Case Study: Using Digital Coupons to Generate Calls

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Merchant: Don Fuller’s Appliance Repair
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Platforms: Angie’s List, DataSphere, Facebook
Bottom Line: Small businesses are looking at factors like sincerity and authenticity when they decide which hyperlocal marketing firms to work with.

In today’s competitive landscape, digital marketing firms are honing their sales pitches and investing in innovative new technologies to stand out from the pack and capture more small business clients. But when Don Fuller’s Appliance Repair co-owner Lisa Fuller evaluates a vendor, she looks at something that’s harder to quantify — sincerity.

“I’m really big on old-fashioned customer service and one of the premises of our business is we want to treat you the way we want to be treated, so I really look for that,” Fuller says. “Since I speak with people over the phone, I can’t see body language, but you can hear sincerity in a voice. You know if they call you by name, you know if they know a little bit of your business, there’s some genuineness to that phone call.”

Since moving her business from Tulsa to Oklahoma City two years ago, Fuller has been inundated with calls from online marketing vendors. In particular, she’s been overwhelmed by the number of businesses offering SEO services.

“Everyone’s calling when they latch onto a new business,” she says. “[I’m] filtering through who we want to work with, who seems legitimate, who’s nice to work with. There really is no magic pill, it’s just learning as we go along.”

One of the first firms that Fuller opted to work with after moving to Oklahoma City was DataSphere. The company offers mobile marketing automation for local businesses, but Fuller says it wasn’t the technology itself that drew her in during an initial cold call.

“You can be a small family run business with minimal budget, or you can be a huge corporation with millions at your disposal, and they cater to what you need and what you can afford,” she says. “They weren’t about ‘We want to sell you this package and it’s going to be $5,000 per year.’ They were so real. It’s like, ‘What do you need? Let’s look at your profile, let’s look at how you’re doing in the market, let’s sit down together.’ To me, that showed sincerity.”

Don Fuller’s Appliance Repair primarily uses DataSphere for its digital coupon tools. Whenever Fuller thinks of a special she’d like to run, she uses a template from DataSphere to create a digital coupon. Fuller is able to edit the details of each coupon and then post them on her website and social media pages. She usually has multiple coupons running at any point in time.

Online video is another burgeoning area of marketing that Fuller was interested in, but unsure of how to capitalize on. She says DataSphere helped her create a company video and promote it online for added exposure.

The way customers find appliance repair businesses is changing, and Fuller focuses most of her efforts now on getting people to click onto her website. In addition to basic search engine optimization tactics, Fuller advertises on Angie’s List and Yelp, maintains an accurate Google listing, and just started working with Signpost, which is another hyperlocal marketing vendor.

“Angie’s List is the biggest,” she says. “Just having our website hyperlinked on every place that we can [is important].”

Since she started publishing coupons on her website, Fuller has seen a 50% increase in exposure and customer response. Although she doesn’t track online metrics, Fuller speaks with customers over the phone and handles client scheduling, so she has a sense of how many callers say they’ve downloaded coupons from her website.

“Early on they would say, ‘I saw you on Angie’s List,’ but more and more now that we’re coming to the end of our second year here, people are saying ‘Well, I found you on Google,’ or ‘I found your website and saw these coupons,’” Fuller says. “We’re hearing other sources than just, ‘I was searching the Internet for someone who could fix wine coolers,’ so we like that.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

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Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.