Single-Use Coupons: A Multi-Pronged Strategy for Each Phase of the Customer Journey

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Photo above by Michael Weidemann.

Consider a retail campaign that evolves with the customer from acquisition to engagement to retention.

A savvy marketer can select a solution that enables her to launch personalized promotions that perfectly suit a target customer for a given phase. For example, an offer designed to acquire new customers should differ from the one that goes out with a view to retaining lapsed customers or further engaging the loyal customer. This is where single-use coupons provide immense potential to deliver personalized promotions, allowing marketers to segment their customers into the appropriate marketing phase—acquisition, engagement, or retention.

Being a pragmatic marketer, your key goal is to deliver unique promotions and offers at each phase along the customer journey.

For example, the promotion you design to win back a loyal customer may be completely different from the offer you present to a new potential buyer. In doing so, you want to ensure that your high-value retention coupon cannot go viral as a mass campaign available to anyone who views it. In the same way, you may consider presenting more exciting offers to prospects and hope to see them join your marketing and loyalty programs. You want to ensure that only select new customers or prospects receive those coupons with exclusive offers that are aimed at first-timers.

The Many Advantages of Single-Use Coupons

Retail businesses are experiencing cutthroat competition, and their real challenge lies in arresting the attention and interest of the evolved consumer. Recent market studies reveal that a growing number of consumers desire personalized offers and expect marketers to exceed their expectations. Other surveys show that shoppers are also willing to share personal information in exchange for highly personalized marketing promotions reaching their inbox. For example, the 2018 CodeBroker Mobile Engagement survey asked consumers, “When signing up for a retailer’s text message marketing list, are you willing to provide your name and address if you receive a high-value mobile coupon in return?” A hefty majority, 76%, said yes.

This is why many retailers are moving away from generic promotions. In many cases, both they and their target shoppers know that mass promotions or “special coupons” aren’t special at all. Offers that are available as “unlimited promos” often fail to excite or engage the consumer; on the contrary, such reusable offers may act to the detriment of the retailer. Retailers and marketers who seek new customers or are tasked with the goal of retaining loyal ones will not find desired efficacy in such generic promotional tools.

Retailers need to ramp up their efforts and be eager to find strategies that can help devise increased personalization in order to drive customer engagement to another level. Some of the highly tempting and influential benefits of single-use coupons that result in higher redemptions include:  

  • Ability to deploy offers in a secure manner, without risk that offers get used more than once, or accessed by unintended recipients;  
  • Delivers customer-centric offers by optimizing at a segment level, rather than delivering generic offers to everyone;
  • Accurately measures promotion performance to determine which offers drive the best returns;
  • Attributes redemptions to individuals and segments, to understand how they are driving lift, activations, and re-activations.

Getting the Single-Use Coupon Campaign Right with Secure Distribution

Here are some key aspects of a single-use coupon marketing campaign that you should keep in mind:

  1. Ensure your marketing campaign is trackable right from issuance through redemption. Doing this requires assigning a unique code to each single-use coupon.
  2. Your coupons must be delivered uniquely to every targeted customer, whether on paper or digitally, so you can track the behavior of individual customers.
  3.  You need to make sure that only those people you want to receive the coupon can obtain it.
  4. For your campaign to thrive and achieve desired results, it should ideally support simultaneous cross-channel delivery, redemption, and expiration. This helps prevent coupon fraud by ensuring a customer only receives one coupon across all of their preferred delivery channels (e.g., email, web, app, Facebook, text).

Secure distribution is often overlooked, and yet it holds the key to effective single-use coupons. Absence of the security features described above can lead to consumers receiving multiple offers, receiving offers not meant for them, offers going viral, and offers being redeemed more than once.

For today’s modern retailer, it is important to become familiar with digital coupon workflows. As such, any viable single-use coupon distribution system must help generate millions of unique promo codes, each personalized for a unique customer, and each optimized for use across an omnichannel network comprising both physical and digital customer touch-points.

When a personalized single-use campaign is able to effectively address these issues, a retailer can make rapid strides in delivering a highly customer-centric marketing strategy.

Dan 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].