I had the opportunity to speak with Michael Pastko, CEO of Coupious a Boulder, Colorado-based mobile coupon platform. Coupious got its start when Pastko and his partner leveraged their experience at Purdue University to launch a Coupious iPhone application in Lafayette, Indiana. While the duo did very little marketing, word-of-mouth marketing helped push their mobile application to potential users. Push seems to be the operative word with Coupious since its model does not push coupons to people based on their geography, but rather allows people to seek on-demand the just-in-time promotional offers relevant to them when they want them and where they want them. Many of its initial customers utilize the platform to run multiple promotions or post “just-in-time” offers to get rid of seasonal items or to push specific menu items.
“In order to win over local businesses, the goal was to replicate the print coupon model to help make it familiar and comfortable to select,” says Pastko. However, unlike print coupons, mobile promotions on Coupious can track the number of impressions, what promotional offerings are performing better and most importantly where impressions are taking place. As Pastko points out, “being able to locate where people are downloading or viewing promotional offerings allows advertisers to understand if consumers are looking at the point of sale, responding to an outdoor billboard, or are in areas of town that might offer new potential for the business.”
While college towns in the Midwest have been a successful launching ground for Coupious, traditional media groups such as newspapers have become the major focus in the past 12 months. Pastko has been careful about his growth plans seeking markets where Coupious can gain a high density of coupons and promotional offerings. “One of the biggest success factors is having enough content to make the application useful. Just like directories, if the restaurants and entertainment venues people expect to see are not in the database of offerings, then people’s desire to use the application decreases significantly.” Coupious’ model is not to aggregate coupons or scrape the Web for other offers, but to deal directly with the advertisers in the market. Pastko is quick to point out that “this gives consumers confidence that this is a legitimate offer and will be honored locally.”
When asked if the recent surge in coupons is a trend born out of the slow economy, Pastko said “coupons and promotional offers are in a trend phase now but the space is going through a transformative revolution where offers will not simply be coupons but will become promotions embedded within key messages making them more relevant and highly geotargeted to the users location. The mobile platform is the ideal device to deliver just-in-time offers, reaching people where they are and when they have a specific need. It’s up to mobile coupon companies to continue to innovate and embed offers within other media to further increase adoption and usage.”
The Coupious application is currently available on the iPhone and Android platforms with work under way to broaden to other application platforms.