TellMyCell has been powering SMS marketing campaigns for over six years - and over those years we've been asked hundreds of questions. We recently updated out website with a new set of Frequently Asked Questions, which is a great resource if you want to learn the basics of text messaging and mobile marketing. What we're going to do in our new Q&A series is go a little deeper. So, with that out of the way, let's get to it.
Question: What Are Mobile Coupons?
A mobile coupon is exactly what you'd expect - a coupon that's stored on a mobile phone, rather than being printed on a piece of paper. So what can a consumer do with a mobile coupon? The same things that they've been use printed coupons for – to receive discounts, rebates, etc. on products and services. So, as you can see, the concept of a mobile coupon is pretty straightforward.
There are two ways to send out mobile coupons. They each have their pros and cons.
Mobile Barcodes - Create a barcode, using a standard format, and then get that barcode in your customers' hands. Mobile barcodes offer deep tracking. Unfortanately there are many standards for barcodes, and even more standards for barcodes on mobile phones. As if that wasn't complicated enough, most phones don't support any (let alone many) of these formats out of the box. Offering your customers a mobile coupon is a great way to build brand loyalty and spur sales; requiring them to download an iPhone/BlackBerry/Android app (assuming they have one of those phones) to receive your coupon is not so great.
Mobile Coupons As Text Messages - Text messaging based mobile-coupons offer nearly universal reach. Americans send 4 billion text messages every day. They love text messages, they're familiar with text messages, and most importantly, there's no learning curve/software hassles if your mobile coupon arrives in the form of a text message.
What's the catch? You can’t track text message coupons with the same depth as you can track barcode images. Text messaging certainly offers tracking, just not with the same depth, automation, and precision of a mobile barcodes. Of course all the data in the world isn't useful if the majority of your customers can't receive your coupon. The decision between barcodes and text messages is one that every business has to weigh. In the future we expect barcodes to standardize and spread, but for now, the downsides are far greater than the upsides.
So how does a consumer redeem a mobile coupon sent as a text message? Sticking to our theme of exactly what you would expect, the consumer pulls out their phone, opens the text message, and shows it to the retailer.