Published: August 14, 2007
by Steven Boal
If you want to both boost sales and track how online is affecting offline purchases, try online coupons.
The rise of interactive marketing has been incredibly quick and continues at a pace that keeps brands, marketers and media properties on their toes. With consumers spending more time online, marketers are redirecting serious dollars online, where more and more shoppers get news, entertainment and make their shopping decisions. Interactive is an essential piece of most marketing budgets.
Consumer packaged goods (CPGs) marketers are finding even their core buyers are spending more time online and making shopping decisions based on web research. They also realize the incredible sales potential in word-of-mouth marketing created by the more than 25 million internet users considered influential in recommending products to others [eMarketer, June 2007].
The challenge for these brands is how to close the loop from engagement to action and gain real insight into the impact their online advertising and promotions are having on in-store sales.
Where money is being spent in interactive
CPGs and other leading brands are leveraging a variety of methods of interactive marketing, including increasingly robust brand websites, rich media and video ads, email marketing campaigns, and much more.
However, since only 10 percent of shoppers purchase online (and even fewer purchase grocery products), it’s difficult to track return, whatever the goal.
Promotions, as distinct from brand advertising, often provide more measurable impact and are proving popular with online audiences and have resulted in robust consumer participation. Coca-Cola, for example, is currently running the highly successful MyCokeRewards program, with on-pack codes driving traffic to the promotional website where points can be exchanged for rewards.
One way Coke has “closed the loop” with these highly engaged consumers is by offering printable coupons in exchange for the reward points, bringing them back full circle into the store and giving Coca-Cola the ability to measure impact on sales.
Similarly, Pharmavite LLC, the parent company of Nature Made vitamins and SOYJOY nutrition bars, generates awareness, sales and brand loyalty through an integrated couponing program, where each element supports another. Emails to its database of 1.3 million subscribers often include links to the $5 worth of printable coupons (powered by Coupons, Inc. technology) on NatureMade.com. There, consumers can also join a rewards program, with cumulative points building toward a single, high-value coupon mailed to the participant.
In addition, coupons in the Sunday newspaper’s freestanding insert (FSI) include promotional verbiage driving coupon-hungry consumers to the website to print additional coupons.
Sheryl Biesman, manager of integrated marketing for the Nature Made Wellness Advisor, the online division of Pharmavite, sees printable coupons as an incentive to encourage people to register, which in turn builds the opt-in database.
“A robust, highly-qualified database is the key to successful retention marketing,” she says.