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Groupon drives mobile uptake for offers with Nokia Lumia integration

Groupon and Nokia have teamed up to provide special offers to Lumia smartphone owners when they search using the maps feature.

This week Nokia released an update of Nokia Maps for Lumia phones that includes an integration with Groupon Now. As a result, users will be able to find nearby deals – which are indicated on a map with a green G – that they can buy and use the same day.

“This partnership adds location awareness to drive incremental relevance to people using Nokia Maps,” said John Caron, vice president of mobile at Catalina Mobile, St. Petersburg, FL. “Conceptually, it’s a good idea.

“In execution, location is important, but it is not the holy grail as previously believed,” he said. “If my map is filled with offers that lack relevance other than location, I’m going to feel like I’m being spammed and, I’m going to shut it off.

“The Nokia + Groupon combo is a creative idea but doesn’t provide enough relevance to drive a substantial boost in usage and value.”

Mr. Caron is not affiliated with Groupon or Nokia and spoke based on his experience in mobile.

Mobile’s growing role
For daily deals giant Groupon, mobile is playing a bigger role all the time in how consumers access and purchase deals. In April, the company reported that nearly 30 percent of its North American transactions were completed on mobile devices, up from 25 percent in December 2011.

Part of what is driving the increase in mobile use for Groupon deals is that smartphone owners are increasingly using these devices for a variety of tasks, including checking email, searching the Internet and to purchase goods and services.

The partnership with Nokia could help further drive mobile use of Groupon Now. However, Lumia phones – while growing – are currently used by only a small percentage of smartphone owners.

Groupon is also facing growing competition in the mobile space, where users are increasingly bombarded by offers from a variety of sources.

Additionally, Groupon offers currently lack personalization, which can be key driver of uptake by users.

“I hear very little about Groupon Now and think that the core reason is because there’s not enough value in it,” Mr. Caron said. “Yes, deals are nice. Yes, seeing deals near me is cool. But, what if they’re completely irrelevant?

“Therein lies why, in my opinion, Now isn’t taking off,” he said. “It treats everyone the same.

“And, because of that, it feels like a vanilla experience and that’s not what consumers want. If it were personalized and always relevant, it would be a game changer.”

SmartDeals, Groupon’s personalization strategy to better match specific deals to specific subscribers, is expected to roll it out broadly later this year.

Greater personalization
In the Nokia Lumia integration, users will be shown relevant deals among the usual search results when they are looking for something on Nokia Maps. Places with a Groupon Now offer available will be marked with a green G.

Once users select an offer, they are redirected to the Groupon mobile site, where they can purchase it.

The feature is currently only available in the United States.

Nokia is plugging the Groupon Now integration as a way for users to find new places and offers when they are on the go.

“The real win for Groupon and others working toward leveraging location is to put the offers in context of both location and personal preferences,” Mr. Caron said.

“In other words, personalizing the offers based on what I like, buy, want and need,” he said. “Combine that with location and you’ve got a killer experience.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York