10 Ways to Protect Your Brand From Coupon Fraud
As marketers begin to seriously shift budget from traditional to digital media to drive in-store sales, many are using printable coupons to track cross-channel engagement.
When executed properly, printable coupon campaigns can be an incredibly cost-effective way to drive customer acquisition and traffic into stores. When executed incorrectly, printable coupons can cause problems across an entire organization.
This is why we advise all of our clients to pursue the following 10 best practices:
- Don’t show coupons on users’ computer screens. It’s never a good idea to show a full coupon on a customer’s computer screen. This can lead to manipulation of the coupon with screen capture software.
- Put a barcode or promo code on your coupon. Even if your point-of-sale (POS) system can’t accept a code to give a deal, you can scare off fraudsters by putting a barcode on your coupon. We don’t recommend using a static barcode. Technologies are available that can append dynamic-tracking barcodes, which can actually close the loop through a POS.
- Use personalized messaging. Not only is personalization a great way to prevent fraud, but it’s also a great way to get consumers excited about something that uniquely belongs to them.
- Don’t use a PDF. PDFs can easily be manipulated and forwarded in an unsecured manner. Plus, any type of robust tracking and analytics are excessively difficult with a PDF.
- Use a watermark to deter fraudsters. If you use an intricate watermark on your coupon, it will be harder for a fraudster to manipulate the terms of your coupon, both on the computer as well as post-print.
- Measurement and testing are critical. Is your printable coupon traffic coming from your email list? Coupon sites? Your social media efforts? Offers often bleed across digital channels; keeping channels separate is crucial to understanding what channels are working and which ones aren't.
- Use your email list. Your email list is a prized asset. If you don’t have one, start building one. Work with your email service provider to engage your list with exclusive coupons — you’ll build loyalty and see higher redemption rates.
- Use coupons as an acquisition tool. You’re giving consumers a special deal; why not get them to opt in to receive future offers directly from you? Couponing is a great way to build your email list or social media following.
- Put your brand first. Marketers have several options when determining the customer experience for an online coupon campaign, namely the process by which the customer retrieves the coupon. For ideal response rates and customer experience, never let the customer leave your branded domain to retrieve a coupon.
- Keep it simple for customers. It’s one thing to ask customers to give a name or email address when opting in to receive future offers. Do NOT ask them for extensive registration data or force them to download software to access and print a coupon.
Seth Sarelson and Jonathan Treiber are co-founders of RevTrax, a provider of technology solutions to help multichannel merchants track the effectiveness of digital media on offline transactions. Reach Seth at Seth@RevTrax.com, and Jonathan at Jonathan@RevTrax.com.