Experts Say Mobile and Email Are Key to Successful Daily Deals
By Greg Holden
The other day, after a beer at a local cafe, my fiancee and I got back on our bikes to look for a place for dinner. Before we started pedaling, I took out my smartphone, started up my Groupon app, and clicked the icon labeled Now. The phone's GPS location system told the app where we were currently, and the app returned deals good for that day at restaurants within 0.3 miles of us (not a very strenuous bike ride, thankfully).
To our chagrin, we discovered that the cafe where we had just snacked had a Groupon good for that day - we hadn't known about it. In the future, we'll check beforehand for "instant Groupons." We rode off in search of a different restaurant and a different deal.
All of this must be music to the ears of the entrepreneurs who are eager to join Groupon, LivingSocial, Amazon.com, and Google in the Daily Deals area of ecommerce. While there are signs that the concept of the daily bargain has lost its novelty and consumers are experiencing "deal fatigue," the prospect of linking mobile devices and GPS systems to "instant deals" is currently a hot one in the industry.
In fact, mobile solutions for daily deal and offer websites were discussed by a panel at the recent DailyDealMedia Conference held in Chicago. The subject of mobile commerce is one that any ecommerce businessperson should consider, given the sorts of statistics driving mobile commerce. For example:
- According to mobiThinking, 5.2 billion people have cell phone accounts, more than have broadband Internet connections (555 million).
- Forrester Research projects that by the end of 2011, mobile commerce will hit $6 billion and climb to $31 billion by 2016.
In the volatile daily deal field, mobile apps, mobile websites and local offers that take advantage of the prospective customer's current location are all important trends, the panelists agreed. The challenges facing deal sites wishing to "go mobile" are the same as they are for any ecommerce business:
- Get a consumer's attention without being too intrusive;
- Make the purchase and payment process as streamlined as possible.
"You're trying to capture them in one day, for a short period of time," said Simon Law of Admeris, a mobile payment provider. "This is all about impulse buying. Much of the time, people are reading their email on their mobile device, so you need to be able to convert this kind of activity into a sale."
One panelist, Howie Schwartz of Offermobi, suggested showing deals within an application such as a game or a mobile Web portal. "It's an immediate opportunity," he said. "We can take someone out of that game experience and it doesn't feel intrusive because we can place a relevant offer for a massage seven blocks away."
Panelists generally agreed that simply "pushing" unsolicited notices to consumers as they are walking down the street looking at their mobile devices was too intrusive. However, once someone has made a purchase from a merchant, sending them notices from that same merchant facilitates long-term relationships and customer loyalty. Businesses wishing to get started with developing a mobile presence should start with an HTML5-based website, which is far less expensive and complex than developing a mobile app, said Law.
Another way to reach increasingly mobile consumers is through a more traditional marketing channel: email. Kara Trivunovic, Senior Director of Strategic Services for the email service provider StrongMail, said that most businesses could expect 6 to 7 percent of their emails to actually be opened if they launch a "blind and unfocused" campaign. However, campaigns that are focused at current customers and that deliver more narrowly targeted messages might see "open" rates of 35 percent or more. "You need to have an understanding of your customer," she advised. "What types of email messages are they clicking on? Do they like spas or sports offers? Categorize people and see where their interests lie. Look at the information they give you, so you can make the experience more valuable to them."
To make the experience of opening an email more meaningful, write interesting copy. "Send the right message at the right time to the right people," said Bertrand Van Overschelde of Emailvision. Another piece of advice directed toward small daily deal startups could apply to any small business competing against dominant marketplaces like eBay or Amazon: "Don't go after Groupon; go after your niche," advised Thomas Cornelius, CEO of Adility. "And in your niche, be the best you can be."
About the Author
Greg Holden is EcommerceBytes Contributing Editor. He is a journalist and the author of many books, including "Starting an Online Business For Dummies," "Go Google: 20 Ways to Reach More Customers and Build Revenue with Google Business Tools," and several books about eBay, including "How to Do Everything with Your eBay Business," second edition, and "Secrets of the eBay Millionaires, both published by Osborne-McGraw Hill. Find out more on Greg's website, GregHolden.com, which includes his blog, a list of his books, and his fiction and biographical writing.
About the author:
Greg Holden is EcommerceBytes Contributing Editor. He is a journalist and the author of many books, including "Starting an Online Business For Dummies," "Go Google: 20 Ways to Reach More Customers and Build Revenue with Google Business Tools," and several books about eBay, including "How to Do Everything with Your eBay Business," second edition, and "Secrets of the eBay Millionaires," both published by Osborne-McGraw Hill. Find out more on Greg's website, which includes his blog, a list of his books, and his fiction and biographical writing.
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