As every marketer was taught or learned through experience, including an offer in an ad has an immediate and direct correlation to driving sales. In traditional media such as direct mail or newspaper inserts, including an offer was common, even expected. It was Advertising 101: the ad headline drew attention, the copy increased desire, and the offer prompted action. That’s the way it was in direct marketing. Period.
But as new technology is changing advertising and traditional media is fighting to maintain relevancy, a new way of embedding offers in ads is needed – one that connects the ad to the sale.
With traditional media, including an offer, usually in the form of a coupon, was reliable but it came with a few problems. First, the cost of printing and distribution is expensive. Second, managing coupons at store level after redemption is inefficient, a drain on the back office and vulnerable to fraud. Third, for consumers the clipping, storing and redeeming coupons is not the best experience. How many times have you found yourself in the store or restaurant’s parking lot of a store thinking about that merchant’s coupon that you left at home? It hurts to go in.
Around 2007, couponing made the leap from print to digital. A few companies sprouted up that allowed consumers to find coupons online and then “click to print.” Page after page of coupons had to be printed. If you’ve bought an ink cartridge for your home printer lately, you know how expensive this gets. Worse yet, to avoid fraud exposure, consumers were asked to download and install special coupon printing software.
As retail store POS evolved and .com sales increased, alpha or numerical coupons codes were introduced. But they too came with challenges. If a coupon code was included, it inevitably found itself on Fat Wallet, or one of the dozens other unregulated bargain hunting websites. Sometimes, a coupon code would be leaked before the actual digital coupon was released! Retailers found it hard to control markdown costs.
And along comes mobile. Click-to-print couponing is a non-starter. A couple years ago, advertisers made an attempt to push coupons to customers in the form of bar codes delivered to smartphones. This failed due to the difficulties inherent in scanning a phone’s reflective glass screen with the laser gun or bed scanner technology used by most retailers. Scanning bar codes on mobile phones is usually but not always better with LED-based POS systems, but too few retailers use LED scanners.
What’s a marketer to do?
The solution comes in the form of card-linked offers. It’s the best and easiest way to access, store and redeem coupons. It’s easy for the consumer and easy for the advertiser. Wherever a consumer sees a card-linked offer – on the web, on their phone or in print, they select the offer and it’s automatically loaded to their credit or debit cards. Tapping into the card-linked offers API is a simple process as well.
Already a hot topic among web- and app-developers, embedding offers in ads will be a must-have in the coming months. And it’s low barrier to entry. Simply register for the Linkable Networks API and you have the offers needed to drive sales. Interested? Email Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org