signs up for their e-mail list. Or, using Google AdWords, retailers can also promote special coupon offers on their sites.
Web users who click on an AdWords offer or go online to double the value of their gift card are generally more motivated buyers, says John Fell, president of E-mail Logic. E-Mail Logic builds slick, customized landing pages for their email marketing clients with online coupons. Once a customer arrives at the promotional landing page, they have the option of printing out the coupon and taking it to the physical store, or using a coupon code to shop at the retailer’s online store, if they have one.
The difference between online coupons and the ones normally printed in newspapers is that they target a specific audience that is either already on the retailers’ marketing list (in the case of gift cards) or are searching online for a product or place to shop locally and are attracted by a Google ad. Online coupons create a special call to action on the retailer’s site and the retailer is then able to quantify the success of his promotion and identify motivated buyers.
The most effective online promotions use landing pages that reflect the store’s brand and encourage shoppers to get the offer via email, Fell says. This forces the buyer to identify himself so the retailer can build a campaign that further reinforces the store’s brand and allows the shopper to execute the offer.
Although retailers are taking markdowns, they usually receive higher transaction rates because the buyers are motivated, Fell says. And perhaps even more importantly, they are building their e-mail list enabling them to execute extended marketing campaigns to a group of interested and motivated shoppers.
Fell’s only word of caution is that once you get a prospect to “click” you must impress them with well-designed and professional landing pages. Retailers who take the time to build effective Google ads risk losing customers if their landing page does not look professional or fails to function properly. So, it is better to outsource your online promotions to professionals who know how to build an attractive and effective marketing campaign.
The most important component of an online acquisition campaign is the branding created by the landing page and call to action, Fell says. It’s relatively easy to get people to the page but we need to be careful that we don’t attract the wrong kind of buyers or fail to give them something to do.
“We’re not looking to generate short-term sales to those motivated by a good deal, rather we’re looking to build relationships with relationship buyers who value all the benefits that an independent specialty store provides its customers,” he added.
Most acquisition programs such as Groupon bring in transaction buyers. Transaction buyers are interested only in price. They have no loyalty and will leave you for a better deal somewhere else. Relationship buyers are looking for a reliable supplier. They want to belong, and will stick by you, even when the competition is on sale. Simply put, their looking for a home. The landing page is designed to attract the relationship buyer, Fell says.
It is also important to include your coupon promotions in your planned markdowns in order to keep your margin at a desired rate, says Black Senior Consultant Steve Pruitt. Fortunately, the higher transaction rates you can get from targeted online campaigns should improve your gross profit, he added. Motivated buyers and a growing e-mail marketing list can make online coupons a win-win strategy.
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