Group buying sites are a great idea, offering benefits to the consumer and business, but some are experiencing challenges in the delivery. We’ve all heard a few negative stories about redeeming something purchased from a group-buying site. Sites like Groupon, Living Social and Capital Dish offer steep discounts and fun bargains, but are struggling to offer a smooth transition through the customer journey.
And it’s not just the consumers who are complaining. The stories on the seller side of the group-buying transaction are often the same. The owner of a spa recently confessed that she doesn’t get repeat business from these sites and an owner in the food industry remarked that he doesn’t think these “discount seekers” will become his main customers.
Why are customers – and business owners – feeling in the cold after getting a good deal, and is it possible for both a buyer and a seller to really find group-buying sites worthwhile? From a communications point of view how can this negative PR get turned around? From our perspective, here are some strategic tips businesses can use to improve their group buying strategy that might just benefit them and consumers alike.
1) Truly start a dialogue with your customers using group buying sites and engulf them in your branded world – make sure they know how to sign-up for your newsletter, check out your blog, find you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, etc. Make sure every interaction you have with them presents these options over and over again. You’re using a reduced price to start a conversation – make sure you’re giving them the chance to fully engage in that conversation.
2) Offer “best foot forward” service to each coupon customer. By providing “white glove service” to these customers you will be presenting the best your company has to offer and will increase the opportunity for a repeat customer. A business that thinks 50% off the price means 50% off the usual service is in big trouble. Word-of-mouth spreads just as quickly via discount seekers as it does from any other customer segment and perhaps more so.
3) Have your next promotion already planned – don’t let your company fall off the radar once the group buying deal is over. Keep customers engaged with ongoing promotions and marketing. Don’t worry about breaking the budget by continuing to offer deep discounts – a small offer or loyalty perk will do the trick. My husband found a new golf course through Groupon, and was thrilled with the free tees the course offered for his next round. It doesn’t take much. You hooked them with big group buying discount, gave them your best service, now keep your brand top of mind.
4) Follow up individually – sure, add the new customers to your email list for regular customer communication, but first try reaching out with an individual note expressing your thanks and hope the customer enjoyed your service/product and that you hope to see him or her again soon. It’s easy, inexpensive and unexpected. This is also a great time for a short customer feedback survey.
As we all know, a good PR and marketing strategy is all about facilitating a conversation with your public to build loyalty with existing customers and find new ones. Group buying sites can be a powerful vehicle if businesses make sure their strategy is focused beyond the short term and is geared toward building repeat and loyal customers through great service and communications.
Have you had a client go through the experience of setting a long-term strategy incorporating a group-buying site tactic?