Coupon promotions have been a staple for businesses of all sizes. They have proven themselves to attract customers, increase sales and help reach organizational goals. But what may come as a surprise for many is that couponing is not without its rules and regulations. A major issue that continues to plague coupon advertising (even those delivered by SMS) is coupon fraud.
What Are Mobile Coupons?
Mobile coupons are digital coupons that are received and redeemed with a mobile device. These coupons are typically redeemed either by a code directly in the text itself or, a QR/bar code on a landing page. Despite their simplistic nature, mobile coupons have been very successful and have had a massive impact for a variety of industries. According to Juniper Research, 45% of mobile users will use mobile coupons this year with mobile coupon’s global usage projected to surpass 1 billion by 2019.
Types of Coupon Fraud
Coupon fraud takes on many different forms. Of course there are instances of consumers intentionally misusing coupons, manipulating offers, and even selling coupons. But one of the most common practices of coupon fraud is posting/sharing, or redeeming, codes on the increasingly popular coupon sharing sites, as well as social media. Coupons that are intended for one person to use are being released and repurposed by many. Even store employees are getting into trouble by using previously redeemed coupons for a customer without one. Often times, people don’t even realize they are committing a crime, but coupon fraud is very serious and a punishable offense.
Reducing Coupon Fraud
How can businesses go about protecting themselves from fraud? To explain this concept, let’s look at a recent example that we had here at True Dialog…
A quick service restaurant wanted to have a targeted coupon promotion for a particular region of their restaurants. However, incorporating a 3rd party coupon into their POS system wasn’t a feasible option. This meant that coupons would have to be entered manually which would increase the chances of both human error and coupon fraud. By using True Dialog’s Coupon Campaign builder, landing pages were automatically created that allowed end-users to both receive coupons by texting in a keyword to a short code. These coupons were then redeemed at participating stores. Since these coupons were single use only and were being redeemed at the register, any chances of customers posting on coupon sharing sites were eliminated which allowed franchises to control market spend.
Here are a few best practices when it comes to managing coupon liability:
Create Single-Use Codes – For each unique device that is offered a coupon, ensure a different redemption code will be sent and the code will become invalid as soon as it’s redeemed.
Use Unique URLs – Similar to creating different coupon codes, ensure your platform automatically generates unique URLs that cannot be shared from one user to another (even if copied and pasted).
Set Expiration Dates – As a best practice, coupon campaigns should always have a start and end date. To ensure old coupon codes aren’t still circulating, have them expire as soon as the campaign ends.
Use Personalized Messaging – It’s always a good idea to personalize your SMS messaging, but it’s even more so important when presenting coupon offers.
Avoid Distributing Printed Coupons – Unlike mobile coupons, traditional methods for clearing paper coupons cannot be done instantaneously. Also, paper coupons are more susceptible to redistributing and counterfeiting.
Customer engagement is one of the most crucial aspects for running a successful quick service restaurant (QSR). Once a business overcomes the hurdle of building a clientele, a good customer relationship management (CRM) system can help maintain repeat business and provide valuable feedback for the business owner. So, what is the best way to go about management? One of the best CRM channels for many QSRs and fast casual restaurants (FCs) is SMS.
A Text Can Pull Customers Back Into Your Store
One of the easiest ways to get customers to make a repeat purchase is by enticing them with coupons. SMS text in programs can be easily incorporated into a variety of different marketing materials persuade customers to join your mobile club. Let’s imagine that you own a local pizza place. You want to build your customer database by promoting special deals to encourage customers to make a repeat purchase. Utilizing SMS, customers can text in a unique keyword, like PIZZA, to a designated shortcode. From there, they can receive a unique coupon code that they can redeem in your store for a salad or appetizer with their next pizza purchase. This special keyword can be shared among all your marketing channels, like social media, radio, or Groupon, to make a cohesive marketing experience.
