By Kara Trivunovic Senior Director of Strategic Services, StrongMail

The one thing that is constant for an online marketer is change, or better said — evolution. The industry is always looking for new ways to drive revenue effectively and efficiently. In the UK alone, the top six group buying sites generated a combined revenue in excess of £26 million in August 2011.

The initial boom
Groupon shot out of the gate as the model that most group buying organisations were looking to emulate. It has since been quick to identify opportunities for differentiation, including the introduction of its Rewards programme, “Groupon Rewards”.

Being first to market successfully has its advantages — and having great copy writing and a witty brand doesn’t hurt either. But the best thing that Groupon has going for it right now is its welcome message. It welcomes the new subscriber and provides them with the ability to take three mutually beneficial actions: 1) tell your friends 2) provide preference information about the deals and 3) the ability to request who you would like to see deals from. The email also allows customers to have a voice, which makes it a two-way communication. Instead of talking “at” the new subscribers, they are establishing rapport and conversation.

This boom could be tied to our increased sense of comfort to purchase online, our renewed sense for frugality in an unstable economy, or the certain thrill in getting a last-minute good deal. Conversely, The New York Times recently reported that ‘coupon fatigue’ is setting in and Internet giants Facebook and Yelp who had big plans for deals are backing off. Unfortunately, many daily deal organisations have become comfortable with a rudimentary batch-and-blast approach to get the offers into market, fast, but companies are going to need to do more than that to stand out.

Tactical advice — what works?
It’s best to offer a preference centre allowing subscribers to provide details around content they would like. Allow the customer to dictate how the content should be delivered. Give them the option to receive multiple, individual communications or an all-inclusive message. It is a personal choice, and one you should give your customers for maximum effect.

Make sure that your messages are arriving within the same 10 - 15 minute window every day in order to create a sense of immediacy and urgency amongst your subscriber base. This will dramatically increase open rates, clicks and ultimately revenue.

Keep it simple. Recipients don’t read email — they scan it. You have about 3 to 7 seconds to convey your message in its totality before the reader is on to the next message or task. It’s also important to drive ongoing engagement with your audience through creative subject lines and relevant content.

Compose subject lines like you would write for a billboard on the motorway. They need to be catchy and to the point to drive interest and engagement. Layout is equally important, be sure to use good spacing, headlines and bullets otherwise your message may be lost — no matter how relevant it was.

Ultimately, it all comes down to email. This is the core driver and as such, it is necessary to leverage email marketing as effectively as possible to drive business and build loyalty with consumers. Deal or no deal — if the experience falls short, it could drastically impact the likelihood of future engagement.