Does your small business use daily deal marketing as a strategy to get more customers, more sales and more money?
Would you like to know how your small business can use daily deal marketing to skyrocket your business growth and get massive profits?
If you’ve been thinking about doing a daily deal campaign, or you’ve done one before and it didn’t work and you’re wondering how do some businesses make it work for them while some don’t, and you’re not sure where to start, then this ultimate daily deal success guide is for you.
This will be a post that grows over time – where you’ll learn what daily deal marketing is, how it can help your small business grow, and most importantly, how to do it correctly.
I’m going to cover the entire landscape of daily deal marketing, from the big players to the many other smaller, more specific targeted sites out there that may be a good fit for some businesses but not for all.
This guide will help you find the one(s) that are a great fit for your small business. In future posts, you’ll know exactly what to do to make your daily deal a success. I’ll cover the entire daily deal process – from the daily deal sites themselves, to negotiating and signing an agreement, to executing on the campaign, to delivering on your products and services, to the monitoring and evaluation in deciding how successful or not it was and what you can do to improve on it if you were to do it again.
Before we delve into all of the “details”, let’s get the correct framework in place. Because you wouldn’t put your pants on before your underwear, right? (Well, I certainly hope not anyways).
In this post, I’m going to start with the basics. We’ll add from there. If you’d like to be notified when new segments are available, click here, so you don’t miss any pieces of your ultimate daily deal marketing success guide.
Here’s the sections so far:
There are two big players in the daily deal market today: Groupon and Living Social. These are the ones that everyone’s familiar with, these are the two biggest deal sites. According to Statista, as of the 4th quarter of 2015, Groupon had almost 50 million active users – yes active users, meaning that a person bought at least one deal in the past 12 months. That’s huge! For LivingSocial, their total membership is over 30 million.
Should you just jump in and run a deal on either of these two big deal sites since they have so many potential customers you could reach? Is bigger better?
In a future post I’ll go very in-depth on the pros and cons of running a daily deal on any site whether it’s small or large. For today, here’s some pros to consider about working with a larger daily deal site:
- Large daily deal sites have large memberships.
This gives you the opportunity to reach a lot of people quickly and inexpensively. It allows you to get your deal in front of a lot of eyeballs that you never could reach on your own. From the consumer side, that consumer is going to be more trusting of a larger daily deal site like Groupon or Living Social than through one of the smaller sites. They’re likely to have purchased a deal through the larger site(s) before, and with money back guarantees it breaks down a potential barrier from the consumer buying your deal if they’re feeling a little unsure.
- You’ll get more support when working with a larger daily deal site.
Larger daily deal sites have dedicated teams to help you throughout the entire process – setting up your account and signing the agreement, to providing detailed reports and activity that help you determine ROI. Larger sites also have production teams that can help you with your copy and photos so your deal looks great.
There are many cons to consider as well, which I’ll be covering in-depth in a future post. For today, here’s two cons you should consider:
- Large daily deal sites are going to be less willing to budge on their commission fee.
For many of these sites, the commission’s going to be somewhere between 40 to 50 percent for the site, in terms of a fee that they’re going to take. These have higher commissions than some of the other smaller groups that may be able to work with you a little bit more.
- You may get more traffic with a larger site, but there’s also more competition.
You’re not going to get any exclusive deal for your market for your type of deal. If you’re a restaurant, you’re going to be competing against other restaurant deals. Which means, in order to get the attention of the potential customers to buy your deal, you’re going to have to give a very competitive discount. The other consideration is, if you don’t design your campaign correctly, and you don’t put the right kinds of limits on it, there’s definitely the potential for much more downside by going with one of the bigger daily deal sites. Unless you have large margins to work with, you could have a large loss. There’s the story always being told of the cupcake shop that almost went bust by running a Groupon. Of course, the cupcake shop blames Groupon, but the reality is they didn’t structure their deal correctly. By reading this post, and opting in to get future posts, you’ll know exactly how to do your deal correctly.
Groupon and Living Social are the two big players, but there are literally hundreds of daily deal sites out there.
Working with one of these could be a better strategy for you to start with. There are sites that are locally based, only serving a specific area. There are sites that focus on a specific niche, like kids activities, food deals, or travel.
Just as there are pros and cons in working with a big daily deal site, there are pros and cons of going with one of these smaller daily deal sites.
A smaller daily deal site can give you more of your targeted demographic. The smaller sites have a harder time finding companies to run deals, so they tend to be more friendly and flexible to work with, and you may get more attention, as well. The other thing is, they’re great ways for you to run your first campaigns through them, because you can test out what it’s like to run a daily deal and you generally have less downside if you made mistakes with your design because they’re not going to reach as many users.
On the flip side, there are cons of running through the smaller sites.
Obviously you have a smaller user base, so there’s less reach and exposure for your company. These companies tend to be more lean as well, some of them are very small teams that are basically running a website. You’re going to get less dedicated support.
Because they reach a smaller audience, you’re going to sell fewer deals than with a larger site. Sometimes, you can run deals through these sites and not sell anything. This means you’ve wasted time and effort putting together a deal, and there’s not enough purchases for you to really learn anything from. There’s that risk there.
Although there are many daily deal sites, they really fall into just a few categories. The big two generally fit into the broad category. They run all kinds of deals. They sell products. They sell services, and they run it across geographies. They’re basically running deals across the whole gamut of deals that could be run.
