Groupon has been on quite a journey since its launch in 2008. This daily deal site was once the envy of Internet marketers and was widely used to sell products and services to a broad, deal-driven audience.
It was also admired for its marketing strategies, which included localized tactics as well as personalization, and of course, the outstanding deals. It was a content powerhouse, with a team of writers creating quirky and out-of-box writing to describe the deals.
It was all of these factors that led to the admiration of Groupon, but in the past few years, it’s faced much criticism from all areas. 2016 has represented a bit of strengthening in the price of Groupon’s stock prices, but it still has failed to live up to expectations in many ways.
While Groupon is still struggling to make a comeback, the company does offer some valuable insights and lessons for all marketers, and businesses in general.
Fading Amongst the Competition
A few years ago Groupon was a company that was leading the way in terms of how it translated big data collection into actionable marketing strategies.
That stopped being so significant or value-creating when competitors emerged, and the original king of daily deal sites was unable to find new ways to distinguish itself.
While big data once serve as their primary differentiator and the way they delivered highly targeted marketing and emails directly to the consumers’ accounts, it wasn’t enough to keep them unique.
Late To the Game Mobile Efforts
Groupon has now started embracing the idea of mobile marketing, particularly in the framework of how important mobile is to the hyper-local approach they strive to maintain, but had their marketing efforts been more tailored to mobile early on, they may not have reported such big losses over the past few years.
Mobile is essential to every area of marketing, but that holds particularly true when you’re basing your entire concept on localized shopping and connecting small businesses with consumers near them.
A Labor-Intensive Model
Between 2009 and 2013, Groupon experienced a net loss of $820 million on revenue of $4.5 billion. One of the reasons that could have contributed to this staggering loss might be their labor-intensive content and marketing model that hasn’t necessarily proved to be realistic or easily sustainable.
While Groupon does use the automation of data, they also rely on other content-driven methods of personalization that just don’t scale to the level of growth they were hoping to achieve, particularly in the wake of massive expectations that the company was the next big thing.
Marketing Stunts Gone Wrong
Groupon has faced quite a few blunders, and a few years’ back they released an offer that was seemingly designed to honor Alexander Hamilton for Presidents’ Day. While Hamilton appears on the $10 bill, he certainly wasn’t ever president.
After the situation garnered attention, Groupon said the mistake was intentional and was designed to draw in publicity.
However, in the wake of the situation most would agree it was a marketing nightmare.
Statistics show 42% of consumers say marketing mistakes can somewhat impact their opinion of a brand, and only 6% of survey respondents said faking a marketing mistake for publicity can “definitely be an effective move”.
It serves as a lesson for marketers that while a gimmicky approach may seem quirky and fun in the short-term, it’s unlikely to pan out successful in the long-term.
The Future of Groupon
What was once the golden child of social marketing has seen its share of struggles in recent years. While the stock prices have recovered a bit in 2016, it’s yet to be seen what will happen with the original provider of daily deals, and whether or not they’ll be able to recover from their marketing missteps.