Getting Customers Engaged in Your Online Couponing Program

Coupons remain a great way to get a customer into the store for some bargain buys as well as offering companies the opportunity to retain and grow their base by following through with outstanding service and offering other eye-catching products. In most industries, the shift is decidedly toward digital, and the convenience of no longer having to sit at a table and weed through the newspapers with scissors is a delight to many consumers.

A recent report from eMarketer.com estimates that by year’s end, over 100 million US adults will be digital coupon users, claiming that “…digital coupons have caught on as a mainstream activity.”

Smartphones have made life easier for most people—and that includes saving money. eMarketer believes that this rising trend in digital coupons offered over the web will transfer to mobile, with 6 in 10 opting in to mobile coupon messaging by 2015. One of the biggest motivators of this trend is the idea of loyalty, pointing to a Forbes Insights survey which showed 41% of respondents feeling the most engaged or invested in a brand that offered a chance to “sign up for special deals or email updates.”

When it comes to automotive marketing, some dealers have tapped into this trend and offer the opportunity to join a “mobile service club,” where customer loyalty is rewarded through discounts on parts, services and accessories in the form of SMS messages sent out each month.

Outsell has put together some advice for dealers on how to promote a mobile service club that offers relevant online coupons and earns repeat visits from loyal customers.

  • Cross promote the mobile service club throughout all of your channels. Post flyers around your dealership with your keyword in big lettering so customers can easily join the club. Make it simple for them to just type in the keyword or scan a QR Code and automatically become a member. Include blurbs about the club on your website and in monthly email newsletters. Again, just like with flyers, use simple language with a link or keyword for customers to easily sign up.
  • Make coupons relevant. People can easily get turned off from text messages if the coupons aren’t targeted to their needs. So instead of offering a general 15% off on service, make coupons specific such as, “Buy 3 tires, get the 4th one free” or “15% off your next oil change” that correspond to each customer’s driving habits.
  • Give customers options on what types of coupons they want to receive; for instance, on one particular month they could press 1 to get coupons for tires or 2 to get coupons on oil changes. This makes it more likely they’ll use the coupons.
  • Update offers frequently so they don’t become stale for the customer who uses your coupons month after month.
  • Pay attention to frequency of the texts. You don’t want customers to get turned off by bombarding them with texts, and the guidelines of the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) dictate that you disclose the number of messages you’ll send each month. This legislation will also have specific language you need to use in promotion signage and opt-in confirmation messages. Our automotive dealer clients send a limited number (2-4) of messages per month to the members of their service clubs, including a welcome message for first-time subscribers and ongoing offers to existing members.


  • Partner with a digital marketing firm to do the heavy lifting. There are companies who can take care of SMS campaigns for you, help you keep the content fresh, and also report back on customer engagement, allowing you to focus on providing the best service possible for your customers once they come through the door.

Mobile marketing is catching on with dealers across the country, aided by the fact that consumers are now used to getting offers, and promotions presented to them on their mobile devices. Mobile couponing is another avenue for your dealership to generate services revenue and can be a very straightforward way to engage more deeply with your customer base. Follow some of the best practices outlined above to make sure you are presenting customers with relevant mobile offers instead of pestering them with one-size-fits all texts.

Erik Bergstrom is a Product Specialist for Outsell Campaign Operations.

Erik Bergstrom

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