Then there’s category-specific deal sites. Here’s an example, TeeFury is a site that only runs daily deals on t-shirts, t-shirt designs, and shirts for sale. There are daily deal sites that only focus on products for kids, or products for women, or products for outdoors, outdoor adventurist people. Sometimes, depending on what kind of business you have and who you’re trying to target, it may be a good idea to look for some category-specific deal sites.
There are some sites that run the deals in a different way where it’s not time limited, but it’s more quantity limited. They say, “Well, we have a 100 of these, or 200 of these things, these widgets, and we’ll sell it until it’s gone.” There are also the true one-day-only types of deals, so every day these types of sites post either one or a few deals that only last for 24 hours. It’s limited for just those 24 hours. Every day at the same time … could be 12 p.m., could be 4 p.m., whenever they specify, they release the new deal and the previous deals end.
There are also deal sites that are local-only. There are some deal sites that only offer deals within a certain city. They’re usually very small teams, however they understand their city, their market really well, and they can just provide the best deals within that city.
Now, how should you go about thinking about doing your research for which daily deal sites may be best for your small business? First, sign up for the broad ones, Groupon and Living Social, so you get a sense of what are the deals that they’re running in your city. It will also give you the opportunity to see the type of businesses that are similar, or competitive with your business and your product/service.
Next, sign up for other daily deal sites that are specific to your city. You may have to Google around, Google “Daily deals San Diego,” “Deals in San Diego,” and get past the big two and see what other sites pop up that are running deals in your city. These are going to be the candidates for you to consider reaching out to.
The next step is you need to track the performance. For each of the sites you find that seem to have potential, track at least three to five deals on those sites. Write down the discount, the retail price, and then the discount percentage, how many they sold, or how long it lasts, and note any kind of restrictions, because these are going to serve as a baseline for what you can expect to need to provide in terms of your campaign, should you approach those sites.
Next, based on the performance, prioritize how well you think it fits for your business. Once you prioritize that, then you can start to approach and pitch these sites and try to get some deals done.
Now, some other considerations to remember is that you only get to make one first impression. It may make sense for you to approach some of the smaller deal sites first, especially if you’ve never done any kind of daily deals before. This way you can practice the approach, the pitch, practice the negotiation, and running the campaign, and tracking the results with the site where the campaign is not likely to blow up significantly. It’s going to be more contained for you to be able to learn from it.
This way, when you run a deal, a campaign with a smaller site first, it also gives you some traction and some experience that you can say, when you approach one of the bigger sites, you can say, “Hey, I’ve ran a campaign with this group, and this group, and we did pretty well with it. I think it can work with your demographic, here’s what I propose. It gives you more ammunition when you do approach the bigger deal sites. By following those steps, you’re going to have much more success with your daily deal.
If you’ve never run a deal before, you may be wondering why you’d want to even consider it. There should be only one objective for running a daily deal: TO MAKE MONEY.
You can make money on the deal itself, you can make money on upsells/cross-sells, and/or you can make money after the deal. In my coffee and smoothie business, I made money all three ways. Unfortunately most small businesses don’t. To make money on the deal itself, you have to have enough margins built in because you’ll provide a discount of at least 50% and then pay a commission of 50% on that (although I give you strategies to do much better than that in the Daily Deals for Massive Profits Training Program). That means you’re getting 25% of the original retail price.
If you’re able to make a profit on that then you can make money right away from the campaign. I had to restructure my deal to not be a “typical” $20 for $10 deal to make it work. Instead of selling a $5 smoothie, I sold catering packages starting at $575. The margins were much higher so I made money on every deal sold.
Low marginal cost businesses may be able to make money right away – for example, a dance studio, They have the space, they have a lot of excess dance floor area, and they can host let’s say 50 people per class, but they only have 5 or 8 people showing up. They’ve got a lot of excess capacity there. It doesn’t really cost anything extra, a very little extra to bring in more people, even if they don’t make as much up front.
There will be a percentage of purchases that go unused, meaning the customer who bought the deal never redeemed it. You get to the keep the money either way. Non-redemptions vary but can range anywhere from 10% – 30%. That’s free money in your pocket.
The whole concept of running a daily deal is to get customers you never would have been able to reach on your own without spending any money out of pocket to do so. To make it work you want those customers to come back again and again with open wallets and refer others. I’ve seen too many businesses do it wrong. They’re not looking at the lifetime value of the customer. They treat the daily deal customer like a second class citizen. They don’t prepare for the increase in business (ex: long lines, poor customer service). All of these make for unhappy customers who don’t come back.
It’s OK to lose money by running a daily deal up front – as long as you’re doing it as part of a focused strategy to do so. If you have customers that will come back again and again and who will refer others then it may be worth it to lose a few bucks to at least get them in the door so they can experience what you’re all about. You’re going to pay for marketing anyways – so you can pay to do what you’re already doing (which probably isn’t bringing in tons of new customers) or you can let a daily deal site do the heavy marketing for you to bring you those new customers. When you do daily deal marketing right, you will make money – both in the short and long run.
In the next post, I’ll go deeper into all of these areas and give more specific examples from different businesses.
About Stacey Riska
Stacey Riska, aka “Small Business Stacey” is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about helping small and local business owners get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients, MORE sales, and MORE money. She transformed her coffee and smoothie business from being $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business by using daily deal marketing. Now she teaches others how to skyrocket their business growth and get massive profits. When not saving the small business world, she enjoys sipping red wine, eating chocolate (who doesn’t!) and spending time with her amazing husband.