SMS Simplifies Continuous CRM
Once customer relationships are built, it is important to retain them. It is difficult for many businesses to find that sweet spot for maintaining customer relations. On one hand they don’t want to be too overbearing, but they also don’t want to be forgettable. SMS can provide a great solution to maintain profitable customer retention among QSRs. It not only provides direct communication to customers, it also simplifies the entire CRM process. An SMS coupon campaign can be used to deliver weekly or monthly specials and get customers to come back. For example, Chipotle’s mobile club texts their members about 1-2 times a month offering BOGO entrees or other free items with next purchase. Since it is only twice a month, it is not overwhelming for their customers and provides incentive for people to make keep making repeat purchases.
Quick service restaurants (QSRs) are projected to grow at CAGR 3.11% in terms of revenue between 2014 to 2019 (Technavio). With the increase in revenue comes an increase of competition among individual restaurants. An effective way to stand out as a QSR is bettering digital marketing strategies with SMS. SMS is being utilized by QSRs in a variety of different ways from protecting against coupon fraud or receiving customer feedback. However, the primary function of SMS for most restaurants is increasing customer database.
Opt-In QSR Customer Database for Opportunity
Virtually every QSR has some sort of mailing list to alert customers of new specials, menu additions, and other in-store promotions. For customers, a lot of these promotions can get lost among the plethora of promotional emails and direct marketing materials.However, the most difficult hurdle to overcome is getting customers to opt-in.
Using SMS provide an easy way to attract opt-ins for a QSR customer database. With a near-perfect open rate, text messages can’t be lost in the sea of competitors’ marketing materials.By establishing an SMS campaign, QSRs can implement a cost effective way to grow and maintain their database. Not only is opting-in via text convenient for customers, it also alleviates the burden on businesses as well. SMS can be integrated in a variety of different CRMs and is extremely cost efficient since messages only cost a few cents each.
Pita Pit Use Case
Recently, True Dialog had the opportunity to work with Pita Pit to help increase the customer database of certain franchisees. In addition to being an effective way to prevent coupon fraud, our coupon campaign allowed Pita Pit to create a unique coupon that was valid 24 hours after receipt. The success of this campaign was astronomical; the franchisees database grew from 2,000 to 9,000 members in just 6 months.
Coupon usage is big and is projected to get even bigger. About 96% of American shoppers are coupon users and numbers continue to climb thanks to the popularity of digital coupons (RetailMeNot). However, with such high volumes of coupons being redeemed each year, the potential for coupon fraud increases as well. Fortunately, incorporating mobile coupons into a cohesive digital marketing strategy can both increase redemption and reduce coupon fraud.
The Power of Mobile Coupons
Mobile coupons are digital coupons that are received and redeemed with a mobile device. These coupons are typically redeemed either by a code directly in the text itself or, a QR/bar code on a landing page. Despite their simplistic nature, mobile coupons have been very successful and have had a massive impact for a variety of industries. According to Juniper Research, 45% of mobile users will use mobile coupons this year with mobile coupon’s global usage projected to surpass 1 billion by 2019 .
SMS vs. Coupon Fraud
It is easy to understand how mobile coupons are beneficial to businesses but, how do they stop fraud? To explain this concept, let’s look at a recent example that we had here at True Dialog. A quick service restaurant wanted to have a targeted coupon promotion for a particular region of their restaurants. However, incorporating a 3rd party coupon into their POS system wasn’t a feasible option. This meant that coupons would have to be entered manually which would increase the chances of both human error and coupon fraud. By using True Dialog’s Coupon Campaign builder, landing pages were automatically created that allowed end-users to both receive coupons by texting in a keyword to a short code. These coupons were then redeemed at participating stores. Since these coupons were single use only and were being redeemed at the register, any chances of customers posting on coupon sharing sites were eliminated which allowed franchises to control market spend.
As important as it is to stimulate and engage students inside the classroom, how a student continues his or her learning outside the classroom is equally important. On average, U.S primary school students spend nearly 950 hours in classroom instruction per year, just shy of the 1,016 hours that secondary school students do (Pew Research). What about the other 7,800+ hours in a year? How are schools making sure that students continue to be intellectually stimulated when so much learning occurs outside the classroom?
