Do Mobile Coupons Matter?

My colleague Julie Ask just published a piece on the reality of mobile coupons in response to questions like “do consumers use mobile coupons?” “should we be developing a mobile coupon offering?” and “what technologies should I adopt to support mobile couponing efforts?” – questions that she and I get asked with some frequency.


I was involved in some of the initial structuring of this report and then also involved in the editing phase.  And I would love to recommend it to interactive marketers. Here are the most important takeaways:


  • Consumers like the promise of mobile coupons, but there is not yet mass adoption.  Mobile coupons promise to be a convenient way to aggregate customized discounts all in a single place (your mobile phone) that is much easier for storage than say an envelope of clipped paper coupons.
  • Mobile coupons appeal to advertisers too, but technology hurdles prevent mass utilization.  Advertisers love the idea of being able to offer targeted promotions that are cheaper to deliver and redeem than traditional coupons.  But the reality is that scaling redemption technologies and processes at check out is pricey for the limited coupon-using audience today.
  • Advertisers should start small mobile coupon trials now.  Mobile coupons don’t need to be your top marketing priority for 2010 (that honor goes to paid search, display ad, advanced email and social media) but we do recommend now as a good time to start a trial.  Vendors like cellfire can outsource the management and distribution of mobile coupons and offer flexible terms in an effort to sign up new advertisers.


Check out the complete report for more data and detail and see what Julie has to say about it.


Being Brave vs Oh Behave

Hey Shar,

I'm still baffled as to why Forrester insists on such near-religious caution when it comes to such an important new touchpoint / media vehicle like mobile couponing. Shouldn't it be part of your job to thoughtfully cheerlead for early testing & adoption? You must realize that brand and product managers read reports and recos like this and breath a sigh of timid relief that they have at least some temporary cover for not having the modest bravery required to lead / test / win, instead of wait / follow / lag when it comes to marketing innovation, especially in the rich green fields of mobile.

My experience tells me that these kinds of safety-first (dare i suggest luddite?..) recommendations are welcomed by marketers and used to rationalize repeating the same old media tricks. When, instead, perhaps they might be urged by partners like Forrester to start investing in more opportunistic chances to beat new pathways to consumer consideration and choice in a very cluttered and noisy media marketplace.

I'd suggest that there isn't a single channel planner out there who doesn't believe - know - that someday soon mobile couponing will be an essential cross-channel driver of consumer purchase behavior. In today's economic climate and competitive ecosystem, what does anyone gain from a wait and see approach?

Perhaps rather than focusing on the challenges and barriers, reports like yours can be better applied to urging a more specific recommendation for how opportunistic early adopter marketers are already out there stealing the march from the more complacent .... the (temporarily soothed) complacent who instead use reports like yours to justify doing nothing beyond the safe old mix of banners, FSIs and traditional promotional media.

Thom Kennon

HI Thom -- Thanks for your

HI Thom -- The report does recommend trialing mobile coupons and provides a decisioning framework to help marketers determine which approach to mobile couponing is right for their business. I hope you'll take a look at the full report.

Yeah, Customers do like

Yeah, Customers do like mobiles coupons a lot. I myself wondering like thinkg that why mobile marketing not yet introducing mobile coupons. It will boost mass customers to go for trendy mobiles. I guess the sales will increase too.