The Rise of SMS Mobile Coupons

by Net Future Institute on February 20, 2013

A text from Target today reminded me that my mobile coupons were about to expire, suggesting that if I’ve lost them to text OFFERS to Target and they would be re-sent to me.

I had not so much lost them but missed them in some past text messages. Sure enough, Target responded right away and re-sent a link to their latest ‘personalized’ coupons.

The coupon headline: “It’s time to save big on Valentine’s Day gifts and more.” Wait. What? I know I was at the MediaPost Mobile Insider Summit last week so missed Valentine’s Day in person, but this notice just seems a bit, uh, dated.

On the positive side, the Target SMS coupon deals provide clear cashier instructions and the barcode scanners at checkout actually will work with a mobile phone, which is better than at many other retailers. But an SMS promo for a holiday five days later?

The reality is that many consumers, especially women, want to receive SMS-based coupons on their phones, with 42 percent citing that preference in a recent study by Radium One.

And even though many checkout systems still can’t scan barcodes from phones, most women (52%) prefer cashing in coupons by flashing their phones, according to the research.

“With 97 percent open rates, mobile coupons delivered via SMS/MMS offer the single most impactful way to deliver an incentive to a consumer,” says James Citron, CEO of MMS pioneer Mogreet. “Our retail partners have found that MMS coupons routinely drive four times the in-store traffic of coupons delivered via email.”

Mobile consumers, for the most part, are still relegated to cashing in mobile coupons by printing them or showing their phone, hoping the cashier knows what to do, even if their checkout technology doesn’t.

The good news is that mobile payment systems such as Square at retailers like Starbucks are helping educate mobile consumers on how they can use their phones to be scanned and receive value.

At least I’ll be ready for Presidents’ Day mobile SMS coupons, likely coming at the end of this week.


Chuck Martin is editor of mCommerce Daily at MediaPost and writes the daily MobileShopTalk. He is author of “The Third Screen,” “The Smartphone Handbook,” and the soon-to-be-published “Mobile Influence.” He is CEO of Mobile Future Institute and a frequent mobile keynote speaker around the globe.


Previous post:

Next post: