The old adage is that 50% of advertising and marketing spend is wasted – companies just don’t know what 50%.
Given this reality, companies riding the rising tide of digital commerce are looking for new ways to engage with customers and keep them engaged. This is particularly difficult in the current macroeconomic environment, where inflation is high and wage growth is not keeping pace.
People want to save money, and in an increasingly digital world, they want to be able to take advantage of the most relevant offers presented to them on the channels they want to use.
Michael MixCEO and co-founder of System1, told Karen Webster that the basic value proposition of the coupon itself has not changed since the advent of green stamps decades ago. But delivery methods are changing, especially as concerns about data sharing and privacy continue to grow.
Brands can entice consumers to buy new items in different ways, or at least to try them out. It may only seem like every time you click on an ad or on Instagram, you’re prompted to sign up for company email or text alerts to save 10% on a purchase.
For marketers, the impetus is there to extend offers: Offering one or two percent — or 10 — now, to entice that initial purchase, can pay longer-term dividends. But doing it in a targeted way benefits all stakeholders.
First, the good news: there’s a certain segment of consumers who just love learning about coupons – and coupons are a great way to entice those consumers into purchasing goods and services. TikTok, Google, Pinterest and various platforms have been hotbeds of social engagement and interaction points where videos give way to promotional offers.
And now for the less good: as Blend noted, major brands have set up separate budgets for coupons and promotions, separate from marketing and advertising expenses. And it limits opportunities for businesses to surprise, delight and attract new customers. Ideally, he said, these separate buckets, intended to increase sales, should converge.
There should be an integration of promotions and offers, contextually, into the search journey, instead of existing as a separate silo on a site that needs its own search and discovery (which in turn creates friction ).
The conversation came against the backdrop of where, earlier this month, System1 said it had acquired coupon code search engine CouponFollow in a deal worth $115 million. The company intends to integrate the search engine – along with its millions of subscribers and thousands of partner brands – into its omnichannel marketing platform.
Go beyond the stuttering stage
The goal is to give consumers discovery without the stuttering step – going beyond the hunt to a better shopping experience. The acquisition highlights this trend – where CouponFollow acts as both a search engine and an aggregator. System1, he said, can take advantage of coupons and promotional codes directly in browsers and in separate search engines (operated by System1).
“We can eliminate the jumps between a consumer looking for something and ultimately getting a promo code they can use at a seller,” he said, adding, “The more friction we can take away from those jumps, the better.”
He noted that System1’s digital marketing-focused pre-CouponFollow business rebounded after pandemic headwinds were felt the most in 2020. The company’s targeted behavioral advertising, it said. he said, along with his investment in Startpage (via its subsidiary Privacy One), the second private search engine.
He said the company has a competitive advantage here, with security and privacy concerns making headlines. Overall, he said, consumers are unhappy with the way they are marketed on digital channels, namely because they have no idea how a given company has marketed them. discovered for the first time.
A more comfortable marketing experience
System1 uses first-party data – that is, individuals come to company websites and give permission to use their individual consumer data, unlike an invasive advertising model, where mobile app downloads allowed businesses to know everything that was happening on their phone.
“It’s not a scary experience,” Blend said.
With so much of the uncertain macro environment, Blend said, the future of couponing is bright, similar in scale and scope to cash back, buy it now, pay later programs. (BNPL) and loyalty. Improving the privacy aspects (through permission), he said, will ensure that digital advertising will exist for the next hundred years. And alongside that longevity, he said, “coupons and promotions aren’t going anywhere.”