Social buying sites like GroupOn, LivingSocial, EverSave, and others are all the rage. These sites offer potential clients daily deals at a substantial discount and are a new marketing channel, especially among small businesses. Used successfully, companies can garner sizable sales, new clients, and increased exposure. However, they are not a panacea: if used incorrectly, social buying can be a huge disaster.
To ensure you are successful with social buying, consider the following issues when evaluating group buying programs:
- Know your business: The main benefit that social buying delivers is exposure to lots of new potential clients. The cost of that exposure is a deep discount on your products or services. If your firm has an established brand with loyal clients, more exposure will probably not be a boon, and social buying is probably not for you.
- Have the right expectations: Think of executing a social buying program as a marketing expense, not a sure path to profits.
- Be prepared: When you execute a social buying program, your business may be flooded with new clients—new clients for whom you must be ready. Plan, plan, plan for this potential influx of business. If you don’t, not only will the money you spend for your social buying experiment be wasted, but you will turn these new potential clients into dissatisfied customers who will surely tell their friends about their bad experience.
- Customize your offer: Rather than offer a one size fits all discount (for example, 10% off anytime), offer a flexible discount (for example, 20% off during periods that are normally slow for your business). In this way, you will minimize the negative impact to your profits.
- Target your offer: Consider capping the number of “deals” that will be available or target only potential clients with certain attributes (location, etc.)
- Capture your new clients: Be sure to capture the contact information for new clients when they redeem their “deals” so you can make them aware of other, future promotions.
- Track and analyze: Determine how many people purchased your “deal” and how many people actually redeemed the “deal.” Try to determine if someone redeeming your “deal” is a new client or an existing client. If the social buying site with which you engaged allows people to post comments, be sure to analyze any feedback. Monitor Yelp and other ratings sites during the period of your promotion to be aware of clients’ reactions to your product or service. Be ready to make adjustments to your product / service delivery based on the feedback you gather.
By following these simple steps, you can ensure your success with social buying.