Dear Google and Microsoft:
I can see the potential of coupons attached to paid-search ads that appear not only in organic search results, but on map apps, email accounts and social networks. You might have already thought about my suggestions for tools, but I just had to share an idea about the potential for tying search ads and coupons with retail and manufacturer loyalty cards for online and offline sales.
Using the Google AdWords extension in Enhanced Campaigns as an example, retailers should tie the clickable, coupons, rebates or discounts into their loyalty cards. Manufacturers could also participate through retailers carrying their products or their Web site. While the discounts aim to drive additional attention to search ads and tie online marketing with in-store sales to track return on investments, companies should not limit the use of these discounts to redemption in physical locations.
Consider making the extended program opt-in. Have you seen how Von’s grocery store frequent buyer digital coupon program -- Just for U -- works? The consumer signs up online. They enter their frequent buyer number to get coupons when items go on sale. The consumer goes shopping in the physical store and the point-of-sale system at checkout applies the discounts. This would work for any retail store with support from manufacturers. How do search ads factor in?
Let's say I'm searching for a certain type of red shoes on google.com or bing.com. Paid-search ads for Jimmy Choo serve up. I click on the coupon below the paid-search ad. If the ad comes from a manufacturer, the click takes me to a landing page with a list of five local stores that sell the shoes I want. I click on the store name and print out a coupon for that location or the click sends me a text message or email to my mobile phone with a discount code I can either use online or in a physical store. And then there's searches via Google voice or GPS and location-based features on smartphones.
Coupons tied to search ads provide consumers with discounts and serve as a retargeting signal and lead generation platform as well as another intent signal for consumer preferences between desktop and mobile devices. It is also important to add a way to share information about the purchase on social networks.
Microsoft Bing already offers a loyalty program, Bing Rewards. Perhaps there's a tie-in somewhere.
The more consumers click and buy, the deeper the discounts. Merchants and manufacturers that treat consumers with respect find they become the best brand advocates.