The Crunch: With the ever-growing popularity of discounts, coupons, and vouchers, brands recognize the importance of delivering effective offers to consumers who are ready to buy. The way to do this in a digital age is through web- and mobile-based platforms that discern where users are and what they’re looking for. As a UK forerunner in mobile-first marketing, vouchercloud is one of the country’s top distributors of lifestyle-based coupons and offers. The company uses creative methods to make the experience enjoyable and meet the needs of both brand and consumer, while increasing the likelihood of return business. As the company continues to pivot toward lifestyle-based offers, it’s targeting the popular gift card market.
Not long ago the process of redeeming a coupon relied on consumers finding it, cutting it out, and not losing it before it expired. I couldn’t tell you how many of those little slips of paper met their match in my messy wallet or the cracks in between the seats of my car.
The process was costly to businesses and inexact when it came to tracking who used the coupons and where they originated from.
The digital age has made extending discounts and offers much easier than at any time in the past, with its ability to identify — with a few clicks of a mouse — specific consumers with purchase intent. The challenge to brands is finding the most highly trafficked platform, from where to broadcast their offers to as many eyes as possible.
Since 2008,vouchercloud has stood as one of the UK’s largest and most successful voucher and coupon distributors. It allows shoppers to save money on well-known international brands, independent retailers, and local services.The company recently moved from a discount-driven platform to a lifestyle brand that offers consumers ways to save money, or accrue perks, while exploring new brands and shops.
“It’s been an interesting journey for vouchercloud,” said Chris Johnson, Client Services Director at vouchercloud. “We started in 2008 as a voucher printing business. The original founders had a book that you could buy in certain cities across the UK. They went out and spoke to as many pubs, restaurants, shops, and cafes that they could find to get exclusive offers that would only appear in that book.”
After its change in strategy, vouchercloud got a big boost when telecom giant Vodafone purchased a controlling stake in 2012. Seeing the importance of coupons and daily deals to the advertising and marketing strategies of brands, the Vodafone link expanded vouchercloud’s reach and improved an already strong mobile application.
“The reason we moved into the international territories was because it was part of a wider business structure that Vodafone was working with us on,” Chris said. “We learned a lot about the different international markets and spent the last five years really fine tuning our market. Today, we’re in six markets, with the UK being the biggest.”
UK consumer spending levels are at an all-time high, with coupons or discounts a deciding factor in many purchases. As a result, more brands consider it vital to extend their reach as far as possible, while targeting the consumers most likely to seek out their products. As a company, vouchercloud understands this process and eliminates a lot of the unnecessary steps needed to reach the right demographic.
A Mobile-First Company Driven by User Needs and Demands
Once the Invitation Book of paper coupons ran its course, vouchercloud shifted its focus to an area of marketing that few of its competitors had explored at the time.
“You could argue that we were one of the first true mobile companies,” Chris said. “We had an app that could be used at all the restaurants and cafes and shops for vouchers before most anyone else.”
Being an early adopter of what is now the main means of communication between brands and consumers gave vouchercloud an edge over other coupon sites. By using a GPS location system, the company has crafted the art of targeting specific customers in areas of interest to deliver the content they want. While others played catch-up, vouchercloud grew exponentially under the umbrella of Vodafone.
“We probably have the most local content on an individual mobile app,” Chris said. “The trick is trying to differentiate your users and trying to figure out what offers are going to be useful to them. It’s about spotting them, locating them, and delivering the product at the right time so it doesn’t turn out to be just another app that you remove from your phone.”
The company’s deal-delivery system extends to its popular blog, as well as to platforms that allow coupons to be discovered and printed on demand. The topics and brands covered on the company website are researched thoroughly to determine what consumers are looking for.
“Over the years, we’ve built a very good editorial structure,” Chris said. “One of the things we did was make sure we were covering the topics that we knew people searched for. Some of it is textbook, but some of it you have to dig a little deeper to make sure what you are putting together and broadcasting is on point with seasonal trends.”
Learning about those trends and about consumer patterns has helped vouchercloud make its biggest pivot yet, as it moves into a brand that users turn to not only for discounts, but to find new brands and products to try.
Helping Brands Deliver the Right Content at the Right Time
Not every brand wants to be associated with coupons and discounts. But there’s always a need for consumer outreach to get interested buyers into stores and onto websites.
“There are some brands that don’t normally give discounts or vouchers on purchases,” Chris said. “That doesn’t mean we can’t work with them though. We do a sort of cross-selling, so if it’s a company that sells airfare, you may need parking or travel insurance or something like that. We can package them together to create savings. There’s no market share to be lost by working with complementary brands.”
The bundling of purchases is something that’s grown in popularity in recent years as different companies partner to increase sales without stepping on each other’s toes.
“Instead of that 20% discount that you’re going to offer the user, how about we turn that into a gift card to a complementary brand that doesn’t interfere with your market share?” Chris said.
“So if it’s an electronic purchase, we could turn that into a Spotify or Netflix subscription gift card, or even a gift card for your brand, so customers come back and make a second purchase later.”
Part of vouchercloud’s consumer research also revolves around the searching habits of its users. It’s a tool that comes in handy when brands look to deliver the right content at the right time.
“Over the years, we’re starting to notice people visiting the site later in the afternoon on Christmas Day,” said Chris. “They’ve had their food and their family day and now they’re sitting down and maybe watching television. We’ve seen a boost in people searching for hotels or travel, or maybe start to make plans for New Year’s. Some even look for late presents. It’s really interesting to see how active the site becomes at different times on different days and see what people are looking for.”
Put Your Brand in Front of Consumers Who are Ready to Buy
Placing your brand in front of interested consumers is as important as ever in a shopping age dominated by digital delivery. Users want content instantly without the need to store vouchers or remember passwords or coupon codes. By locating and delivering deals to consumers on the fly, the vouchercloud app has risen to the top of a competitive European market primed for growth.
The company introduces brands to new customers and increases sales with perks like gift card rewards or price breaks that encourage customers to add more to their cart.
According to Chris, the next evolution of vouchercloud will revolve around gift cards, as the plastic and digital forms of payment have gained popularity over the paper versions of the past.
“We’ve made a lot of effort to get a piece of that gift card market,” Chris said. “That plays into our lifestyle brand. Yes, we have restaurant content, we have in-store content, we have local content and mass market content. We can do sort of a closed-loop, individual target to our users that we know have purchase intent.”
With a digital platform that enables delivery through multiple methods, vouchercloud has become the go-to method of finding deals for UK customers. It also keeps wallets and cars clean of all of those clipped coupons.