Summer 2016
Mobile Coupons

I have a few questions for you.

Are your customers extremely busy? Do they always have their smartphones on hand? Are they on the hunt online for the best deals on the best products and services they can find? I’m guessing your answer to all of these questions is yes. Fortunately in our incredibly digital world, there is an extremely effective way to get customers into your store: mobile coupons.

The first thing that you need to understand about mobile coupons is that there are a few different kinds:
• Text-based coupons: a link or plain-text coupon code is delivered to a customer’s phone via text message (SMS).
• Image-based coupons: a coupon image is sent via email, shared in a social media post, or sent in a multimedia message (MMS).
• Web/app-based coupons: a coupon is loaded onto your website or into a mobile application.

Each of these coupon types comes with pros and cons. Text-based coupons are easier to set up because they don’t require the creation of a graphic, but they don’t accomplish much in terms of branding. Image-based coupons do help build your visual brand, but because they aren’t always clickable, they can be cumbersome for customers to use. Web/app-based coupons are simple for the customer to use, but they are more difficult to make.

Once you’ve weighed your options and decided on the type of mobile coupon you want, you will need to choose a service to create and send your coupon. There are a number of different services offering different plans, many tailoring to businesses of specific sizes or in specific industries. They also range drastically in price. As a rule of thumb, paid services often offer more in terms of customer support. Keep that in mind when choosing a platform for your mobile coupons. Here are a few examples:


TapTo allows you to create very basic web-based coupons. You simply enter in information about your business and your promotion, and click Publish. You’ll get the option to download your coupon as a QR code and you’ll receive a link that takes you to your hosted coupon online.



MoFuse Marketing offers SMS Text Marketing for $40 per month. The provider creates the coupon for you, so it is less DIY at a more premium price.


Trumpia offers a variety of mobile coupon plans, incorporating SMS, MMS, and email. Pricing depends on need and how many locations you have, and ranges from $199 to $689 per month.

Going mobile

Why send mobile coupons? It’s pretty simple: Customers are always on the go, and mobile coupons go with them. While paper coupons have been successful for many businesses, they are easily lost or forgotten. If a shopper is running errands and gets a text with a coupon for their favorite boutique, they are more likely to take advantage of the offer than if they were handed a paper coupon on their way home for the day. found that, “Retail customers experience redemption rates between 3 and 10 percent for promotions delivered via an SMS subscription list, and from 30 to 50 percent for on-demand promotions. Redemption rates for coupons obtained from a freestanding insert are between .5 and 2 percent.”

Your customers are already using their mobile phones for so many things—why shouldn’t they use them to save? In fact, they want to use their phones to save money. According to, 47 percent of mobile consumers want retailers to send coupons to their devices when they are nearby.

Mobile coupons are also good for your business. They can be less costly than printed coupons, and there is less margin for error. While many consumers have found ways to use paper coupons more than once, mobile coupons are easier to track.

So, how do you know if your coupon was successful? That all depends on how you define success. More advanced mobile coupon platforms give you a full rundown of how many people redeemed a coupon, both online and in-store, and can tell you how much these customers spent/saved. More simple systems may force you to do the dirty work on your own, by tracking how many customers presented the coupon at checkout.

No matter how you track, you can define success by:
• The number of people who redeem the coupon
• The number of people who mention the coupon
• The amount of profit you made because of the promotion

What one retailer may consider a success, another may consider a failure, so it’s important to define your goals before you even start looking for a mobile coupon platform. But once you find a program that fits your budget and goals, you won’t want to ignore this fast and effective marketing technique.

Crystal Vilkaitis

Crystal Vilkaitis is the owner of Crystal Media, a company dedicated to helping independent retailers market online. Vilkaitis started Social Edge, an online membership group exclusive to retailers looking to gain an edge over competition using online tools. For more information visit
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