One way to keep students engaged is to literally make learning an on-the-go activity. Over the past few years, mobile learning (mLearning) has taken off both domestically and around the world. A big purpose of mLearning is to providing opportunities for learning to the students who live far from schools. However, mLearning tools (such as SMS Facts & Quizes and Mobile Learning Applications) also offer supplemental materials for students attending a physical school. The Mobile Economy Project at the Brookings Institution aims to “improve learning and engage students and teachers” using mobile devices. Having classroom activities available outside the physical classroom is one of the easiest ways to keep students continually engaged. Schools are mobilizing education by using these tools.
Extracurricular Activities Go Mobile
Nearly 6 out of every 10 U.S children (ages 6-17) participate in extracurricular activities according to the Census Bureau. Among our high school students, 87% who participate in extracurricular activities do so because they genuinely enjoy it. Extracurricular activities keep kids on the path of academic success since so many of activities, such as sports teams, require a minimum GPA to participate. These activities also support the development of time management skills, leadership and teamwork. Keeping up with multiple extracurricular activities can be taxing on a high school student.
Mobilizing education tools can be extended to include these activities, and it provides a great opportunity for the schools using the tools to stay connected with their students in multiple ways. Students can get SMS updates from coaches and teachers. Club leaders can setup a basic SMS campaign to send out regular club announcements and news. Or they can use a dialog SMS campaign to invite team members to vote on club issues and ideas.
Teachers, Coaches & Administrators Win
Education may be one of the oldest institutions we have, but it is becoming an incredibly dynamic space as technology continues to support the development of education. Teachers, coaches and administrations are collaborating with software companies on mobilizing education in various ways, and they are winning. They are engaging students to learn and continue learning no matter where they are in the world. And these mobile solutions continue to be fruitful tools for fostering young minds to stay stimulated outside the classroom.
Curious how mobile technology can improve communications in your school? Learn More
Among the different types of SMS campaigns, the SMS gateway campaign can be the hardest to understand despite the extreme usefulness. SMS gateway campaigns allow companies to use triggered sms alerts based upon chosen parameters (such as appointment date) established by its own internal software (common examples include POS or CRM systems). For example, if your company uses a POS system that tracks certain purchase a customer makes, you can set up a sms gateway campaign to send out a triggered alert to thank a customer for shopping with your business. If a customer has their eye on something in your store, you can have the customer opt-in to be notified with a triggered sms alert when stock of that item is low.
How does the SMS Gateway Campaign on True Dialog’s Platform Work?
A sms gateway campaign is tough to grasp conceptually but, once seen in action it becomes a little easier to digest. Below is a brief video of how a sms gateway campaign is conducted through True Dialog’s portal:
Examples of How a SMS Gateway Works in the Real World
SMS gateway campaigns assist both user and receiver on a daily basis. Many apartment complexes will use a sms gateway campaign for mass communication with tenants to notify of package delivery or maintenance visits. You would have to use a gateway rather than a basic SMS campaign because these specific alerts go out at unique times and not all at once. You can set a trigger in your sms gateway campaign to alert the tenant of the specific action that is occurring. More examples include appointment reminders from doctor’s offices, low balance alerts from banks, and internal communications for large organizations like universities.
SMS gateway campaigns are highly useful for a variety of different businesses. It may be scary because it seems complex but, sms gateway campaigns are used so frequently in real life application, they become almost second nature to your mobile marketing.
An application programming interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. Simply put, an API is a set of requirements that govern how one software application can talk to another – allowing information to go back and forth between the systems.
For example: Yelp includes a Google Map in its app to display nearby restaurants. Several websites allow you to log-in using your Facebook or Google account. Using an API makes it possible for applications, such as your CRM system, to share data and take actions in your SMS Gateway without requiring developers to share all of the software’s code.
