Sunday, January 29, 2012

6 Things You Can Learn from Groupon's Marketing

I've been on Groupon's mailing list for a little while and have noticed their freakishly fast growth. I wondered if there were some magical marketing ideas that I could glean from them. So, in the spirit of "talent borrows; genius steals", here are 6 things that we can all learn from Groupon's marketing machine:

1. Have a Mobile Version of Your Website... That Works.

I'm not sure how else to say this, so, a lot of mobile websites suck. They are hard to use, they don't have all the main features of the full site or they have features that don't work. Groupon's mobile website, however, is like a cool ocean breeze on a hot day of bad web programming.

This dawned on me the other day when I opened a Groupon e-mail on my iPhone and clicked (tapped?) a link. Up came my browser with the expected content in a readable font with a few, big buttons as calls to action that gave me all the options I needed and wanted (including a large "Buy Now" button, since that's what they ultimately want users to do).

And that is exactly what we need in our mobile sites: speed, clarity of content, big, easy-to-tap buttons and relevant calls to action that look good on a phone.

2. Be Consistent

Green and dark gray. That's who Groupon is. From their e-mails to their website to their mobile app, you are always well aware that you still in the Groupon 'system.' And it's basically seamless - the image they use in the e-mail is the same image you see on the landing page and is the same image they use in the app. Why? So users don't get lost.

I'm going to say that again "they are consistent so their users don't get lost." No one wants to reorient themselves when they click a link - they'll just leave your site and find another that is more simple; and trust me, there are other sites that do what you do.

3. Focus Your Message

Why do people use Groupon? To buy products and services at a discount. So, why would Groupon want to talk about or promote anything else?

They wouldn't.

And they don't.

I'm not sure I can be any clearer than that.

4. Maintain a High Level of Quality

I would never dream of seeing an e-mail from Groupon with a typo - maybe it happens, but it would definitely be the exception. Their bar-setting quality standards go beyond just making sure they've proof-read their communications (I mean, we all do that... right?); their clean, high-quality look is accentuated in their layouts, choice of colors and images they use for their deals.

Let me be bold enough to say, "If you don't have a super-creative graphic designer on your marketing team, you need to hire one or get a contract with an outside agency." It's no coincidence that Groupon's website conforms to the 960 Grid System ( or that their main color is green (the color of cash); most importantly, it's no accident that they proof-read their writing. It's a very intentional level of quality from very creative, very professional graphic artists and writers. And you need some of those.

5. Participate on Facebook A LOT

Groupon posts a status update every couple of hours - from links to their deals to job listings to videos of llamas, they are active with share-able content and their followers love them for it.

Their sales team loves them for it, too. Why? Because they are keeping Groupon top-of-mind for their customers and giving people ample opportunity to share a Facebook post with their friends, thus getting more fans. Sales people love fans because fans buy things.

I'm not suggesting you start posting non-sense on your Facebook wall - but if you want people to talk about you, and interact with you, you need to post things that your target audience will enjoy reading and, more importantly, sharing. And you need to do it with a frequency that lets people know you're still there.

6. Have Fun with It

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that Groupon shared a link on Facebook to a video of a llama and a cat interacting with each other. On top of that, their posts look like they were written by a real person.

That might be the bigger thing to remember - your customers are real people and they expect to interact with real people. The best way for you to show that your company is full of real people is when you can have fun with what you do. You don't have to post links to llamas on your Facebook page or website, but you need to find a way to bring a human-touch back to your marketing.

*Full disclosure: at the time of writing, the author has no relationship with Groupon outside of occasionally using their service. And I like coupons.

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