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Why do Coupons Need Expiration Dates?

3/5/18 8:10 AM

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Beyoncé (another Beyoncé) has decided to drum up some new customers for her Lemonade stand. So, she sends out a great offer for her fans to get two glasses for the price of one! However, being the savvy business woman that she is, Beyoncé knows that the real profit for her is in repeat customers, not one timers. So, she sends out a ton of coupons for just three months, let's everyone know about it on Facebook, and sits back making plans to spend the incoming profits on another great cause!

But, 6 months later, customers are still showing up with a version of the coupon. Some of them were from her original printing, but others seem to be printed off the Web. She checks her Facebook page and sees that she had deleted the posting three months earlier. Confused, Beyoncé sighs and digs into her couch for spare change to give the promised $1 million to charity.

TL;DR (too long;didn't read)

Coupons, like teenagers, find their own way. You can be sure that if you place an ad on the web, it will be archived, filed, copied, printed, and generally available for years to come. Moreover, your printed coupons sometimes just take a while to circulate. Solution: Add an expiration date to your coupons and don't accept ones without them to make sure you control when your promotions run.

Google Caching Explained

"While [cache] can't buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.”
-- Groucho Marx

Google's cache (pronounced cash) is a great benefit for web users. Websites come and go, and Google, and other search engines) are there patiently writing it all down and making a log of who said what. When Porsha Williams got into a brawl with Kenya Moore (from Season 6 of the Real Housewives of Atlanta if you aren't up to date) the videos, images and tweets covered at least some of the internet like a de classe* sludge (just a reminder for those of us who didn't take French: it was a cheap, unmannered and generally reprehensible sludge :) Even today, you can find out all the information you want about the incident through copies of the videos and images. One of my favorites is the Mix version on YouTube.

So, what's the problem? Well, that means anything posted lasts forever. Your pictures of your intoxicated uncle, the video of that really bad hair day, and your coupons. Google is not interested in providing you on the Official Latest and Greatest version of something as dictated by a business. Instead, it provides a platform to allow users to tell you what was as well as what is. So when you publish a coupon on the internet you have to plan for it to be there long after the sale is over.

That is where coupon expiration dates come in. By adding an expiration date, you protect the prodigal coupon coming home and disrupting your day. Special trivia note: while we don't exactly know the original meaning of "prodigal", we are fairly certain it has to do with being wasteful, especially with respect to money. A more apt analogy for our wayward coupon, I can't conceive!

IndoorMedia has the Coupon App, which provides coupons to over 30,000 visitors every month. When we post your coupon, we set a specific date that will pull your coupon from the app when you want. But lo and behold, a week or a month later or even after that, someone will stroll into your business with a print out from the web of that very same coupon. That is why we add an expiration date to the coupon graphic itself.

As said before, anything posted lasts forever. There's no way to thwart Google's cache (it's there for good reason) but just this one simple step of adding an expiration date gives your coupons a definitive lifespan.

small-business-consultation

Eric Shafer

Written by Eric Shafer

Eric is the CTO and CMO for IndoorMedia.