Consumer — 19 February 2013

By Valerie Day, Special to American News Report

It’s hard to escape the television programs that show the lengths to which coupon clippers will go to get a deal or discounts on anything, including things they don’t want or need.

It’s extreme to say the least.

But, a new form of “couponing” is emerging: highly targeted, variable offers or coupons from not-for-profit, membership-based organizations.

A few emerging cross-media marketing firms are now using “big data” (information from personalized websites, email marketing, direct mail response, e-commerce and other sources) and analytics to provide member-based and donor-based organizations with highly targeted affinity offers or coupons from corporate sponsors through personalized web sites.

Beautiful Latina Woman with CouponsThe concept is not dissimilar to receiving highly targeted coupons from a grocery store upon check out, where the store knows one’s purchasing behavior and offers coupons for those same types of products.   Where it differs for not-for-profit organizations is that their members don’t visit them every week and give them a list of things they like. Instead, sophisticated analyses of big data provide the answers to what a member or donor likes and finds relevant during their membership lifecycle.

In an interview with American News Report, Shirl Grable, President of Echo Communicate, a Baltimore-based cross-media marketing firm that uses big data analytics and couponing, shed light on why this trend is an important growth engine for not-for-profit organizations.

“In order to grow, membership and fundraising organizations need to engage their members in a highly personalized manner, while simultaneously offering them a return on their membership investment or fundraising donation,” Grable said.

“By compiling and analyzing members’ behaviors on personalized websites; their click through rate for email campaigns; their response rate for direct mail campaigns; and other interactions, we can determine which products and services are relevant to an individual member.  This results in highly targeted, personalized communications and opens the door to targeted offers and partner couponing.  Organizations often partner with corporate sponsors to offer specific products or services matched to targeted members.”

“These types of sophisticated big data, affinity marketing couponing programs benefit everyone,” Grable adds. “Members get discounts that add to the membership value.  These exclusive offers can often help offset or pay for their membership dues; corporate sponsors build brand awareness, acquire new customers and increase sales; and the organization delivers value to its two most important customers.  That’s why this is a fast-growing trend.”

In a recent case study, a national sports governing body with nearly 400 thousand members began using data-driven online couponing to test if it would attract members to respond to a call to action.  Those exposed to a targeted coupon had a 100% increase in actual click-through rates, according to Grable.

Over 75 percent of consumers use coupons.  Online use of coupons has soared 263% compared to electronic checkout (39%), according to Static Brain. And Juniper Research predicts that 500 million people will receive coupons via mobile devices in 2013.

While consumers are accustomed to sifting through mountains of coupons in the mail, online and now with mobile phones, a new form of couponing is emerging for a very new, targeted audience.

Soon a membership organization you belong to may be taking advantage of big data and offering specific coupons for the exact products you want.

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Valerie Day

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