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Twitter Offers set to streamline mobile couponing for brands, users

Twitter’s new Offers feature, which allows marketers to create promotions linked to credit cards and share the advertisements directly with users of the social media mobile application, is set to make a big splash in mobile couponing and receive favorable attention from brands.

Twitter’s desire to establish a stake in mcommerce comes on the heels of its recent rollout of a “Buy” button on select advertisers’ Tweets, enabling consumers to buy directly from the post. Twitter Offers is designed to convert consumers into loyal users of brands’ apps, sites and stores, and serves a push from the social networking site to make a play for advertisers in the mobile coupon sector.

“I don’t think Twitter Offers will significantly disrupt the mobile coupon segment initially, as most consumers are receiving mobile coupons already from retailers via email, via mobile searches on search-engines, via coupon-specific apps and mobile websites,” said Daniel Meehan, CEO and founder of PadSquad, New York.

“As such, Twitter Offers becomes another mobile coupon/offer distribution channel for marketers, but not necessarily one that will ultimately change consumer behavior in the short-term.”

Streamlined redemption
Consumers seeking to use a Twitter Offer visible in their timeline can add the promotion to their debit or credit cards with a few taps and redeem it immediately by using the selected card in-store.

However, Twitter Offers differs from other mobile coupons in the sense that consumers do not need to present a digital coupon during payment, because the offer is tied to their card. Once the purchase is made, users can expect to see cash back savings appear on their credit or debit card statement within several days.

Users’ card information will be secured and encrypted, and can be removed from their Twitter account at any time.

“Consumers are typically deal hunters, especially when they are in a buying mode,” Mr. Meehan said. “So Twitter Offers can be an effective solution for marketers to reach ‘in-market’ consumers, those whom have already made the decision to make a purchase and are now deciding where and when to buy.

“Research proves this, as most digital coupons and offers are redeemed within days.  Obviously, this is direct response marketing focused, and will help solve the marketers’ need to prove attribution for their digital media campaigns.

Twitter also hopes to entice marketers with this tool, since advertisers will be able to attribute redemptions to their paid campaigns and measure the return on investment gained from each promotion. Advertisers are encouraged to use Twitter’s targeting capabilities to tailor each campaign to the appropriate audience.

“For merchants, the offers are redeemed on the customers card account so there’s no incremental implementation required for the POS system and minimal staff training,” said Thad Peterson, senior analyst at Aite Group, Atlanta. “They’re also providing a tracking function so that merchants can measure response rate and adjust their marketing activity to optimize performance.

“If it works as promised, it would appear to be a powerful offer engine that could deliver a lot of value to consumers and drive incremental sales for merchants,” Mr. Peterson said. “The question is whether or not it does indeed work as promised, and also if they can get sufficient scale on the offer side to drive consumer interest.”

Competing mobile coupons
While Twitter has a significant audience of consumers to offer to marketers, it does face competition in the mobile couponing sector from other apps specific to couponing, such as Snip Snap and RetailMeNot.

“My sense is that Twitter Offers will be initially adopted by larger retail establishments such as grocery chains (Kroger, Safeway, Walmart, etc), quick-service food retailers (McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc) and home improvement retailers (Home Depot, ACE, Lowe’s) to drive purchase intent from already brand aware consumers,” Padsquad’s Mr. Meehan said.

However, Twitter’s access to a younger demographic may gain brands participating in Twitter Offers more fans. Mobile couponing apps will still be used by their loyal customers, but Twitter Offers is paving the way for a seamless insertion of mobile coupons into social networks – a move that is sure to resonate with bargain-savvy consumers that use mobile devices frequently.

Twitter plans to test Offers with a select group of brands this holiday season.

“Clearly, there is a major connection between consumers, social channels, and mobile usage,” Mr. Meehan said. “As such, Twitter Offers is positioned to take advantage of the social-to-mobile connection and make redemption of merchant offers seamless for the consumer. As more consumers shop at home on mobile devices, and use their mobile devices to enhance the retail experience, mobile coupon and offer redemption will continue to grow.

“It will be interesting to see if Twitter Offers has a larger impact for mobile usage in-store for redemption using smart phone devices, or if shoppers using tablet devices at home to make digital purchases have a higher adoption rate. Overall, Twitter Offers is a logical extension for Twitter to leverage their mobile audiences and prove to marketers true ROI and attribute sales lift directly to their Twitter campaigns.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York