Joseph Thomas

Coupons are out and deals are in at ad:tech 2012 in San Francisco! Samantha Skey, Chief Revenue Officer for RecycleBank moderated a lively discussion with panelists from around the country, including Tara Scarlett of the Coca-Cola Company, Sundeep Ahuja of Blissmo and Annie Lescroart of eBay. Panelists discuss the future of coupons in the 21st century and how brands can leverage offers to improve consumer engagement.

According to Skey, there are four fundamental rules to modern couponing: make it personal, make your customers earn the deals, tie your deals to a larger purpose and make the couponing process fun!

Skey says you can take your product and deliver incremental value to drive engagement and increase loyalty. Old traditional paper coupons are wonderful for retail and promotional lift but frowned upon from a brand experience. Using a coupon isn’t the same as other engagement tactics.

Make It Personal

Technologies allow companies to deliver a personalized, branded experience. Rather than offering a generic deal, you can offer a deal that is uniquely special to the customer. Personalization creates a stronger bond between the user and brand, culminating in a loyal relationship.

Make Them Earn It

A coupon is mass-distributed to consumers worldwide whereas a deal should be earned. If consumers work hard to earn a deal, they are more likely to engage with the brand and go beyond the specific promotion. RecycleBank makes users earn deals by engaging with their site so it is if they are receiving a deal for work well done.

Tie It To A Larger Purpose

Create more meaning and purpose in the deals that you offer. Make sure companies take care of the community and larger cause. Connecting it to a larger social cause, the deal resonates with users and carries substantially more weight with shoppers. Make sure the cause is relevant, though, or else it will be forgotten and not carry the same brand equity.

Make It Super Easy and Fun

Users need to earn your deals but they shouldn’t be hard to acquire or claim. Make your site or coupon as one-click friendly as possible. Users are more likely to take part in your promotion if they are having fun, such as taking a survey on their favorite tech gadgets.

Case Study: Coca-Cola

According to Scarlett, technology is fundamentally changing consumer behavior. In order for brands to stay afloat, they must get to know their loyal followers. In order to build meaningful messages, brands must provide relevant information that matter most to their demographics.

Coca-Cola is building an interactive vending machine, which uses a touchscreen to deliver the beverage. Or a free-pouring machine, which pours liquid into the consumer’s cup, creating a truly personal experience traditional vending machines lack.

Many marketers say data is the future of the industry. But knowing the type of data to collect is essential. For example, Coca-Cola collects data from My Coke Rewards, which is designed to improve customer loyalty and drive engagement.

Coca-Cola offers a multiplatform approach by encouraging mobile engagement on smartphones, encouraging loyalists to engage on social networks and maintaining SuperFans. The offers users earn through the program often sell out instantaneously.

The Future of Coupons

Coupons will forever remain a part of our culture but they will take on new meaning and form. Mobile devices serve as the centrifuge of innovation, allowing users to receive personalized, geo-targeted deals to their smartphone. The question is, can companies survive in a deal-ridden culture where shoppers are accustomed to money-saving deals?

This article is part of Allvoices’ series on ad:tech, the largest digital marketing and technology conferences and expositions. Check out for more of Allvoices’ ad:tech San Francisco event coverage. This series is supported by ad:tech.