Mobile Coupons Are About to Overtake Paper—Here’s How Retailers Can Capitalize on That

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Photo by Dmitry Ratushny.

Paper coupons have been popular since first used by Coca-Cola to attract consumers in 1887. Now, over 130 years later, new research indicates that a significant shift in the use of discount coupons is occurring. It is a trend that, once reached, will likely be irreversible. Research conducted by CodeBroker indicates that mobile coupons are about to replace paper coupons in consumer popularity.

CodeBroker’s 2018 Mobile Coupon Consumer Research Report shows that the battle between mobile coupons and traditional printed coupons is about to reach a tipping point. The survey of 1,204 Americans indicates that while 53% of consumers still prefer paper coupons, the percentage of those who prefer mobile coupons is now at 47%, and that preference is growing.

While this shift has been long anticipated by some, the research contained plenty of other insightful information for those who are interested in reaching consumers through discounts.

One of the factors of interest is the sense of urgency consumers feel about a coupon delivered through SMS, email, apps, and social media. When participants were asked just how quickly they would likely redeem a coupon they received via text message, 25% said they would use it within three days. That number grew to 60% when they were asked if they would use it within a week. This could be exciting news for retailers who are seeking to create urgency and are looking for a vehicle to create short-term traffic surges.

The report also offers a potential solution for retailers looking to grow the number of subscribers to their marketing lists. The survey states that 68% of respondents indicated they would be more likely to join a brand’s marketing list if it included an instant coupon or discount when signing up.

The news gets even better for retailers when consumers request a digital coupon after seeing an out-of-store advertisement. Consumers who request such mobile coupons are likely to use them 78% of the time. Since 85% of respondents to the survey stated they try and find coupons prior to visiting a targeted retailer, this is a marketing strategy that can obviously work.

Convenience plays a large role in the growing acceptance of mobile coupons. The survey shows that while 69% would prefer to download coupons on their phone, only 31% said they would prefer to download and print it.

How Retailers Can Maximize the Impact of Mobile Coupons

While the coupon research offers news that should re-energize retailers about mobile coupon use, it is how these coupons can be specifically used that should add to the excitement.

Based on the information the survey provides, the following strategies should prove to be effective:

  • Send coupons via text. Since consumers prefer the convenience of mobile coupons and place a high sense of urgency on texts, SMS coupons can prove very valuable.
  • Grow your marketing list through instant gratification. Offer a one-time-only offer or discount when consumers initially sign up. This will encourage them to join your marketing program immediately. You can also grow your list by adding “referral” savings incentives.
  • Use all of your marketing opportunities to promote your mobile coupons. Of course, you will want to use all of your marketing assets to promote the availability of your mobile coupons including social media, your email list, and in-store signage.
  • Create higher value, single-use coupons. One-time, high-discount, single-use coupons have more value than lower discount, multi-use coupons. Retailers can use testing to best determine discounts that achieve desired redemption levels.

For many shoppers, coupons are a part of life. They seek out stores that offer bargains and discounts and especially the ones that make it as easy as possible to save. Mobile coupons are just about as easy as it gets, and consumers are recognizing this.

For retailers and marketers, the trend is undeniable and irreversible. As mobile coupons continue to grow in popularity, they will increasingly attract new customers and build repeat business for stores while differentiating themselves from competitors.

For a more detailed look at what U.S. consumers really want from mobile coupons, read the complete 14-page 2018 Mobile Coupon Consumer Research Report.

Dan_SlavinDan Slavin is CEO and co-founder of CodeBroker, a provider of mobile marketing solutions. He was CEO of Framework Technologies, VP of Open Market, and CEO of International Testing Services. He earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from Yale and an MBA from Harvard. You can reach him at [email protected].