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Social networking - Part 6: Email coupon-based marketing
ZINC's 2010 survey shows who's buying into the concept
Combining the power of viral marketing with the irresistible allure of a great “limited time only” bargain, the phenomenon of email coupon-based marketing has caught the fancy of buyers and sellers alike.  Non-existent in 2008, these daily deals (typically offering discounts of 50 to 75%) are now available to millions of subscribers in major markets around the world, most notably via the market leaders Groupon and Living Social.

It’s easy to see why business operators love to do business using email coupon sites:
  • Instead of relying on their own mailing list, which may be limited or even non-existent, businesses can hop on the bandwagon of a proven, established, and very popular platform.
  • The email coupon market is risk-free; sellers pay the coupon site a specified percentage of actual coupon sales, with no other fees or charges.
  • Sellers can offer aggressively-priced deals that will not take effect until a specified minimum number of buyers have signed on; this ensures a tighter marketing focus, as weak offers are quickly separated from the winning deals. 
  • If the seller's minimum sales targets are not reached within a specific timeframe, the offer simply expires. The time restriction (especially when displayed prominently in countdown mode showing hours, minutes and seconds remaining) often serves to encourage hesitant buyers to act more quickly.
  • Buyers and other members are rewarded for sharing offers with their friends, family and colleagues, potentially multiplying the offer's reach significantly;
  • Sellers can use site-specific offers to quickly identify which site(s) generate the best ROI.
  • Even if businesses don't generate significant sales numbers, through their association with a popular daily discount site, they will gain increased brand awareness, score high "cool factor" points, and drive additional local traffic to their stores and/or websites.

Email coupon sites and social networkers: a natural fit?

Are social networkers buying into the concept? Do these segments of the online population represent their most lucrative targets?  In the 2010 edition of The Bridge, ZINC Research’s syndicated online user segmentation survey, respondents were asked to rate various aspects of their experiences on Groupon and Living Social. 

A summary of the survey is shown in the table below; notable highlights include the following:
  • Among most of the ZINC survey's social network user segments, there has been a relatively promising uptake on subscriptions, particularly among the heavy users, business users and friends & family circles, each of these segments also reported the highest overall satisfaction levels.
  • In all four questions pertaining to satisfaction ratings, far more people were satisfied with their shopping experience than were dissatisfied; this was true even among casual users, who are typically less inclined to engage in online transactions of any kind.
  • Social networkers are discerning shoppers and they like what they see on the coupon sites: their highest satisfaction scores were for "value for the money" and "quality of the product or services provided."
  TOTAL HEAVY
USERS
BUSINESS
USERS
SOCIAL
USERS
FRIENDS,
FAMILY
CIRCLES
CASUAL
USERS
SURVEY BASE 1200 102 89 187 323 379
Membership rate            
Member of neither site 86% 69% 78% 90% 86% 89%
Groupon member 12% 23% 17% 7% 12% 9%
LivingSocial member 5% 17% 13% 4% 5% 3%
             
BASE: MEMBER 172 32 20 20 46 40
 Satisfaction ratings            
 Quality of product/services            
Satisfied 46% 55% 46% 46% 43% 40%
Neutral/Don't know 45% 27% 46% 42% 51% 53%
Dissatisfied 9% 18% 8% 12% 6% 7%
 Value for the money            
Satisfied 55% 65% 48% 60% 44% 58%
Neutral/Don't know 36% 21% 48% 28% 47% 35%
Dissatisfied 9% 14% 4% 12% 9% 7%
 Customized to my interest            
Satisfied 35% 45% 30% 36% 31% 29%
Neutral/Don't know 43% 35% 50% 38% 49% 42%
Dissatisfied 22% 21% 20% 26% 20% 29%
 Selection of offers            
Satisfied 42% 52% 44% 36% 35% 36%
Neutral/Don't know 39% 29% 40% 34% 46% 42%
Dissatisfied 20% 19% 16% 30% 19% 22%


Is The Bridge right for your organization? For information on this and other syndicated surveys conducted by ZINC Research, contact Brian Singh at: 
zincresearch.com/contact.