Small Business Marketing Magic: What Happens AFTER the Groupon?

One of the complaints we hear from small business owners about marketing programs like Groupon is that it doesn’t encourage repeat business and that the people who buy the Groupon are simply in it for the “deal.”

This, of course, may be true in some cases, but the key to turning these potential one-time customers into repeat and recurring business is how you market to them during the Groupon “cash-in” experience and after the Groupon “cash-in” experience.

Here’s your strategy for the Groupon customer during the cash-in experience.
People need to present the Groupon when buying your product or service, so — right away — you’ll be able to easily identify your Groupon customers. Once you’ve identified them, launch this simple two-part strategy:

1. Confirm their information. In other words, get their email and snail mail information. Simply say, “In order to complete the Groupon process, we need you to fill out this short form and then you’ll be all set.”

  • Let’s consider an example. Say you own a salon and someone has a Groupon for a free manicure/pedicure. Present the Groupon customer with the form. The form shouldn’t be too lengthy – it should ask for the basics like email and snail mail. The final item should be “preferences.” The preferences should apply to your business. For a salon, the preference area could simply be a checklist of services, and you ask the Groupon customer to check off the ones she’s interested in and/or likes to receive on a regular basis. If you’re a restaurant, the preference area might include questions like, “How many times a month do you eat out with friends?” and “How many times a month do you go out to eat with your family?” You get the idea.

2. Engage the Groupon customer the same way you’d engage a prospective customer. This is critical, and it’s something that people often overlook. But you have to keep in mind that a Groupon customer might not be a “true” customer, at least not yet. As we noted above, this customer could be someone who is simply looking for a deal. But that doesn’t mean that this person couldn’t become a repeat customer, especially if you wow her with exceptional customer service and provide further info on your products or services. custom pilsner glass

  • For example, if you’re a restaurant owner, provide the customer with a menu and another coupon. Make it even more memorable by rolling the menu and coupon and sticking it inside a custom pilsner glass. Take the time to speak with the Groupon customer or have the chef come out and check on the meal. These little details will make an impression.

Here’s your strategy for the Groupon customer after the cash-in experience.
How you follow up and stay in front of the Groupon customer will help influence whether the customer stays a customer. The way you market to this person is really no different than the way you’d market to any prospect…you just need to remember to do it. Again, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the Groupon customer is a “true” customer. If you engaged the customer properly during the cash-in stage (see above), there’s a good chance the person is well on her way to becoming a repeat customer…but now you have to put a little effort into sealing the deal.

1. Email a thank-you note. Remember how we encouraged you to get the Groupon customer’s information, including her email address? Here’s why. We recommend following up with an email to each and every Groupon customer. If you’re being flooded with Groupon customers at once, save all the emails and send out one email (through a service like Constant Contact). Or if you’re getting only an occasional Groupon customer, simply send the email through whatever your email program is, like Outlook.

The key is to be prompt. Do it within 2-5 days of the cash-in experience. The email should thank the person for participating in the Groupon and it should ask the person how she enjoyed the experience (e.g. the meal, the manicure, the lawn car, the limo ride – you get the idea). Let the person know about all the ways she can connect with your company, like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. The goal is to get the person to become part of your social media web, making it easier to continue marketing to her. Remind the person about whatever marketing materials you gave her during the cash-in experience, including a reminder about the coupon. Consider including an additional offer/coupon with the thank-you email (hey, you need to woo these folks!).

2. Snail mail a postcard, if the person hasn’t already bought from you again. Okay, so it won’t be the end of the world if your metrics aren’t completely up to snuff and you accidentally snail mail this offer to a Groupon customer who has already converted into a “true” customer. Ideally, you want to separate these people out, though: Groupon customers who have converted into “true” customers and Groupon customers who haven’t returned or engaged with your company. The purpose of the postcard is to nudge the Groupon customer into becoming a “true” customer (and to do so by offering yet another incentive/offer/coupon). We recommend sending this postcard one to two months or so after the Groupon cash-in experience. It’s a nice way to re-engage the person and hopefully get her to convert.

Note: once a Groupon customer has converted into a “true” customer, you’ll want to add her to your marketing/sales funnel for existing customers and market to them accordingly (you do have a marketing plan for existing customers, right? If not, see our blog post on ideas for re-engaging existing customers).

Has your business participated in Groupon? How’d your promotion go, and how did you market to your Groupon customers? We want to hear about your experiences. Share in the comments.

Chris Wallace

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