Is 2013 the Year When Mobile Coupons Take Over?

Coupons have been present throughout a considerable amount of human history in various shapes (such as discounts for preferred customers, usually the rich), but the modern form is believed to have begun in 1887 as part of a new advertisement technique from the Coca-Cola Company. Printed on pieces of paper and resulting in approximately eight-and-a-half million free drinks given out throughout the United States by 1913.

Now, however, the advent of new and useful technology has created another method that companies can use to promote their products: the mobile phone. Offering coupons in this manner has given companies many different benefits, like avoiding the need to print out paper advertisements. No individual coupon is very expensive to produce, but when you're thinking about sending tens of thousands of them to people living in a particular area, the costs can really start to add up over time.

However, to completely take advantage of mobile coupons, companies first have to decide on a method of distribution. Traditional advertising is limited, sure, but things typically become traditional in the first place because they actually work. Many people have obtained coupons by e-mail in the past (as a precursor to mobile coupons), but data plans for mobile phones typically involve a much lower data limit than even a modest household internet plan. Consumers worried about their data consumption might be hesitant to subscribe to any plan that will send them things on a regular basis and eat into the limited amount their plans offer. Non-text items that may accompany the coupon itself (such as pictures or other advertisements) are an actual problem for some consumers.

One solution that has been offered for this is allowing people to pick and choose which mobile offers are sent to them; for example, on its website, a company may offer a code that people can text to a specified number in order to receive a coupon that they can then bring to the store for a discount on a particular item. By knowing what the offer will be, people can use a minimal amount of their data plans while still receiving the discounts they actually want to get.

Integration of technology offers another major advantage for businesses: they can track their advertising plans more effectively. Unique views to the homepage and the percent of these that result in people asking for discounts to be sent to them can quickly turn into an ongoing source of information that tells the company how well their advertising is doing. By experimenting with what works and what doesn't, the company can ultimately focus on improving its techniques and offering more value to customers.

With all of this information, can we say that 2013 is going to be the year of the mobile coupons? The answer is, probably not. While recent economic troubles have made people even more interested in coupons and discounts than usual and mobile phone ownership continues to rise, the industry still has some problems to work out before mobile coupons can effectively replace alternate forms like traditional mail-based distribution. However, you can expect to see them continuing to grow in importance over time as companies realize how useful they can be, so keeping an eye on their development isn't a bad plan at all for anyone looking to get the best discounts.