Text Message Coupons: Handy, Frugal and Green

Coupons By SMS Text

Nearly 85% of Americans now own a cell phone, and if you’re like most of them, you probably have yours with you nearly everywhere you go. As a result, many businesses are going mobile – utilizing text message coupons for customer loyalty, product updates and special offers. Here’s the lowdown on coupons by text.

According to Consumer and media research firm Scarborough Research, text messages and email are an emerging method for households to obtain coupons. Eight percent of U.S. households currently acquire coupons via text messages or email. That’s nearly 9 million households (and growing). Although more traditional sources of coupons such as the newspaper, in-store ads and mailouts still surpass couponing by text, the new method is gaining a following among American consumers, according to Scarborough.

Coupons received via text messaging are usually sent only to consumers who have opted-in to receive them, so they’re more likely to be well-received and relevant to your needs. And since your cell phone or other personal communications device is mobile, you’ll likely always have that coupon available to you when it’s time to use it.

Restaurant chains are some of the first to embrace the new couponing medium. Fast food giants like  McDonald’s, Arby’s and Wendy’s have already jumped into the fray. Arby’s program allowed customers to text a certain message to their coupon number and receive a coupon by text in return.  They tapped mobile coupon and discount service provider Cellfire Inc. to manage the project. Dwight Moore, vice president of corporate marketing at Cellfire, explained. “If you think about quick service restaurants, they are ultimately trying to reach people who are on the go and potentially hungry.” So it makes sense to provide coupons by SMS, according to Moore “since people who are on the go are likely to eat out.”

Customers of the nation’s number 3 burger chain (Wendy’s) who sign up for their promotion and provide a cell phone number will receive a discount by showing their mobile device to a Wendy’s cashier in several test markets. The promotions began in December of 2009, and are expected to roll out nationwide this year. Options Media Group is running the program for Wendy’s, and CEO Scott Frohman says that many advertisers are now spending more on marketing that involves mobile devices, as opposed to traditional media.

Quick-lube chain Valvoline Instant Oil Change is also conducting a mobile coupon campaign at all of their locations in Cleveland, Minneapolis and St. Louis.

Although SMS coupons are still in their infancy, it won’t be long before your favorite brands, retailers and restaurants are texting you offers. They can be delivered at relatively low expense, have a higher rate of use and relevancy, and are greener than traditional paper coupons.

So, how do you get your text coupons? Check the websites of places you patronize regularly to see if they have a loyalty program or email signup. You can also look for announcements in-store or even ask a cashier or salesperson if they offer text coupons yet. And don’t forget your friend the search engine. Simply enter the brand name followed by the words “text coupons” to see what you find. With more and more advertisers jumping on the band wagon, there are new deals coming every day to a cell phone near you.

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