Have you ever used Groupon? Founded in 2008 in Chicago, Groupon is a major player in the e-commerce world. The company reached a $1 billion valuation barely 16 months after they began business, the fastest any company had ever reached that major milestone.
Even if you have used Groupon, whether as a customer or a business owner, you might not know the full story of how their system works.
As the name suggests, Groupon harnesses the power of the collective — of groups — to bring its subscribers and users valuable coupons. They host coupons across just about every industry and from specific, well-known companies such as Nike, Amazon, and Walmart.
Users can browse the platform to find local or online deals and set notifications on their phones so that when they’re near a business with an active Groupon, the app will notify them about available deals.
There’s no shortage of features on Groupon. Users can set up new coupon alerts for specific stores. They can search by “things to do,” to focus on deals by restaurants, sporting events, and so on. They can even view local deals overlaid on maps.
The main catch for Groupon users is that deals tend to last only for as little as 24 hours to as long as 72 hours. If they want to take advantage of a deal, customers have to make a quick decision. This is great news for business owners, of course.
Making Groupon Work for Your Business
If you’re a business owner, you’re probably wondering how you can take advantage of Groupon to drive customers to your business and convert curiosity into sales. To illustrate this, we’ll focus on the Groupon restaurant deals business specifically.
For any business, one of the best reasons to use Groupon as a marketing tool is that it doesn’t cost anything upfront. As a business owner, all you have to do is sign up to have your business entered into their coupon rotation and agree to defined promotional limits. Groupon does everything else for you.
Here are some of the benefits of using Groupon as a business owner:
- They write the marketing copy and promote the offers for you.
- If you don’t reach agreed-upon minimum sales numbers on a specific coupon, that deal is voided, and you don’t have to pay.
- The coupons expire, so you don’t have to worry about customers coming in one month down the line waving their phones, vouchers on-screen, demanding a discount.
- There is a wide range of discount percentages available for your promotional purposes.
Using Groupon to Attract New Customers
One of the most important but challenging tasks for any business owner is attracting new customers. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have scored a restaurant located in the center of your town, right next door to other beloved businesses, primed to attract foot traffic customers. Not everyone is so lucky.
Restaurant owners rely on many different avenues to attract new customers to their business. You might try billboard advertising, which is especially useful to attract potentially hungry drivers looking to get off the road and have a bite to eat. You might advertise in the local paper or pay to have your business featured on Yelp.
Simply ensuring that your restaurant fills a niche missing in the local restaurant landscape is another smart decision; if there are no pizza places in your town, having pizzas on your menu is a great way to attract business. Groupon provides yet another highly effective new customer pipeline.
Groupon users are always looking for deals — that’s the entire reason they’re on the platform. As a restaurant owner, you want to find a balance between offering Groupon restaurant deals that bring people through your doors while at the same time not offering too deep of discounts too frequently. If you’re always offering coupons, nobody will ever want to come into your restaurant for a full-price meal.
Of course, if you run a tight ship and serve great food in a hospitable environment that keeps people wanting more, that will never be a problem. Danny Meyer, a famous restaurateur, once said that customers first visit a restaurant for the food, but they come back for the service and hospitality.
Restaurant Success Through Groupon
On their website, Groupon says that 63% of restaurant customers using their coupons are visiting those restaurants for the first time. Even better, 65% of those customers end up spending more than the voucher’s value.
On top of that, 63% of Groupon customers report recommending the businesses they visit to their friends and family. Word of mouth is very important for any business, but especially restaurants.
Using Groupon, you can even limit the deals to certain times of the day. That way, if you know that you have a slow period on certain days when very few customers visit, you can specifically encourage Groupon users to visit when the restaurant would usually be empty and not making much money.
It’s just like the idea behind happy hour: attract people who might otherwise not visit your restaurant by offering deals before the dinner rush. If you play your cards right, they might even end up staying for dinner and spending more than they had initially planned.
There you have it. You should now have an idea of how to harness Groupon to drive more business to your restaurant, especially regarding attracting first-time customers.
Just remember, only offer the deals that make sense for your business plan and your budget. Let Groupon be just another tool in your marketing toolbox. Here’s hoping you fill every seat in your restaurant, every day!