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What Everybody Needs to Know About Online Coupons
In theory, online coupons are a great concept. You offer a discount on a product with the trade-off being an influx of new business. More web traffic (or foot traffic) means more revenue, and everybody wins, right? Right?
In practice, however, the situation is far more uncertain. Most business owners and general managers are now fairly skeptical of the value of daily coupon sites like Groupon, which have the potential to be more trouble than they’re worth.
A poll conducted by restaurant supply distributor Tundra Specialties found that 41 percent of owners feel Groupon is bad for their business. Owners said reservation sites like OpenTable and social sites like Facebook were beneficial, but were far less trusting of daily coupon sites and customer review sites such as Yelp.
At least to some degree the facts tend to support the owners’ suspicions. While it’s true offering coupons can produce web traffic and foot traffic spikes, it’s unlikely they’ll increase loyal customers.
There is also a danger inherent to offering coupons frequently. As Florida restaurant owner Adam Berringer pointed out in an interview with FSR Magazine, “If you do it too often, people only come based on a coupon.”
If your restaurant is looking for an increase in social media engagement, coupons are probably not the way to go. They will draw in discount hunters, but coupons do not do as much in terms of growing the conversation. Regular content including polls and links will do far more to build lasting customer relationships.
In order to do coupons correctly, you will have to be particularly diligent when it comes to price points. Figure out how your regular prices compare to the competition to ensure you aren’t losing too much. Giving too much away isn’t going to help your bottom line.
It’s also important to consider the size of a coupon. Offering $50 for $100 of product might bring in more appealing customers than $15 for $30 of product. Think about coupons in terms of what types of consumers you are trying to attract.
If you are an owner or general manager looking at beefing up marketing efforts, there are plenty of options other than online coupons. Facebook contests are a good place to start in terms of social media, and you should also take a close look at Instagram. In a more general sense, it is worth evaluating whether you are taking full advantage of holidays (even the unique ones) and regular promotional opportunities such as happy hour.
Have you tried online coupons such as Groupon in the past? Was it hit or miss?
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