Daily deal sites on the internet came into existence with momentum not previously enjoyed by other direct marketing platforms. Consumers rushed to buy rock bottom coupon deals by the dozens, and daily deal companies cut checks for businesses eager to increase their numbers.
It seemed to be a match made in heaven, and that internet deal sites had ‘cracked the code’ for effective (and highly lucrative) online coupon sales.
Over the past six months, however, the excitement around online coupons is diminishing as reality catches up with expectations. The daily deal model ultimately makes little sense for many retailers or restaurants, as deal sites gouge businesses for profit shares they may not soon recover.
Overuse of daily deals will dilute your business of real, repeat customers, and possibly disenfranchise once-loyal customers who may feel that repeated use of bulk deals cheapens or somehow illegitimates the experience of the full paying customer.
Don’t get me wrong, the daily deal site definitely works for some industries, especially fitness, group classes, and recreation. Businesses with low overhead and material costs who essentially need to ‘fill seats’ are positioned to make the most of this model.
However, as digital marketing becomes easier for businesses to do themselves, businesses like Groupon have been struggling to stay relevant.
Check out the Bloomberg Report on Groupon’s falling stock .
As a business, it’s important to keep up with effective direct marketing and internet discounting. While bulk and daily deal sites can drive a large volume of customers to your business, marketing experts will tell you that building a local following, brand recognition, and offering discounts on YOUR terms is a more sustainable approach than a gratuitous coupon with a cute caption.
Here are a few alternatives for businesses who are considering the ‘daily deal’ model.
- Hyperlocal business focus.
- While daily deal sites focus on state and regional markets, many opportunities exist within your hyperlocal market (within 5 miles of your location) to gain impressions and offer deals. Many local print publications have online deal sites, weekly email newsletters, and social media platforms that can be and effective and affordable to a more broad based deal.
- Coupon Alternatives.
- New formats of internet coupons are trying to bypass the ‘middle-man’ profit share by instituting a nominal, one-time fee per coupon. New models like InTownDiscounts.com only charge consumers $1 to buy a coupon, and allow business to handle the cash transaction directly with customers. Many new coupon formats are popping up regionally, many with the same idea: Keep the middle man out of it!
- Make your own email database. No, you can’t rival the hundreds of thousands of people who subscribe to daily deals, but you can build your own database filled with customers who already know who you are! Establishing an email marketing program is a great way to keep your business in front of customers, as well as offer deals and discounts – on YOUR terms.
Email servers like Aweber and YMLP (Your Mailing List Provider) can help you create personalized emails for every customer, and keep track of who is reading your email blasts and whether links are followed.
- Cell phones are where the action is in 2012. One in ten mobile users are now redeeming coupons from their phone. Using services like MobileCoupon.com or CouponSherpa.com, businesses can now customize deals and deliver them directly to the customer through SMS message.
Mobile coupons are delivered directly to the consumer’s cell phone, bypassing the extra step of opening emails and often having to print coupons. Many businesses are taking mobile marketing to the next level and even creating mobile apps that allow customers to keep up with specials and receive exclusive offers directly from you.
Although it takes a little more work than hiring a daily deal site to send traffic your way, taking direct marketing into your own hands will serve you better in the long run. As your customer database grows you will be able to tailor your deals and discounts to what your loyal repeat customers want.
Today’s businesses must look past the daily deal model to focus on establishing customer loyalty and local brand recognition, as opposed to a one time surge of business. By thinking of deals and discounts on your own terms, you can avoid some of the hassle and expense of daily deal models, and ultimately steer your marketing program toward a path of sustainability.