The API takes this code sharing concept and simply limits the outside program access to a specific set of features – usually it is requests for some specific data. Your API clearly defines how a program will interact with the rest of the software world. It saves time, resources, money, and potential legal issues.
How does it apply to my mobile marketing strategy?
Who cares? You should… because API’s are a simple and cost effective way to make mobile marketing easier for you.
Companies use the SMS API to integrate their marketing, analytics, CRM, and other business software with the SMS Platform for creating more powerful and customized solutions. When marketers integrate True Dialog’s Platform with a CRM software such as Zoho to create a unified database. They can send SMS campaigns out to contacts from within the CRM program or log into the True Dialog platform. Either way, the information will sync with the contacts in the CRM system.
Other companies use the SMS API to automate recurring activities and procedures. For example, a text message alert can be triggered (and sent to the contact) by entering new information into your contact management system. When the leasing office in an apartment complex enters into his contact management system that a package has arrived for John Smith, the the message is sent to the phone number association with John Smith letting him know he has a package. This can also be done in response to a subscriber action, such as submitting a registration form for an event or completing an online purchase.
If you’re a new portal user with True Dialog, the first thing you are likely thinking about is “how do I get contacts opted in?” This is a quick guide to making the decision of how to go about that and the logic behind each choice.
1. Decide how contacts will opt-in to your SMS program.
Will they text a Keyword to a short code?
Is there an external CRM or other contact management system where your contacts are housed?
Do you have an existing list of contacts who already agreed to receive SMS from you?
2. Add Internal Contacts First
For the sake of testing, make sure to add yourself and any other decision makers into the platform. You can either manually add these contacts with the “Add Contact” button under Manage Contacts or Import a contact list. Either way, make sure to create a Contact Attribute first – something to identify those folks as internal (suggest calling it Internal or InternalContact and setting the data to Yes/No).
3. Make Contact Lists
In the True Dialog Platform / Portal, you setup a contact list by defining how you want your contacts to be filtered (segmented). This means you can create a list (segment) before you even have contacts in your account. Lists are dynamic, so as people opt-in or add a new contact attribute, they will be automatically added to the lists you pre-build.
The base of every contact list will be “Contact Is a Subscriber” (see screenshot)
Add the Contact Attributes that define that list. (Suggest the first list is your “Internal Contacts List”
Whether in a restaurant, mall, hospital, or a conference, when someone texts in with a keyword your message better be clear and useful. You can activate an SMS campaign with a keyword in the True Dialog platform in just 2 steps.
Setup a Keyword
Go to Campaigns > Manage Keywords. On the right side is a button that reads Reserve New Keyword.
When you click on it, a pop-out window will ask you what name you want to use.
Make it a short word with no spaces (characters and numbers only)
It should be easy to remember and spell
The keyword should be related to your campaign or company
Attach a Keyword to a Campaign
Go to Campaigns > Manage Campaigns. In the Actions column, click on the icon that looks like a key next to the campaign you want to activate.
Click inside the keyword box to choose your keyword, then submit.
Your campaign is now activated and you can text the keyword to your shortcode to test it out.
Why are keywords useful?
1. Use keywords on marketing materials to grow your database quickly. Think about in-store signage, business cards, digital ads, and other places where your keyword can be placed to promote your SMS campaigns. Imagine adding the phrase “Text CUPCAKE to 33898” on a poster. That’s all it would take.
2. Think about using multiple SMS keywords on the same campaign for source tracking. If you want to compare a print campaign to a digital campaign, then use 2 different keywords and see which one led to more SMS sign-ups.
3. The imagery that you can create with SMS keywords is useful and fun to test out. Using a word that evokes an emotion or reaction in your audience.
4. Your SMS keyword is unique to you and your business. Only one account can use a keyword on each phone number (short code or long code). This word is part of your branding, so you can treat it as such.
TrueDialog is the preferred SMS Text solution for enterprise businesses and higher education. Send text messages one-to-one or one-to-thousands in just a few easy steps. TrueDialog’s SaaS platform and SMS API is ideal for organizations serious about scalability, security and compliance.